Adventure Through Khyber: Part 1–Impossible & Forbidden

Chapter 1: prelude to adventure

Before the First World War, before the downfall of Russia and war with Afghanistan, before the military occupation of Khyber the task of building the railways through the Khyber seemed doomed. The British engineers considered charting the expanse of stony rugged mountains impossible and the local Pathan tribesmen termed it forbidden. The tribesmen were wary of the British (for god reason, the Brits had ruthlessly dropped bombs on them very recently) and they deemed the railway an intrusion into their land. “We, too, we Pathans desire peace,” says Zaman Khan, the appointed leader of the tribes, “but peace can be  bought at too high a price. A railway would destroy independence.” (How prescient are these words? Given the current state of affairs. Not much has changed in the tribal belt today.)

The strategic and economic importance of building the railways through Khyber was too great for the British to let it pass, as the British Viceroy remarks  earlier to the British Commander-in-Chief, ““..Give me two Army Corps and a railway behind me and I’ll defy the whole of Asia, and Europe too…”

And so the British began to build the railways…