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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

We came across some picturesque Beluch


It

was a very long march to Mushki-Chah, and we had a few mild excitements on the road. We came across some picturesque Beluch, clothed in flowing white robes, and carrying long matchlocks with a fuse wound round the stock. They were extremely civil, all insisting on shaking hands in a most hearty fashion, and seeming very jolly after they had gravely gone through the elaborate salutation which always occupies a considerable time.

Further on we met a cavalcade, which included the Naib Tashildar of Mirjawa, an Afghan in British employ, and the _duffadar_ of Dalbandin, the latter a most striking figure with long curly hair hanging over his shoulders. They were with some levies hastening to Mirjawa, an important place, which, owing to the ridiculous fashion in which the Perso-Beluch Commission under Sir T. Holdich had marked out the frontier, was now claimed both by Persia and Beluchistan as making part of their respective territories.

When I was at the Perso-Beluch frontier there was much ado about this matter, and some trouble may be expected sooner or later. Anybody who happens to know a few facts about the way in which the frontier line was drawn must regret that England should not employ upon such important missions sensible and capable men whose knowledge of the country is thorough.

It would, no doubt, be very interesting to the public to be told in detail _exactly how_ the

frontier was fixed, and whether Sir T. Holdich, who was in charge, _ever_ visited the whole frontier line. The Government maps which existed at the time of the frontier demarcation were too inaccurate to be of any use, as has been proved over and over again to our sorrow. It would also be interesting to know whether the astronomical positions of some of the supposed principal points of the boundary have been accurately tested, and whether some points which had been corrected by really efficient officers have been omitted, if not suppressed, in order to cover certain discrepancies. And if so whether it was an expedient to avoid showing the weakness of the maps (on which certain names figure prominently) which were taken as a basis for the delineation?

The facts are too commonly known by all the officers in Beluchistan and by the Foreign Office in Calcutta, as well as by Persians, to be kept a secret. It is painful to have to register facts of this kind, but I most certainly think it is the duty of any Englishman to expose the deeds of men who obtain high sounding posts and can only manage to keep them by intrigue and by suppressing the straightforward work of really able officers (which does not agree with theirs) to the eventual expense and loss of the country at large.

As we went along, leaving the plain which we had crossed for some fifteen miles, we saw to the south-west large white patches like snow. These were made of gypsum and white limestone covering the ground. A curious long, low, flat hill, with hundreds of vertical black streaks at its base and a black summit, resembled a gigantic centipede crawling on the flat desert. At the eastern end of the long plain were mud-hills on the left side of the track, and black, isolated, rounded mounds on the right. To the south-east a very curious mountain could be seen, one side of which was of beautiful white and yellow marble, and from this spot we crossed hills of sand and gravel, and the track was more tortuous, but still travelling in a general direction of east-south-east (110 deg. b.m.)


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