Tribes and Turbulence
Columnist Hamid Hussain examines the schisms between various frontier tribes of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
And far from Suleiman Heights comes the sound of stirring tribes; Afridi, Hazara, Gilzai; They clamour for plunder and bribes; And Herat is held by a thread; And the Uzbeks have raised Badakhshan; And the Chief may sleep sound, in his grave, who would rule the unruly Afghans.
Sir Alfred Lyall

Tribes on the North Western Frontier of Pakistan and Afghanistan have been a subject of folklore, romantic nostalgia and academic studies for a long time.  The affairs of the tribes are very different than in any other area.  Sometimes they defy all logic and  rational explanations.  This is due to the interchange of complex factors of geography, history, social norms and customs over the centuries. In Pakistan, most modern day historians have described only the bravery and independent spirit of these tribes with some touch of religious zeal but very little effort has been made about serious study of these groups.  Foreign military officers and scholars have done most of the serious work about these tribes.  In last fifty years, most of these tribes have undergone a tremendous change. Many have settled in big cities and are prominent in trade, civil services and military.  Despite these changes, those who still reside in their ancestral homeland are carrying the traditions of their forefathers.    

The strong sense of independence is the hallmark of Pushtun character. One Pushtun had expressed it eloquently long time ago to Elphinstone, “We are content with discord; we are content with alarms; we are content with blood; but we never will be content with a master”.1 Courage is one commodity, which has never been in shortage among the Pushtuns. Sometimes this bravery borders on recklessness and occasionally stupidity defying all logic.  During frontier expeditions against the turbulent tribes, many a times pensioners of British Indian Army were fighting against the British.  Several times an ex-sepoy will signal back to his foes to tell them how far away from the mark their fire was.  After the end of hostilities at the frontier during British Raj, in the meeting between British officers and tribal elders, the first question, which the elders will ask was to get the opinion of how good they have fought? In 1826, three warrior groups; Jats, Rajputs and Pushtuns were standing shoulder to shoulder to defend the Jat fortress of Bhurutpur.  The defence of the northeast bastion was the responsibility of Pushtuns. About 800 Pushtuns were on the parapets. When the bastion was mined and blown up with 10,000 Ibs of powder, three hundred Pushtuns were blown to pieces. The surviving Pushtuns fought with vengeance and the incoming swarms of British and Indian soldiers were met with heavy fire. Among the casualties on British side included two Brigadiers Macomb and Patton.  When the battle was finished only seventy-five Pushtuns survived.2 When Haider Ali’s troops in the fort of Tripasore surrendered to Sir Eyre Coote while Haider was just few miles away, he became furious.  Haider wrote a letter to Coote requesting him to execute all the prisoners (his own troops) he has taken, an advice, which Coote of course refused.3

In 1848, when Sikh armies revolted against British, many British officers who had gained respect and admiration of Muslim subjects found refuge among them.  They raised the levies from these groups and turned the tables on Sikhs. George Lawrence found himself safe among the Afridis, Herbert Edwards raised a Pushtun levy in Bannu while Abbott felt at home among the tribes in Hazara (he was fondly called Kaka (Uncle) Abbott by locals). Frederick Mackeson was remembered as Kishin Kaka by Afridis decades after his death.  This attachment of tribes with some British officers is the phenomenon, which is very hard to explain.  There is a long list of heroic deeds, which have not been told in Pakistan because of embarrassment felt by many people.  One has to understand these events in their historic context.  During Chitral campaign in April 1895, Colonel Fred Battye fell at the head of his regiment (he had served for twenty five years with the legendry Corps of Guides). The two Afridi companies of Guides who have been surrounded rallied to the spot where their colonel had fallen and brought him back (Battye died of his wounds).4  In 1841-42, during First Afghan War, almost all tribes along on Indo-Afghan borders in east rose against British but Corps of Afridi Levies took it as their honour to protect their British officers.  An Afridi contingent escorted Lieutenant Ferris and other British officers from Pesh Bolak in Jalalabad Valley through the hills to Peshawar.5 In this process, Afridis fought their own kith and kin, in some cases killing their close relatives to protect British.  In 1897, when frontier tribes were again up in arms, many soldiers of the Afridi Levies in Khyber remained loyal to British. At Landi Kotal and Ali Masjid, many Afridi soldiers died fighting against their own tribe.6  Afridis served in many regiments of Indian army especially 20th and 24th Punjab Infantry, 57th (Wild’s Rifles) and 58th (Vaughan’s Rifles).  The famous B’s Bounders (Brownlows Afridis) fought many battles with distinction. In First World War, Subedar Arsla Khan (a Malikdin Khel Afridi) of Wild’s Rifle won 2nd Class of the Order of British India at battle of Messines and a Military Cross at the Second battle of Ypres.7 In 1897 during Tirah expedition, many Afridi pensioners fought British Indian troops.  The matter was serious enough for Lieutenant Governor of Punjab to inform Indian government. Afridis numbers in Indian army declined after that and after First World War when a small number of Afridis deserted.  The formidable Afridis of Khyber Pass live on the tolls they have been extracting for centuries.  Even the Afghan sovereign Ahmad Shah was obliged to continue the payment of tolls to Afridis.

The Khattaks collectively welcomed the British right from the beginning and served loyally.  The reason was that compared to other tribes, Khattaks had a more centralized organization and they generally gave allegiance to one principle chief and followed his decisions.  Khattaks served in military and many civil areas.  Frontier Force regiments especially Coke’s Rifles (Ist Punjab Infantry, later 1/13 Frontier Force) saw a number of good Khattak soldiers. Wazir (Darwesh Khel) and Mahsuds occupy some of the most inhospitable terrain of the frontier tribes.  From time immemorial, the major source of income of this tribe was plundering the neighbouring towns.  During British rule, their area was in constant upheaval due to attacks by Wazirs and Mahsuds and punitive expeditions by British. In 1993, a group of Wazirs told a visiting American that they would have taken care of the Soviets much earlier if US had provided them the money and weapons.8 

The tribal code ensures respect for the brave enemy. This virtue also has a long history.  Sher Shah Suri, the bitter enemy of Mughals once expressed that one of his wish was to raise a tomb to Ibrahim Lodhi (who was defeated by Mughal Zaheeruddin Babur at Paniput) at Paniput but on condition that opposite it another should be erected to the Chaghtai Sultan Babur, who rendered him a martyr.9 In 1897, Sir William Lockhart with a force of 60,000 had humbled the Khyber Afridis going right upto Tirah valley.  The Afridis had been humiliated but they were not embittered.  When Lockhart was departing from Peshawar, a number of Afridi maliks along with a large number of followers marched all the way to Peshawar to say goodbye to Lockhart.10 A prominent Pushtun told his American friend that he always prayed for the dead soldiers buried at the Christian cemetery of Peshawar whenever he passed by in the same way he prayed for his forefathers. He explained that, “It was our people who killed most of them, of course, but they were all brave and some of them were good.  I ask for Allah’s mercy on them, as I do for my own ancestors when I pass their graves”.11 The British reciprocated the same sentiment.  Colonel G. B. Malleson in his lecture to the soldiers of the garrison at Fort William in 1865 gave a glorifying tribute to the military skills of Haider Ali. He called Haider ‘a great and successful soldier’.  He stated that ‘as a general, who, our enemy, was brave, undaunted, persevering, fertile in expedients, ready in resources, and who never despaired’.12 During First World War at the second battle of Ypres in France, the commanding officer of 40th Pathans, Lt. Colonel Rennick was seriously wounded.  He asked that two Pushtun soldiers should accompany him in the ambulance as he wished them to be with him in case he died on the way.  His wish was fulfilled when he died in the arms of his Pushtun soldiers in the ambulance en route to the field hospital.13 When Mirza Ali Khan known as Faqir of Ipi, the staunch enemy of British died in 1960, The Times of London wrote his obituary calling him, “a man of principle and saintliness, the inspiration and general of tribal revolt’.14 

Tribal culture has its own code of conduct.  They judge people by their own code of conduct.  Sher Shah Suri sent his nephew Mubarik Khan (his mother was a slave girl) as ruler of the Niazi (the two major clans of the Niazis are Isa Khel and Sumbal) area on the bank of Indus.  Mubarik Khan wanted to marry the daughter of a Sumbal chief Allahdad but Allahdad refused.  In retaliation, Mubarik sacked a Sumbal village and carried off a slave girl.  The jirga of the whole tribe went to him requested him to give up the girl.  When arrogant Mubarik declined, they said, ‘you were born in Hind and know not the ways of Afghans... out of respect of 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’. The furious Mubarik ordered his attendants to drive these men out with rods.  The tribesmen killed Mubarik and all his attendants with bare hands (following the custom, they have left their weapons outside the tent). The Sumbals knowing what they have done took to the mountains.  Sher Shah ordered his Governor of Punjab, Haibat Khan who was also a Niazi to take action what he thought appropriate. Haibat Khan knowing that he will be unable to fight his men in the hills, thought of a treacherous plan. He contacted Sumbals in the hills and promising a safe conduct lured them to come down along with their families. He killed nine hundred men and sent all women to Sher Shah.  Sher Shah rather than pleased with Haibat Khan got furious and said that, ‘as between tribesmen, so base an act had never before been committed’.15

An interesting phenomenon among Pushtuns is that they may consider a non-Pushtun as  their own if he is brave while disown their own if his behaviour does not correspond to the Pushtun code of honour.  Mahmud Ghaznavi was a Turk but Pushtuns consider him a Pushtun.  In contrast, the son of famous Ahmad Shah Durrani, Timur Shah is called a Persian rather than a Pushtun.  The reason is that Timur was Persian speaking.  He moved his capital from Kandahar to Kabul, sidelined tribal levies and elevated Qazilbash cavalry to the status of his personal bodyguards. More important than that was his one action which went against the Pushtun code of honour. He promised a Mohmand Malik Arsala Khan a safe conduct but later handed him over to his rivals who executed him.  This act of Timur in total disregard of Pushtunwali is remembered to this day with disdain. 

The chivalry of tribes inhabiting this region is not limited to those who embraced Islam.  Many tribes who did not convert to Islam were as brave and chivalrous as their Muslim counterparts. When Mahmud Ghaznavi was facing a Turk rebellion in Khurasan region, Anandpal offered him help stating, ‘I have been conquered by you, and therefore I do not wish that another man should conquer you”.16 A group of chivalrous Hindus called Muhiyals are very well at par with Pushtuns and Rajputs.  Muhiyals have been rulers of territories in the present day Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.  They are essentially a military race, which have served as soldiers throughout the centuries.  They have a reputation of courage, loyalty and bravery.  Muhiyals are composed of seven clans; Datt, Vaid, Chibbar, Bali, Muhan, Lau and Bhimwal.  Though small in numbers but all these clans have a rich military history.  In India, they are also called ‘Hussaini Brahmins’ as Muhiyals proudly claim that though being non-Muslim, a small number of them fought in the battle of Karbala on the side of Hussain.   Muhiyals are very close to Pushtuns in their character.  For centuries, they never or seldom paid in their revenue until coerced by a military expedition involving a number of casualties on both sides. On one occasion, they fought three sanguine battles against Babur’s army as they refused to surrender a girl to Mughals who had sought their protection. The testament to their chivalry is the fact that during Muslim rule, they were the only non-Muslim group on whom the title of Khan or Sultan was ever bestowed.  During British rule, a number of them were residing in the military belt of Campbelpur, Rawalpindi and Jhelum area. A number of Muhiyals served with distinction in British Indian army especially cavalry.   They served in many regiments especially 9th, 11th, 13th, and 19th Lancers, 3rd, 4th and 15th Punjab Cavalry and Guides Cavalry.17 

The stubbornness of Pushtuns is proverbial. Once he takes a stand regardless of how minor or even if it is wrong, he will go at length and suffer a lot.  This behaviour has once made king of a person who was not in the race to become a sovereign.  When Bahlul Lodhi died, a number of Afghan chiefs sat in an assembly to decide about who should be elevated to the throne. The two main contenders were the elder prince Babrak (son of Bahlul) and Azam Humayun (Grandson of Bahlul whose father Bayazid had died).  The discussion was going on as some chiefs favoured Barbik while others Humayun.  The mother of another son Sikander was listening to this debate behind the curtain.  She tried her luck and spoke to the chiefs about the qualities of her son.  Annoyed by this interruption by a woman, an Afghan chief Isa Khan Lodhi retorted that the throne was not for the son of a goldsmith’s daughter.  Another influential chief Khan Khanan Farmuli got upset that such insulting remark was passed against a woman.  A heated argument started between two chiefs and during which  Farmuli swore in anger that he would support the succession of Sikander.  Farmuli rallied other chiefs to his cause and Sikander became the successor although he was never in the race.18 Afghan power was crushed by Mughals in late sixteenth century in Behar and Bengal area.  Several Afghan chiefs were so hostile to Mughals that even after the defeat they refused to submit to Mughals.  Many chiefs preferred to enter the services of Hindu Rajas and Zamindars rather than serve the Muslim Mughals. Sulaiman Khan Lohani along with his followers served the Raja Kedar Rai of Sripur while two brothers Khawaja Kamal and Khawaja Jamal served Raja Pratapaditya of Jessore. Abdur Rahman Khan Sur and Ghazi Khan Tanuri found refuge with Raja Ram Chand of Panna when Mughal army was chasing them.19  The post-independence historians have rushed to label every anti-British act of tribes as some kind of a grand liberation movement without carefully analyzing the facts. The attitudes of Pathans and some of their bizarre actions are still a mystery.  The Commissioner of Peshawar Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Mackeson was stabbed in his court by an Afridi in September 1853.  The culprit was an ordinary Afridi who thought that he has suffered an insult and the commissioner being the ruler has not addressed it.  The assassination of Viceroy Lord Mayo by an Afridi convict in Andaman Islands (known in India as Kala Paani – Black Water) was also not due to some grand nationalist ideology but simple Pushtun code of honour was at stake.  The attacker Sher Ali had served loyally and bravely in a cavalry regiment and served during the 1857 Rebellion in Rohilkhand and Oudh. He then joined Peshawar Mounted Police and fought bravely in Ambela Campaign saving the lives of British officers twice.  Sher Ali had a blood feud and killed a man in British territory not in tribal area.  He was found guilty by Deputy Commissioner and sentenced to transportation for life to the Andaman Islands. Sher Ali addressing the court, narrated all his services to British strangely enough not to beg for his life but for a death sentence rather than transportation to Black Water. It was a dishonour for a Pushtun to be sentenced to life imprisonment.  Death penalty will be an honour.  The British officer considering the loyal services of the accused was avoiding the capital punishment but the accused himself was demanding a death penalty.  When he was told that he would be sent to Black Water, he said, “You will hear of me again, and so will my people”.20 Surely, everybody all over India and abroad heard him when he killed the Viceroy. 

As a foe, Pushtun can be very unforgiving. His actions can be very ferocious and barbaric.  In revenge, Pushtun may trample many laws including his own.  Rohillas had battles with many foes including the dying Mughal kingdom. Mughal nominal King Ali Jauhar who held the lofty title of Shah Alam II was blinded by Rohillas.  Blinding opponents was a tradition of Turks, which Afghans have picked up.  Many Afghans in their fratricidal wars have even blinded their own brothers.  Shah Zaman blinded his rebellious brother Humayun.  His other brother Mahmud in turn blinded Shah Zaman when the former was defeated near Jalalabad.21 Khushal Khan Khattak fought for long against Mughals during Aurangzeb time.  In one of his couplets he said:

Since Khushal’s arm cannot reach the tyrant in this world,
May God Almighty have o mercy on him in the day of doom 22 

One of Khushal’s wish before death was to be buried in an area where the dust emanating from the marches of the armies of Mughals could not defile his grave.  The ruler of Afghanistan Amir Abdur Rahman Khan elevated Asmatullah Khan and recognized him as Khan of all Ghaljais.  Abdur Rahman gave him the title of Mir Afghan.  After showering all these honours, when he thought that Asmatullah is becoming more influential, he was promptly executed.23 The First Anglo-Afghan war of 1839-40 is remembered as a heroic deed of Afghans against the British force.  Surely, many Afghans fought bravely against the British force but some actions against non-combatants were simply barbaric and have nothing to do with bravery. The British (including Indian troops) force, which started from Kabul towards Jalalabad had 4,500 combatants (with 700 Britons) and 10,000 camp followers including women and children.  The eastern Ghaljai tribes and Afridis looted everything, killed unarmed men, women and children and abducted many children and young women.  During many frontier expeditions, the most humane treatment, which a wounded British or Indian prisoner got was castration followed by beheading. Sometimes, the wounded soldier was pegged to ground, his mouth forced open with a piece of wood to prevent swallowing and then Afghans will urinate in his mouth until he drowned in urine.  Skinning wounded men while they were still alive was not uncommon and practiced until recently against Soviet soldiers. 

Different Afghan tribes due to their military skills have been employed by rulers throughout ages.  In Pakistan, history books only relate those stories where they served with Muslim armies and portray their participation in religious terms. Surely, religious symbols have been used by these tribes to rally the tribal levies at different times but this factor has never been a major one.  Soldiering is a career and a way of life for many of these tribes. It has been a source of social prestige and income. In most cases, it was a source of secure employment and in early times a chance to get the loot from the conquered territories.  Several factors, including economic, regional alliances and internal feuds were at play in these complex relationships.  When Mughal empire was dying, many such Afghan soldiers of fortune tried their luck.  Many Afghan chiefs have made alliance with Rana Sanga of Mewar and fought against the Mughals in the battle of Khanwa.24 During Akbar’s reign, several Afghans fought alongside Rana Pratap of Mewar against Mughal forces in the battle of Haldighat in 1576.25 Khushal Khan Khattak’s own son Behram joined the Mughals and fought against his own father.  The elite cavalry of Marhatta forces had a large contingent of Afghan horsemen and Arabs.  Haider Ali (he was of Afghan stock) started his military career in the army of the Hindu Raja of Mysore and served loyally to rise up to become the Commander of Raja’s forces.  On Raja’s death, he became the ruler of Mysore.  When Ahmad Shah Abdali came to face the Marhattas at Paniput, on the right flank of the Marhattas was another Pushtun General Ibraheem Khan Gardi with his cavalry.  At one stage of the battle, Gardi’s Afghan horsemen almost rolled over Ahmad Shah’s defence.  In 1826, the Hindu Jat fortress of Bhurutpur employed a large force of Pushtuns in the defence of the fort against British.  Many Pushtuns died sword in hand defending this Jat fortress.  The Afghan settlements of Rohilkhand (the area between Delhi and Himalaya) have served in the forces of different players in the region. They have fought many battles against the Muslim forces of Hyderabad. They participated as allies of British against Gurkhas in early 1800.  Colonel Gardiner led 2,500 while Captain Hyder Jung Hearsey led 1,500 Rohillas against Gurkhas.26 A large number of Pushtuns have served the British Indian army with distinction in battles all over the world.

The switching of sides has also been notoriously common among tribes.  Lieutenant Colonel James Skinner (1778-1841 – who raised the famous Skinner’s Horse popularly known as Yellow Boys) wrote in his will that only ‘Turkic’ Afghans be enlisted in his regiment. He wrote that all other Afghans were untrustworthy and full of treachery and intrigue.27 Several factors including monetary, internal feuds and Pushtun code are responsible for this behaviour, which may occur sometime with a dizzying speed.  Ibraheem Lodhi sent a force under the command of Mian Hussain Farmuli to fight against the Hindu Raja Rana Sanga of Mewar.  During campaign, Ibraheem appointed Mian Makhan to command the troops.  Farmuli feeling insulted switched sides and along with his soldiers joined Rana Sanga. He then helped Rana Sanga to defeat the force of Ibraheem, which he was supposed to be leading.28 In the eclipse of the Lodhi dynasty, the Governor of Lahore Daulat Khan Lodhi made an alliance with another Chief Ghazi Khan Lodhi and several chiefs of Punjab.  He opened communication with Mughal Zaheeruddin Babar and invited him to attack India and offered his help.  In the meantime, he contacted many mercenary Mongol chiefs (Another chief Alam Khan had already successfully used the Mongol mercenary troopers in capturing many towns) and asked them to help him capture Delhi before Babar’s arrival.  It was the refusal of Mongol chiefs and the early arrival of Babar at Lahore, which resulted in reluctant submission of these chiefs to Babar.29 Sher Shah’s career gives an interesting insight into this phenomenon.  Sher Shah Suri submitted to Babar first.  He consolidated himself in Behar and later swore allegiance to Sultan Mahmud (brother of Ibraheem Lodhi who was elevated to the Lodhi throne by those chiefs who were still in charge of their estates after Ibraheem Lodi’s defeat and death). Sher Shah along with his forces was at the side of Mahmud when Humayun came with his army to confront them at Lucknor. Sher Shah opened secret negotiations with Humayun and professed loyalty to him.  On the day of battle, Sher Shah along with his forces retreated from his critical position at right flank throwing the whole army into a pandemonium.  The Afghan chiefs were defeated by Mughal army and Sultan Mahmud fled to Patna and abdicated. After victory when Humayun ordered surrender of the fort of Chunar (Sher Khan had acquired this strong fort by marrying the widow of Taj Khan, a woman named Lad Mulk), Sher Shah fled.  When powerful Mughal army intended to reduce Chunar by force, Sher Shah somersaulted and offered Humayun all help against other rebels.  He sent his son Kutab Khan with five thousand Afghan horsemen to help Humayun in Gujrat.  In the meantime, Sher Shah enlisted every Afghan chief to his side and became a powerful force after reducing Bengal. When Humayun brought his forces to humble Sher Shah, the situation became very critical.  Sher Shah befriended Churamen, a Brahmin very close to the Hindu Raja of the fort of Rohtas. Sher Shah through Churamen and many other applications begged the Hindu Raja to let his Afghan followers come inside the fort.  He told Raja that the families of his retinue need protection as Mughals were following them.  Raja seeing the large numbers of armed Afghans with Sher Shah was reluctant but Churamen prevailed on Raja and he allowed Afghans to come inside the fort.  Once inside, the Afghans killed the Raja’s troops and drove Raja along with his many adherents out of the fort.30 Sher Shah eventually succeeded in wresting India from Mughal Emperor Humayun.  Sur Dynasty Emperor Adil Shah was busy fighting the rebel Afghan chiefs away from his capital when Ibraheem Khan Sur captured Delhi and Agra. When Adil hastily came back with his force to recapture his capital, Ibraheem asked him to send his leading Chiefs for negotiations so that he can be assured safety.  When these chiefs came to Ibraheem, they switched sides and Adil had to make a hasty retreat to Chunar.31 In an ironic twist, when a brilliant Hindu trader turned general of Adil Shah, Hemu was fighting the critical battle of the dynasty’s survival at Panipat against Mughals,  the fellow Afghans were ready to stab him in the back.  Bahadur Khan Sur of Bengal seeing the precarious position of Adil captured Bihar and was ready to advance further.  Adil killed him in the battle of Fatehpur.32 In 1855, Afghans joined hands with British to wrest control of Herat from Iranians. Iran was defeated by Anglo-Afghan forces and by the treaty of Paris in 1857, Iran surrendered Herat to Afghans and recognized Afghanistan as independent nation.33 In modern times, in the last few decades, the tribes straddling Durand Line have worked with Afghan government, Soviet Union, Pakistan, United States, Saudi Arabia and a host of other players.

In 1877, a large punitive expedition against the rebellious Jowaki clan of Adam Khel Afridis was carried by British and Indian troops.  In this expedition about 5,000 combatants participated and scorch earth policy resulted in destruction of the clan’s villages and towers. The humbled Jowaki chiefs came to British camp for the terms.  Barely a year later, in 1878 during the Second Afghan War, the chiefs of Jowaki sought and obtained the contract for supplying the camels for General Robert’s army.  Jowakis helped the British military stores move from Rawalpindi to Kurram and made a fortune.  Not even a single shot was fired at British when this huge expedition against Afghanistan was on way.34 Turis in Kurram also helped the British force during this war.  Turis who are Shias have been in constant feud with their two Sunni neighbouring tribes, Jajis in upper Kurram and Orakzais.  After Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, many tribes straddling the Durand Line took full advantage of the situation. They would help resistance fighters pass through their territory after getting their share of weapons and money.  At the same time they would make money by supplying the besieged garrisons and military posts of Afghan government.  It was not unusual for many tribal chiefs to be paid by Pakistani government and intelligence apparatus and Afghan government and its intelligence apparatus at the same time to perform specific tasks.  Afghan intelligence agency, KHAD had direct contact with 315 tribal elders of 18 tribes.  They were paid in money and weapons for specific tasks.35 During Soviet occupation, Afghans fought with US help but later during the civil war, many Afghan groups found help from Russia in fighting their rivals.  After September 11, when US came back to the region, a number of them cooperated with US military operations.

The internal feuds among various tribes and even members of the same tribes are due to two important factors of the Pushtun code of conduct; revenge (badal) and honour (nang). Nothing can prevent a Pushtun to compromise on these two issues. Even when Afghans were ruling large part of India, they were organized on tribal and clan lines fiercely protecting their independence.  During Lodhi dynasty period (1451-1526), in Delhi, Agra and Lucknow area, Shahukhail Lodhis were dominant.  Yusufkhail clan of Lodhis settled in Lahore while Sarangkhani clan settled in Jaunpur.  In Oudh, Shahabad and Thanesar, Farmuli tribe, in Bihar and Ghazipur Lohanis and in Etawa and Kaunpur Sarwanis were the masters.   Southern part of Bihar was the colonized by Surs.  In Rohailkhand, 52 different tribes and clans were residing in separate quarters of the city of Shahjahanpur.36 Ibraheem Lodhi (Ruled 1517-1526) faced the rebellion of his Afghan commanders and governors.  One of the rebellious chief was governor of Lucknow Azam Humayun Lodhi.  The force, which Ibraheem sent to face the rebels, had the brother of Azem, Ahmad Khan Lodhi.  In this conflict about ten thousand Afghans were killed or wounded.  One Afghan historian describes this battle as a one with no other comparison, “brothers fighting against brothers, fathers against sons, inflamed by mutual shame and innate bravery: bows and arrows were laid aside, and the carnage carried on with daggers, swords, knives and javelins”.37  Among the Ghaljais, there is bitter enmity between the two main branches. Sons of Ibrahim (Suleiman Khel, Aka Khel, Ali Khel, Tarakai and Ishaqzai) and Turan (Hotak, Tukhi, Nasar and Kharuti) have been at loggerheads for centuries.  The great political factions of Afridis are Gar and Samil, which have been fighting each other for generations. Kuki Khel and Kambar Khel belong to Gar while Samil faction includes Akka Khel, Zakha Khel, Malikdin Khel and Sipah clans.  The smart Adam Khel don’t belong to either faction and will side with any faction depending on their own interests at that particular time.38 In 1589, Malik Saddo became the chief of Abdalis in Kandahar area.  Saddo recognized Shah Abbas of Iran as his ruler.  He was given the task of safeguarding the road from Iran to Herat and Kandahar.  Saddo also fought many battles for Iranians against Mughals.  Those not happy with the events especially Alizai branch and even few Saddozais joined the Mughals. When Kandahar was recaptured by Iranians, Aurangzeb established for them a colony in Multan.  During Mughal rule, the governorship of Multan and Derajaat has always been given to these Afghans called Multani Afghans.39 Ghaljai Chief Ashraf was fighting the Iranians to expand his territory while his cousin Hussain Sultan was waiting for the right moment to strike Ashraf.  During a flight from Iranians, Ashraf was killed by Hussain’s troops.  After the 1897 frontier expedition, as usual the tribal jirgas met with British officials and terms of peace negotiated. General Sir Bindon Blood met with the Mohmand Maliks at Nawagi and terms and conditions of the treaty were agreed which included returning of Rs 4000 to the Mohmands. After handing over money, Blood was departing from the assembly when firing broke out behind him.  He asked one of the Maliks what was going on?  The old Malik calmly reassured Blood, “Oh, Sahib! It is nothing.  It’s only rascals having usual fight over the money”.40 

The warrior legend of Pushtuns has shrouded the softer side of Pushtuns. In arts and literature Pushtuns of various tribes have contributed significantly. Khushal Khan Khattak’s only portrait is with the steel helmet and a lance, which does not do good favour to this legendary poet of Pushtu. His contribution to Pushtu poetry is far greater than his military contributions.  Afghan King Sikandar Lodhi (Ruled 1489-1517) was an eminent poet and wrote poetry with pen name of ‘Gulrukh’.41 Afghan Chief Shah Muhammad Farmuli was a poet of Hindi. The Ruler of Malwa Baz Bahadur was a poet and musician.  He wrote his poetry in Hindi.  He along with his beloved Rupmati composed a set of love songs, which have immortalized them in Hindi literature. He was an expert singer and dancer also.  He introduced a new singing style named after him as Baz Khani.  Islam Shah Sur was poet while his son Adil Shah Sur was an expert musician.  The Sur capital of Gwalior was a great centre of music and poetry as Afghan rulers patronized these arts.  Several famous poets and singers including Tulsidas, Sur Das, Ramdas and Mahapatar flourished under Afghan patronage and contributed to Hindi literature and music.42  Pushtuns are one of the most conservative group in South East Asia but the credit of one of the longest rule by females belongs to Pushtuns.  A Mirza Khel Afghan Dost Muhammad founded Bhopal state.  Later leader of another branch Wazir Muhammad Khan became Nawab of Bhopal.  Sikandar Begum, Shah Jahan Begum and Sultan Jehan Begum ruled the state of Bhopal for more than half a century.43

The tribes scattered in Afghanistan and Pakistan has a long and rich history and played an important role in the region.  Historical and anthropological studies of these tribes will help to document the history of these proud people in true perspective. 

1 Quoted in Captain J. A. Robinson.  Notes on Nomad Tribes of Eastern Afghanistan (Quetta: Nisa Traders, 1978 reprint of 1934 Edition), p. 8
2 Lt. General Sir George MacMunn.  Vignettes From Indian Wars (Quetta: Nisa Traders, 1978 Reprint of 1920 Edition), p. 59-60
3 Colonel G. B. Malleson. Essays and Lectures on Indian Historical Subjects (London: Trubner & Co., 1876), p. 269-70
4 D. S. Richards. The Savage Frontier: The History of the Anglo-Afghan Wars (London: MacMillan, 1990),  p. 120-21
5 George B. Scott. Afghan and Pathan: A Sketch (London: The Mitre Press, 1929), p. 118
6 Scott.  Afghan and Pathan, p. 171
7 Lt. Colonel. J. W. B. Merewether and Sir Frederick Smith. The Indian Corps in France (London: John Murray, 1919, Second Edition), p.204
8 James W. Spain. Pathans of the Latter Day (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 85
9 Olaf Caroe.  The Pathans: 550 B.C. - A.D. 1957 (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1986 Edition), p. 148
10 Scott.  Afghan and Pathan, p. 172
11 James W. Spain.  Pathans of the Latter Day (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 54
12 Malleson.  Essays and Lectures, p.247
13 Merewether. Indian Corps in France, p. 301
14 Cited in Spain.  Pathans of the Latter Day, p. 81
15 Caroe.  The Pathans, p. 145-46
16 Anandpal’s letter to Mahmud in Al-Bairuni’s account cited in Caroe.  The Pathans, p. 122
17 For the detailed history of this chivalrous Hindu group, see T. P. Rusell Stracey.  The History of the Muhiyals:  The Militant Brahman Race of India (Chandigarh: O. K. Printing Press, Reprint of 1911 Edition
18 Muhammad Abdur Rahim.  History of the Afghans in India – A.D. 1545-1631 (Karachi: Pakistan Publishing House, 1961), p. 49
19 Rahim. History of the Afghans in India, p. 247-49
20 Scott.  Afghan and Pathan, p. 120-21
21 Masudul Hasan. History of Islam, Volume II (Delhi: Adam Publishers, 1995 Revised Edition), p. 545
22 Cited in Caroe. The Pathans, p. 239
23 Robinson. Notes on the Nomad Tribes, p. 61
24 Rahim.  The History of Afghans in India, p. 239
25 Rahim.  The History of the Afghans in India, p. 244
26 Lt. General Sir George MacMunn.The Martial Races of India (New Delhi: Mittal Publications, 1979 Reprint), p. 191
27 MacMunn.  Martial Races of India, p. 275
28 Rahim.  The History of Afghans in India, p. 54-55
29 Neamatullah. History of the Afghans  Translated from the Persian by Richard Dorn (London: Susil Gupta, 1965 Reprint of 1836 Edition), p. 77-78
30 Neamutallah.  The History of the Afghans, p. 107-110
31 Rahim.  The History of Afghans in India, p. 122
32 Rahim.  The History of Afghans in India, p. 134
33 Hasan.  History of Islam, p. 699
34 Scott.  Afghan and Pathan, p. 131-32
35 Vasiliy Mitrokhin. The KGB in Afghanistan.  Cold War International History Project.  Working Paper # 40.(Washington, D.C: Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, February 2002), p. 145
36 Rahim.  The History of the Afghans in India, p. 41-43
37 Neamatullah. History of the Afghans. p. 76
38 Government of India Records.  Frontier and Overseas Expeditions From India, Volume II (Quetta: Nisa Traders, 1979 Reprint of 1910 Edition), p.7
39 Caroe.  The Pathans, p. 225
40 Richards.  The Savage Frontier,p. 140-41
41 Hasan.  History of Islam, p. 246
42 Rahim.  The History of the Afghans in India, p. 148 & 151
43 Hasan. History of Islam, p. 675-677