Account of them, brief as it is, was
derived from hearsay information about the tracts which the Mongol
partisan leader Nigudar had traversed, about 1260 A.D., on an adventurous
incursion from Badakhshan towards Kashmir and the Punjab. In Chapter
XVIII., where the Venetian relates that exploit (see Yule, Marco Polo,
I., p. 98, with note, p. 104), the name of Pashai is linked with Dir,
the territory on the Upper Panjkora river, which an invader, wishing to
make his way from Badakhshan into Kashmir by the most direct route, would
necessarily have to pass through.
"The name Pashai is still borne to this day by a Muhamadanized tribe
closely akin to the Siah-posh, settled in the Panjshir Valley and in the
hills on the west and south of Kafiristan. It has been very fully
discussed by Sir Henry Yule (Ibid., I., p. 165), who shows ample grounds
for the belief that this tribal name must have once been more widely
spread over the southern slopes of the Hindu kush as far as they are
comprised in the limits of Kafiristan. If the great commentator
nevertheless records his inability to account for Marco Polo's application
of 'the name Pashai to the country south-east of Badakhshan,' the reason
of the difficulty seems to me to lie solely in Sir Henry Yule's assumption
that the route heard of by the traveller, led 'by the Dorah or the Nuksan
Pass, over the watershed of Hindu kush into Chitral and so to Dir.'
"Though such a route via Chitral would, no doubt, have been available in
Marco Polo's time as much as now, there is no indication whatever forcing
us to believe that it was the one really meant by his informants.