Introduction: General Overview of Afghanistan in the 19th Century
During the Anglo-Afghan wars, Afghanistan experienced the recession of traditional authority and the advent of new models and state regimes in the end of the nineteenth century. The governors of the country found themselves under unusual circumstances when becoming more reliable on the British sway because they made the Afghan nation to take anti-foreign orientation.
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The domestic policy of the rulers was oriented on a more powerful central government, but it failed to fulfill this policy until the advent of Amir Abdur Rahman in 1880 (Barfield , 2010, p. 12). During the reign of Abdur Rahman, the Afghan population did not participate in ruling the government since the Amir believed that that all rules should hold the power apart from people.
Although his model of government has long been dead, it has still perpetuated in the history of the country. In this paper, it is necessary to analyze the sources related to this topic in terms of limitation and benefits, biases of the sources, and the extent to which authors manage to disclose the topic at issue.
Opportunities and Limitations as Presented by the Style Sources
Much research and analysis is dedicated to the life and reign of Abdur Rahman, Amir of Afghanistan. Paradoxically, all of them reveal historical background with regard to history of other countries and geographical location of the country.
However, there are few sources dedicated to the significance and consequences of the model of government established by this notorious ruler. In particular, certain sources present exhaustive information about chronological events taking place on the territory of Afghanistan in the 19th century to explain reasons and underpinning of Rahman’s regime.
A quite comprehensive and reliable source is a biographical narration presented by Abd al-Rahman Khan published in 1900 where the Amir of Afghanistan provides his outlook on the political system in the country as well as policies we implemented to enhancing the power of the nation. A particular attention deserves Chapter 4, A Few Details in My Daily Life where the rule discloses the scope of his reign as well as the routine of his life.
The narration is of great value for the topic because Rahman’s reflections on the political system and on the creation of the new form of the government provide us with veritable reasons and historical explanations why it was necessary to establish this regime.
The book also uniquely represents Rahman’s attitude and vision of future government and, therefore, it permits to understand the events taking place in the end of 19th century from his point of view. Importantly, the narration is presented in the first person so that readers can pursue the autobiography of the Amir who contributed to the rapid transformation of the history of Afghanistan.
It also allows to evaluate his attitude to foreign and domestic policy and his place in forming the new government. In Chapter 4, Rahman (1900) states, “God has created me for His service, to care for the nation. He has intrusted to my care…” (p. 96).
Other sources are presented in the form of a historical and political analysis of the period under consideration and Rahman’s place in the transformation of the Afghan government. Nevertheless, there are still some discrepancies in representing the facts connected to the topic.
In particular, Chatterji (1973), Noelle (1997), and Aghajanian and Blood (2007) historically approach the analysis of the nineteenth-century Afghanistan and provide all event chronologically.
Therefore the style of sources is quite identical where the authors start with overall exploration of the historical situation in the beginning of the 19th century, proceed to the analysis of the Anglo-Afghan wars and end with the analysis of Rahnan’s governance.
However, a comparative analysis reveals that Noelle (1997) provides a bit different techniques in analyzing the history of the state via the analysis of the sway of Amir Dost Muhammad Khan. Hussain (2005) provides the historical panorama of Afghanistan through the display of tribal conflicts.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using the Sources for Historical Study
A closer analysis of Rahman’s autobiographical narrations reveals that the book has a significant historical value for historical studies of the topic at issue. While estimating the source, it is possible to define Rahman’s attitude to his political position and his attitude to his work: “It is a curious thing that the harder I work the more anxious I am to continue working instead of getting tired” (1900, p. 78).
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Therefore, the main benefit of the source lies in a possibility of objective evaluation of other related sources with regard to this one. In other worlds, the source may serve as the pivot for assessing the reliability and validity of other sources. It also grants a possibility to present personal estimation of the topic.
However, the source does not provide strict and accurate facts and objective evaluation of the political and cultural situation in the country because the author puts forward a purely subjective vision of the government.
Hamilton (2002) provides a historical and political overview of the Afghanistan in the 19th century and the role of Abdur Rahman in the formation of the modern state. More importantly, the author accentuates the external influences on the country from the part of the British government. The same structure is pursued in Barfield book called Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History.
The author identifies the period of the government transformation and describes the chain events that triggered the formation of a new political model. Although does not provides consistent information about the reign of Abdur Rahman, they are still appropriate and useful for the topic exploration because the chapters are closely connected with the analysis of Afghanistan in the 19th century.
Although the sources reveal a comprehensive picture of historic events in Afghanistan in combination, they still fail to outline all aspects of cultural and political life in the times of the reign of Amir Abdur Rahman.
Authors Biases As Presented in the Sources under Analysis
Despite the fact that all sources reveal different angles and styles of the topic, there are still some biases in disclosing the cultural and political overview of nineteenth century Afghanistan. Particular considerations concerns the sources presented historical outline of the period with no focus on some important moments (Noelle, 1997; Hussain, 2005, Chatterji, 1973).
Viewing these source from the perspective of the autobiographical narration, they fail present a high level of relevance to the topic. However, Aghajanian and Blood (2007) and Barfield are more successful in approving the data presented in the original work (Rahman, 1900).
In general, all sources under consideration are pertinent to the topic investigated and provide exhaustive information about cultural, political, and social situation in Afghanistan in the 19th century. Despite different views on the topic, the sources still manage to cover all aspects of topic when combined.
Aghajanian, A. and Blood, P. R. (2007). Afghanistan: Past and Present/Comprised of Afghanistan, a Country Study and Country Profile: Afghanistan. LC: Indian-European Publishing.
Barfield, T. (2010). Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History. US: Princeton University Press. ]
Chatterji, N. C. (1973). Muddle of the Middle East. India: Abhinav Publications.
Hamilton, A. (2002). Problems of the Middle East. US: Elibron.com.
Hissain, R. (2005). Pakistan and the Emergence of Islamic militancy in Afghanistan. US: Ashgate Publishing. Ltd.
Rahman, A. (1900). The Life of Abdur Rahman, Amir of Afghanistan. US: Adamant Media Corporation.
Noelle, C. (1997). State and tribe in nineteenth-century Afghanistan: the reign of Amir Dost Muhammad Khan. NY: Routledge.