The Erosion of the 1873 Agreement
Until the 1860s, very little was known in British India about the Pamir region. The only Briton who had penetrated that far was, improbably, a naval officer, Lieutenant John Wood, who, as a member of a small mission to Afghanistan, had been sent in 1837 to explore the upper reaches of the Amu Darya.1 Crossing Badakhshan in the depths of winter, he reached at Ishkashim the branch of the river known as the Panjah and marched upstream to what he believed to be its source, Lake Sarikol, commonly known as Wood’s Lake and later to be named Lake Victoria. It was not until the Mirza arrived in 1869 that any further knowledge was acquired.2 Taking much the same route as Wood, and meeting much the same extreme conditions, he reached a point on the river, known as Qala Panja, where the river bifurcated. Where Wood had taken the more northerly confluent, the Mirza chose the more southerly, known as the Sarhad, which he followed to its source before crossing into Kashgaria.