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Group. The Amir Yakub Khan, General Daod Shah, Habeebula Moustafi, with Major Cavagnari C.S.I. & Mr Jenkyns [Gandamak].

Group. The Amir Yakub Khan, General Daod Shah, Habeebula Moustafi, with Major Cavagnari C.S.I. & Mr Jenkyns [Gandamak].

Photographer: Burke, John

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1879

Shelfmark: Photo 487/(100)

Item number: 100

Length: 20

Width: 31.7

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph, a formal seated portrait of five figures (Major Cavagnari second from left, Amir Yakub Khan in the centre, the tall Daoud Shah next to the Amir, and Jenkyns and Habibullah Moustafi at extreme left and right), taken by John Burke at Gandmak in Afghanistan in May 1879. Burke accompanied British forces into Afghanistan in 1878 and covered the events of the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-80), becoming the first significant photographer of the country and its people in the process. The British, having defeated the Amir Sher Ali's forces, wintered in Jalalabad, waiting for the new Amir Yakub Khan to accept their terms and conditions. One of the key figures in the negotiations was Pierre Louis Napoleon Cavagnari (1841-1879). A half-Irish, half-Italian aristocrat, descended from the royal family of Parma on his father's side, he had been brought up in England, with schooling at Addiscombe. He served with the East India Army in the 1st Bengal Fusiliers and then transferred into political service, becoming Deputy Commisssioner at Peshawar, and was appointed as envoy by the Viceroy Lord Lytton in the 1878 mission to Kabul which the Afghans refused to let proceed. This refusal was one of a series of events which led to the Second Afghan War.

In the photograph, the 34 year old Yakub is wearing the white clothes he favoured. The six foot tall Daoud Shah, from the Ghilzai tribe, was his commander-in-chief. He had served under the former Amir Sher Ali as well and was known as an able man. Habibullah Khan had been a trusted confidant of Sher Ali and was now the moustafi or prime minister of Yakub Khan.

In May 1879, Yakub Khan travelled to Gandamak, a village just outside Jalalabad and entered into negotiations with Cavagnari as a result of which the Treaty of Gandamak was signed whereby the Amir ceded territories to the British and accepted a British envoy in Kabul. Cavagnari took up the post of British Resident in Kabul in July 1879. He was known to be reckless and arrogant rather than discreet and his role as envoy was viewed as injudicious even by some of the British. The situation in Kabul was tense and eventually some Afghan troops who had not been paid by the Amir rebelled and attackled the Residency, killing Cavagnari and his mission in September 1879. The war was far from over despite the treaty and British troops were recalled over the mountains to occupy Kabul, secure it and launch punitive action against the Afghans. Yakub Khan abdicated, taking refuge in the British camp and was subsequently sent to India in December.

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