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Page:Provincial geographies of India (Volume 1).djvu/44

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MOUNTAINS, HILLS, AND PLAINS

Safed Koh.— From Landikhana the political boundary runs south-west to the Safed Koh (white mountain) and is continued westwards along that range to the Paiwar Kotal or pass (8450 feet). The Safed Koh forms the watershed of the Kabul and Kurram rivers. It is a fine pine clad chain with a general level of 12,000 feet, and its skyline is rarely free from snow. It culminates in the west near Paiwar Kotal in Sikaram (15,620 feet). To the west of the Peshawar and Kohat districts is a tangle of hills and valleys formed by outlying spurs of the Safed Koh. This difficult country is in the occupation of Afridis and Orakzais, who are under our political control.

The Kurram Valley.— The line of advance into Afghanistan through the Kurram valley is easy, and Lord Roberts used it when he marched towards Kabul in 1898. After the war we annexed the valley, leaving however the head waters of the Kurram in Afghan terrrtory. The road to Kabul leaves the river far to the south before it crosses our frontier at Paiwar Kotal.

Waziristan Hills.— Between the Kurram valley and the Gomal river is a large block of very rough mountainous country known as Waziristan from the turbulent clan which occupies it. In the north it is drained by the Tochi. Westwards of the Tochi valley the country rises into lofty mountains. The upper waters of the Tochi and its affluents drain two fine glens known as Birmal and Shawal to the west of the country of the Mahsud Wazirs. The Tochi valley is the direct route from India to Ghazni, and nine centuries ago, when that decayed town was the capital of a powerful kingdom, it must often have heard the tramp of armed men. The loftiest peaks in Waziristan, Shuidar (11,000 feet) and Pirghal (11,600 feet), overhang Birmal. Further south, Wana, our post in south-west Waziristan, overlooks from its plateau the Gomal valley.