Importance of the North-West Defence:
The great mountain wall of the Himalayas protected the country from the North and acted as natural barriers against foreign invasions in the north.
But the North-western ranges of the Himalayas, called the Sulaiman and Hindukush, being not very high and having large number of passes as the Khurram, the Gomal, the Bolan and the Khyber did allow several horders of invaders to swarm into India.
The Persian, the Greek, the Kushan, the Hun, the Turk, the Afghan and the Mughal invaders entered India through these passes.
Whenever the rulers of India could strengthen their defence in the northwestern directions, they all remained protected from foreign invaders. To prevent the invaders from reaching the fertile valleys of Punjab and Sind, it was important to provide a strong defence in the northwest, and to control the area extending from Kabul, via Ghazni to Kandhar.
Babur and the North-West:
Before invading India, Babur had already captured strategic points of the Hindukush range. He, therefore, did not face any serious problem from the North-West Frontier.
Humayun was able to capture Kandhar with the assistance of Shah of Persia. He did not encounter any tribal uprising from this direction.
Akbar followed a systematic frontier policy. He suppressed the wild tribes by sending strong forces which had to face serious challenge from the Afghan tribes, especially the Yusufzais. The tribal uprising convinced Akbar to bring the frontier provinces under his strict control. He conquered and annexed Sind, Baluchistan, Kashmir and Kandhar. He secured the empire and brought territorial gains to the Mughal empire in this direction.
Although the Shah of Persia professed friendship with Jahangir, he captured Kandhar.
In spite of best efforts, Shah Jahan failed to get foothold.
Aurangzeb followed a ‘forward’ policy on the Northwest Frontier. The unruly Afghan tribes of the region created lot of trouble for the Mughals.
There were three important revolts of the Yusufzais (1667), of the Afridis (1672) and the Kataks (1674).
The Mughal Governor of Kabul took recourse to bribes to solve the problem of Afghan tribals. Aurangzeb had to pay a very high price.