Third Anglo-Afghan War

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The Third Anglo-Afghan War (Persian: جنگ سوم افغان-انگلیس‎), also known as the Third Afghan War, the British-Afghan war of 1919 and in Afghanistan as the War of Independence, began on 6 May 1919 when the Emirate of Afghanistan invaded British India and ended with an armistice on 8 August 1919. The war resulted in the Afghans winning back control of foreign affairs from Britain, and the British recognizing Afghanistan as an independent nation.


  • "But since the Government is apparently uninformed about the manner in which our Faith colours and is meant to colour all our actions, including those which, for the sake of convenience, are generally characterised as mundane, one thing must be made clear, and it is this: Islam does not permit the believer to pronounce an adverse judgement against another believer without more convincing proof; and we could not, of course, fight against our Muslim brothers without making sure that they were guilty of wanton aggression, and did not take up arms in defence of their faith." (This was in relation to the war that was going on between the British and the Afghans in 1919.) "Now our position is this. Without better proof of the Amir's malice or madness we certainly do not want Indian soldiers, including the Musalmans, and particularly with our own encouragement and assistance, to attack Afghanistan and effectively occupy if first, and then be a prey to more perplexity and perturbation afterwards. "But if on the contrary His Majesty the Amir has no quarrel with India and her people and if his motive must be attributed, as the Secretary of State has publicly said, to the unrest which exists throughout the Mahomedan world, an unrest with which he openly professed to be in cordial sympathy, that is to say, if impelled by the same religious motive that has forced Muslims to contemplate Hijrat, the alternative of the weak, which is all that is within our restricted means. His Majesty has been forced to contemplate Jihad, the alternative of those comparatively stronger which he may have found within his means; if he has taken up the challenge of those who believed in force and yet more force, and he intends to try conclusions with those who require Musalmans to wage war against the Khilafat and those engaged in Jihad; who are in wrongful occupation of the Jazirut-ul-Arab and the holy places; who aim at the weakening of Islam; discriminate against it, and deny to us full freedom to advocate its cause; then the clear law of Islam requires that in the first place, in no case whatever should a Musalman render anyone any assistance against him; and in the next place if the Jihad approaches my region every Musalman in that region must join the Mujahidin and assist them to the best of his or her power. "Such is the clear and undisputed law of Islam; and we had explained this to the Committee investigating our case when it had put to us a question about the religious duty of a Muslim subject of a non-Muslim power when Jihad had been declared against it, long before there was any notion of trouble on the Frontiers, and when the late Amir was still alive."
    • Mahomed Ali in his address to the Jury in the Sessions Court, quoted in BR Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
  • I would, in a sense, certainly assist the Amir of Afghanistan if he waged war against the British Government. That is to say, I would openly tell my countrymen that it would be a crime to help a government which had lost the confidence of the nation to remain in power.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, May 4, 1921. Gandhi commenting on the appeal to the Amir of Afghanistan to invade British India proposed by some Muslim leaders. Quoted from B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
  • I cannot understand why the Ali Brothers are going to be arrested as the rumours go, and why I am to remain free. They have done nothing which I would not do. If they had sent a message to the Amir, I also would send one to inform the Amir that if he came, no Indian so long as I can help it, would help the Government to drive him back.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018.
  • They did exactly what was feared they might—invite the Amir of Afghanistan to invade India for the pan-Islamic cause. In his misguided enthusiasm, Gandhi went to the extent of even supporting such a move: ‘I would, in a sense, certainly assist the Amir of Afghanistan, if he waged a war against the British Government. That is to say, I would openly tell my countrymen that it would be a crime to help a government which had lost the confidence of the nation to remain in power.’ Even his most ardent supporters were shocked by such statements that had no roots in pragmatism or practicality. .... The government had intercepted a telegram—a wire sent to the Amir of Afghanistan inviting him to invade India and urging him to not make peace with the British—written in Persian, allegedly by Muhammad Ali. Swami Shraddhanand mentions this incident in his memoir. Muhammad Ali had feigned complete ignorance in the matter as he knew neither Persian nor Arabic and he was made a maulana only by virtue of the duties of tabligh (conversion) that he had conducted. On reaching Anand Bhawan, Pandit Motilal Nehru’s Allahabad residence, Muhammad Ali took Shraddhanand aside and taking out a paper from his handbag, gave him a draft of a telegram to read. ‘What was my astonishment,’ noted Shraddhanand, ‘when I saw the draft of the selfsame telegram in the peculiar handwriting of the Father of the non-violent cooperation movement!’ Gandhi reached Anand Bhawan the next day and when asked by Sharaddhanand about this matter, did not remember to have sent any such telegram.
    • quoted in Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)
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