Khyber side of Sarkai Hill, looking south. Officers of the (Q.O.) Guides reconnoitring.
Photographer: Burke, John
Medium: Photographic print
With the spread of Russia's sphere of influence in Central Asia, British foreign policy in the 19th century was motivated by fears of their Indian Empire being vulnerable to Russian moves southwards. The Anglo-Russian rivalry in Asia, termed the Great Game, precipitated the Second Afghan War. The British were trying to establish a permanent mission at Kabul which the Amir Sher Ali, trying to keep a balance between the Russians and British, would not permit. The arrival of a Russian diplomatic mission in Kabul in 1878 increased British suspicions of Russian influence and ultimately led to them invading Afghanistan.
The Khyber Pass extends from Jamrud to Torkham for about 53 kms or 33 miles, leading from the Peshawar Valley now in Pakistan into Afghanistan. The narrow defile, winding through cliffs of shale and limestone, splits the mountains which separate Pakistan from Afghanistan. Here scouts from the Peshawar Valley Field Force reconnoitre before the advance of the column through the Pass during the Second Afghan War.