Securing the Indian Frontier in Central Asia: Confrontation and Negotiation, 1865-1895, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Securing the Indian Frontier in Central Asia

Confrontation and Negotiation, 1865-1895, 1st Edition

By Martin Ewans


200 pages | 11 B/W Illus.

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The three decades between 1865 and 1895 marked a particularly contentious period in the relationship between Britain and Russia in Central Asia, which more than once brought them to the verge of war. Moderates tried to settle the problem by the negotiation of ‘neutral zones’, or firm boundaries, but the issue was complicated by misreading of intentions, much internal confusion and dispute, and considerable ignorance of the geographical and geopolitical factors involved.

This careful and detailed analysis examines the strategic thinking and diplomatic discourse which underlay the whole period, and in particular of the succession of efforts to establish a frontier, which eventually brought the period to a close without a major confrontation being provoked. Based on relevant records in the PRO and the British Library, as well as private papers, press comment, parliamentary debates and other contemporary accounts, Sir Martin Ewans provides a ‘history of thought' of this crucial period in Central Asia. He provides an insight into the manner in which issues of war and peace were handled in the 19th Century and a fascinating case study of a great power relationship prior to the First World War. An important contribution to the study of Asian history, Tsarist Russia, imperial history and the history of British India, this book will also be of interest in India and Pakistan as a study of the events that led to the definition and consolidation of their northern frontiers.


'Ewans’s book is an important contribution to cartographic history. Its significance lies not just in the 11 maps that bring to the forefront the complexities of terrain and political boundaries, nor in the details of the negotiations in the series of appendices that indicates how the lines were finally agreed upon, but in the fact that the author portrays very clearly the ambiguities that plagued the negotiations on both sides, ambiguities that resulted from a limited knowledge of the topography, ethnography and spheres of influence that existed in the region.' - Anita Sengupta, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, Kolkata; Central Asian Survey, Vol. 30, No. 1, March 2011

'[Martin Ewans's] book, based on thorough research, is a welcome addition to the literature on the subject… no serious student of boundary-making can afford to ignore this very instructive work." - A.G. Noorani; Frontline, Volume 29 - Issue 01 : Jan. 14-27, 2012

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Prelude 2. Russia and the Central Asian Khanates 3. The British Debate 4. Anglo-Russian Negotiations, 1865-1873 5. The Agreement of 1873 6. Kashgar 7. The Revival of the ‘Forward Policy’ 8. The ‘Forward Policy’ Enforced 9. War with Afghanistan 10. The Seizure of Merv 11. The Pandjeh Crisis 12. The Settlement of the Western Frontier 13. The Erosion of the 1873 Agreement 14. Confrontation in the Pamirs 15. The Consolidation of Dardistan 16. The Pamirs Settlement 17. Epilogue Appendix 1: The Gorchakov Memorandum of 1864 Appendix 2: The Anglo-Russian Agreement of 1973 Appendix 3: The Gorchakov Memorandum of 1875 Appendix 4: The Western Frontier: Protocol of 1885 Appendix 5: Col. Ridgeway’s Report on the Western Frontier, 1887 Appendix 6: The ‘Durand Agreement’ of 1893 Appendix 7: The Pamirs Agreement of 1895

About the Author

Sir Martin Ewans is a former diplomat, who in the course of his career was closely concerned with Central Asian and South Asian affairs, including postings in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Since retiring, he has written a number of books, including two on Afghanistan.

About the Series

Central Asian Studies

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General