The Khyber Pass (Urdu: درۂ خیبر; Pashto: د خيبر دره, romanized: De Xēber Dara, lit.'Valley of Khyber' [d̪ə xebər d̪ara]) is a mountain pass in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, on the border with the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan. It connects the town of Landi Kotal to the Valley of Peshawar at Jamrud by traversing part of the White Mountains. Since it was part of the ancient Silk Road, it has been a vital trade route between Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent and a strategic military choke point for various states that controlled it. The Khyber Pass is considered one of the most famous mountain passes in the world.[1]

Khyber Pass
د خیبر درہ (Pashto)
درۂ خیبر (Urdu)
The pass connects Landi Kotal to the Valley of Peshawar.
Elevation1,070 m (3,510 ft)
Traversed byN-5 National Highway; Khyber Pass Railway
LocationBetween Landi Kotal and Jamrud
RangeWhite Mountains (Spīn Ghar, Safēd Kōh)
Coordinates34°04′33″N 71°12′14″E / 34.07570°N 71.20394°E / 34.07570; 71.20394
Khyber Pass د خیبر درہ (Pashto) درۂ خیبر (Urdu) is located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Khyber Pass د خیبر درہ (Pashto) درۂ خیبر (Urdu)
Location of Khyber Pass
Khyber Pass د خیبر درہ (Pashto) درۂ خیبر (Urdu) is located in Pakistan
Khyber Pass د خیبر درہ (Pashto) درۂ خیبر (Urdu)
Khyber Pass
د خیبر درہ (Pashto)
درۂ خیبر (Urdu) (Pakistan)
Khyber Pass د خیبر درہ (Pashto) درۂ خیبر (Urdu) is located in Afghanistan
Khyber Pass د خیبر درہ (Pashto) درۂ خیبر (Urdu)
Khyber Pass
د خیبر درہ (Pashto)
درۂ خیبر (Urdu) (Afghanistan)

Geography edit

Following Asian Highway 1 (AH1), the summit of the pass at the town of Landi Kotal is five kilometres (three miles) inside Pakistan, descending 460 m (1,510 ft) into the Valley of Peshawar at Jamrud, about 30 km (19 mi) from the Afghan border by traversing part of the Spin Ghar mountains.[2]

History edit

The Khyber Pass with the fortress of Ali Masjid in 1848
Afghan chiefs and a British political posed at Jamrud Fort at the mouth of the Khyber Pass in 1878
The British Indian Army's elephant battery of heavy artillery along the Khyber Pass at Campbellpur, 1895

Historical invasions of the Indian subcontinent have been predominantly through the Khyber Pass, such as those of Cyrus, Darius I, Genghis Khan, and later Mongols such as Duwa, Qutlugh Khwaja and Kebek. Prior to the Kushan era, the Khyber Pass was not a widely used trade route.[3]

The pass has been traversed by military expeditions launched by empires such as the Achaemenids and Sassanids, as well as by nomadic invaders from Central Asia, including the Saka, Yuezhi, and White Huns.[2] Indian empires rarely extended their control beyond the pass, with the Maurya king Čandragupta being an exception.[2]

The Khyber Pass has witnessed the spread of Greek influence into India and the expansion of Buddhism in the opposite direction.[2] Despite military activities, trade continued to thrive there.[2] The Khyber Pass became a critical part of the Silk Road, a major trade route from East Asia to Europe.[4][5]

The Parthian Empire fought for control of passes such as this to profit from the trade in silk, jade, rhubarb, and other luxuries moving from China to Western Asia and Europe. Through the Khyber Pass, Gandhara (in present-day Pakistan) became a regional center of trade connecting Bagram in Afghanistan to Taxila in Pakistan, adding Indian luxury goods such as ivory, pepper, and textiles to the Silk Road commerce.[6]: 74 

During the Islamic period, Muslim rulers, including Mahmud Ghaznavi, Muhammad of Ghor, and Babur, used the Khyber and nearby passes for their invasions of Indian subcontinent.[2] The Mughals attempted to control the pass but faced resistance from local tribes.[2] Ahmad Shah Durrani was the last major Islamic conqueror to cross the pass, though his successors' campaigns had limited lasting impact.[2] Finally, Sikhs under Ranjit Singh captured the Khyber Pass in 1834.[6]

Railways through the impregnable Khyber Pass,1939. Digitized by the Panjab Digital Library.

In the 19th century, the British East India Company aimed to secure the Khyber Pass against potential Russian threats.[2] The region was contested during the Anglo-Afghan Wars, with control shifting between the British, Sikhs, and Afghans.[2] After the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878–1880), the Khyber region came under British control, and the policy of paying local tribes to maintain the route's security was implemented.[2] The British invested in infrastructure development, building roads, railways, and telegraph lines through the pass.[2] For strategic reasons, after the First World War, the government of British India built a heavily engineered railway through the Pass.[2] The Khyber Pass Railway, from Jamrud, near Peshawar, to the Afghan border near Landi Kotal was opened in 1925.[2] A common phrase during British colonial period described the length of what was then British India as "Khyber to Kanyakumari".[7][8]

During World War II, concrete dragon's teeth were erected on the valley floor due to British fears of a German tank invasion of India.[9]

Bab-e-Khyber, the entrance gate of the Khyber Pass

Following the partition of British India in 1947, the Khyber Pass became part of Pakistan. Passenger services through the pass have been intermittent, with the Khyber Steam Safari, a joint venture between a private company and Pakistan Railways, operating in the 1990s.[2]

The Pass became widely known to thousands of Westerners and Japanese who traveled it in the days of the hippie trail, taking a bus or car from Kabul to the Afghan border. At the Pakistani frontier post, travellers were advised not to wander away from the road, as the location was a barely controlled Federally Administered Tribal Area. Then, after customs formalities, a quick daylight drive through the Pass was made. Monuments left by British Indian Army units from the time of British colonialism, as well as hillside forts, could be viewed from the highway.

The area of the Khyber Pass has been connected with a counterfeit arms industry that makes various types of weapons known to gun collectors as Khyber Pass copies using local steel and blacksmiths' forges. To the north of the Khyber Pass lies the country of the Shalmani tribe and Mullagori tribe. To the south is Afridi Tirah, while the inhabitants of villages in the Pass itself are Afridi clansmen. Throughout the centuries, Pashtun clans, particularly the Afridis and the Afghan Shinwaris, have regarded the Pass as their own preserve and have levied a toll on travellers for safe conduct. Since this has long been their main source of income, resistance to challenges to the Shinwaris' authority has often been fierce.

Recent history edit

The pass was serviced by the Khyber Pass Railway, currently closed.

During the War in Afghanistan, the Khyber Pass was a major route for resupplying military armament and food to NATO forces in the Afghan theater of conflict since the US started the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Almost 80 percent of the NATO and US supplies that were brought in by road were transported through the Khyber Pass. It was also used to transport civilians from the Afghan side to the Pakistani one. Until the end of 2007, the route had been relatively safe, since the tribes living there (mainly the Afridi, a Pashtun tribe) were paid by the Pakistani government to keep the area safe.

In January 2009, Pakistan sealed off the bridge as part of a military offensive against Taliban guerrillas. This military operation was mainly focused on Jamrud, a district on the Khyber road. The target was to “dynamite or bulldoze homes belonging to men suspected of harboring or supporting Taliban militants or carrying out other illegal activities”.[10]

This increasingly unstable situation in northwest Pakistan, made the US and NATO broaden supply routes, through Central Asia (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan). Even the option of supplying material through the Iranian far southeastern port of Chabahar was considered.[11]

In 2010, the already complicated relationship with Pakistan (always accused by the US of hosting the Taliban in this border area without reporting it) became tougher after the NATO forces, under the pretext of mitigating the Taliban's power over this area, executed an attack with drones over the Durand line, passing the frontier of Afghanistan and killing three Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan answered by closing the pass on 30 September which caused a convoy of several NATO trucks to queue at the closed border.[12] This convoy was attacked by extremists apparently linked to Al Qaida which caused the destruction of more than 29 oil tankers and trucks and the killing of several soldiers.[13]

In August 2011, the activity at the Khyber pass was again halted by the Khyber Agency administration due to the more possible attacks of the insurgency over the NATO forces, which had suffered a period of large number of assaults over the trucks heading to supply the NATO and ISAF coalitions all over the frontier line.[14]

Gallery edit

Cultural references edit

A number of locations around the world have been named after the Khyber Pass:

Other references include the following:

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Wright, Colin. "Maliks of Khyber Pass". Retrieved 2023-03-07.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Wilde, Andreas (September 27, 2022). "KHYBER PASS". Brill – via
  3. ^ Tarn, William Woodthorpe (2010). The Greeks in Bactria and India. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781108009416. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  4. ^ Insight Guides Silk Road. Apa Publications (UK) Limited. 2017. p. 424. ISBN 9781786716996.
  5. ^ Arnold, Guy (2014). World Strategic Highways. Routledge. p. 12. ISBN 9781135933739.
  6. ^ a b The Khyber Pass: A History of Empire and Invasion. Union Square Press. 2008. ISBN 978-1-4027-5696-2.
  7. ^ Nalwa, Vanit (2009). Hari Singh Nalwa, "champion of the Khalsaji" (1791-1837). New Delhi: Manohar. pp. 318–. ISBN 978-81-7304-785-5.
  8. ^ a b Rajghatta, Chidanand (27 June 2017). "Attock to Cuttack, PM Narendra Modi causes a stir". The Economic Times. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  9. ^ "Introducing The Khyber Pass". 2009-03-24. Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
  10. ^ Oppel Jr, Richard A. (2 January 2009). "Pakistan Briefly Reopens Key NATO Supply Route". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 20 May 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  11. ^ "Pakistan and Afghanistan". Institute for the Study of War. Archived from the original on 9 February 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  12. ^ "Pakistan Reopens Khyber Pass To US/NATO". Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  13. ^ Karin Brulliard (October 9, 2010). "Pakistan reopens border to NATO supply trucks". Washington Post Foreign Service. Archived from the original on 9 February 2011. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  14. ^ Ahmad Nabi (August 17, 2011). "Nato supplies via Khyber Pass halted due to security". Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  15. ^ "Khyber Pass Trail at Mugdock Park". Trailforks. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  16. ^ Khyber Pass Map Archived 2011-10-30 at the Wayback Machine. (2013-03-01). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  17. ^ "Khyber Pass Delhi". Google Maps. Retrieved 2013-07-12.
  18. ^ "MGF City , Khyber Pass , North Delhi". Archived from the original on 2012-03-10. Retrieved 2011-05-19.
  19. ^ "East's Eden". Kingston upon Hull City Council. September 2002. Archived from the original on 2013-05-17.
  20. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1001519)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  21. ^ McNally, Frank (20 February 2013). "An Irishman's Diary". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  22. ^ "OpenStreetMap". OpenStreetMap. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  23. ^ "New subway to replace Kings Cross "Khyber Pass"". This Is Local London. 12 August 2004.
  24. ^ a b National Geographic Society (2011-11-21). "The Khyber Pass". National Geographic Society. Archived from the original on 2019-08-07. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  25. ^ "The Ballad of East and West". Archived from the original on 2019-08-22. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  26. ^ "Where was 'Ghosted' filmed? All 'Ghosted' filming locations". 21 April 2023. Retrieved 2023-04-27.
  27. ^ "Where was Ghosted filmed?". Retrieved 2023-04-27.

Further reading edit

External links edit