Khyber Pass

The Khyber Pass (Pashto: د خیبر درہ‎, Urdu: درۂ خیبر‎) is a mountain pass in the northwest of Pakistan, on the border with Afghanistan. It connects the town of Landi Kotal to the Valley of Peshawar at Jamrud by traversing part of the Spin Ghar mountains. An integral part of the ancient Silk Road, it has long had substantial cultural, economic, and geopolitical significance for Eurasian trade. Throughout history, it has been an important trade route between Central Asia and South Asia and a vital strategic military choke point for various states that came to control it. The summit of the pass is 5 km (3.1 mi) inside Pakistan at Landi Kotal, while the lowest point is at Jamrud in the Valley of Peshawar. The Khyber Pass is part of Asian Highway 1 (AH1).

Khyber Pass
د خیبر درہ
درۂ خیبر
The pass connects Landi Kotal to the Valley of Peshawar.
Elevation1,070 m (3,510 ft)
Traversed byPakistan N-5.svgN-5 National Highway; Khyber Pass Railway
LocationBetween Landi Kotal and Jamrud
RangeSpīn Ghar (Safēd Kōh)
Coordinates34°04′33″N 71°12′14″E / 34.07570°N 71.20394°ECoordinates: 34°04′33″N 71°12′14″E / 34.07570°N 71.20394°E
Khyber Pass د خیبر درہ درۂ خیبر‬ is located in Pakistan
Khyber Pass د خیبر درہ درۂ خیبر‬
Location of Khyber Pass


Elephant battery of heavy artillery along the Khyber Pass at Campbellpur LCCN2004707363
Elephant battery of heavy artillery along the Khyber Pass at Campbellpur, 1895

Well-known invasions of the area have been predominantly through the Khyber Pass, such as the invasions by 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.[1] Among the Muslim invasions of the Indian subcontinent, the famous invaders coming through the Khyber Pass are Mahmud Ghaznavi, and the Afghan Muhammad Ghori and the Turkic-Mongols.

Finally, Sikhs under Ranjit Singh captured the Khyber Pass in 1834 until they were defeated by the forces of Wazir Akbar Khan in 1837. Hari Singh Nalwa, who manned the Khyber Pass for years, became a household name in Afghanistan.[2][3]

Khyber chiefs with captain tucker
Afghan chiefs and a British political officer posed at Jamrud Fort at the mouth of the Khyber Pass in 1878

To the north of the Khyber Pass lies the country of the Mullagori tribe. 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 has long been their main source of income, resistance to challenges to the Shinwaris' authority has often been fierce.

For strategic reasons, after the First World War the British built a heavily engineered railway through the Pass. The Khyber Pass Railway from Jamrud, near Peshawar, to the Afghan border near Landi Kotal was opened in 1925.

During World War II concrete "dragon's teeth" (tank obstacles) were erected on the valley floor due to British fears of a German tank invasion of British India.[4]

Khyber pass.jpeg
Bab-e-Khyber, the entrance gate of the Khyber Pass

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, travelers 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 Army units, 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, making various types of weapons known to gun collectors as Khyber Pass copies, using local steel and blacksmiths' forges.

Current conflicts

KhyberRailway 02
The pass was serviced by the Khyber Pass Railway, currently closed.

During the war in Afghanistan, the Khyber Pass has been a major route for resupplying military armament and food to the 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 are brought in by road were transported through the Khyber Pass. Furthermore, it has also been used to transport civilians from the Afghan side to the Pakistani one. Until the end of 2007, this route had been relatively safe since the tribes living there (mainly Afridi, a Pashtun tribe) were paid by the Pakistani government to keep the area safe. However, since that year, the Taliban began to control the region, and so there started to exist wider tensions in their political relationship.

Since the end of 2008, supply convoys and depots in this western part have increasingly come under attack by elements from or supposedly sympathetic to the Pakistani Taliban.

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”.[5] The result meant that more than 70 people were arrested and 45 homes were destroyed. In addition, two children and one woman were killed. As a response, in early February 2009, Taliban insurgents cut off the Khyber Pass temporarily by blowing up a key bridge.

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.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8] NATO chief members had to issue a formal apology to the Pakistan government so the supply traffic at this pass could be restored.

In August 2011, the activity at the Khyber pass was again halted[9] 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. This instability made the Pakistan Oil Tanker Owners Association demand more protection from the Pakistani and US government threatening not to supply fuel for the Afghan side.

Cultural references

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

See also


  1. ^ Tarn, William Woodthorpe (2010). The Greeks in Bactria and India. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781108009416. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  2. ^ The Khyber Pass: A History of Empire and Invasion – Paddy Docherty – Google Books. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  3. ^ Hari Singh Nalwa, "champion of the Khalsaji" (1791–1837) – Vanit Nalwa – Google Books. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  4. ^ "Introducing The Khyber Pass". 2009-03-24. Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "Pakistan and Afghanistan". Institute for the Study of War. Archived from the original on 9 February 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  7. ^ "Pakistan Reopens Khyber Pass To US/NATO". Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ McNally, Frank. "The Irish Times". The Irish Times. The Irish Times. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  11. ^ Khyber Pass Map Archived 2011-10-30 at the Wayback Machine.. (2013-03-01). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  12. ^ Khyber Pass Delhi – Google Maps. (1970-01-01). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-10. Retrieved 2011-05-19.
  14. ^ "East's Eden". Kingston upon Hull City Council. September 2002. Archived from the original on 2013-05-17.
  15. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1001519)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 14 January 2013.

Further reading

External links

1948 in Afghanistan

The following lists events that happened during 1948 in Afghanistan.

Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan are peaceful and formally correct. The unsettled relations between Pakistan and India, however, interfere with the Afghan foreign trade which for decades had gone mostly by the Khyber Pass. Another reason for the not too favourable balance of trade is the falling price of karakul lambskins, the most valuable of the country's exports. Three new motor roads are under construction in 1948: Kabul to Mazar, Kabul to Khyber Pass, and the Badakhshan road from Kabul toward Sinkiang province, China.

2009 Khyber Pass offensive

The 2009 Khyber Pass offensive was an offensive military campaign by Pakistani Army against Islamic militants from Lashkar-e-Islam in and near the Khyber Pass. The offensive was launched after a series of suicide bombings, including one at a police station where 17 cadets were killed. After two months, Pakistan Army defeated the militants and cleared the area from the militants.

Bagiarari railway station

Bagiarari railway station (Urdu: باگیا راری ریلوے اسٹیشن‬‎) is located in Pakistan.

Battle of Jamrud

The Battle of Jamrud was fought between the Emirate of Afghanistan and the Sikh Empire on 30 April 1837. The Sikhs were building up towards crossing the Khyber pass in order to invade Jalalabad. This led Afghan forces to confront the Sikh forces at Jamrud. The death of Sikh General Hari Singh Nalwa limited the Khyber pass as the western extent of the Sikh Empire. By the time Sikh reinforcements had arrived,The garrison army was able to hold the Afghans. After the battle, Amir Dost Muhammad took up the title of "Commander of the Faithful."

Battle of Khyber Pass

The battle of Khyber Pass (or Kheibar Pass) was an engagement fought in the mid-eighteenth century between the Persian empire of Nader Shah and the Mughal vassal state of Peshawar. The result was an overwhelming victory for the Persians opening up the path ahead to invade the crown-lands of the Mughal empire of Muhammad Shah.

Chaghi railway station

Chaghi railway station (Urdu: چاغی ریلوے اسٹیشن‬‎) is located in Pakistan.

Jamrud Junction railway station

Jamrud Junction railway station (Urdu: جمرود جنکشن ریلوے اسٹیشن‬‎, Pashto: د جمرود جنکشن اورګاډي سټيشن‎) is a railway station in Jamrud, a town in the Khyber Agency, within Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.

Kata Kushta railway station

Kata Kushta railway station (Urdu: کٹا کشتہ ریلوے اسٹیشن‬‎) is located in Pakistan.

Khyber District

Khyber (Pashto: خېبر قبايلي سيمه‎; Urdu: خیبر‎) is a district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Until 2018, it was an agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas, with merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it became a district. It ranges from the Tirah valley down to Peshawar. It borders Nangarhar Province to the west, Orakzai District to the south, Kurram District to south west, Peshawar to the east and Mohmand District in north.

Khyber Pass Railway

The Khyber Pass Railway (Urdu: درۂ خیبر ریلوے‬‎) is one of several railway lines in Pakistan, operated and maintained by Pakistan Railways. The line begins at Peshawar City and ended at Landi Khana. The total length of this railway line is 58 kilometers (36 mi) with 13 railway stations. Passenger train traffic on the route has recently been suspended due to security problems and the 2006 monsoon rains, which washed several sections away.

Landi Khana railway station

Landi Khana railway station (Pashto: د لنډي خانې د اورګاډي اډه‬‎; Urdu: لنڈی خانہ ریلوے اسٹیشن‬‎) was a railway station near the Pakistani town of Torkham, on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. It was established on 23 April 1926 during British rule. The railway connecting the station to nearby Landi Kotal was closed on 15 December 1932 on Afghan government requests.

Landi Kotal railway station

Landi Kotal railway station (Pashto: د لنډي کوتل د اورګاډي اډه‬‎; Urdu: لنڈی کوتل ریلوے اسٹیشن‬‎) was a railway station in Landi Kotal, a town in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. It lies near the border with the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan. The railway station was built in 1925 during British rule. It was the terminus railway station of Khyber Pass Railway.

Medanak railway station

Medanak railway station (Urdu: میڈانک اسٹیشن‬‎) is located in Pakistan.

Peshawar Cantonment railway station

Peshawar Cantonment railway station (Urdu: پشاور اردوگاه ریلوے اسٹیشن‬‎, Pashto: د پېښور اردوگاه اورګاډي سټيشن‎) (often abbreviated as Peshawar Cantt) is the principal railway station in the Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. It is located on Saddar Road. The Station is staffed and has a booking office.

Peshawar City railway station

Peshawar City railway station (Urdu: پشاور شہر ریلوے اسٹیشن ‬‎, Pashto: د پېښور ښار اورګاډي سټيشن‎) is one of two major railway stations in the Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It is located on the Dilazak Road.

Shahgai railway station

Shahgai railway station (Urdu: شاہ گئی ریل گاڑی سٹیشن‬‎, Pashto: د شاہ گئی اورګاډي سټيشن‎) is located in Shagai, Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. It lies on the Khyber Safari line between Peshawar and Landi Kotal.

Sultan Khel railway station

Sultan Khel railway station (Pashto: د سلطان خېلو د اورګاډي اډه‬‎; Urdu: سلطان خیل ریلوے اسٹیشن‬‎) is located in Pakistan.

Torra Tigga railway station

Torra Tigga railway station (Pashto: د تورې تیږې د اورګاډي اډه‬‎; Urdu: تورہ تیگہ ریلوے اسٹیشن‬‎) is located in Pakistan.

Zintara railway station

Zintara railway station(Urdu: زنتارا ریلوے اسٹیشن‬‎) is located in Pakistan.

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