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The region of Afghanistan has for much of history been part of the Persian empire.
In November 1878 three British armies push through the mountain passes into Afghanistan.
They take Jalalabad and Kandahar by the end of the year, and soon seem to have achieved everything they might wish for.
Their leader, Ahmad Khan Abdali, enters Kandahar and is elected king of the Afghans in a tribal assembly.
He takes the title Durr-i-Durran ('pearl among pearls') and changes the name of his tribe to the Durrani.
In January 1842 the British garrison of some 4500 troops withdraws from Kabul, leaving Shah Shuja to his fate (he is soon assassinated).
Most of the retreating British and Indian soldiers are also killed during their attempt to regain the safety of India.
The idea of Russian influence in this region (the only neighbouring territory with easy access to Britain's Indian empire) inevitably rings alarm bells in London. The British immediately break off negotiations and are ordered to leave Kabul.
The response of the governor-general of India, Lord Auckland, is forceful but in the event extremely unwise.
A British army recaptures Kabul during the summer of 1842, more as a gesture of defiance than as a matter of practical policy - for the decision is subsequently taken to restore Dost Mohammed to his throne.
He returns from India in 1843 and rules peacefully, without further British interference, for another twenty years.