By Victoria Schofield
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Extra resources for Afghan Frontier: Feuding and Fighting in Central Asia
He found the mountain itself had: . . a somewhat moth-eaten appearance due to the fact that the trees, that perished for one reason or another, lay where they fell. The valleys leading down to the Indus were deep Hazara 45 and very dark and it was not always possible to spot the settlements although each had at least one tall, slender tower for defence purposes. The Indus gorge itself was in darkness, but where the sun shone on it the water showed up green, flecked with white foam. The town of Oghi, lying in the shadow of the Black Mountain, was the starting point for many a British expedition against the tribesmen.
Ahmed Shah Durrani decided to recognise the Moguls as emperors in Delhi. At the same time, he conceded the central Punjab to the Sikhs while retaining Afghanistan, the area to the north as far as Lahore and what came to be considered as the ‘frontier areas’ of the Punjab, comprising the vale of Peshawar. Durrani died at the age of fifty in 1773, leaving his favourite son, Timur Shah, to rule the first Afghan empire. Encountering rebellion from his brother in Kandahar, Timur moved the capital to Kabul, making it his custom to retire to the pleasant climate of Peshawar in winter.
To the north there is the Malakand pass; to the west, the most travelled route of all, lies the Khyber, and, in the south, entry can be made from Kohat. In the east, the traveller must cross the foaming Indus and Kabul rivers which converge in contrasting colours at Attock; here, a bridge built by the British in the late nineteenth century provided road and ultimately rail transport. Before that, a ferry had given less safe but sufficient passage. This was the route leading straight on down to the town of Rawalpindi in the Punjab, which had been guarded so conscientiously by Khushhal and the Khataks.