For the purposes of this enquiry it will suffice to consider as Afghanistan all that region which is bounded on the north by the Oxus, and on the south by Balochistan; on the east by the middle course of the Indus and on the west by the desert of Persia. The inhabitants of the area thus defined are not a united nation of the same stock and lineage; nor do they possess the same political interests and tribal affinities. On the contrary, they consist of different races, and diverse nationalities, with rival interests and antagonistic ambitions as towards each other.
The only common bond of union among them is that of religion, and to this their devotion is of a fanatic kind, owing to the blindness of their ignorance and the general barbarism of their social condition. It is a devotion, too, which has been fostered and stimulated in no small degree - though not always with uniform earnestness of response - through the priesthood by the persistent and determined efforts of the dominant race, - of the Durrani, - who has owed the continuance of his authority and power to our consistent support in return for a pledged friendship which has at last been discovered to the world as false and treacherous from beginning to end.
The cohesion, however, which the several distinct races derive from the influence of a common religion is not very strong nor very durable, owing to the classification, somewhat unequal though it be, of the people under the two great and hostile sects into which the church of Muhammad, known by the term Islam (whence Muslim, plural Muslimin, vulgo Musalman, the name for its professors), is divided In other words, owing to their division into the orthodox Sunni and the heterodox Shia. So great and so irreconcilable are the jealousies and animosities of these two rival sects, that they destroy, to a considerable extent, the strength otherwise derivable from the profession of a common religion. And thus it is we find that the religious element alone fails completely to dominate the divergencies of race instincts and tribal interests.
To the operation of these causes combined is to be attributed the fact that the Afghan nationality remains a disunited agglomeration of different races, which are only loosely held together, so long as one or other of them, propped by external alliance and support, is maintained in a position of dominance as the ruling race For the last hundred and thirty years, more or less, this dominant position has been held by the Afghan, or, as he is generally styled in reference to his being of the ruling race, the Durrani, and it is from him that the complex nationality, as well as the country itself, have received their names - Afghan and Afghanistan.
The principal nationalities which together compose the inhabitants of Afghanistan, are the Afghan, the Pathan, the Ghilzai, the Tajuk, and the Hazarah There are besides the lesser nationalities of the Char Aymac on the western frontiers about Herat, the Uzbak on the southern bank of the Oxus, and the Kafir on the southern slopes of Hindu Kush. These, however, exercise little, if any, influence in the affairs of the country" as a whole, and need not now engage our attention. Let us proceed to notice as briefly as possible each of the first set in turn.