TRIPARTITE TREATY (June 1838). As the rumours of Russian infiltration into Persia and Afghanistan spread in the late thirties of the nineteenth century, the Governor-General, Lord Auckland, despatched Captain Alexander Burnes to Kābul to make an alliance with Amīr Dost Muhammad. The Afghān ruler made Peshāwar the price of his co-operation which the British could not afford without going to war with the Sikhs.

        Auckland had to choose between Dost Muhammad and Raṇjīt Siṅgh. He chose Raṇjīt Siṅgh and decided to seek his help in ousting Dost Muhammad and putting Shāh Shujā' on the throne of Afghanistan. In April 1838, Burnes' mission was withdrawn from Kābul. In May 1838, Sir William Macnaghten was deputed to Lahore to engage the Mahārājā in a treaty which aimed at the revival of the defunct Sikh ---Afghān agreement of 1833. After prolonged negotiations, the treaty was signed by Raṇjīt Siṅgh on 26 June 1838 which is known as the Tripartite Treaty. The Treaty confirmed control of the Sikh kingdom, in perpetuity, over the former Afghān possessions of Kashmīr, Attock, Hazārā, Peshāwar and its dependencies up to the Khaibar, Bannū, Ṭonk, Kālābāgh and other dependent Wazīrī districts, the Ḍerājāt and the rich and fertile province of Multān. For relinquishing its claims to Shikārpur, the Lahore Government, under British mediation, was to receive a sum of 15,00,000 rupees out of the levy on the Amīrs of Sindh. Shāh Shujā' renounced all his claims in regard to Sindh and agreed to abide by the settlement made by the British and the Sikh ruler in Sindh. Shāh Shujā' surrendered to joint Anglo-Sikh authority control of the foreign relations of Afghanistan. The Lahore Government bound itself, for an annual payment of 2,00,000 rupees by the Shāh, to maintain a Muhammadan auxiliary force of not fewer than 5,000 men for the Shāh's aid. Finally, Hirāt was to be independent, and, at Kābul, Shāh Shujā' was required to have a British envoy. It has been said that the real purpose of the British in working out the Tripartite treaty was to thwart Sikh designs on Sindh.


  1. Cunningham, Joseph Davey, A History of the Sikhs. London, 1849
  2. Hasrat, Bikrama Jīt, Anglo-Sikh Relations. Hoshiarpur, 1968
  3. Ganda Singh, ed., Private Correspondence Relating to the Anglo-Sikh Wars. Amritsar, 1955

B. J. Hasrat