The subject of our policy on the North-West frontier of India is one of great importance, as affecting the general welfare of our Eastern Empire, and is specially interesting at the present time, when military operations on a considerable scale are being conducted against a combination of the independent tribes along the frontier.
withdrawal was under the circumstances impossible. But the situation was equally complicated from our own point of view. If, as originally promised, the British troops were withdrawn, the failure of the expedition would at once become apparent by the anarchy which would ensue. On the other hand, to retain an army in the far-distant mountains of Afghanistan would not only be a breach of faith, but, while entailing enormous expense, would deprive India of soldiers who might be required elsewhere.
After lengthy consideration, it was decided to reduce the total of our force in the country, while retaining a hold for the present on Cabul, Ghuznee, and Candahar, together with the passes of the Kyber and Bolam. In short, the British army was weakly scattered about in a region of mountains, amongst a hostile people, and with its long lines of communication insufficiently guarded. Both in a military and a political point of view the position was a false and dangerous one.
General Sir John Keane, who was