While it was a valuable trade route, the Khyber Pass also was the gateway through which history’s who’s-who of invaders had barged in and plundered India. Beginning with Alexander the Great and the mighty Persian King Darius-I in the BCs, we had Genghiz Khan, Mahmud of Ghazni, Mohammad Ghori and other assorted Turkic-Mongols riding in as if they owned the joint.
India was the prize. But India was also a pushover. That is, until the great Sikh ruler of the northern state of Punjab, Ranjit Singh, captured the Khyber Pass in 1798. Invasions into India came to a grinding halt. Another fifty odd years and we had the British making deals with Ranjit Singh so that Punjab would remain a friendly buffer between British India and the big bad world beyond.