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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

It was agreed that the Kuh i Malek Siah mountains


The Beluch-Afghan boundary--Substantial advantages obtained--The Afghans driven from Chagai--Who owns Beluchistan?--How Beluchistan is subdivided--Treaties and engagements with the Kahn of Kelat--The _Brahui_ and _Nhauri_--When British political connection with Kelat began--Intrigue--The treaty of 1839--The treaty stolen--Kelat stormed by the British--A revolution--Protection of caravans--Treaty of 1841--At the death of Nasir Khan--Boundary matters settled in 1887--A Brahui rebellion--British mediation--A state of chaos--The Marris and Bugtis--Reconciliation of the Sardars with the Khan of Kelat--Treaty of 1876--British agents at the Khan's court--Railways and telegraphs--Subsidies--British troops stationed in the country--Major Sandeman, agent to the Governor-General--The agreement of 1883--Transfer of dues and tolls--The chiefship of Kharan--The chief of Las Bela--Troublesome Marris--British Beluchistan--The occupants of Zhob.

A few details of how the British Government came to make the Nushki-Robat road may interest the reader.

After the Afghan war was over, it was supposed that our boundary extended as far north as the river Halmund, but we let things slide for many years and took no steps to extend our influence so far, and the result was that the Amir of Afghanistan--who very rightly regarded Chagai as a most important strategical position, in fact, almost the key to the Halmund--took possession of the place. In 1896 a commission was sent out to define the Perso-Beluch frontier properly, and Major MacMahon, a most thorough and conscientious officer, was placed in charge of the mission.

On looking at the map, one might, if unaware of certain important circumstances, be led rashly to believe that the natural geographical boundary between Beluchistan and Afghanistan is along the course of the river Halmund, or else that it should follow the watershed of the chain of mountains extending, from west to east, from the Malek Siah, the Lahr Kuh, the Kacha Kuh, Mirjawa or Saindak Mountains, to the mountain mass extending as far as the Sultan Mountain. One cannot at first grasp why, when two such excellent natural boundaries exist, the boundary has been drawn right across the desert between the Halmund and these ranges--where there is nothing to mark a division except the whitewashed pillar-posts put up by the boundary commission.

This is what would appear, but here is what really happened. While we were taking no trouble to spread our influence in that portion of the country, the Afghans claimed as theirs a considerable portion of what to-day makes part of N. Beluchistan. A point which it is well not to lose sight of is that, after the Sistan Mission of 1872, when General Sir Frederick Goldsmid, assisted by General Sir Richard Pollock, acted as arbitrators between the Persian and Afghan Governments, it was agreed that the Kuh-i-Malek-Siah (mountains), close to where the Ziarat has been erected, should mark the most south-westerly point common to the two countries. This point being given, when the Beluch-Afghan Boundary Commission began its work in March, 1894, they found that the Afghans claimed a great deal more land as theirs than was expected.


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