In the first days of 1839, Shuja-ul-Mulk joined the army of the Indus under Sir John (afterwards Lord) Keane, and arriving at Kandahar, after a victorious march by the Bolan, was there crowned Shah, as rightful heir of the "Durrani Empire," on the 8th May, with great pomp and ceremony In the following month, Shah Shuja-ul-Mulk marched from Kandahar towards Kabul with the British army, which on the way there took Ghazni for him after a short siege and brilliant assault On the fall of Ghazni, Dost Muhammad fled beyond the Hindu Kush, and the British army advancing entered Kabul in August, and there set Shah Shuja on "the throne of his ancestors" - a first grandfather With this brilliant exploit was secured the first triumph of the British policy It was short lived, however, and ended in disaster. For a time all went smoothly, and British gold and justice were much appreciated by the people. But presently, owing to the indiscreet and unwarrantable interference of our "politicals," and their ignorance of the character of this independent people, so different in every particular from the meek and cringing native of Hindustan, a very marked change came over the aspect of affairs.
We had set up a king on "the throne of his ancestors" with every available pomp and parade, had declared him sovereign of the Durrani Empire, and then at once, through our politicals, denied him the exercise of his legitimate powers, and even thwarted his wishes in matters of the most trivial importance - errors of judgment, which, though lightly considered by us, were, nevertheless, unbearably galling to the sensitiveness and pride of an Eastern king.
After the enthronement of Shah Shuja, Dost Muhammad returned to Kabul from his asylum with the ruler of Khulm and tendered his submission to the British Envoy. He was sent off to India with some of his wives and two of his sons, and they became pensioners of the British Government. With the deportation of Dost Muhammad the most dangerous and only serious factor of hostility was removed, and the Shah naturally looked for the surrender of his kingly functions by the British Envoy, and was impatient for the departure of the British army. His wishes, however, did not suit the views of the British Government, although the expense of maintaining their troops, at so great a distance from their base, was become a question of serious perplexity Added to this, the Shah was himself straitened for means to meet the charges on his own government To obviate these difficulties, measures were set on foot to reduce the State pensions of the Sirdars or Barons - pensions which had been originally granted for military service to be rendered whenever the Shah took the field.
These measures, adopted with the object of reducing the expenses of the British occupation, very soon produced a very discontented feeling among the Barons, and they openly expressed their disloyalty and threats of hostility The ferment among the nobles and chiefs thus created by these measures of 1840 went on increasing all through the following year, but were in a most extraordinary manner neglected by our highest officials, though it was at the time well known that the priesthood were unusually energetic in stirring up the people against us. In this state of the public mind, the Government reduced the allowances of the Ghilzai chiefs in the country between Kabul and Jalalabad. They were the tinder, the Shah the match, and the British Envoy struck the two together. The spark was caught up and immediately burst into flame, which spread as a great conflagration through all the Ghilzai tribes from Kandahar to Jalalabad The Ghilzais were joined by the neighbouring hill-men and nomades, and the communications of the British army were cut off on all sides.
The march of Sale to Jalalabad from Kabul to open the road, and his gallant defence of that place, are matters of history and proud memorials The subsequent course of events at Kabul, and the retreat of the British army, in January, 1842, on the plighted word of a sanguinary and notoriously faithless enemy, are also matters of history; but we would fain pass them by in silence, and cover them with the veil of mourning On the departure of the British army from Kabul, dissensions arose in the court of the Shah, and he was murdered.
Then followed Pollock's avenging army. It reached Kabul in September of the same year, and was there joined by Nott's force from Kandahar. Our captives were recovered, punishment was inflicted on the city, and the avenged army set out on its march to India in the following month. The brlliant exploits of Nott and Pollock served as a salve to heal the wounded pride of the British nation, and the nation willingly accepted the vengeance exacted as wiping out the disgrace of our disastrous retreat. It was not so viewed by the Afghans however, who, careless of life themselves and accustomed to scenes of death and destruction, only remembered that a British army came to their country, retreated, and was annihilated on the march out. It is the memory of this success of theirs that has confirmed them in their haughty pride of national prowess, and in their belief in their superionty to us as a military people; whilst, further, it has increased their hatred of us as infidels and aggressive foreigners.
On the return of the British army to India, Dost Muhammad was released and forthwith repaired to Kabul, where he was at once received with open arms as Amir, Kuhndil at the same time returned to Kandahar from his asylum in Persia "Whilst Herat remained in the hands of Yar Muhammad, who had murdered Kamran at the time the British army evacuated Kabul. And now all Afghanistan was in the hands of the Barakzai.