Anglo-Afghan Treaties and Agreements of the 19th and 20th Centuries

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Anglo-Afghan Treaties and Agreements of the 19th and 20th Centuries


The treaty of 1809 was signed in Peshawar and ratified June 17. It was the first unequal treaty England forced on Afghanistan. The Afghan shah Shuja, attempting to obtain English support in his battle for the throne, promised to take England’s side if France and Iran attempted an attack on India.

The treaty of 1855, signed in Peshawar on March 30, regulated the parties’ relations after the first Anglo-Afghan War. It contained mutual obligations not to encroach upon the possessions of either and to be “friend of the friends” and “enemy of the enemies” of either party.

The treaty of 1857 was signed on January 26 in Peshawar during the Anglo-Iranian War of 1856–57. It confirmed and developed the Treaty of 1855. England, which promised to subsidize Emir Dost Mohammed, counted on drawing him into the war against Iran. The treaty guaranteed Dost Mohammed’s neutrality during the national liberation uprising of 1857–59 in India.

The treaty of 1879 was signed May 26 in Gandamak. It provided that Afghanistan be turned into a state dependent on England. Afghanistan lost its right to conduct independent foreign relations. In effect, the British resident in Kabul acquired control over the country’s internal affairs. The Sibi, Kurram, and Pishin areas passed to the English. The conclusion of this treaty aroused indignation in Afghanistan. The anti-imperialist struggle of the popular masses forced England to renounce control over Afghanistan’s internal affairs and withdraw its troops from Kandahar in 1881, which they had occupied in January 1879.

On Nov. 12, 1893, Emir Abd-er-Rahman signed agreements in Kabul which confirmed the Anglo-Russian understanding of 1869–73 establishing Afghan-Russian borders along the upper and middle course of the Amu Darya River; the boundary between Afghanistan and British possessions in India was fixed by the “Durand line,” which was accepted under British pressure.

By the treaty signed on Mar. 21, 1905, in Kabul, Emir Habibullah confirmed all the Anglo-Afghan agreements of Emir Abd-er-Rahman.

The treaty of 1919, signed on August 8 in Rawalpindi (India), established peaceful relations between England and Afghanistan and confirmed the “Durand line”; English subsidies to the emir were abolished.

The treaty of 1921 was concluded in October and ratified in Kabul on November 22. England recognized the independence of Afghanistan, whose international position was strengthened by its friendly ties with Soviet Russia.


A Collection of Treaties, Engagements, and Sanads Relating to India and Neighboring Countries, vols. 11 and 13. Compiled by C. U. Aitchison. Calcutta, 1909, 1933.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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