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The Second Afghan War-Sher Ali Khan Caught in the Middle

An English political cartoon from the period, showing Sher Ali Khan 'caught in the middle' between the Russian Bear and the British Lion

During the 1870s, Russian and Britain jockeyed for position. As noted above, Russia had extended her dominion south to Khiva, less than  a thousand miles from British India.  British India, of course, had expanded north into the Sind and Punjab areas.  A tenuous 'understanding' was promulgated between the two powers, naming the Afghan territory and Turkestan north of the Hindu Kush as "neutral territory" but it never reached full acceptance in the capitals.