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First Anglo-Afghan War ( 1838 - 1842 )

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September 30, 1838
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Anglo-Afghan War
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Bahadur Shah II 1837–1857

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The First Anglo-Afghan War, also known as the Afghan War of 1839-1842, was a significant event in the history of Afghanistan and the British Empire. It was a war fought between the British East India Company and the Afghan tribesmen, with the primary objective of securing British interests in the region and countering the growing influence of Russia. The war was triggered by the British East India Company's desire to extend its sphere of influence into Central Asia and protect its trade routes with India. The British had long been concerned about the threat posed by the Russian Empire's expansion in the region, and they saw Afghanistan as a strategic buffer zone between themselves and their Russian rivals. In 1838, the British government dispatched an army of 21,000 soldiers, led by General Sir John Keane, to invade Afghanistan and establish a friendly ruler on the throne. Initially, the British army encountered little resistance and was able to capture the cities of Kandahar, Ghazni, and Kabul, where they installed a puppet king, Shah Shuja ul-Mulk. However, the situation soon turned against the British as Afghan tribesmen began to resist the occupation of their country. The Afghan people saw the British as foreign invaders and resented their attempts to impose a puppet king on them. As a result, Afghan tribesmen launched a guerrilla war against the British, attacking their supply lines and launching ambushes on their troops. The British soon found themselves besieged in Kabul, facing a determined and well-organized insurgency. The Afghan fighters, who were fiercely loyal to their country and their religion, fought with courage and determination, and they were led by charismatic leaders such as Akbar Khan and Dost Mohammad Khan. The British were hampered by the harsh Afghan winter and their unfamiliarity with the rugged terrain, which made it difficult for them to mount effective counterattacks. The situation deteriorated rapidly for the British in early 1842. In January of that year, a British garrison of 16,000 soldiers attempted to retreat from Kabul and make their way to the safety of Jalalabad. However, they were ambushed by Afghan insurgents and faced a series of bloody defeats. The retreat became a chaotic and deadly affair, with the British soldiers facing constant attacks from all sides. Only one survivor, Dr. William Brydon, managed to reach the safety of the British garrison at Jalalabad. The rest of the soldiers were either killed or captured by the Afghans, who exacted a terrible revenge on their enemies. The defeat of the British in the First Anglo-Afghan War was a major setback for the British Empire, which suffered significant losses in men and material. The war was widely seen as a military disaster, and it exposed the weaknesses of British colonial rule in Asia. It also had a lasting impact on Afghan-British relations and on the geopolitics of the region. The British were forced to abandon their attempts to control Afghanistan and instead opted for a policy of supporting friendly rulers who could act as a buffer against Russian expansion. The war also marked the beginning of a long period of instability and conflict in Afghanistan, which has continued to the present day.

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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.

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