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known to be a greater potential enemy than Russia ever was or ever was likely to become.
There is a party in Afghanistan which, taking into serious consideration the present grave situation in Russian Turkestan, favours the expansion of their country to the eastern coast of the Caspian. The Turkomans are allied in sympathy to the Afghans by the bonds of race and language. As in Afghanistan, too, the Moslem sect of Sunnis predominates. This expansion would create a prosperous and progressive greater Afghanistan and remove for ever the German threat in Central Asia. I refer to it merely as one of the suggested solutions of the Russian Turkestan problem which is already becoming acute. Another suggested solution is the creation of an independent Turkestan, which would effectively form a buffer state to prevent aggression on the part of Germany against Afghanistan and Persia and indirectly, therefore, against India.
The general opinion in England seems to be that Afghanistan of itself is sufficiently strong to prevent military penetration by even so strong a Power as Germany. This is a mistaken idea. The Afghan is, undoubtedly, an excellent fighting man, but it has to be recognized that he is neither trained nor equipped for modern warfare. Against any army supported by heavy artillery he could not set up a prolonged or effective resistance. Afghanistan, therefore, is only a
paper buffer state,' and, as we have had to realize, treaties are not necessarily sure guarantees of the future stability of any kingdom, so long as Germany remains unbeaten.
It is my desire to impress upon the friendly British people that the immediate interests of my native country of Afghanistan are threefold-first, military; second, commercial; and third, industrial. To promote these interests the existing bond of friendship between British India and Afghanistan must be greatly strengthened and firmly consolidated.
The first interest is the military. Essentially a military folk, as is well known, the Afghan people are susceptible to the formation of a strong military kinship. They admire and esteem the British soldier and British military methods. Germany has attempted to woo them in this connexion by sending Krupp guns into the country, and although it has never been able to send German instructors, it may not have been unconcerned with the arrangement, which prevailed for a
time, of having a German-trained Turkish officer at Kabul. This Turkish officer was appointed a Colonel of Afghan Lancers. He trained the force efficiently, but his presence was resented by the nobles, who disliked the idea of having a foreigner in command of Afghan cavalry and especially of such a crack force as he had under him. The Turkish colonel had consequently to return to his own land. French guns have also been imported into Afghanistan, but the chief source for the supply of arms is through British India. That the Ameer has made good use of his armed forces is clearly shown by the fact that India has had no cause to distrust the friendly attitude of the Ameer, and that Afghanistan has been happily brought into a state of law and order which favours the promotion of trade and the extension of industrial activities. British example and influence has been fruitful of much good in Afghanistan.
The army of the Ameer, however, is in need of efficient officers, and these officers must be natives. My view, which is shared by other patriotic and progressive Afghans, is that facilities should be afforded the Ameer to have his officers trained at the British Military College at Quetta. If this policy were adopted the bond of sympathy which has happily been formed, and is growing daily stronger, between Afghanistan and British India would be secured for all time. The British-trained Afghan officer would become the missionary of British friendship in high and influential circles. If, on the other hand, British officers were sent to Kabul, such an arrangement would be productive of anti-British intrigue engineered from outside as well as within, for the Afghan is easily stirred up to resent foreign influence from whatever quarter it may come. Natural susceptibilities are extremely sensitive, and from the British point of view this is a good thing, because it is the very essence of Afghan patriotismthe patriotism which holds together the buffer state. Whether or not my proposal is the best one in the circumstances, the fact remains that Afghanistan must in some way be strengthened so that her resistance against aggression from any quarter may be assured in the future. It can be assured in no better way than by having a strong and efficient modern Afghan army.
The second Afghan interest is the commercial. Here one
can say at the outset that Great Britain has lagged behind, and missed great opportunities of achieving progress, while Russia has done her utmost to 'corner' everything. Afghanistan exports large and increasing quantities of dried fruit, raw hides, wool, silk, fur, etc. In return she requires sugar, green tea, machinery of all descriptions, cotton prints, household utensils, ghee, lace, and so on. Trade between India and Afghanistan should be nursed and systematically cultivated. At a time like the present, when Russia is disorganized and German commercial activities have to be directed into new channels, it will be nothing short of disastrous if no efforts are made to increase the commercial connexion between India and Afghanistan. The question is no mere domestic one. It has an international importance not to be underestimated. On the future development of Indo-Afghan trade much depends. The very security of India is involved while its commercial prosperity is also affected.
The third Afghan interest is the industrial development of the country. Of late years great progress has been achieved in this connexion under the enlightened direction of the Ameer. He has fully realized that peaceful conditions within his borders depend greatly on securing steady and remunerative employment for the masses of the people. He has employed British engineers at Kabul and introduced electric plant, while British guidance and assistance have been enlisted in the establishment and development of factories. Afghanistan has immense natural resources which, if they are fully taken advantage of, will make it a rich and prosperous country whose chief and vital interest will be the continued maintenance of peaceful conditions of life. There are extensive forests, untapped mineral veins, areas which can be utilized for cotton growing and areas which can be cultivated for cereals with profit. Withal, the country is in great need of roads and bridges, of the improvement of housing conditions and the introduction of modern sanitary appliances and principles.
It is of the utmost importance that the British public should know more about modern Afghanistan, which lingers chiefly in their imaginations as the scene of 'old, unhappy, far-off 'things, and battles long ago.' It is important also that extended knowledge should be accompanied by very real interest in the welfare of the Ameer's kingdom. A prosperous
and progressive Afghanistan, attached by strong commercial and sentimental bonds to British India, will do much to secure permanent peaceful conditions in Central Asia. If what I have written-writing as I do as a native of Afghanistan-will help to make my readers realize that Afghanistan is already awake and bestirring itself, and that its interests are closely bound up with British interests, I shall feel that I have accomplished some little good by taking up my pen and giving expression in the English language to views which are representative of those entertained by a not inconsiderable section of my countrymen.
IKBAL ALI SHAH.
THE POLITICAL SITUATION IN CANADA
The people of
HE recent general election in Canada constituted the first authoritative intervention of of the Canadian people in the issues raised by the war. Though the life of the late House had been extended a twelvemonth, there was no popular demand for an election. English-speaking Canada trusted the Government, and were prepared to go on trusting it, and it was generally hoped that the Twelfth Parliament would be prolonged by special legislation till the end of the war. The burdens, the sacrifices, the bereavements of the war had been borne without complaint, and with no other effect upon the great mass of the people than to stiffen their will against the enemy. The Canadian people are to-day supporting an armed force of their own raising and of their own sparing of nearly 450,000 men. More than 35,000 of these men have fallen in battle. War loans to the amount of nearly $800,000,000 have been raised by the Canadian Government. The country's expenditure on war account has risen to a million dollars a day. These figures may not be impressive when compared with the corresponding totals of the United Kingdom, but they seem mountainous to a country of less then 8,000,000 inhabitants, for years absorbed in its own material development, borrowing for that purpose between $200,000,000 and $300,000,000 annually, and for the same purpose bringing in immigrants of average quality faster than it has since been sending out the flower of its young manhood to fight for the Empire. Even when Sir Robert Borden declared himself for compulsory military service, no opposition came from English-speaking Canada. There was, however, opposition from other quarters, and Sir Robert Borden saw that by keeping to the rut of party government he might fail in his object of reinforcing the overseas army, even if he succeeded in the party fight. To put a compulsory service law on the statute book by force of a party majority in parliament is one thing; to give effect