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Malakand Pass
June, 5, 1989 Noor Mohammad Khan

Malakand Pass

NWFP, Pakistan

Looking down the Malakand Pass, towards Dargai.
Some information about Malakand that may be interesting to you.
MALAKAND DISTRICT has an area of about 952 square kilometres and a population of over 4.5 lakhs (450,000) as per population census of 1998. It is situated in the lower reaches of the Swat region. Malakand is bounded on the north by Lower Dir district, on the east by the district of Buner, on the south-east by Mardan district and south-west by Charsadda district and Mohmand Agency. It is also bounded by a range of mountains on the north-east separating it from district Swat and another range of mountains to the west separating it from Bajaur and Mohmand agencies.
In ancient history the name of Malakand has appeared as Mala Kund or Mullah Kandao. There exist different versions vis a vis it's genesis as Malakand. Some historians say that the word Malakand is a combination of two Pushto words i.e mala and kund. In Pushto mala means 'aamail' (garland) and kund means 'ubo' (water). They give the impression that when anyone crosses the Malakand Pass the river Swat looks like a mala (garland).
Another concept is that the name Malakand has been derived from the words Mullah Kandao. Mullah means a religious man and Kandao means a lofty place.
Some people term the name Malakand as Malakandao which means curved like the backbone of the body. The version that seems more convincing is based on the premise that due to the very steep nature of the pass, travellers after reaching its top, would complain of backache and thus ask for kund which in Pashto is a tonic for restoration of normalcy, and Mala in Pashto means for me-- and thus Mala Kund that is tonic for me gave the name Malakand to the small hamlet on the top.
All the notions about the name of Malakand have one point in common and that is the characteristic of being a difficult territory or place to climb on. In fact it is situated on a curved line almost in a zig zag position. Many poets in the past have also termed the mountainous terrain very difficult to negotiate. Khushal Khan Khattak describes in one of his couplets that the pony riders will find it more difficult to climb on the path going to Malakand and cautions those having lamb feet not to think of climbing on the Malakand pass.

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