The First Anglo-Afghan War

The First Anglo–Afghan War lasted from 1839 to 1842.

It was one of the first major conflicts during the Great Game, the 19th century competition for power and influence in Central Asia between Great Britain and Russia, and also marked one of the worst setbacks inflicted on British power in the region after the consolidation of India by the British East India Company.

To justify his plan, the Governor-General of India Lord Auckland issued the Simla Manifesto in October 1838, setting forth the necessary reasons for British intervention in Afghanistan. The manifesto stated that in order to ensure the welfare of India, the British must have a trustworthy ally on India's western frontier. The official British position that their troops were merely supporting Shah Shuja's small army in retaking what was once his throne was generally seen (at the time, as well as now) as pretext for incorporating Afghanistan into the British empire. Although the Simla Manifesto stated that British troops would be withdrawn as soon as Shuja was installed in Kabul, Shuja's rule depended entirely on British arms to suppress rebellion and on British funds to buy the support of tribal chiefs. The British denied that they were invading Afghanistan, instead claiming they were merely supporting its legitimate Shuja government "against foreign interference and factious opposition".