The Forward Policy
British policy toward the tribal peoples on the northwest frontier
vacillated between caution and adventurism during the latter half
of the nineteenth century. Some viceroys opposed extending direct
administration or defense beyond the Indus River. Others favored
a more assertive posture, or "forward policy." The latters' view
prevailed, partly because Russian advances in Central Asia gave
their arguments credence. In 1874 Sir Robert Sandeman was sent
to improve British relations with the Baloch tribes and the khan
of Kalat. In 1876 Sandeman concluded a treaty with the khan that
brought his territories--including Kharan, Makran, and Las Bela--under
British suzerainty. The Second Afghan War was fought in 1878-80,
sparked by Britain's demands that Afghan foreign policy come completely
under its control. In the Treaty of Gandamak concluded in May
1879, the Afghan amir ceded his districts of Pishin, Sibi, Harnai,
and Thal Chotiali to the British. During succeeding years, other
tribal areas were forcibly occupied by the British. In 1883 the
British leased the Bolan Pass, southeast of Quetta, from the khan
of Kalat on a permanent basis, and in 1887 some areas of Balochistan
were declared British territory.
A similar forward policy was pursued farther north. A British
political agent was stationed in Gilgit in 1876 to report on Russian
activities as well as on developments in the nearby states of
Hunza and Nagar. In 1889 the Gilgit Agency was made permanent.
A British expedition was sent against Hunza and Nagar, which submitted
to British control. A new mir from the ruling family
of Hunza was appointed by the British. British garrisons were
established in Hunza and Chitral in 1892. A formal protectorate
was declared over Chitral and Gilgit in 1893.
Also in 1893, Sir Mortimer Durand negotiated an agreement with
Amir Abdur Rahman Khan of Afghanistan to fix an only partially
surveyed line (the Durand Line) running from Chitral to Balochistan
to designate the areas of influence for the Afghans and the British.
Each party pledged not to interfere in each other's lands. This
agreement brought under British domination territory and peoples
that had not yet been conquered and would become the source of
much difficulty between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the future
(see Boundaries , ch. 2; Foreign Policy , ch. 4).
The establishment of British hegemony in the northwest frontier
regions did not lead to direct administration similar to that
in other parts of India. Local customary law continued, as did
the traditional lines of authority and social customs upheld by
the maliks (tribal chiefs). To a large extent, the frontier
was little more than a vast buffer zone with Afghanistan between
the British and Russian empires in Asia and a training ground
for the British Indian Army.
Data as of April 1994