Lord Auckland

Lord Auckland was the Governor-General of India and had decided that Dost Mohammed could no longer be trusted after his invitation of Yan Vitkevich to Kabul in 1837. He sided with the pro-British Ranjit Singh in the border dispute over Peshawar. It was Lord Auckland's issuing of the Simla Manifesto that made the invasion inevitable. He had been convinced by Macnaghten and others that Shah Shujah would be welcomed as new pro-British leader in Afghanistan. Alexander Burnes had counselled against overthrowing Dost Mohammed and replacing him with Shah Shujah but was overruled. Lord Auckland was also feeding on a wider antipathy to Russia in the region and back in Europe. Russian influence was deemed to be taking a decisive influence in the Persian siege of Herat and it was believed that the Russian influence might soon stretch all the way to the borders of India unless challenged. He had the full backing of his Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston for the activist policies that he was about to pursue. He would take much of the blame when the mission came to such a tragic end and was quietly but quickly replaced as Governor General by Lord Ellenborough in 1842.

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by Stephen Luscombe