KPK History / Pakistan

Ambela Campaign (Buner), 1863, Part 8

The terms which were drawn up, and to which the Bunerwals agreed, were:

The breaking-up of the tribal gathering in the Buner Pass.

The destruction of Malka; those carrying out the work to be accompanied by British officers and such escort as might be considered necessary by us.

The expulsion of the Hindustanis from the Buner, Chamla, and Amazai countries.

And, finally, it was stipulated that the headmen of their tribe should be left as hostages until such time as these requirements should have been fulfilled.

On the afternoon of Saturday, the 19th December, the little party of British officers who were to witness the destruction of Malka assembled at Umbeyla. Its members were Reynell Taylor (who was in charge), Alex. Taylor (Commanding Engineer), two Survey officers, Wright, Adye, and myself. Twenty-five Cavalry and 4 companies of the Guides Infantry, under four officers, formed our escort, and it had been arranged that we were to be accompanied by four leading Buner Khans, with 2,000 followers, who would be responsible for our safety, and destroy the fanatics’ stronghold in our presence. Rain was falling heavily, but as all our arrangements had been made, and delay was considered undesirable, it was settled that we should make a start. It was rough travelling, and it was almost dark when we reached Kuria, only eight miles on our way, where we halted for the night, and where we had to remain the next day, as the Bunerwals declared they could not continue the journey until they had come to an understanding with the Amazais, in whose territory Malka was situated.

We had noticed on leaving Umbeyla that, instead of 2,000 Bunerwals, there were only about sixty or seventy at the most, and in reply to our repeated questions as to what had become of the remainder, we were told they would join us later on. It soon became evident, however, that no more were coming, and that the Khans thought it wiser to trust to their own influence with the Amazais rather than to intimidation.

We made a fresh start on the morning of the 21st. Malka was only twelve miles off, but the way was so difficult, and our guides stopped so often to consult with the numerous bands of armed men we came across, that it was sunset before we arrived at our destination.

Malka was perched on a spur of the Mahabun mountain, some distance below its highest peak. It was a strong, well-built place, with accommodation for about 1,500 people. The Amazais did not attempt to disguise their disgust at our presence in their country, and they gathered in knots, scowling and pointing at us, evidently discussing whether we should or should not be allowed to return.

Source of Information/Reference:

Fredrick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, Forty One Years In India: From Subalturn to Commander-In-Chief, Volume II, London, Richard Bentley and Sons, 1897, 19-20.

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