Sunday, 22 May 2016

Yusafzai–Khattak conflict in 17th century

During Shah Jahan's times , the vale of Peshawar came to witness the inter-tribal war of Yusafzai and Khattak tribes.  Khattaks were assigned the task of supervising the Emperor's highway by Mughals , so the Yusafzais, the arch-enemies of Mughals, turned their guns towards pro-Mughal Khattaks.  Akbar built the Attock fort and one Malik Akor, chief of Khattaks was given the duty of guarding the high-road from Attock to Peshawar in return for collecting the revenue of land between Khairabad and Nowshera. . He was given the right of collecting ferry dues at Attock. In due course of time Malik Akor became the richest and leading man of his tribe. He also built a Serai on the main road , which was called after his name, Akora Serai. . Malik Akor remained the guardian of high-road for 41 years , and was finally killed at Pir Sabak , between Nowshera and Attock by Balak clan of Khattaks. He was succeeded by his son Yahya Khan, during whose period bitterness broke out between Yousafzais and Khattaks.

The cause of enmity between two tribes was that , the Khattak had uprooted Yousafzais from the village Misri Kot , opposite Akora Sarai  , to establish their supremacy in the region. Secondly Yousafzais had never shown a re-conciliatory policy towards Mughals and Khattaks were pro-Mughal forces in the region. After Yayha Khan's death, his son Shahbaz Khan succeeded to lordship of the Khattak tribe. Shahbaz Khan continued fueling enmity with Yousafzais and in due course of time had killed many of his arch-enemies.

At the same time Yousafzis were gathering under the leadership of Malik Bahaku Yusafzai. In one of the encounters , Shahbaz Khan was killed by Yousafzais in 1640 A.D and he was succeeded by his son Khushal Khan Khattak.. Khushal Khan Khattak was appointed to a dignified position by a firman of Shah Jahan which also required the new chieftain to join the Royal army in Ajmir, with a large Khattak contingent. Khushal Khan rendered meritorious service in reducing the famous fort of Taragarah and in return received a Jagir and had to maintain a force of 500 cavalry and 1000 infantry for the Emperor's services. Khattak contingent had also fought with Royal armies in Balkh and Badakhshan campaigns and Khushal Khan Khattak himself took part in these wars.

During his service Khushal Khan Khattak took part in many expeditions against Yousafzais for Mughals. The enmity between Khattaks and Yousafzais was further intensified when Emperor conferred certain Yousafzai villages to Khushal Khan during his visit to Kabul in 1649 A.D . Malik Bahaku, the Yusafzai chief, decided to try his luck at the Mughal court. He appeared at Shah Jahan's court at Delhi for nominal submission. Bahaku was successful in gaining the support of Dara Shikoh , the eldest son of Shah Jahan and on the interference of Dara Shikoh, Bahaku was pardoned and his territories were restored to him. Thus Mughal-Yusafzai's strained relations turned into normal for the first time. Yousafzai's chief was also awarded and honored in the Royal court. 

Khushal khan Khattak

Khushal Khan, seeing his fortunes dividing, in face of Yousafzai's ascendancy, tried his level best to regain the Royal support, but to no avail, Dara stood in favour of Bahaku. The hatred grew stronger in his heart against Yusafzais and also against Mughal. During war of succession among the sons of Shah Jahan, Yousafzais backed the cause of Dara Shikoh to the throne of India, while Khushal Khan Khattak supported Aurangzeb Alamgir's cause to Kingship. As Aurangzeb became successful, Dara turned a fugitive , this raised the position of Khushal Khan Khattak.

On the request of Dara Shikoh, Yousfazai Lashkar had seized the boats at Indus near Attock and waited for reception of Dara, to give him shelter. Feroz Khan, Khushal Khan's uncle, attacked Yousafzais in which in which Bahaku was injured and his brother Saida Khan killed.

Khattak-Yousafzai rivalry continued during the war of succession between the sons of Shah Jahan and many bloody battles were fought between two tribes. When Aurangzeb became successful in defeating his brothers, Yousafzais were anticipating humiliation and destruction at the hands of Mughal-Khattak forces. In due course of time, Aurangzeb confirmed chieftainship to Khushal Khan and Mughal-Khattak swords were eliminating Yousafzais simultaneously. But the Royal favour , bestowed on Khushal Khan proved short-lived. In 1664 A.D Mughal governor Amir khan , got Khushal Khan arrested in Peshawar and sent him to Aurangzeb in chains.

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