Sunday, June 29, 2014

Afghan principality of Kasur

Keshgi was one of the son of Zamand or Jamand. Kheshgis along with other Zamands were settled on the banks of the Arghandab river and the surrounding area of Kandahar. Most of the Zamands followed the Khashis initially to Kabul and subsequently to Peshawar valley. Most of  the Kheshgis did not move to Peshawer valley with the Khashis, its sub-clans Salmahak , Azizi, Umarzai, Hussainzai, Khalafzai and Watuzai remained behind in Kabul valley. Because of lack of pasture and fertile land , they were planning to migrate to other suitable areas when Babur , the Mughal appeared on the scene . He was then recruiting his army for the invasion of India. The major portion of the tribe (about 6,000 men) under the leadership of Salim Khan , on the advice of their ‘Pir’, joined Babur’s army and subsequently gallantly fought in the battle of Panipat against Sultan Ibrahim Lodi. It is said that the Babur’s Mughal contingents were almost routed when Zamands took off their turbans and gird up their loins and holding a turf of their beard in their mouths , fought courageously and turned the table on the Lodis. At this unexpected victory Babur said that the Pashtuns only deserved the title of ‘Khan’ and not the Mughals. He gave Salim Khan an iron peg into the ground that whole tract would be granted to his tribe.(Muhammad Hayat Khan, “Hayat-e-i-Afghani, , p-227-28)

Salim Khan chose the present area of Kasur in Punjab , which Babur granted him. Hardly had the Zamands settled in their new location when the Saorah clan of Baloch tribe, residing in the neighborhood , started harassing them. Salim Khan readjusted his settlement and fortified their positions. He allotted specific areas to different clans for guarding the settlement . The Batezai; Hussainzai; Arifzai; Shahabanza;  Kazlani; and Salmahak clans established themselves on the western side called the Bar Kalay. The Azizi, Chanozai and Brahamzai took over the eastern side called the “Lar Kalay”. While the remaining tribe defended themselves on the North. The assaults and clashes continued but the Zamands made the proposition costly in men and material for the Balochs, who , reconciled with the presence of the Zamnads in the area with the passage of time. 

However it was the disunity within the tribe that weakened them . The Brahamzi picked up enmity with the Chanozai clans and the former moved over to village Khujra. Likewise , the Salmahak clan because of bad blood with the Hussainzai and Amchzai went over to the village of Tandaand the Batezai to village Heruwal. Thus they lost their collective strength and influence. The families that had moved over to Tanda and Heruwal are settled there till today and are known as Kasuri Pathans. (Tarikh-i-Punjab wa Afghana-i-Kasur by Muhammad Ayub Khan)

An Afghan or Pathan of Kasur. Image taken from Tashrih al-aqvam, an account of origins and occupations of some of the sects, castes and tribes of India. Originally written at Hansi Cantonment, Hissar District, eighty-five miles north-west of Delhi, for Colonel James Skinner, 1825


The Kheshigis rose to high ranks in Emperor Akbar’s army. 

In December 1747, Ahmed Shah set out from Peshawar, and arrived at the Indus river-crossing at Attock. When Ahmed Shah reached the bank of the Ravi on 8th January, 1748, the Lahore army of 70,000 of Shah Nawaz prepared to oppose the invader. The Afghans crossed over on the 10th of January and the battle was joined on the 11th. Ahmed Shah had only 30,000 horsemen, and no artillery. But during the battle, a force of 5,000 Pashtunss of Kasur under Jamal Khan defected to his side, and he was able to crush the poorly trained forces of Lahore. Shah Nawaz fled to Delhi, and Adina Beg was equally fast in running away to the Jalandhar area.

Ahmed Shah entered the city on the 12th January 1748, he appointed Jamal Khan of Kasur Governor of Lahore, and Lakhpat Rai his minister, and restoring law and order around the town by February 18, he set out towards Delhi.

Pashtuns of Kasur were greatest menace to Sikhs, they were loyal to Kandahar. During the Abdali attacks, they took side with him and plundered the Sikh territory. Sikhs also sacked the Afghan principality of Kasur in May 1763. In 1794, two Pashtun brothers, Nizam ud Din and Kutab ud Din reestablished the Afghan rule over Kasur.

Shah Zaman made attempts to recapture the Punjab in 1797 and 1798, each time managing to take Lahore with the help of Nizamuddin Khan, the ruler of Kasur. In 1796 Shah Zaman moved, crossed Indus for the third time with intention of capturing Delhi to aid Tipu sultan. He was again helped by Nizam-ud din. A rebellion by his brother Mahmud caused Shah Zaman to return hastily to Kabul.

Kasur had long been a thorn in the side of Ranjeet Singh's power because of its proximity to his capital city. He had alreay made three unsuccessful attempts to conquer Kasur. Its location and battlements afforded Kasur special protection, it stood on the upland bank overlooking the alluvial valleys of beas and sutlej. It contained fortified hamlets surrounded by a wall. In 1807 Sikh forces under surrounded Kasur and cut off all communications. The entire land was laid waste. Sikh artillery reduced Kasur to rubble. Kutab ud Din was forced to give way to Ranjit Singh and fled to his territory at Mamdot, beyond the Sutlej River. Kasur was then incorporated into the dominion of Ranjit Singh, Pashtun element in Kasur declined after this conquest. It was the last stronghold of the Afghans in upper half of the bari doab.

In 1818, many Kasuri Afghans fought for Nawab Muzaffar Khan Sadozai in defending Multan from Ranjeet singh forces

The following are some of the distinguished personalities of Kasuri Afghans.

Saleem Khan Zamand – Head of the Zamand Clan, who was a Commander of Mughal Army in the first battle of Panipat, 1526. Emperor Babar entered into an agreement to grant ¼ of Delhi’s revenue to Saleem Khan Zamand and his Clan.

Nazar Buhadar Khan Kheshgi – he was a Hasht-Hazzari of Mughal army.

Qutab-Ud-Din Khan Kheshgi, he was the Mughal Military Governor of Haiderabad Daccan, a mansabdar of 3500 zats and 3500 sawars.

Shamas Din Khan Kheshgi, he was Mughal Military Governor of Surat and Jona Garh,a mansabdar of 3000 zats and 2000 sawars. .

Ahmed Kheshgi, titled Ikhlas Khan: A Mughal Mansabdar of 3000 zats and 1000 sawars. .

Beg Muhammad Kheshgi, titled Dindar Khan:A Mughal Mansabdar of 2500 zats and 1200 sawars

Ismail Khesgi, titled Janbaz Khan:  A Mughal Mansabdar of 2000 zats and 500 sawars

Alah Dad Khan Kheshgi :A Mughal Mansabdar of 2000 zats and 1000 sawars

Khudad Khan Kheshgi: A Mughal Mansabdar of 1500 zats and 1000 sawars

Arzani Kheshgi, he was the great poet of Pushto history, a contemporary of Pir Roshan. He is the first ever poet in Pushto history having a Deewan of his own about Pushto poetry. Khushaal Khan Khattak drew his certification from the poetry of Arzani Kheshgi.

Abdullah Khan Kheshgi, the author of Kitaab-Ul-Aulia, written in 1640.

Nawab Hussain Khan Kheshgi, the last ruler of Kasur State.

Jumla Khan : Afghan of Kasur who was appointed governor of Lahore by Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1748.