The Khyber Pass linking Afghanistan, the Hindukush mountain range, uneven mountains featuring towns of Chitral and Peshawar and proud tribesmen depict a province that is all about the romance of travel. It is Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.
The ancient valleys of Swat and Peshawar had witnesses and nurtured the progress of Gandhara civilization. The Buddha style of art entered Asia from here. This developed enriched this province a treasure chest of archaeological assets. Many amongst those are yet to be perused.
No doubt, there is a gap after this age. The fierce Pashtun tribes proved to be a difficult obstacle in the way of many adventures and conquers. It is this quality that earned them respect in the eyes of the colonial power, the British. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas invoke to that past. The government of Pakistan still has nominal control over those areas.
Pagans of the Kalasha (Kalash) valleys are a jewel of Chitral Valley of this province. These extremely friendly, hospitable and peace loving people are still surviving in their secluded valleys. In addition to the inhabitants, these valleys are a treat to visit. This fascinating appeal does owe to the Hindukush Range.
Swat Valley is another enchanting part of this province. Beautiful lakes, springs, glaciers, alpine forests, rivers, verdant meadows, trekking trails and so much. It can be safely claimed that whole of the province abounds in exploring expeditions, especially trekking.
Although past and traditional drives people of this province, yet it has close connect with the past as well. Politics is the order of the day. Politics, the tribal areas, and radical Islam cause headlines. Peshawar, the city of flowers, is its capital. Being a typical border town, it conjures the notions of fear, keen interest, and even romance.
The plains of Peshawar are a part of the valley of the Kabul River. It was called Gandhara during the Hindu age. It had been a remote part of Persian and Greek empire. Then, came Buddhism under Ashoka (Asoka) the high during 200 BC. That of Kushan replaced this Mauryan reign. The Afghan Kushan period eclipsed in 200 AD. However, the Buddhism survived in parts of present Swat till 15th century AD.
Islam made its first presence in the 8th century, but it was invading Afghans that established it in the 11th century, led by Mahmood of Ghazni.
Peshawar had to bear the brunt of devastating armies of Genghis Khan and Tamerlane in 13th and 14th century respectively. The Mughal rule dawned stability, despite the fact that Pashtuns subjects were difficult to control. The late 17th century saw the fighter-poet Khushal Khan Khattak in Peshawar. Lahore was one of the subject city. The dynasty of Afghan Durrani gave a toehold to Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the form of the governorship of Lahore. The first quarter of 19th century witnessed Sikhs entering Peshawar as rulers. The British followed them.
Bringing the unruly Pashtuns was the cornerstone of the colonial government, yet they could not conquer Afghans. However, they were able to draw Duran Line. A separate province under the name of North West Frontier Province and free area placated the unruly Pashtuns. The government policies invited influxes of refugees in the 1980s. Since then, it is being stung by some political, economic, and religious issues.