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The Khyber Rifles is a para-military force forming part of the modern Pakistani paramilitary's Frontier Corps. Dating from the late nineteenth century the regiment provided the title and setting for a widely read novel, King of the Khyber Rifles.
|Active||1878 – Present|
|Branch||Civil Armed Forces - Frontier Corps|
|Size||6 Wings, approximately equal to six infantry battalions|
|Commandant||Colonel Farrukh Humayun|
Origins and early commandersEdit
During the period of British rule, the Khyber Rifles was one of eight "Frontier Corps" or paramilitary units recruited from the tribesmen of the North West Frontier, serving as auxiliaries for the regular British Indian Army. Raised in the early 1880s as the Khyber Jezailchis; (a jezail being a type of home made musket), the Khyber Rifles recruited from Afridi tribesmen, with British commanders seconded from regular British Indian army regiments. Subordinate officers were Afridis. The first commandant was Sir Robert Warburton, son of an Anglo-Irish soldier Robert Warburton of the Bengal Artillery and his wife Shah Jehan Begum, an Afghan princess. Sir Robert remained the commandant until his retirement in 1899. His deputy, Colonel Sir Aslam Khan Sadozai, the first Muslim commandant, succeeded him. Then, the deputy to Colonel Sir Aslam Khan Sadozai was Malik Afridi Khan of Mulazai. Although the deputy, Malik Afridi Khan spent most of his time as the acting in charge of the Khyber Rifles due to the extensive leave of Sir Aslam.
The headquarters of the Khyber Rifles was at Landi Kotal. Its prime role was to guard the Khyber Pass. The three main garrisons of the regiment were Landi Kotal, at the western end of the Pass, Fort Maude to the east, and Ali Masjid in the centre.
Insignia and uniformEdit
The badge of the Corps comprised two crossed Afghan daggers with the words KHYBER above and RIFLES below.
19th Century campaignsEdit
The regiment saw active service in the Black Mountain expeditions of 1888 and 1891, during a period when the Khyber Pass itself remained peaceful. In August 1897 however, the Khyber Afridi tribes rose and the three forts garrisoned by the Khyber Rifles were overrun, the survivors falling back to Jamrud. It took four months and forty-four thousand troops for the British to retake the Khyber Pass. The Khyber Rifles were reconstituted and resumed their garrisons at Landi Kotal, Fort Maude and Ali Masjid.
Disbandment and Re-establishmentEdit
During the Third Anglo-Afghan War (1919), the loyalty of the Khyber Rifles was put under heavy strain and there were a number of desertions. The regiment was therefore disbanded as unreliable. Of the serving personnel 1,180 opted to be discharged, while smaller numbers transferred to a military police battalion or were formed into a newly raised Khyber Levy Corps.
The Khyber Rifles was however reconstituted from Afridi veterans of World War II in 1946, with its headquarters at Landi Kotal. The commander of the reborn regiment was himself an Afridi, Sharif Khan.
Modern Khyber RiflesEdit
In August 1947, upon partition, the Khyber Rifles and the other Frontier Corps regiments were transferred to Pakistan. In addition to its traditional policing duties in the tribal areas of the Khyber region, the Khyber Rifles provided detachments to serve in Kashmir and East Pakistan. The force is currently involved in tracking down Afghan fugitives and terrorists.
Khyber Rifles - 2009Edit
The modern Regiment comprises 6 Wings (One Wing being the equivalent of one infantry battalion)
- 1 Wing Khyber Rifles at Tirah
- 2 Wing Khyber Rifles at Tirah Valley
- 3 Wing Khyber Rifles at Jamrud
- 4 Wing Khyber Rifles at Bara
- 5 Wing Khyber Rifles at Charbagh
- 6 Wing Khyber Rifles
Col Bilal Mahmood
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Khyber Rifles.|
- Chevenix, Charles. "Frontier Scouts". Cape, London 1985
- Warburton, Sir Robert (1900). Eighteen years in the Khyber.
- John Gaylor: "Sons of John Company - the Indian & Pakistan Armies 1903–1991" page 310; ISBN 0-946771-98-7