Our Scientific Frontier


The “scientific frontier” is a term used by Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (Lord Beaconsfield) of Great Britain in 1878 to denote a border between British India (in present-day Pakistan) and Afghanistan, which could be occupied and defended according to the requirements of the science of military strategy, as opposed to the existing frontier, which had been formed by a haphazard pattern of British expansion through agreements and annexations. The term subsequently figured prominently in British discussions about the defense of British India from a possible Russian invasion through Afghanistan. Our Scientific Frontier, published toward the end of the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878–80), is an analysis of this subject, written to influence the British debate on the terms of peace. The author, William Patrick Andrew, was chairman of the Scinde, Punjab, and Delhi Railway Company, and thus an expert on logistics and transport in India and along its frontiers. The book contains chapters on the Northwest Frontier, the history, geography, and economy of Afghanistan, the independent border tribes, mountain passes, probable routes of invasion from Afghanistan into India, and the “Powindahs, or Soldier-Merchants of Afghanistan.”  Three appendices cover the Sherpur entrenchments that were part of the defense of Kabul, the Bolan and Khyber railways (neither of which was constructed until after the period discussed), and transport by rail of troops, horses, guns, and war matériel in India.

Last updated: August 26, 2016