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Khyber Pass

From Academic Kids


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The Khyber Pass (also called the Khaiber Pass in old documents) is the most important pass connecting Pakistan with Afghanistan. It cuts through the Sefid Koh mountains, part of the Hindu Kush range. Throughout history it has been an important trade route between central Asia and the Subcontinent and a strategic military location.

Contents

Geography

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Going northwest from the eastern end, the pass starts from near Jamrud (15 km west of Peshawar) and ends just beyond Torkham on the Afghan frontier, a distance travelled along a winding road of 53 km. The route passes Fort Maude and Ali Masjid to reach the narrowest point of the pass, just 3 m wide. The summit is at Landi Kotal, followed by a steep decline to Michni Kandao, Landi Khana and Torkham. Here the gradient becomes easier as the pass exits at Haft Chah onto the Dakka plain. From Dakka, the Kabul River flows back to Peshawar through the Loe Shilman Gorge, a less direct and more difficult route, but the one chosen by Alexander the Great when he crossed over into India in 326 BCE.

Jamrud is at an elevation of 491 m (1610 feet), while the summit at Landi Kotal is 1070 m (3509 feet). A road was built by the British through the Pass in 1879 and a railroad in the 1920s (the previous railhead was at Jamrud).

History

The Khyber Pass has been an invasion route ever since the time of Alexander the Great, with several Muslim invasions of India, culminating with the establishment of the Moghul Empire from 1526. Going the other way, the British invaded Afghanistan through the Pass and fought three Afghan Wars in 1839-42, 1878-9, and 1919.

To the north of the Khyber Pass lies the country of the Mullagori Afridis. To the south is Afridi Tirah, while the inhabitants of villages in the Pass itself are Afridi clansmen. Throughout the centuries the 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 form of extortion has always been their main source of income, they are naturally disturbed when anyone comes along to interfere with it. Hence their dislike of invading armies and penetrations, and other exercises of authority, even though some armies have been prepared to pay the blackmail, in the form of allowances. Resistance from the local tribesmen has always been fierce.

George Molesworth, a member of the British force of 1919, summarised it well. "Every stone in the Khaibar has been soaked in blood."

Bibliography

And also...

On a lighter note, the Khyber Pass was supposedly a location in the 1968 comedy film Carry On up the Khyber. However, the Khyber Pass scenes in the film were actually shot in Snowdonia.bg:Кибер da:Khyberpasset de:Chaiber-Pass fr:Passe de Khyber

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