Association Of Pakhtoon Scholars FATA

The History of Khyber

The History of Khyber

It is difficult to understand India and Pakistan without a study of that wide hinterland and the gate ways through which great human tides have ever been on the move, some times as exiles, some times as merchants or pilgrims and perchance as armed hosts seeking for wealth. The Khyber is one of these gate ways and as a matter of fact is like a pivot on which turns the political question of the whole North West border of the province.

            The object of this narrative is to place before the public the connection of various events with the Khyber. In order to grasp the exact idea of the history, I hope the addition of a short survey of the county and the people will also be a source of pleasure to those who are more or less interested in the Khyber. Several human hoards and important leaders of armies are supposed to be associated with the Khyber, but I have mentioned a few who I think have importance in the modern history and of whom I have obtained definite information. A brief account of the Afghan wars is mint to give a clear idea of the chronicles of the event in the Khyber.

            The Khyber has ever been in a position to witness with amusement and some times with a look of concern to great changes. The high peaks are dumb witnesses of transfer of powers from the prisons to Mughal, from the Mughals to Nadirshah, and from Nadir to the Durranies and from Duranies to the Britishers, and from the British to Pakistan. Britain’s transfer of power is the latest change and it had nothing unpleasant in the event here in these mountains. They left the country on their own choice. It was not on a battle field, but at a time when they came off successful in the deadly world war. ‘Little favors make friends and big one enemies’ The tribes were recipients of small favors and therefore have parted company as friends. However they consider the transfer of power in terms of Britain’s 120 years rule a matter of liberal and broad minded attitude, befitting the general world conditions. Above this the birth of Pakistan is a matter of particular blessing to Muslim world in general and the tribes in particular.

Historically it deserves to be placed on record that now the tribes feel a natural relief in several aspects of their problems. On the whole a general peace prevails through out the country and internal feuds as well as inter tribal clashes are now fast disappearing. Educational  progress throughout the tribal area is a very bright working scheme , along with newly formed health centers. But it must be carefully noted that these reforms require correct working in a sympathetic spirit. The tribes are on the whole of a highly sympathetic and brotherly trend of mind towards the new Muslim state of Pakistan. But they are cautions, shrewd and very sensitive on safeguard of their rights and interest. As a state Pakistan should go on cautiously to maintain the already infused a spirit of brotherhood with the tribes’ previous history is replete with lessons. The British rule on arrival at Jamrud 1849 was simply welcomed and on the whole liked by the tribes as a better alternative to the Khalsa. But subsequent policies gave birth to the Frontier problems Advisably Pakistan as a state has moral and political responsibilities. The tribes are a sacred trust and are required to be looked at sympathetically. Their treaty rights should be kept in sight and opinion of the tribes as a whole should be as curtained on major and some times on minor problems. However the gallant and worthy president F.M Mohammad Ayub Khan rightly deserves to be a trusted center of tribal hopes and aspirations.  He is to the entire satisfaction of the tribes sympathetically pulled on and is expected to maintain with continued efforts the welfare of the tribes as a sacred trust, not with hair splitting of formalities and legality but as a man at the helm of affairs of a big empire with a liberal mind and a big heart.




 Khyber is Hebrew means a castle or a fort or a pact or association most probably of the jews. The Khyber in Arabia, north of Madina, a military center of the jews on the high way between Hijaz and Seria seems to have taken the imagination of early invaders, on arrival at the western end of the pass, which contained forts high up on the mountains at the mouth of the pass. Strictly speaking the term applies to the defile between Landi Khana and Basiary. On the north the lofty peaks of Rohtass and Tatara, starching like a chain towards Landi Kotal, commands the high way. On the south the pass is bounded by broken ridges, some where rising to great heights traversed by several paths. Here a lofty mountain called Alacha Ghar or Aspo Ghar situated beyond Alimasjid separates the pass from Bazar Valley. Beyond Landikotal the pass falls rapidly in a zigzag path to Landikhana, whence fallowing the course of the Nalla it reaches Torkham, the point on which Pak Afgan boundry line meet. Continuing further it emerges in the plain on the right bank of the Kabul river, where Dakka and Afgan post is situated.

Geographically the country included within the name Khyber is divided in the fallowing main divisions:

1:  The country on the right bank of Kabul river situated between the river and the chain of spina soonka and Torsapar, Haidery Kandao and Lakasar. Here notable places are, Samsai, Shinpokh, Shinalo ferry on the river bank, Loi Shilman, Kam Shalman, Warsak and Loramaina, with main part of local population. A road runs through the country from Shahgai to Landikotal and Ghakhi Sar, where two miles of mule path completes the route to kam Dakka, a joint Pak Afghan village on the right bank of K.River,

2:  The pass between Torkham and Jamrud comprising central places of tribal business activity. Jamrud and Landikotal, with Railway line, douable road and main electricity and Telegraph lines.

 3: Bazar Valley, Burg, Alacha Karamna and Chora bounded by Sur Ghar Mangal Bagh candao and the Chain of mountains between Sasobi Kandao and Alacha Ghar. A mule path passes through this region, from Alimasjid to Afghanistan, via Sasobi Kandao.

 4: The Bara valley or this country between on both the banks of Bara river, between Mamane and Dwa Toi Tirah.

 5: The Pajgal valley, which extends from Dawa Toi towards north western direction along the nulla on either side of the stream as far as Mitto Ghar 11420 one of the peaks of the Safed Koh range.

 6: The Maidan valley is situated beyond Dawa Toi up to Chamkano country. This region is bounded by Pajgal on the north, Chamkanies on the west, Torghar range on the south and Bara valley and Takhtakai peaks on the east.

 7: Kajori Plain is the region on either side on the Bara steam extending from Bara fort west wardly up to Karawal, it is bounded Kohat Peshawar road, Jamrud, Kacha Garhi, Besai ridges and Ghund Ghar on the whole Bazar Bara and Pajgal and Maidan are considered to be within the term Tirah, but strictly speaking the word Tirah is applicable to Maidan, Pajgal and a part of Bara Valley.


There are three famous routes between Peshawar and Afghanistan through the Khyber.

1. The Khyber Pass fit for wheeled traffic.

2. The Dhilman or Dabber route which begins from Kam Dakka through Ghakhi Kandao, Loi Shilman, either through the river bank or through Kam Shilman, the Dabar hills, Lora Maina and Shahgai situated north of the Khyber it is on thw whole a default mule path.

3. The Bazar valley route which begins from Ali Masjid either through Alacha, Karamna or through Chora, and then from through Bazar valley to Sasobi pass or Thabai Kandao to Afghanistan. This is a very difficult mule path. Nadir shah used this route.

 The People:The origin of the Khyber tribes is as uncertain as that of the other tribes in this part of the world. There are more than one opinions about their origin. Even said jamtauddin the famous Afghan identified with Kunar valley has recorded a few uncertain words hesitatingly about their origin in his History of the Afghans. Probably it is reasonable to say that they belong to the “pactiyan” stock, which have been established in the present country for many centuries, and definitely mentioned by the Greek Historians.

Taking into consideration the Geographical position of this country, situated as it is on the famous high way from central Asia to India it is likely that they have a large admixture of numerous northern tribes. The tribes in the Khyber valley are Afridies , Shinwaries, Shilmanies, and Mullagories.

 Afridies:The Afridies are in all probabilities the representatives of the “Apparatus” of Herodotus. Their name and position are the same. Their country was extensive, but it was probably at an early period was encroached upon by a variety of tribes and the natives, unable to with stand retired to the interior of their mountains. They are divided into eight clans.

  1. The Kuki Khail: who live in Rajgal, a part of Bara and in three fertile central places, Lala China, Jamrud and Alimasjid. The clan has advantage of full command of the southern slopes of the Safed Koh range locally called the Morga. They are owners of fertile land rich Jungals and easy communication with Afghanistan and the villages on the northern slopes of the Safed Koh. There for the tribe can live on the whole on its own recources. The late khan Bahadur Nawab Zaman Kham, an influential chief who was knows as guardian of tribal prestige of the tribes, through calm and storm belonged to this tribe. His son Malik Mohammad Ali khan is now chief of tribe. Under his keen supervision considerable number of his youngsters have taken up education as a necessity.
  2. Malik Din Khail: who live in maidan, chora and kajuri plain maidan is thickly populated and their scanty product of maize is not enough to last through the severe winter season. There for the tribe, though strong, live at the mercy of various tribes, through whose limits they pass and return during winter migration, to and from kajuri plain or Peshawar village.
  3. Kamber Khails: are very migratory. They live in maidan, Kaho Dara, and along Shalober stream. In winter they move to kajori plain and to various places in Peshawar and Kohat districts.
  4. The Zakha Khails: are exclusive occupants of Bazar valley, Alacha, Burg, Karamna and a part of Bara valley, and “Khyber” villages. They have their important for their geographical position. They command the famous alternative route, namely Sasobi, between Afghanistan and Peshawar. They are not migratory, owning to the temperate climate of their valley.
  5. The Sipah: who live in Bara valley and Kajuri plain. They have easy access to Afghanistan through Kandao and at a very short distance to Nazian vally Afghanistan. The notorious rifle factory at ILAM GUDDAR is managed by this tribe.
  6. The Kamar Khails: are a small tribe and mostly live on the western side of the Bara stream, A part of them migrate in winter towards the kajury plain.

7.      The Aka Khails: are a part of the Afridies but they were not included in the Khyber Agreement of 1881 and therefore previously had no allowance.In 1902 by demand on the tribes, they were included with in the Khyber tribes under a separate agreement. They have a standing feud with the Sipah tribe.Generally the Afridies are considered to be the most formidable on the border. Their country is about 1500 SQ miles and long about 80 Miles braod Maidan is very fertile area, with a high of 6000FT It is surrounded by thick jungles of pine trees and several streams.The famous Bagh mosque is situated in this plateau, which is used as the Center of tribal political activity, in summer Juma prayers are offered here With through discussion of inter tribal and political topics, The place is With full agreement decided and maintained to be sacred for all dispute.The cool breezes and wonderful fertile affords to the plain a poetical Reputation.

The afridi clans are divided in two political groups namely “GAR” and “Samil”. As to the origin of these divisions opinions differ, without Satisfactory conclusion. Whatever the origin of the word may be they are Afghan and naturally split up in sections and clans and tribes.

Shinwaries:The shinwaries are supposed to be the latest arrivals in this part of the Country. The occupy the northern skirts of the Safed Koh. Their country Runs as parallel with the Afridies, with Saded koh as barriers between Them, from chapriar river to Landikotal 140 extends the Shinwari county.This geographical position affords great importance to the tribe. The Shinwaries of Landikotal are with in the Khyber. They belong to Alisher Khail branch of the main tribe. Main part of the tribe is in Afghanistan.The late khan Bahadur Malik Mir Akbar khan, chief of the tribe, by a Courteous attitude of  hospitality raised the political importance of the Tribe, with a trust spirit of trust and good will between the government And the tribe. He died in 1929. His son khan Bahadur Malik Murad khan is Present chief of the tribe. Malik Amir Humza khan “HUMZA” the famous Poet and writer of pushto belong to this tribe. He is recipient of many Trophies and as an author his books are ear marked as “Sandard” on the Language.A part of this tribe live in Mohammad country where they Command the Narang Ferry on the Kunar river. Another very influential Branch of the Shinwaries live in Kohat.

 Shilmanies:Shilmanies are representative of Mohamands. They are divided into three Sections, namely Shamser khails, Halimzai and Kam Shilmanies. Shamser Khails are relatives of Morcha Khail Mohands, Halimzai are kith and kin of  Halimzai tribe on the other side of the Kabul river, and kam shilmanies Belong to the Tarakzai Mohmands.The tribe live on the right bank of the river, and commandThe famous Dabar route, used far ages as alternative to the Khyber pass Highway. They were under the political controle of the khans of Lalpura,But were separated from the khan as well as from their main tribe by the Khyber agreement of 1881.

Mullagories: Mullagories very little is know of the origin of this tribe, they live on the Right bank of the kubal river with the settled district as their next door Neighbor. They command a part of the Dabar route and carry on business With neighboring villages of the district. Shahid Miana marble query, and Warsak scheme are within the limits of this tribe. The late khan Bahadur Malik Adam khail was chief of this tribe. They have as standing feud with Kuki khail Afridies.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       


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