August 19: Afghanistan’s Independence Day, when the Afghans defeated British

By: Masher Azad

After the Sikh occupation of Peshawar in 1837, Afghan Shah Amir Dost Muhammad Khan sent his Afghan army under the leadership of his brother Akbar Khan to attack Peshawar via Jalalabad and Torkham in order to recapture Peshawar, the winter capital of Afghanistan from the Sikhs. Coins but unfortunately Akbar Khan was defeated and Jamrud Fort became a killing ground for the Afghan army. Amir Dost Mohammad Khan did not give up and kept on attacking. The Sikhs partially ceded Punjab, Peshawar and adjoining areas to their British allies. In this war, the British and the Sikhs united and wanted to remove Dost Muhammad from the throne of Afghanistan and make Shuja-ul-Mulk king instead, while historical facts and documents prove that Ranjit Singh betrayed Shuja-ul-Mulk and took over Afghanistan himself. Wanted to be occupied

The British army started the first British-Afghan war and invaded Afghanistan with a heavy army. In March 1839, they crossed the Bolan Pass and reached the southern Afghan city of Quetta. The army reached Kandahar on April 25, 1839 and remained in Kandahar until June. On 27th June, the British attacked Ghazni city, where the British army clashed with the tribal Mujahideen from Gilgit and the Afghan army. Finally, on 23rd July, 1839, the British army succeeded in capturing Ghazni. Two hundred British and 500 Gilgit and Afghan soldiers were killed in the battle.

After the arrival of fresh troops from India after Ghazni, on 13 November 1839, the Baloch tribesmen launched a fierce attack on the British army as they were moving towards Bolan Pass and thus began a guerrilla war against the British. After the arrival of fresh troops, British forces occupied Kabul in August and Amir Dost Mohammad Khan was forced to take refuge in the northern Afghan province of Bamyan. Amir Dost Muhammad Khan began to gather his troops and started a guerrilla war. The British army looked helpless in the face of Afghan guerrilla warfare and thousands of British soldiers fell prey to Afghan guerrilla fighters and British General MacNaughton tried to make peace with Amir Dost Muhammad Khan. MacNaughton summoned Amir Dost Mohammad Khan to Kabul and called on his fellow Afghan chiefs to renounce guerrilla warfare. When these talks failed, MacNaughton held separate talks with Akbar Khan, the son of Amir Dost Muhammad Khan, but Akbar Khan imprisoned him and later killed him. Details of his death have never been confirmed by independent sources. Some people believe that he tried to flee in which he was killed and there are traditions that his friend Muhammad Khan killed him with his own hands. In a fit of rage, the British burned half of Kabul to avenge MacNaughton. But in January 1842, the British were forced to concede defeat and withdraw from the areas of Afghanistan where guerrilla warfare was being fought.

Russia has turned its attention to the Middle East after tensions between Russia and Britain eased in Europe. In this connection, in June 1878, an uninvited diplomatic mission was sent from Russia to Kabul. The Russian diplomatic mission arrived in Kabul on July 22, 1878, and on August 14, the British demanded that Amir Sher Ali Khan accept a British mission. Amir Sher Ali Khan not only rejected the British demand but also threatened to forcibly stop the British mission if it tried to enter Afghanistan. Despite this, Lord Layton, the British Viceroy, sent a diplomatic mission to Kabul led by Chamberlain in September 1878, but the diplomatic mission was repulsed from Khyber Pass.

In response, the British invaded Afghanistan with 50,000 troops from three sides. This war is called the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Amir Sher Ali Khan appealed to Russia for help but the Russians did not come to his aid. Amir Sher Ali Khan left Kabul for Mazar-i-Sharif where he died on 21 February 1879. The British occupied most of Afghanistan. Eventually, Muhammad Yaqub Khan, son of Amir Sher Ali Khan, was forced to sign the Treaty of Gandmak with the British on May 26, 1879 at Gandmak, 110 km from Kabul. As a result, all British troops had to leave Afghanistan, and Afghans could only rule the country, while foreign policy fell to the British.

The British promised to defend Afghanistan from external aggression. Despite this agreement, the British invaded Kabul again on September 3, 1879, and on September 6, 1879, Kabul fell back into British hands. Two days later, 10,000 Afghans, led by Ghazi Muhammad Jan Wardak, attacked the British in Kabul, but the British managed to break the siege.

The British then tried to divide Afghanistan between the two emirs and withdraw from Afghanistan themselves, but one of the two emirs, Muhammad Ayub Khan, the governor of Herat, attacked Kandahar with his heavy army. Amir Muhammad Ayub Khan also attacked the British army in Helmand via Kandahar and defeated the British at Maiwand. The British hastily handed over Afghanistan to Abdul Rehman and withdrew from Afghanistan. Abdul Rahman became the Amir of Afghanistan. Amir Abdul Rehman re-recognized the Treaty of Gandmak with the British and later the Treaty of Durand.

Probably on February 20, 1919, Amir Habibullah Khan, the father of Shah Ghazi Amanullah Khan, was encamped at Qila Gosh in Laghman when he was shot. Brother Nasrullah Khan declared an undue kingdom, but Habibullah Khan’s third son, Amanullah Khan, supported the army.

As soon as Ghazi Amanullah, the King of Afghanistan, ascended the throne on March 1, 1919, he declared Afghanistan to be a complete sovereign state instead of a buffer state under the shadow of any wrestler or power. This declaration was considered a declaration of war by Britain (which was the master of the slave subcontinent). On May 6, 1919, a war broke out between Afghanistan and the British, known as the Third Anglo-Afghan War. The site of Dacca near the Khyber Pass and the Afghan fort of Chaman, probably Spin Bolak (now known as Spin Boldak), were captured. The airstrikes on Kabul began, but eventually the Afghan people and the commander of the southern frontiers, Muhammad Nadir Khan, were defeated and the British forces retreated. The war ended on August 8, 1919 with the victory of Afghanistan and Amanullah Khan was given the title of Ghazi. On August 19, Ghazi Amanullah Khan declared Afghanistan’s sovereignty and independence from all forms of external pressure, which was accepted by the then occupiers and imperialists. That is why today, August 19, is Independence Day celebrated by Afghans around the world.

In July 1919, the Soviet Union was the first to recognize Afghanistan’s independence. After lengthy negotiations with British India, under the Rawalpindi Agreement of 19 August 1919, the British government formally recognized Afghanistan’s independence, but tensions continued to rise on the northern borders until 1922 and on the southern borders until 1924. Although Afghanistan is still in the grip of international powers and not completely free as it was before independence, the day will surely come when Afghanistan will once again become a free and independent state in the form of Ghazi Amanullah’s free Afghanistan and Ghazi Amanullah will fulfill his unfulfilled wishes.

Written by Mazhar Azad you can reached him with Psymazhar@yahoo.com