Thursday, June 22, 2017

Baz Bahadur

By Abdul Halim, M. A.

Baz Bahadur, the last Afghan king of the kingdom of Malwa, was the son of Shuja’t Khan, who, on the restora­tion of Humayun, had declared his independence. On Shuja’t Khan’s death in 1554-55, his kingdom became divided between his three sons,  Dawlat Khan,  Bayazid Khan and Mustafa Khan. Bayazid killed Dawlat Khan following a treacherous attack and added Ujjain and Mandu to his territories and assumed the title of Baz Bahadur Khan. But when he attacked Mustafa Khan who ruled over Bhilsa and Raisian and chased the prince to Gondwana, Baz Bahadur sustained a severe defeat at the hands of Rani Durgavati, the regent of the kingdom, ruling it on behalf of her son, prince Viranarayan. Baz Bahadur reached Sarangpur, his capital, badly wounded, and leaving his baggage, men and ensign in the hands of the enemy. Since then he immersed himself in pursuits of pleasure, and enjoyed his time in the midst of songstresses and dancing girls, the chiefest of whom was Rupmati. The latter was a Hindu girl of rare charm and beauty, sweetness and grace in conversation, a poetess of Persian and Hindi, a faultless reciter, composer and singer. He loved Rupmati and Rupmati loved him and the pair, according to Firishta, never separated at any time of day or night. Rupmati has been described by contemporaries as a Padmini, highest and the most perfect type of women remarkable for their beauty, good disposition, height, well­-proportioned physique, softness of speech, grace and chastity and devotion to her lord. Baz Bahadur soon lost his grip over the administration; the army became demoralised and nobles corrupt. This state of affairs encouraged Akbar, then a youth, to send a formidable army under Adham Khan, Atka and Pir Muhammad Khan Shirwani in 1560. Baz Bahadur came to defend his capital when the Mughals had appeared within two miles of the defences erected by him outside Saranapur. He fought, got defeated and fled ‘disgrace being his only companion’, leaving his camp and harem in the hands of enemies. Baz Bahadur’s men struck Rupmati and a few others with sword according to instructions in order to save them from disgrace following capture. Believing they were dead, they went to the palace to kill the rest. Meanwhile the Mughals had entered the city and the ladies were running for shelter and the executioners took to their heels. On entering the palace Adham Khan who had captured the hiding ladies, made enquiries about Rupmati and was informed that she was still alive. Instructing his men to take proper care of the wounded, he sent words to Rupmati assuring her that, on her recovery she would be sent to her husband. On this Rupmati sent the following couplet in Persian as token of her gratitude.

ﺟﺎﻥ ﻣﺎﺳﺖ ﺍﯾﻥ ﻣﮊﺪﻩ ﺁﺳﺎﺋﺵ ﺟﺎﻥ ﻧﺷﺎﻧﻢ ﺭﻭﺍ ﺳﺖ – ﮔﺭ ﻣﮊﺪﻩ ﺑﺮﯾﻦ

Adham Khan who had other designs, postponed her departure saying that Baz Bahadur must first submit to the emperor. One night, he having sent his men to bring Rupmati to his quarters was told by her that she would go if the Khan came. When Adham Khan came and approached her cot, he found her sleeping the slumber of death, decked in her jewels and garland of flowers, and perfumes heavily smeared. On enquiry, he was told that after sending back Adham Khan’s messengers, she wept bitterly in memory of her husband and swallowed camphor mixed with sesame oil. Admiring her fidelity to her husband he ordered for burial. Not long after, Adham Khan was relieved of the governorship of Malwa and superseded by Pir Muhammad Khan Shirwani. Baz Bahadur invaded Malwa with the assistance of Miran Mubarak Shah, ruler of Khandesh. He defeated Pir Muhammad Khan who lost his life in retreat by being drowned in the waters of the Narbada. Baz Bahadur retained Malwa for some months till his ejection by Abdullah Khan Uzbak, Akbar’s new governor (970/1561-62). Baz Bahadur who fled Malwa a second time without an encounter, roamed for sometime in the forests and hills, went to various chiefs in Gujrat, to Burhan-ul-Mulk, ruler of Ahmadnagar and to Rana Udaisimh of Mewar. But unable to move any court on his behalf, he submitted to Akbar and was enlisted as a mansabdar of 1000 troopers and later on of 2000 zat and 2000 Sawar. Baz Bahadur has been described by contemporary historians as being a skilful rider, an archer and a polo player. He was a zealous builder as well, whose palace and the pavilion of his consort can still be seen among the ruins of Mandu. Not much is known about Baz Bahadur’s contribution to music except the information that he was a master in Hindustani music. He has been placed by posterity in the rank of a Gandharv, that is one who was well conversant with the practical music of his own and the past times. He is listed by Abul Fazl as a top musician of Akbar’s court, and was perhaps considered next to Tansen, Baba Ramdas and Nayak Charju and sang in a style of his own which became known, according to Abul Fazl, as the Bazkhani ; He should have been considered as the representative of the Dhrupad school of singing of which Raja Man of Gwalior was the founder. But being a prince, born and brought up in north , he can be regarded as being conversant with the Khiyal school of music, of which Husain Shah Sharqi, king of Jawnpur was the greatest exponent in the recent past. In the collection of songs attributed to him in the Encyclopaedia of Music, there are a few dohas, two lined verses, corresponding to Sthai and Antara of Khiyal, sung in Dhima Tintal, a time beat not allowed in Dhrupad. It may be conjectured that the Bazkhani style was a mixture of Dhrupad and the Muslim style of music corresponding to Khiyal. Baz Bahadur was an expert dancer and I have literary evidences to prove that he danced with the anklets of pearls instead of the ordinary ones of brass, and he danced in the company of his dancers imagining himself Krishna sporting with the Gopis, of whom the principal one was his lady love. Rupmati, occupying the position of Radha. The themes of Baz Bahadur’s extant songs are Krishna’s sports in Vrindaban, the sprinkling of coloured water in the spring festival, at least one song invoking the assistance of God, a very natural thing from a man who had suddenly stepped from the throne into tire abyss of misfortune, but none bearing a melancholy strain, and none carrying any reference to his lady love, Rupmati. The style of Baz Bahadur’s composition is simple and the diction corresponds to the easy Khari dialect of Delhi and Mirut. Rupmati wrote in chaste, elegant and learned Braj. A collection of her verses in a translated form has been prepared by Mr. L. M. Crump, under the title of ‘The lady of the Lotus’ Oxford, 1926). I have collected four Hindi songs from the Encyclopaedia of Indian music. In most of the poems bearing her pen­name she appears as one who sees her husband in sleep and wakefulness, one who has surrendered herself completely to her lord and thinks of the futility of writing letters to him because he always dwells in her heart. She represents the highest virtues of a woman in an oriental society. The poems she is supposed to have composed in captivity are full of pathos. The following are two of Baz Bahadur’s compositions.

Rag Ramkali Dampati
khelat hors mahal men
Sobha barni na jai
Sakuch chhar ang ang liptane saras mate douw
Baz Bahadur fagua saras machai

The couple sprinkles coloured water in the palace, the beauty of which scene cannot be described. Abandoning modesty they are clasping body, with body, both intoxicated with mirth. Baz Bahadur celebrates the spring festival merrily.

This evidently applies to Baz Bahadur, because Krishna never played holi in a palace. The following pad, in Rag Bhairawn, is an invocation to God.
Karta tumko kini sub layak
Meri mushkil karo asan
Jo jo tohe takabay, man ichha phal pabay.
Sub gunijan ke sukhdai Baz Bahadur Gun nidhan rakhat sabko man

Oh Creator, I have made thee my judge . Thou easest my hardships;. Whoever looks to thee,. thou fulfillest his desire. Thou art the bestower of happiness to all the virtuous. O Baz Bahadur, the Refuge of the virtuous, keeps. everybody's respects.

The following are a few of Rupmati’s songs expressive of her sense of sorrow at separation from her lord under con­dition of captivity.

Papre phulan ke kari dhari jab
Baz Bahadur motan dhare charan
Bar bar dari sakal abhushan
Mokoto piyake sudrisht amaran
Ban ban maney na mane Sudharey [Sidharey]
Rupmati ke hichuran ko bhul jai
Sakal dukh lehi asran

When the papar flowers sprout their buds;. Baz Bahadur decked with pearls at his feet. Showered jewels on and on;.I pine till death for the good sight of my lover ;. Now he roams proudly, and is unconsoled . My loved one, for thy own sake ;. Forget the separation of Rupmati. She is prepared to seek refuge in every affliction.

The following is a quotation from L. M. Crump’s “The Lady of the Lotus”.

Thou art the whole life to me.
And separation from the death.
Only the memory of thy face Keeps in me in breath.

While I visited the ruins of Mandu in 1944, I gathered that women of Malwa on festive occasions or even while grinding corn, sing the songs composed by Rupmati. According to the author of the Ma’sir-ul-umara, the couple rests on a ridge in the middle of a lake in

There are many love stories like those of Laila-Majnun, Yusuf-Zulaikha and Shiri-Farhad on which writers and artists have employed their craft and ingenuity for centuries but nothing surpasses the story of romantic love between a man and a woman within living memory, as between Baz Bahadur and Rupmati.

The origin of the Hazaras

The author of Rauzat-us Safa tell us that Chenghiz Khan sent his youngest son Tulai to conquer Khurasan and in particular to devastate the great cities of Merv , Nishapur and Herat. All the inhabitants of these cities were slaughtered. The following year he sent an army of 80,000 to kill the whole population of Herat and Afghanistan. He ordered his men to spare no living creatures , not even cats and dogs. It appears that the ancestors of the Hazaras had been settled in this country during the thirteenth century by Chaghatai, Chenghiz Khan's son , or by Manku Khan, his grandson, especially in the lands of Ghor, whose inhabitants had been largely exterminated during the Mongol invasions. Juwaini reports that about 1259, "the children and grandchildren Chenghiz Khan are more than ten thousand , each of whom has his position (muqam) , territory (yurt) , army and equipment.

The descendants of Chenghiz Khan and his officers dominated for a century and a half till Timur replaced them by his own set of officers. The Hazaras, therefore, were probably dependents or followers of Mongol warriors. It is more probable that they represented many of the tribes and races incorporated in the Mongol army. Abu Fazal also declares them to be the offspring of the Mongols. He says that "the Hazaras are the descendants of the Chaghatai army sent by Manku Khan (grandson of Chenghiz Khan) to the assistance of  Halaku Khan" (brother of Manku Khan).

The Mongol origin of Hazaras is said to be attested by their high cheekbones and sparse beard , which readily distinguishes them from Afghan (Pashtun) and Iranian neighbors. Furthermore the word Hazara is said to be the Persian equivalent of the Mongol world ming , meaning 'thousand', the term originally being used to refer to the Mongol military unit of 1,000. The Mongol regiments were also styled from the number of men they usually contained. The term was applied to these people in consequence of their having been left there as military colonists in detachments of a thousand fighting men each by Chengiz Khan.

The descendants of Halaku, who exercised  authority in Persia after him, were known as 'IlKhans'. The last ruler of Ilkhanate dynasty was Abu Said (1316-34), and Malik Chopan was his premier officer who led his army into eastern Khurasan and settled there. The Dai Chopan , a major Hazara tribe, was named after him. Following the fall of the Ilkhanates , shortly after the death of Abu Said (1334) , there was a power vacuum in Iran.  In 1381 Timur overran the city of Herat , Khurasan and all eastern Persia and laid claim to the provinces of Qandahar , Garamshir and Kabul. Several other cities terrified by Timur's success, submitted to him. Timur, after a great slaughter also established his power over the Persian province of Mazendaran, with its capital at Astrabad , which was governed by a descendant of Shaikh Besud , an Ilkhan officer. The Besudis , another major Hazara tribe , was named after him. Under his sons and successors , troops and officials were sent to the area , and it is probable that some of them remained thereafter the death of Besud's son, Shah Rukh in 1447.

Source: "The Hazaras of Afghanistan in Mughal times" by Farha Samreen , Proceedings of the Indian History Congress ,Vol. 70 (2009-2010), pp. 821-829 

1878's sketch of a Hazara man

Monday, June 19, 2017

Private Letter from Ottoman Sultan Mehmed V to the Afghan Hajji-Mujahideen

Private Letter from Ottoman Sultan Mehmed V  to the Afghan Hajji-Mujahideen , 1909

"As your Caliph, I am most delighted to see Allah's most devoted arrive to the Ottoman Empire, from what I hear from my local administrators is that you wish to wage the most holy of Jihad against our enemies, which are many that have shown themselves in a few short years. But it is good to know that the Afghan people show their support to our noble and just cause of crushing all opposition to Islam, and falsely-guided revolutions led by atheists or lost Christians within our borders.

As such, I shall task your men to be dispatched to the Armenian region under the Imperial Armies' supervision, as our brave men need guidance within the rough terrain, which I hear the Afghans have excellent skills to do so. I shall also order that your men be given more modern arms and equipment to combat our enemies, as the dispatch also I received noted your men are using dated weaponry, which under my grace and friendship shall give you better.

But I must strain this with the most seriousness of tones, the Christians in this region are not at fault for the strife, but savage dogs who use them like cattle to push forward their twisted agendas; treat the people kindly as any good man of the faith and Allah should do. If reports come that Christians are being mistreated or, Allah forbids slaughtered by your men, I will humbly request your men return home to Afghanistan.

May Allah guide us all during these troubling times, and the greatest of fortunes be granted to the Hajji-Mujahideen in battle.

~ Signed, Mehmed V
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire


(Afghan Hajji-Mujahideen were a militia of volunteers from Afghanistan , who after performing Hajj in 1909,  did not return to their homes , their intention was the preservation of the Khilafat  .They went to the Ottoman authorities and informed them that they would march wherever the Khalifah commanded them. In their fighting for Ottomans, their skill truly came to light in the hills and in guerilla warfare. With order successfully restored in Eastern Anatolia, and with other regions of the Ottoman Empire once more secured, the duties of the Hajji-Mujahideen appeared to have come to an end. They arrived in Basra in early 1911, and were in Karachi - following an Ottoman notification to the British - a week later. The landing of the Afghan Hajji-Mujahideen at Karachi was perceived as a powerful display of Afghan independence and the unity of Muslims and Asiatics everywhere in the fight against further European aggressions. When news came of the Russian declaration of war, many of the Hajji-Mujahideen demanded they be allowed to return to Basra, but the British refused and the Afghans were quickly shuffled off to the Afghan frontier, where they were met by leading members of the military and marched to Kabul. )

Sultan Mehmed V

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Barak Khattaks

Barak Khattaks (of Karak), 1868's Photograph

The Barak clan belongs to the Tari division of the Khattaks, descended from the Yasinzai sub-division. They occupy the Barak Tappa. This tract is bounded in the east by Shakardarra and the Isa Khel Tehsil of Mianwali district and in the south and west by the Wazirs and Bannu district.

The Barak clan is divided into four divisions , namely, the Uzshdah, Land, Mandan and the Manzi divisions. Some of the sections of the Barak Taris are bracketed into two groups , the Uzshdah Baraks and the 'Land' Baraks. This grouping of the sections , probably does not follow any genetic lineage , rather is based on a legend. The word 'uzshdah' means long , while 'land' means short . It is said that once the sons of Ismail (grandson of Barak) met a pious Faqeer , Suraz Khan. Each one of the two brothers gave a cow as an offering to the Faqeer. The Mashi's cow was healthy , with a long tail and of a rich 'Khaki' colour. The 'Faqeer' was pleased , accepted the offer and said, "Mashi has brought the Khaki. Let a large company of men follow him"..... The Tarki's cow was small and had a cut tail and was thus blemished . The Faqeer in taking the offer said, "tarki has brought a cow with a tail cut short , Landa. Let a small band of men follow him". Since then Tarki was called 'Land' for his 'Landa' cow while Mashi was called 'Uzshdah'. To this day the Uzshdah are said to be more numerous than the three branches of the 'Land' and in their old tribal feuds the 'Land' generally suffered the most.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Pashtunistan and the Faqir of Ipi

On 12th May 1948, the Mirza Ali Khan alias Faqir of Ipi published and issued an anti-Pakistan poster from his headquarters, at Gurweik. In the poster he claimed that "Pakistan was a creation of the British and Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a British agent". He further declared that "he would start an operation against the Government of Pakistan". In June 1948 Faqir of Ipi pulled a lashkar together and attacked and then occupied Datta Khel Khassadar post in the Tochi valley. Pakistan air force was sent in to deal with the situation. Bombers went in destroy the villages of the participant Shabi Khel Mahsuds and to disperse the lashkar from its occupation of of the Khassadar post. 

On 12th August 1949, a number of Afridi tribesmen and their Sarishta party met at Tirag Bagh , the center of their homeland. The flag of "Independent Pakhtunistan" was hoisted and and a declaration made by the "Pakhtunistan National Assembly" (Tirah branch) was published , addressed to all the people of Pakhtunistan, to the entire Muslim world and particularly Afghanistan , to all Pakhtuns living abroad and to the United Nations Organization. Their proclamation read ;
"We the Tirah branch of of the National Assembly of Pakhtunistan having formed the first nucleus of a free and democratic Muslim government amidst the lofty mountains of Tirah, hereby express the hope that with the help of Almighty Allah and the support of the brave and freedom loving Pakhtuns , this young plant will in a short time grow into a sturdy and fruitful tree which will not only benefit Pakhtunistan (from Chitral to Balochistan and from the Khyber and Bolan to the banks of Indus) but will also fulfill its obligation towards the progress and peace of the world".

In a broadcast from Radio Kabul , this proclamation was greeted with great enthusiasm in Afghanistan, which it's Government  announced that it was extending immediate recognition and support. In the same month a jirga of the different tribes of Waziristan visited Kabul with the consent of the Faqir of Ipi. The jirga was assured by the Afghan authorities of all form of assistance.

In order to propagate the idea of Pakhtunistan , the Faqir of Ipi published Pashto pamphlets and a Pashto newspaper , "The Ghazi" from Gurwek. Maulana Muhammad Waris Shah, Maulana Habib-ur-Rehman , Maulana Din Muhammad , Babu Haji Khan and Muhammad Zahir Shah were on the editorial board of the paper. Following is a translation of the "Ghazi"dated 9th December 1949 ;
"From August 15, 1947, when the British appointed Mr. Jinnah as the Governor- General of Pakistan, the Pir of Manki, Pir of Zakori, Doctor Khan Sahib, Abdul Ghaffar Khan and other prominent figures amongst Pakhtuns raised their voice for the introduction of Shariat and freedom for Pakhtunistan. But against these demands, intending to bring Pakhtuns under slavery with the help of gold and bayonets, the so-called Islamic Government began to promote the religion of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani and continued the enforcement of the British supremacy. The Pakhtuns are like one body and cannot be divided into two. Generosity and sense of honour is the heritage of Pakhtuns. They also have the sharpest sword in their possession. Despite 14 years of continued bombardment by the Britishers,  the people of Waziristan did not accept slavery. Be courageous, like the Faqir of Ipi who did not flee from the battlefield during the past 14 years. However two are the major defects (i) the introduction of man-made laws, and (ii) encroachment upon the legal rights of Pakhtuns. According to the holy Quran Qital is permissible. One who dies in that way will be a Shaheed .... We will either achieve freedom or will bring destruction for the whole of the country. Long live Pakhtunistan , Long live Afghanistan".

Meetings of various tribes of Waziristan, Khattaks, Marwats, Bhittanis, Turis and Bannuchis were held on January 11, 12 and 15, 1950 for the election of Pakhtunistan National Assembly (Waziristan Branch) and its President. The Assembly thus elected unanimously decided to have the Faqir of Ipi as its first president. In that capacity the Faqir demanded the withdrawal of Pakistani forces from the Pakhtun territories to free the land of seven million Pakhtun, otherwise they will be themselves responsible for its consequences. He also appealed to the United Nations for recognition of Pakhtunistan and requested the Afghan authorities for its publicity.

In August 1951, a special delegation consisting of Malik Abdullah Khan Mada Khel, Malik Atta Mohammad Khan, Malik Behram, Malik Jani and Malik Badshahi with a special message from the Faqir of Ipi visited Kabul and met with Muhammad Zahir Shah, the then King of Afghanistan, the late Sardar Daud khan and the ambassadors of India and Iran.

In 1952  when Malik Wali Khan Kuki Khel , Malik Said Khan Zakha Khel and Maulvi Ghairat Gul of J.U.I  called a Jirga of the Afridis , at Mamanri to take decisions about Pakhtunistan, Pakistan Air Force bombed the assembly  which caused 18 casualties. After 3 days the house of Malik Wali Khan Kuki Khel was destroyed. 

In 1954, Christopher Rand, a correspondent of  The New York  was able to interview the Faqir of Ipi at Gurwek. Shortly afterwards, two Soviet officials, Messrs Alexovitch and Demrovitch, members of a Soviet technical mission at Kabul, called upon the Faqir of Ipi at his Gurwek headquarters.

In 1952-53, the flow of money to Gurwek from Afghan Government was greatly reduced due to some misunderstanding between the Faqir and the Pakhtunistan leaders based in Kabul. However, through Faiz Mohammad, the Afghan Wali (Governor) of the Southern province, the subsidies were restored. The Faqir’s position was weakened when his close associate and principal lieutenant Khalifa Mehr Dil Khattak surrendered to Pakistani officials in Bannu (November 1954) along with seven followers.

On March 27, 1955 the Pakistani Government promulgated the ordinance creating "One Unit" in West Pakistan. The Afghan Government considered it as a move to destroy the identity of the Eastern Pakhtuns. The reaction culminated in an inflammatory speech by Afghan Prime Minister, Sardar Daud Khan, on March 28. The next day, Afghan mobs sacked Pakistani diplomatic mission building at Jalalabad and Kandahar and the Pakistan Embassy at Kabul. A retaliatory attack was made few days later on the Afghan Consulate at Peshawar. Pakistan clamped a blockade on Afghan Imports and exports. A Mahsud jirga in South Waziristan during a meeting of Maliks, claiming to represent 10,000 North Waziristan tribesmen ostentatiously asked permission to march on Kabul to avenge the national honour. During the time between 1956 and 1958, the tension was eased as Iskandar Mirza, the then President of Pakistan, exchanged State visits with Muhammad Zahir Shah.

It was reported in October 1958 that "the Faqir of Ipi who was the pivot of the so-called Pakhtunistan Movement..... has recently turned absolutely indifferent, if not openly hostile to Afghanistan, the reason being that the Afghans realized the futility of their monetary aid to him and stopped paying the tribes through him. He has discarded the so-called Pakhtunistan Flag and has hoisted instead his own flag which is called “Faqir Flag.” Maulvi Amir Saeed alias Jangi Mullah, and Maulvi Akbar Zaman Bannuchi, the close associates of the Faqir, distributed in the Hamzoni Dawar area the copies of newspaper "The Azad Pakhtun" published at Gurwek. The paper, inter alia, published the details of the Faqir’s tour in Wazirstan. "Amir-ul-Muslimeen (the Faqir) along with his lieutenants is on his tour to Waziristan. Presently his tour has good effects on the Bhittani tribe as well as on other tribes. A number of old disputes were settled among the Wazirs, Mahsuds and Bhittanis. A large number of weapons and cash was collected for the Faqir’s exchequer in the Mahsud territory". Though during his tour the Faqir remained silent about Pakistan, but he never turned pro-Pakistan.

After his tour of Waziristan, he holed himself in a cliff-side cave at Gurwek,  and on 16th April, 1960, he died of asthma. His funeral prayers were attended by thousands of people and his funeral prayers were led by Maulvi Pir Rehman.

Source: "Some major Pukhtoon tribes along the Pak-Afghan border", by S. Iftikhar Hussain


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Yaghistan, the land of the free and unruly

By Khan Barmazid

 Pashtun highlands in the past have been called Yaghistan which means the land of the free and unruly (Yaghi means uncontrollable and unmanageable). Amir Abdur Rahman Khan referred to the tribal belt between British India and Afghanistan as Yaghistan in his autobiography. Colonel Brazier Creagh of the Indian Army, who visited the area in 1893-4, wrote, "When went to the frontier it was Yaghistan ; it was a forbidden land, and no Englishman had ever been there before.....It was impossible to go [inside] and if you did your bones would be left there.”

Yaghistan, referred to as Roh in medieval times (Roh means mountains) was the land where no man was above another. They were not subjects of any body and they were not the part of any kingdom of a king according to Afsana-i-Shahan. The fiercely independent Pakhtun tribes of Yaghistan remained independent during the Ghaznavid period and Ghaznavid sources reveal that Turkish Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni attacked Afghans who used to raid his frontier districts and killed large numbers of them but Afghans remained unruly and his successors had struggle with ever rebellious Afghans. These Afghan tribes of mountains maintained their independence during Ghurid, Mongol,  Timurid, Delhi Sultanate, Mughal , Durrani and Sikh periods. They did not recognize any imperial authority and could not be forced to pay any taxes. Lavish subsidies were paid by the Mughals as protection money to keep the passes through Yaghistan open. In 19th century (before 1893) the tribes of Yaghistan did not belong either to the British raj or Amir of Kabul.


1887 : 'The Afghans of Yaghistan do not belong either to the British raj or to the Amir (of Kabul) but live in the native national anarchy in the western basin of the upper India.....Swat, Buner , Panjkura, Dir etc. The Afghan of Yaghistan is the true, unsophisticated Afghan. '  The Library Magazine - Page 280

In Ghilzai usage, Yaghistan (lands of freedom or unrestrained)  is where no man is above another , in contrast to hukomat where there are governors and governed.  Tribe and State in Iran and Afghanistan 

The fiercely independent Pakhtuns of Yaghistan maintained their independence during the Ghaznavid, Ghurid, Mongol, Timurid, Mughal (Babur's dynasty), Durrani and Sikh periods.

Colonel Brazier Creagh of the Indian Army, who visited the area in 1893-4, wrote, "When went to the frontier it was Yaghistan ; it was a forbidden land, and no Englishman had ever been there before.....It was impossible to go [inside] and if you did your bones would be left there.”    . Frontier of Faith: Islam, in the Indo-Afghan Borderland

Friday, April 28, 2017

Notes on Orakzai tribe

Group portrait of an Orakzai Chief and three tribesmen, ca. 1900, , the Chief sits in an armchair wearing a striped turban, an embroidered woolen full-length embroidered coat over a velvet gold-embroidered waistcoat, he wears baggy Pathan pants and traditional leather shoes with curling toes, he carries a Khyber knife in its scabbard with metal locket and chape, the three tribesmen around him are armed with jezail matchlocks, Khyber knife and a metal shield dhal with 4 bosses. This image was published by the Arts Photo Works of India as `Our restless neighbours the Pathans’

Origin legend

According to the legends prevalent amongst the Orakzai elders, Tirah was formerly occupied by the Hindu non-Pashtun race, called the Tirahis whose descendants are, to this day, found in some villages as 'Hamsaya' (dependents) of the Orakzai. Tirahis were ruled by different rajas whose names can still be traced in several places in Tirah such as the Rajgal valley , Darbar Ghundi and Moula Ghar, named after King Rajgal, Raja Darbar and Raja Moula respectively.

White King conjectures that about 1,000 years ago, a Persian Prince, Sikandar Shah, captured the Tirah region , and he is considered by some as the ancestor of the Orakzai tribe. As the legend goes, Prince Sikandar, in his own country used to amuse himself by breaking the pitchers carried by the women drawing water from the springs near his palace in Isphahan, a hobby of majority of the princes of old legends. The people complained to the king about the prince's leisure-sport who chided the prince, but to no avail. The prince continued his sport and one fine morning he, to his dismay, found that his shoes had been turned upside down, meaning thereby his expulsion from the kingdom. He was henceforth known as the , 'Wrukza', that in Pashto means 'get lost or be exiled'. The prince left his country and came to Urghan in the Waziristan territory, the capital of the Muhammadan King of Kohat, who gave him employment at his court. After sometimes, the Persian King repented his action and sent a court musician (Dum) named Banga to bring back the exiled prince. Banga had been the Prince's friend since childhood. In course of time, Banga found his way to Kohat where Sikandar Shah welcomed him, called him his brother and gave him a seat next to him in the royal durbar. From Banga, the King at Kohat learned that Sikandar Shah was exiled son of the King of Persia. The King married to him one of his daughters. At about that time, the Tirahis started raids on the suburbs of Kohat ; consequently , the King of Kohat sent Prince Sikandar Shah to subdue the Tirahis. He set out by the Tora Pakha route and reached Tanda in the Mastura valley . He defeated the Tirahis and drove them into the Maidan of Tirah and thereafter across the mountains of Nangarhar where their descendants are still said to be settled . In the meantime, the King of Kohat died and Banga established himself as the new King of Kohat. Sikandar Shah fought Banga's forces at Muhammadzai, near Kohat and was defeated. So Sikandar Shah was obliged to settle down in Tirah where he established himself and married a Tirahi woman as his second wife. From Banga originated the Bangash tribe of Kohat. Sikandar's descendants were called by their neighbors as the sons of 'Wrukza' which got corrupted into Wrukzai or Orakzai.

(Reference: "History of the Pathans" by Haroon Rashid, Vol-IV, p-52

Conflict with the Mughals

In 1619 or 1620, Mahabat Khan, Subahdar of Kabul,  under the emperor Jahangir, treacherously massacred 300 Daulatzai Orakzai, who were Roshania adherents; and, during his absence on a visit to Jahangir at Rohtas, Ghairat Khan was sent with a large force via Kohat to invade Tirah. He advanced to the foot of the Sampagha pass, which was held by the Roshanias under Ihdad and the Daulatzai under Malik Tor. The Rajputs attacked the former and the latter were assailed by Ghairat Khan's own troops, but the Mughal forces were repulsed with great loss. Six years later, however, Muzaffar Khan, son of Khwaja Abdul Hasan, then Subahdar of Kabul, marched against Ihdad by the Sugawand pass and Gardez, and after five or six months' fighting Ihdad was shot and his head sent to Jahangir. His followers then took refuge in the Lowaghar; and subsequently Abdul Kadir, Ihdad's son, and his widow Alai, returned to Tirah. The death of Jahangir in 1627 was the signal for a general rising of the Afghans against the Mughal domination. Muzaffar Khan was attacked on his way from Peshawar to Kabul, and severely handled by the Orakzai and Afridis, while Abdul Kadir attacked Peshawar, plundered the city, and invested the citadel. Abdul Kadir was, however, compelled by the jealousy of the Afghans to abandon the siege and retire to Tirah, whence he was induced to come into Peshawar. There he died in 1635. The Mughals sent a fresh expedition against his followers in Tirah ; and Yusuf, the Afridi, and Asar Mir, the Orakzai chief, were at length induced to submit, and received lands at Panipat near Delhi. Simultaneously operations were undertaken in Kurram. Yet, in spite of these measures, Mir Yakut, the imperial Dlwan at Peshawar, was sent to Tirah in 1658 to repress an Orakzai and Afridi revolt.

(Reference:  Imperial Gazetteer of India, Provincial series : North-West-Frontier", page-235)

Orakzai notables in India, Dost Muhammad Khan and Jalal Khan

Dost Muhammad Khan, born in 1672 A.D, was the son of Nur Muhammad Khan, and belonged to Mirazi Khel clan of Orakzais of Tirah. He emigrated to Hindustan , some where between 1697 and 1703, during the final years of Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir. He founded the Bhopal principality in 1707 and expanded it till his death in 1728. At its zenith, the Bhopal state comprised a territory of around 7,000 square miles (18,000 km2).The state became a British protectorate in 1818, and was ruled by the descendants of Dost Mohammad Khan till 1949, when it was merged with the Dominion of India.

Jalal Khan 's father , Hazar Mir Orakzai of Miranzai Khel, came to India during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan and obtained the zamindari of certain villages in the Jamuna-Gangetic Doab. After his father's death , Jalal Khan succeeded to the zamindari and obtained, in addition thereto, some more villages in the pargana of Thana Bhawan , near which he built a fortress and founded the town of Jalalabad (Saharanpur, U.P). In 1709 Jalal Khan faced seventy or eighty thousands Sikhs of Banda Singh and successfully defended his fort with just few hundreds men. For the victory over the Sikhs, Jalal Khan was rewarded by the Nazim of Delhi , on 31st August 1710 AD, with the Faujdari of Saharanpur . He was raised to the rank of two thousand and five hundred in the reign of Jahandar Shah , with a further promotion during Farrukh Siyar's time. He died in  September 1718 AD.

Islamnagar Palace, Bhopal, built by Dost Mohammad Khan Orakzai

Orakzais during the Durrani period

Since the decay of the Mughal empire, Orakzai tribes had been virtually independent, though owning at times a nominal allegiance to Kabul. Syed Ghulam Muhammad in  Timur Shah's reign, has following description of Orakzais;
 "The Afghan tribe (Orakzai) contains some thousands of families, and they dwell in mountain tracts of Tirah, the Khyber, and Jalalabad. They have to furnish a contingent of soldiers to the Badhshah of Kabul, and their Sardars hold jagirs or fiefs in the Peshawar district for guarding and keeping open the passes within their boundaries." (Reference: Raverty, "Notes on Afghanistan", p-95)

During the Durrani period, the titular chief of the Orakzai belonged to the Abdul Aziz Khel clan. He had very cordial relations with the Saddozai Kings at Kabul. The Abdul Aziz Khel 'Khan Khels' had a 'sanad' from Ahmad Shah Abdali , granting them a 'jagir' and some monetary allowances. In 1796-7 AD, Orakzais provided an infantry contingent of ten thousand men to Zaman Shah for his invasion of the Punjab. The Durranis, from the very beginning , managed the Orakzai tribe through the Bangash 'Khans' of Hangu. During the Barakzai and Sikh domination of the area, the Orakzai were under the management of Sultan Muhammad Khan Barakzai, the governor of Kohat.  (Reference: "History of the Pathans" by Haroon Rashid, Vol-IV, p-70)  

Orakzai tribesmen, 1868

See also : Jalal Khan Orakzai

                 When Orakzais defeated the Mughal army in Tirah