Kabul Mobs Are Dangerous

Guides_1  Twice in the 19th Century the British Indian Army was forced out of Kabul by murderous mobs.

The first time was n the 1840s, the second in 1879.  Earlier that year the British had negotiated the "Treaty of Gandamak" with the Afghan government.  The principal negotiator had been Major Sir Louis Cavagnari.  As a result of the treaty the British were allowed to maintain a "residence" in Kabul.  This was an embassy in all but name.  Cavagnari was made "resident."  The British/Afghan relationship did not prosper.  The Afghans bitterly resented the presence of this infidel establishment in their midst.  The "residence" had a guard made up of a company sized force of the "Guides,"  perhaps the most distinguished of all Indian Army regiments.  Made up of both infantry and cavalry the "Guides" were a mixed force in terms of ethnicity and religion.  This was unusual and the Afghans hated the Sikh and Hindu members of the residency guard.

One day, the whole precarious structure of security cam crashing down when a Kabul mob formed over some slight or grievance and after a days fighting over ran the residency having killed Cavagnari and the Guides, every man.

The picture is of a monument to the courage of the Guides at the Kabul Residency.

Pat Lang


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9 Responses to Kabul Mobs Are Dangerous

  1. Happy Jack says:

    It’s my understanding that the rioters were waving pictures of Massoud. If the Tajiks have lost their tolerance for us, who else is left?

  2. Eric says:

    @HJ or others:
    Who really supports Karzai there now?
    Have never really read where the government’s support is.

  3. MarcLord says:

    I have a mental image of Karzai searching on the internet for lakeside properties in Switzerland. Wonder if anyone in this Administration will remember to help him out.
    During the 80s, I usually stayed in the house of a communications professor while stateside. He had spent four years in Afghanistan, so I asked him what the Afghan tribes were like. His answer: “Those poor Russians.”

  4. Happy Jack says:

    Eric – do you mean beside the support we provide? I don’t think he has much outside of Kabul.
    The support he does have is fleeting, as the Pashtun warlords in the provinces will only cooperate if it is in their interests. Cleaning house of the Tajiks isn’t making Karzai any friends in that community.
    The possibility of collapse in Afghanistan looks likely to me. Unfortunately, our attention is focused elsewhere at the moment.

  5. Soonmyung Hong says:

    Hamid Karzai removed three big tajik figure from his cabinet. They’re all Masoud’s inner circles.
    * Yunis Qanuni: Interior Minister
    * Mohammed Fahim: Defense Minister
    * Abdullah Abdullah: Foreign Minister

  6. ikonoklast says:

    From NPR Morning Edition this a.m.
    “Deadly riots sparked by a U.S. military truck crash this week are not a sign of anti-Americanism in Afghanistan, the U.S. ambassador in Kabul says.”
    Oh! Just a little road rage … ok.
    The State Dept. must save the absolute best drugs for their own kool-aid.

  7. Steve Johnson says:

    May be for once we should stop being so nagative and think about Afghanistan itself and the poor people that have nothing to support them. The reason that Afghanistan can’t stand on its own feet is because of poeple like us. We are good at pointing finger at others, but have we ever looked at ourselves?

  8. Eric says:

    I think most here are well aware of the overall plight of the Afghans–some much more so than others.
    I’ll just add that Lang Sahib’s post was of a somewhat historical nature.
    For those interested in British colonial and military history, another couple battles occurred in 1879.
    Here’s an interesting web site from Zululand:
    Click on some of the names on the left and see how they ended after being awarded the VC. Hobbesian world that Victorian place be.
    I also enjoyed this book on the Victorian-Edwardian British Army:
    If anyone here is a student of the period and could recommend other books, I would appreciate it.
    Abe Books, I might add, is one helluva source for book bargains. Have been buying from their database of sellers for 10 years, and have never been disappointed.

  9. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Not exactly historical. I am guilty of the southern habit of attempting to teach by recounting examples of continuing phenomena. pl

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