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0064 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 64 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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A scion of Khushwaqt race.

Pakhtûn Wall's men- at-arms.

Rise of Pakhtûn Wall's fortunes.


to fix our positions accurately by intersections from peaks previously triangulated by the Survey of India. In spite of the trying conditions and the severe strain of constant hard marching, R. B. Lal Singh displayed. as throughout our subsequent travels, his old zeal and vigour to the full. His fifty-one years, an age which among Indians might otherwise count as advanced, had in no way impaired his keen spirit or physical fitness. It was mainly through his devoted exertions that it was possible in eleven days, all that I was able to spare for this ground, to map on the scale of two miles to the inch nearly twelve hundred square miles of ground which had never been seen by European eyes. The result is being duly utilized by the Survey of India for its maps.

I consider it both an obligation and a pleasure to record here how much the tasks compressed within this short space of time were facilitated by the excellent relations established from the start with Mehtarjao Shah `i-\ lam and the band of Pakhtûn Wall's trusted retainers who formed our ever-watchful guard. That we owed their ready help entirely to the chief's good will and to his intelligent trust in the wholly non-political objects of my visit is certain. His young nephew, Shah eAlam (Fig. 25), showed all the quickness of intellect and the mountaineer's agility befitting a scion of the Khushwaqt race. Notwithstanding its inherited proneness to internecine strife, with its accompaniment of unscrupulous intrigue and violence, this race of hill chieftains has been able by its nobler qualities to maintain for long centuries its hold upon the attachment of the people settled about the head-waters of the Gilgit and Chitral rivers. I thought I was able to recognize in the manner, energetic and yet pliant, of Mehtarjao Shah `Alam those qualities which, coupled with indubitable personal courage, had enabled his uncle and master to establish his sway over tribes alien in race and speech and accustomed to long periods of turbulent anarchy.

His sharp-cut high-bred features of unmistakable ` Ghalchah ' or Homo Alpinus type would alone have sufficed to distinguish Shah `Alam from the strangely mixed crew of Pakhtûn Wall's supporters placed under his orders (Fig. 1o). Men of widely different breed, they were all of distinctly shady antecedents, but ` handy ' and pleasant to deal with. Most of these alert fellows were outlaws and cut-throats from adjoining portions of the Gilgit Agency, Mastûj, Chitral, or from the independent tribal territories on the Indus and the Upper Swat river, who, with hands already bloodstained, had joined Pakhtûn Wall's fortunes at different stages of his adventurous career. Their commander was burly fair-haired Shahid (Fig. 28), whose name, meaning ` martyr', was curiously at variance with his look of a jovial ruffian. He belonged to Papat in Tangir. He had attached himself from the start to Pakhtûn Wall's person and was credited with having been a chief instrument in all the violent deeds accompanying the mixed feuds and intrigues by which his capable chief, for years a hapless refugee in Tangir and dependent on traditional charity, had gradually made himself master of that once turbulent valley.

Established in this position Pakhtûn Wall was able to secure-a considerable annual revenue from the sale of timber in the fine forests of Tangir to Kaka-khel traders from the Peshawar District. These resources had allowed him to collect, arm, and maintain the small mercenary force that helped him about 1909 to extend his sway over the tribal republics of Darél and Sazin. The methods by which he had thus, in true condottiere fashion, carved out a new kingdom of his own, were undoubtedly such as the history of the Hindukush valleys and the hill tracts farther south must long have been familiar with.' But all the more interesting was it for me to get into direct

1 It deserves to be noted that Pakhtûn Wall had lived for some years before 1895 under the protection of that powerful Afghan chief, Umra Khan of Jandôl, whose success in establishing his rule over most of the hill tribes between the Kûnar valley and the Indus was due to equally

effective if unscrupulous methods. The end of this kingdom came with the Chitral campaign of 1895 ; for Umra Khan, unfortunately for himself, had by his policy of expansion come into collision with the Indian Government.

There is reason to believe that Raja Pakhtûn Wall had