Khyber Pass: Where from Alexander the Great to the British, everyone’s pride was reduced to dust
From childhood, we have heard stories of magic in many places from which the one who went one step forward would either perish or the one who looked back would become a stone idol.
In such a real world, if there is one area that has achieved this position, it is the Khyber Pass within Pakistan, which borders Afghanistan. Tributes had to be paid and even the great conquerors who conquered the world had to bow their heads here.
Almost all historians have written about the Afridi tribes who love war and this love has led to the worst defeats of their enemy.
Foreign and local writers agree that the more attacks on the Khyber Pass, the more likely it is that there is a highway or a passage in the world. The world-famous Khyber Pass is 11 miles from Peshawar. The chapter begins in Khyber and ends approximately 24 miles from here on the Pak-Afghan border at Torkham, from where people cross the Durand Line into Afghanistan.
This area between Bab Khyber and Torkham is so full of dangers for anyone coming here with bad intentions that there is no precedent anywhere else, which is why any ruler in the world and in this region who is called a conqueror Could not control the inhabitants of Khyber Pass. Geography and war status of Khyber Pass
On either side of this path are about one and a half thousand feet high mountain cliffs and in between them are unexplored caves. For the people of this valley, this pass is a natural siege which cannot be conquered by any weapon of war in the world.
The most dangerous part of this is the site of the historic Ali Masjid, where the pass becomes so narrow that it is only a few meters wide, and this is the place where even a few tribes hiding on the mountain tops pass hundreds of feet down They used to bring doomsday for thousands of soldiers and force them to retreat. They even had to obey the tribes to pick up the bodies.
‘Gate of Death Valley’
It would not be wrong to call this gate in Jamrud Tehsil, a few kilometers from Peshawar city, the gate of the valley of death for the enemy.
It is from this gate that the importance of the entire Khyber Pass is highlighted. The gate was built during the reign of former President Field Marshal Ayub Khan. Completed in June 1963, the gate was built by Gamma Mastri and his nephew Sadiq Mastri, two masons from Campbellpur and present-day Attock.
The construction was completed in about two years. The names of the rulers and invaders who used this path are inscribed on various plaques on this gate.
Near this gate, a ship-like fort was built by Sikh General Hari Singh Nalwa so that troops could be stationed here to keep an eye on the Khyber Pass.
The majority of the population of this area belongs to Koki Khel, a sub-branch of the Afridi tribe.
Prof. Dr. Aslam Taseer Afridi is the Principal of Government Degree College Ghiljo in Orakzai District adjoining Khyber and is an authority on the history here.
He says that after the conquest of Iran, the armies of Alexander the Great, targeting the Pakhtun province of Gandhara, encountered the greatest resistance on the Khyber Pass and then had to change course at the behest of their mother.
He says that in order to find out the reasons for the fierce resistance of the Afridi tribes, Alexander’s mother instructed him to send some inhabitants of the area to him on invitation.
These chiefs of the Afridi tribes were engaged in a conversation with Alexander the Great’s mother when they asked him which of them was the chief.
On this everyone claimed that he was the chief and all this got entangled with each other. It was here that Alexander the Great’s mother realized that when these people were not ready to consider any of their relatives greater than themselves, they would not believe Alexander the Great.
The mother advised her son to get rid of the idea of the Khyber Pass route to India, so Alexander the Great had to change his route and proceed to his destination via Bajaur.
Regarding Alexander the Great’s entry into present-day Pakistan, Sir Olaf Caro, a former British governor, wrote in his book Pathan that Alexander could not enter Peshawar and that the rivers he crossed were the Kosuspla and Goris. There was a mountain spring which could only be the upper part of Kontar i.e. Panj Koda from where the Durand Line passes today and it took the way to Nawagai, the place of Eri cows of present day Bajaur.
Great Buddhist monuments
Well-known journalist Allah Bakhsh Yousifi writes in his famous book Tarikh Afridi that a large number of Buddhist archeological sites were found in the Khyber Pass area but due to their beliefs Pakhtuns were against these idols and used to break them.
There is an ancient fort-like building on a hill near Landi Khana in the same area which is known as ‘Kafir Kot’ by Afridi here.
Allah Bakhsh Yousifi writes that Satan Mahmud Ghaznavi, instead of gaining enmity from the Pakhtuns in his attacks on India, trusted them and introduced them as his pride.
The chiefs who took part in the wars with Mahmud Ghaznavi include Malik Khano, Malik Amu, Malik Dawar, Malik Yahya, Malik Mahmood, Malik Arif, Malik Ghazi, Malik Shahid and Malik Ahmed. When Mahmud Ghaznavi conquered Somnath, the Pakhtuns fought recklessly and this style of fighting forced him to name the Pakhtuns as Khans and said that only Pakhtuns deserved to be called Khans.
Historians write that when Zaheeruddin Babar set out for Khyber in the hope of conquering India, Afridi became an iron wall in his path and Babar realized that he had to cross the Khyber Pass by force. They can’t, and even if they did, they would always be worried about the insecurity behind their way to Afghanistan.
So, after consolidating himself, he decided to conquer Khyber again in 1519. Zaheeruddin Babar was able to spend only one night in Ali Masjid after a fierce battle. They reached Jamrud but it occurred to them that if they went to Punjab, it would not be possible for these tribes to cut their way on their return.
Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh believed that a strong hand was needed to maintain power over the Pakhtuns, so Hari Singh Nalwa, the most famous Sikh general, was appointed administrative officer of Peshawar with a large army.
Hari Singh disturbed the Pakhtuns but he could not harm the tribesmen and thanks to the actions of these tribes they terrorized Ranjit Singh himself.
It was the effect of this terror that to avoid the attacks of these tribesmen, Hari Singh Nalwa decided to build a fort at Bab Khyber, at the mouth of the Khyber Pass, and work on it began in 1836.
When the British Sikh army was stationed in Afghanistan, it was necessary to keep the way back for them, the Khyber Pass, open, but this was not possible without paying compensation to the Afridi tribes.
The British also knew that they would not be able to live in peace without Afridi, so they had to pay Afridi Rs. 125,000 a year to keep them in the Khyber Pass.
After a two-year stay in Afghanistan, when the British were defeated, they returned with their ally, the Sikhs, but within the Khyber Pass, the Afridi tribes treated them in such a way that their fourteen classes became enlightened.
Afridi tribes snatched British cannons and guns at the site of Ali Masjid inside the Khyber Pass.
Under the agreements with the Afridi tribes, these tribes are given these sums for the protection of the road and the establishment of peace, etc., which are called Mujabib in the local language.
These amounts are paid twice a year and the recipient is proud. There are also tribal countries and elders who live far away from these tribal areas and often have to spend thousands of rupees to get a few rupees for their share, but they do not give up this tribute.
Governments also pay tribute to these tribal elders in the name of lingi (dastar).
How long has Afridi been here?
Prof. Dr. Aslam Taseer Afridi says that the presence of these Afridis in this area from Jamrud to Tirah and Chora and for them a Pakhtun state was established from Dzhalal-Abad to the present city of Mardan in Pakistan. Pir Rokhan and Waziristan were also included in it.
He says that because of India’s agriculture and lushness, it was considered a golden bird and so the conquerors always wanted to capture it and subdue it and these conquerors took the path of Gandhara, the province of Pakhtuns. Where the Khyber Pass became the biggest wall in their path. They say that in the area around Bab Khyber, about 29 battles were fought between the various tribes around themselves, including the Sikhs, the British and the tribes themselves. There were wars.
The Afridi tribes have many more branches, but each branch is located in a different area. Their largest branch, Koki Khel, extends from Bab Khyber to the Khyber Pass and then to a large area of Tirah.
Ikramullah Koki Khel, nephew of Malik Ataullah Jan Koki Khel of this tribe, says that his tribe was helped by Arbab Sarfraz Khan of Tehkal to take control of Jamrud. He says that while fighters from all over the world wanted to conquer the region, the tug-of-war for power and land between their tribes continued in the region, in which not only the enemies but also their own Paid.
However, he says there has been peace in the area for a long time now and all the tribes are living peacefully within their borders.