Who has not heard of the famous Khyber Pass? There are many who have travelled through some part of it. It is a narrow mountain valley about fifty kilometres long. We have to travel through the Khyber Pass to go to Afghanistan. At this side of the Khyber, is the famous city of Peshawar and at the other end, the frontier post of Torkham.
The Khyber Pass has been famous in history for thousands of years. The Aryans crossed this Pass nearly four thousand years ago and entered Pakistan. After them came the Mongols and the Tartars. Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi crossed the Khyber Pass seventeen times to attack South Asia. Then came other Muslim conquerors - Shahabuddin Ghauri, Babur and Ahmad Shah Abdali.
The Khyber Pass had been a famous trade route. Formerly, camel caravans passed through it. They carried bales of cotton, silk and spices from India and China to Afghanistan and beyond. They brought mirrors, furs, skins and fruits from there for India and the countries to the East. Traders still use this route. The trade is now carried on mostly by trains, lorries and trucks. The Khyber Pass is as busy a trade route today as it was ever before.
Bilal's class-fellows made a trip to the Khyber Pass last summer. They hired a bus from Peshawar and started early in the morning. About fourteen kilometres from Peshawar is the Jamrod check-post. They had to stop there and obtain a permit. The road through the Pass is excellent. It runs zigzag through the mountains. In these mountains live the brave tribesmen of the Frontier. When the British ruled our country, these brave tribesmen fought the mighty British Empire for a hundred years and defended their freedom. Now they are the defenders of the North-western frontier of Pakistan.
Bilal and his friends saw some houses here and there. On the top of nearly every house was a tower with a long, narrow opening in its walls to be used for firing at the enemies. A shot is hardly ever fired from them now.
After covering about thirty kilometres they reached Landikotal, the highest place along the Pass. Here, the students made a short stop and ate some TIkkas and Chapli Kababs. They found them quite delicious. From Landikotal, the road goes down winding through beautiful scenery. Parallel to the road, runs the railway line. It has to run through many tunnels in the mountains. This railway line was laid in 1925 to carry arms and supplies for the British army. The brave tribesmen broke up parts of the line again and again. They do not do so any more now, because it belongs to Pakistan. Just below the road, the students saw a track along which once travelled camel caravans and mule trains. After a journey of ten kilometres they reached Torkham the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. They saw a chain stretched across the road and the Pakistan flag flying on a hill. They were welcomed by the soldiers guarding the frontier.
As they stood looking at the hills, they thought of the brave soldiers of Mahmood, Babur and Abdali riding along this beautiful Pass. They also thought of the caravans which once carried carpets, silks, skins, spices and fruits through the Khyber Pass to and from the cities of South Asia and beyond.