Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Haibat Khan Niazi, the Masnad-i-Aali Azam Humayun

Haibat Khan Niazi, son of Omar Khan Niazi, was a great commander and most trusted officer of Sher Shah Sur. During Sher Khan's struggle against Emperor Humayun, the latter had moved out and camped near Gaur in Bengal. Sher Khan was then located near Benares. Thereafter we find Haibat Khan Niazi always present in the inner coterie of Sher Khan. In English translation of Makhzan-i-Afghani by B.Dorn, on page-116 it is written,

"Sher Khan sent Haibat Khan Niazi and Jalal Khan Jaloo, at the head of a gallant detachment , towards Awadh, Lucknow and Bahraich. These chiefs, driving the officers of Humayun, with the drawn swords, as far as Sumbal......."

Haibat Khan Niazi and Isa Khan Niazi  appear in various episodes of Sher Shah's struggle against for power against Emperor Humayun, wherein they were entrusted with important responsibilities. In May 1540 A.D, in the battle between Sher Khan and Emperor Humayun, on the banks of Ganges near Kanuaj, Haibat Khan was stationed in the center of the Afghan army. In that battle Sher Khan returned victorious. "History of Afghans" by B.Dorn writes,

"Haibat Khan Niazi and Khawas Khan on that day resembled Rustam in bravery; and, after a protracted struggle, the imperial army was completely routed , notwithstanding the personal efforts of Emperor (Sher Shah), who, with unshaken firmness, maintained his stand"

 In 1542 AD, because of trouble in Bengal and Malwa, Sher Shah had to leave the Punjab. Haibat Khan and his brother Isa Khan, with Khawas Khan and some other chiefs of Kakars and Jalwanis, were left in charge of Punjab. Haibat Khan Niazi commanded Sher Shah's forces in the campaigns against the Gakhars in the North and the rising Baloch influence in the south. He captured Kashmir and installed the Chak dynasty there on behalf of Sher Shah Suri. The fortress of New Rohtas , near Jhelum, was founded during this period  and Haibat Khan Nizai held it with a force of 30,000 Afghan cavalry all in his own pay, no other Pashtun chief could boast of such huge cavalry force or afforded such expenses. Unfortunately some differences later arose between Haibat Khan Niazi and Khawas Khan in 1543 A.D. Khawas Khan informed Sher Shah of the rift when the latter had just besieged the fort of Raiseen near Malwa. Sher Shah reposed great trust in Haibat Khan, he recalled Khawas Khan and other chiefs and transferred the government of Punjab to Haibat Khan Niazi.

Expeditions against Balochs

In 1543-44 , Sher Shah ordered Haibat Khan to expel the Balochis from Multan, who were responsible for depopulating the Multan subah, they had plundered and devastated those parts during the time of Mongol (Arghun) raids. Sher Shah ordered Haibat Khan to restore prosperity to the subah and re-populate it by bring peace to the region, for which expulsion of predatory Baloch elements was necessary . Haibat Khan first perused the robber chief , Fateh Khan Jat of Kot-Kabula, who had devastated the entire tract of Lakhi jungle and was robbing and killing the travelers in the area. One of the chief associate of Fateh Khan Jat, was Meedu Baloch, his Balochs were in league with Jats in their predatory activities. Some of the Baloch chiefs in the region, like Chakar Rind, were loyal to Afghans and provided contingents to the army of Haibat Khan in his expedition against Fateh Khan Jat and Meedu Baloch. Another powerful Baloch chief in the region, Fateh Khan from the Dodai tribe, who had earlier assured Sher Shah of his loyalty in 1541, was now up in arms against Afghans and their ally Bakhshu Langah. Haibat Khan Niazi prevented the union of Fath Khan Jat of Kot-Kabula and Fath Khan Dodai Baloch at Multan, by lodging his army at Pak-Pattan. Fateh Khan Dodai Baloch didnt make any movement from Multan, but the other Fateh Khan, the Jat, and his Baloch associate, Meedu, fled from their stronghold of Fatehpur and proceeded towards the desert of Rajputana. On his way, he took shelter in a mud fort. Haibat Khan hotly perused them and besieged the mud in which they were taking shelter. Realizing the hopelessness of their situation, Fateh Khan Jat sought the help of Shaikh Ibrahim to act as an intermediary, the latter was descendant of  renowned saint Shaikh Farid Ganj-Shakar, who was revered greatly by Afghans. Fateh Khan Jat surrounded himself to Afghans. Haibat Khan put him in confinement till the arrival of fresh instructions from Sher Shah about the fate of robber chief. Meedu Baloch, however, refused to surrender and kept himself in the fort. He and his men, numbering three hundreds, put their wives and children to death and decided to fight the Afghans to the last man. But next day, for some reason, Meedu Baloch and his men also surrendered themselves to Haibat Khan Niazi. Both Fateh Khan Jat and Meedu Baloch were hanged on the orders of Sher Shah.

Haibat Khan then marched against Fath Khan Dodai, who was stationed at Multan. Fath Khan was defeated and Balochs were expelled from Multan. After fall of Suri dynasty in 1555, Balochs who were expelled by Haibat Khan, returned back to Multan. Balochs were also expelled from Khushab and its neighborhoods by Haibat Khan Niazi, there they were replaced by the settlements of Isa Khel and other Niazi clans. They were also expelled from Bhera (Sargodha) and replaced with settlements of Awans. The Sitapur tracts of Naghar Afghans (Muzaffarnagar district of Punjab), which had been conquered by Dodai Balochs in 1482 A.D, was restored to Naghars by Haibat Khan. In Akbar times, this Afghan tract was able to provide 1000 cavalry and 20,000 infantry for militia purposes. The Sarkar of Dipalpur was also cleared of Balochs, with the exception of Rinds who under Chakar Rind were loyal to Afghans. Bakhshu Langah was given back all the lands snatched from him by the Balochs and confirmed as the Zamindar of Uch.

For his services , Haibat Khan Niazi was raised to the highest rank, with the title of 'Masnad-i-Aali Azam Humayun' - a title which had been conferred by the Afghan sovereigns on two previous occasions. He was likewise assigned a scarlet tent, which only the family of the sovereign was hitherto allowed to use. Also he was given the governorship of Multan in addition to Lahore. Haibat Khan appointed his deputy Fath Jang Khan, as governor of Multan. Fath Jang Khan re-peopled Multan and the country flourished greatly under his governorship.

Conquest of Sindh 

 In 1543, Haibat Khan Niazi conquered and annexed upper Sindh with its renowned forts of Bhakkar and Sehwan.

The massacre of Sumbhal Niazis

At this time, Sher Shah nominated his nephew Mubarak khan, his brother’s son by a slave-girl, to the charge of the part of Roh which was in the Niazi's possession. It so happened that a Sumbal (sub-tribe of Niazi) freeholder named Allahdad had a daughter of unequaled beauty, whose good looks were the theme of general talk. Mubarik Khan saw her once only and became enamored of her. Forgetting the pride of race among the people of Roh, he dispatched a confidential messenger to Allahdad to ask his daughter’s hand in marriage. Allahdad presented his duty to the governor, but answered with all respect that the Khan, holding as he did the authority, must have in his harem many noble ladies and beautiful slave-girls. Moreover the Khan, who had been brought up in Hind, possessed a refined taste, while his poor child was of a rustic temperament and had only the qualities of Roh. In short, the inequality between them was so great that a marriage could not be thought of. Mubarik, frustrated, turned to molest the Sumbal clan, thinking to force Allahdad’s hand. A jirga of three notables then waited upon him. While agreeing that there had been previous instances of alliances between Niazis and Suri, they observed that these had been between equal and equal, the free-born with the free-born, the slave with the slave, falcon with falcon, pigeon with pigeon. One of them had a daughter by a slave-girl, and the Khan could have her. Let him in any case refrain from oppressing the clan, Allahdad was free-born, and would never consent to the alliance proposed, even at cost of his life. But Mubarik, full of the pride of authority, refused to listen, and thinking to teach the clan a lesson, plundered one of the Sumbal villages and carried off a slave-girl.

The Jirga of the whole tribe then proceeded in a body to his presence, protesting that the honour of their ‘women and dependents was to them the same as the honour of his to himself they requested him, still with respect, to give up the girl. But, getting only a sharp answer, they opened their minds and said, ‘You were born in Hind and know not the ways of the Afghans. Hitherto the heron has not dared to play the tyrant over the falcon. Out of respect for your uncle, the Shah, we have shown respect to you, the son of a bondwoman. Leave us alone, oppress us not, and let this woman go.’ ‘You prate of honour,’ replied Mubarik in a fury, ‘but I measure honour by the fullness of my house. I will keep this girl, and what is more, will take Allahdad’s daughter from him by force.’ The Maliks answered fiercely that if he valued his life, he would keep his eyes and hands off their women, where upon Mubarik ordered his men to drive them out with rods. Their anger roused, the tribesmen, though they had by custom left their weapons outside the audience chamber, fell on the governor with their bare bands, and killed him and every one of his attendants. When this got to Sher Shah’s ears, he wrote to Haibat Khan saying that the tribe of Sur, his own, was few in number. If every other Afghan should slay a Sur, not one of them would be left. The Sumbals were of Haibat Khan’s own tribe; let him deal with them and punish them in such a way that others might not get into the bad habit of killing governors.

Hearing of Haibat khan's advance, Sumbals sought retreat in hills, determining to withdraw towards Kabul, for Sher Shah’s writ did not run so far. So, a Niazi himself he resorted to finesse. Pretending that, if they came in on safe-conduct he would arrange a composition and emphasizing that they could trust him as a fellow-tribesman, he induced nine hundred of them to come in with their families. The men he slaughtered and sent in the women to the presence of Sher Shah. The Niazis offered those of Sumbals who were related to them , an opportunity of escape , but they refused it and perished with their fellow tribesmen.

The emperor disapproved most strongly, saying that, as between tribesmen, so base an act had never before been committed. ‘At least,’ be added, ‘Haibat Khan evidently nourishes no thoughts of sovereignty himself since he has slain so many of his own tribe; if he did, he could never have forgotten his Pashtu so far as to shed the blood of his people unjustly.’ On this Sher Shah meditated the removal of Haibat Khan from the Panjab, but shortly alter this event, in 1545, he died.

Revolt against Islam Shah and death 

 Islam Shah succeeded to the throne after the death of Sher Shah Suri. Though Sher Shah`s eldest son, Adil Khan was nominated by him as his successor but the nobles preferred Jalal Khan, Sher Shah`s younger son who was regarded more capable by them. Jalal Khan was called by them to come to Kalinjar and after his arrival, he was declared Sultan on 27 may 1545 A.D. He assumed the title of Islam Shah.

Islam Shah could not feel secure as long as his elder brother was alive. He asked him to come to Agra. He was assured of his life and the grant of Jagir of Sayan. Eminent nobles like Isa Khan Niazi and Khawas Khan stood surety for his life. Adil Khan went to Agra, paid homage to the Sultan and returned to Bayana. Islam Shah tried to murder him but failed. Feeling insecure Adil Khan sought support of Khawas Khan. They combined their forces and proceeded towards Agra but the rebels were defeated. Adil Khan fled towards Panna and was heard of no more. Khawas Khan also fled towards Sarhind.

Islam Shah tried to kill ail those nobles who were supposed to be in sympathy with Adil Khan. Thirteen old nobles were sent to Gwalior where they were blown by gun-powder. Said Niazi fled away from the court and found shelter with his brother Haibat Khan Niazi, governor of Lahore. .On account of his flight, Islam Shah went back to Agra, where he collected his troops and marched thence towards Dehli. When Shujé.’ Khan received intelligence of these occurrences, he hastened to Delhi with all possible speed, without being summoned by Islam Shah. The King gratified him by treating him with distinction, and after arranging his army, and halting some days at Dehli, he proceeded in the direction of Lahore. Haibat Khan and the whole of the King's enemies had an interview with Khawas Khan and his friends, and dispatched a powerful force from the Panjab to encounter Islam Shah. They came up with each other near Ambala; and as Islam Shah was encamped very near the Niazi troops, a fight was imminent.

On the night preceding the day of battle, Haibat Khan and his brothers met in Khawas Khan's tent, and consulted together concerning the appointment of another Sovereign. Khawas Khan said, that the best course would be to raise Adil Khan, the eldest son of Sher Shah, to the throne, as he was the rightful heir. Upon this all the Niazis said unanimously, ''What advice is this ? No one obtains a kingdom by inheritance ; it belongs to whoever can gain it by the sword.'' Khawas Khan was vexed at their intentions, and on the same night he secretly sent a verbal message to one of the confidential servants of Islam Shah, requesting him to inform the King, that although His Majesty looked on him (Khawas Khan) as an unfaithful servant, yet that his heart had always inclined towards Sher Shah’s family and offspring; and that although he had sided with Adil Khan, who were the Niazis that he should be guilty of disloyalty to his benefactor on their account, and for the sake of their alliance ? That his wish to be of service should, with the consent of the Almighty, be made manifest on the day of battle.

When Islam Shah became aware of the disagreement which had taken place amongst the chiefs of the enemy, and of the friendly feeling of Khawas Khan, he rejoiced exceedingly, and became confident of success. Meanwhile, news was brought that the Niazi troops had advanced to within a very short distance of the royal camp. Islam Shah said: '' The Afghans have no sense.'' He made an enclosure with all his wheeled carriages, like a fortress, into which he caused the whole of his army to enter, and then went in person to reconnoiter the Niazis from an elevated position. When he beheld the foe, he said, ''I shall be disgraced if I do not fight the rebel troops,'' and ordered the chains, with which the carriages were fastened together to be removed. At that moment, he ranged his troops in battle array, and made ready for the fight. The war drums were beaten on both sides._ Khawas Khan sent to tell Haibat Khan and his brothers to advance when they saw him do so on his elephant with his standard displayed, and not to forsake him. With this intention they turned their faces towards the field. Khawas Khan started from his post, but attacked no one, and succeeded in making his way into the open country. The Niazis fought to the best of their ability, but as no benefit is ever derived from disloyalty, and as it always occasions distress and regret, they were routed, and the victory remained with Islam Shah.

Whilst these events were occurring, Saeed Khan Niazi, the brother of Haibat Khan, came armed to the teeth, under the pretext of congratulating the King; hoping, as no one knew him, to find an opportunity of slaying Islam Shah. He mixed with the royal guards. Islam Shah was at the time standing surrounded by a circle of war elephants, and Said Khan was, consequently, unable to reach him immediately. He was shortly afterwards recognized by one of the elephant drivers, who gave the alarm, and was slain by a thrust of Saeed's spear. Saeed's valour and strength enabled him to make good his escape from the place where the royal guards were. The Niazis fled to Dhan kot, which is near Roh . After their defeat, they were hindered in their flight by the marshy ground in the neighborhood of Ambala, which prevented their horses from proceeding, and consequently Islam Shah’s troops who were in pursuit coming up with them, made a great slaughter of the Niazis. Islam Shah followed them in person as far as New Rohtas, and there appointed Khwaja Wais Sarwani, with an immense army, to prosecute the war with the Niazis, after which he turned back towards Agra and Gwalior.

Haibat khan Niazi and Khwaja Wais Sarwani fought together on several occasions. In the last action Haibat khan defeated the Khwaja, and Niazis pursued them as far as Sirhind. When Islam Shah heard this news, he raised a large force, and sent it against the Niazis, on which Haibat khan retraced his steps and went to Mankot. Islam Shah’s troops came up with him near Sambhal, and a battle took place, in which the Niazis, numbering 20,000 were again routed. Numbers of Niazi women, falling into the hands of conquerors, were sent to Islam shah. The captured Niazis including women and children were brutally treated by Islam Shah. Some Niazi women were kept exposed for months in the state of nudity. Others were made over to harlots!. This dishonor of Niazi ladies was resented by Afghans in general, most of whom were in some way connected togather.

The defeated Niazis couldn't win the support of the Pashtun tribes settled along both banks of Indus. They took refuge with the Gakhars, in the hill-country bordering on Kashmir. Islam Shah advanced in person with a large army for the purpose of quelling the Niazi rebellion, and during the pace of two years was engaged in constant conflicts with the Ghakkars, whom he desired to subdue. He strove by every means in his power to gain possession of the person of Sultan Adam Ghakkar, who had been a faithful friend of the Emperor Humayun, without success; but he caught Serang Sultan Ghakkar, who was one of the most noted men of his tribe, and caused him to be flayed alive, and confined his son, Kamal Khan, in the fort of Gwalior. When Islam Shah had thus taken a proper revenge of Sultan Adam Ghakkar, and destroyed many of his tribe, many of the zamindars whose possessions were at the foot of the hills submitted themselves to him. Skirting the hills.

He then set seriously to work to exterminate the Niazis. When the Ghakhars had been rendered powerless, Haibat Khan went into the hill-country of Kashmir. Islam Shah encamped beneath Kaituli-Shahr, and designed to pursue the Niazis into Kashmir; while Mirza Haidar, the Governor of Kashmir, in order to gain Islam Shah’s good-will, blocked up the road against the Niazis. Haibat khan perceived that the King was coming in his rear, and that the Governor of Kashmir had closed the path on ahead ; being, therefore, unable to effect anything, he went to Rajauri. Islam Shah 'pursued the Niazis with the choicest of his troops as far as the village of Madad, in the territory of Naushahra on the Chenab river, where he was terrified by the dangers and difficulties of the mountain passes, and thought that his best plan would be to make peace. With this view he sent Said Khan and Abdul Malik, who were two of his most trusted and confidential courtiers, with a letter to Haibat khan and the other Niazis, counseling them to take a course by which their interests would be best benefited. Haibat khan son and mother were then surrendered as hostages to Islam Shah. The latter, taking them with him, quitted the defiles of the hills, and encamped at Ban, a village near Sialkot.

Muhammad Nazr and Sabr Ali, the Ruler of Kashmir's governors in Rajaori, plotted to carry Haibat khan into Kashmir, and expel Mirza Haidar thence. Haibat khan consulted the Afghans who had accompanied him with reference to the propriety of this proceeding, and the greater portion of them counseled him to consent to what was evidently a decree of the Almighty. Haibat khan, however, refused to agree to this arrangement, and sent a Brahman to Mirza Haidar, with proposals for accommodation, at the same time begging for assistance, and giving an account of his distressed condition. Mirza Haidar, who was a youth of a magnanimous disposition, sent a large sum of money to Haibat Khan, with a civil message.

Haibat khan marched from his encampment to the village of Buzurg. When the faithless Kashmiris saw that Haibat khan was unsuccessful, they turned against him and deserted him. Some of them went over to Islam Shah. Ghazi Khan Chak went to Mirza Haidar and told him that Haibat khan was coming with a body of Afghans for the purpose of seizing Kashmir, and had reached the pargana of Banihel, and the hills of Lohkot and Malwakot. I'di Ratna, Husain Mekari, Bahram Chak, and Yusuf Ghak, were ordered to attack the small band of Niazis with a force of Kashmiris. Both sides prepared for action, and a fierce contest took place. Bibi Rabia, the wife of Haibat khan, fought like a man, and smote Lali Chak with her sword. The Kashmiris were very numerous, and were victorious over the discomfited Afghans. Haibat khan, Said Khan, and Bibi Rabi'a were killed in the battle, and the men of Kashmir returned successful to Srinagar. Mirza Haidar sent the heads of the Afghans, by the hand of Yakub Mir, to Islam Shah, who was in the village of Ban, near the river Chinab, and who, well pleased at the termination of the Niazi rebellion, marched back homewards. Thus finished the story of the valiant, courageous and chivalrous Niazi Pashtuns in Hind, but not so in their motherland.


 1- History of the Afghans by B.Dorn , Barmazid-67
2- History of the Pathans, Vol-III, by Haroon Rashid
3- Sher Shah : a critical study, by K.R.Qanungo
4- Notes on Afghanistan by H.G.Raverty