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‘Khushwant’s Punjab’

March 15, 2019


THIS refers to the review article ‘Khushwant’s Punjab’, by Ammar Ali Qureshi (Eos, March 3) Mr Qureshi has written about the annexation of Kabul by the British East India Company and its allies during the initial stages of the First Afghan War (1839-1841) without mentioning the humiliating defeat and surrender the British suffered in the war.

In this connection kindly see below historian William Dalrymple’s vivid account of the defeat in his book Return of a King.

He says: “The first Anglo-Afghan war (1839-1841) ended in Britain’s greatest military humiliation of the 19th century. An entire army of then most powerful nation of the world was ambushed in retreat and utterly routed by Afghan tribesmen.” (The British surrendered to Afghan General Wazir Mohammad Akbar Khan in 1841).

Incidentally Akbar Khan was the same Afghan general who inflicted a crushing defeat on a large Sikh army in 1837 and in the words of Dalrymple personally killed and decapitated Sikh general Hari Singh during the battle.

Ayub Ghori

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2019