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Kāṇīgurām is a town in South Waziristan, Pakistan. It is the principal place associated with the Burki tribe and was the home of the sixteenth century scholar Pir Roshan.


The Burki primarily inhabit Kaniguram, the most populous settlement in South Waziristan, at around 2,042 meters (6,699 feet) above sea level. This has been their tribe's focal point for over 800 years. Kaniguram has historically been off limits to outsiders except for the Burki and, more recently, the Mahsuds. Common store-front signs are "Burki knives" and "Burki pharmacy" and are indicative of the Burki's dominant position in Kaniguram despite being significantly outnumbered by Mahsuds. Relations between the Burki/Urmar and the Mahsuds are as complex as they are intimate. They are generally on good terms except for occasional skirmishes/war between the two. Despite living in an enclave within what has become Mahsud territory, the Urmar/Baraki/Burki have stubbornly retained their mother tongue/identity/traditions in Kaniguram. Kaniguram's layout is distinctive from other hamlets/settlements in the FATA in that the homes are adjacent or interconnected. Land in and around Kaniguram is exclusively in Burki, and to a lesser degree Mahsud, ownership or control.[citation needed]

Pir Roshan, a Burki/Urmar, fought a major insurgency against the Mughal Emperor Akbar in the early sixteenth century. They are considered as the armory of the Mahsuds due to their small-arms cottage industry, which, however, does not rival Darra Adam Khel's. Kaniguram's daggers once rivaled those of Damascus.

Kaniguram is accessible from the north via the Razmak road and from the south from Wana on a narrow metalled road that is one of the few roads in South Waziristan. Access from this main "road" is limited to a suspension footbridge across a wide ravine that separates Kaniguram from the main road and is easy to guard, as behind it are mountains (Preghal and Jullundur) which limit access from the north. This footbridge has, more often than not, been unusable due to sabotage, damage etc. The people of this settlement often have to climb down the steep ravine from the road during harsh winter months and then climb back up to the Kaniguram side.

Many of Kaniguram's Burki spend winters in second homes in Dera Ismail Khan, where some work at the airport, or as traders. They are very involved in Pakistan's trucking and construction industries based primarily out of Karachi and are enterprising businessmen and traders.

Like other Pashtun tribes, the Burki seek self-segregation from the outside world: thus the importance of Kaniguram as the historical focal point of the tribe and the continued effort to retain their native tongue (Urmar), which predates Pushtu. Bayazid Khan of the Urmars/Baraks became widely known as Pir Roshan, which in Persian stands for "the Enlightened Sufi Master." He was the first local leader to lead a major insurgency against the Mughal Emperor Akbar.[citation needed]

Kaniguram's most famous resident was Bayazid Khan, whose descendants moved to Basti Baba Khel in the seventeenth century. He became known as Pir Roshan (the enlightened pir) and was an advocate for learning and equal treatment for women, a revolutionary concept for the times and even today in South Waziristan. From his base in Kaniguram, he started his insurgency movement, which was carried on by his children and then his grandchildren.

The major focus of the movement was to create equality between men and women, including the right to learn and listen to lectures of scholars and to fight against Akbar after his proclamation of Din-i-Ilahi.[citation needed]

Notable people from Kaniguram[edit]


Pir Roshan (literal translation: old man/saint of light) (Bayazid Khan) 1525–1585 Pushtun warrior and intellectual, founder Roshaniyya (Enlightenment) movement. Inaccurately referred to Bayazid ANSARI founder of the Afghan illuminati. Descendants comprise the "Baba Khel" branch of the Burki Qaum (tribe). Malik Ashiq Khan Mahsud Nazar Khel / Khon Khel, notable and elder of Mahsud tribe of upper Kaniguram. Risaldar Gul Rakhman Mahsud Nazar Khel / Khon Khel, Commandant (Cavalry)South Waziristan Agency (Died 1966). Kajal Khan Mahsud Nazar Khel / Khon Khel, a social and political activist of upper Kaniguram South Waziristan Agency.


Recent books and research[edit]

Imran Khan (his mother was a Burki) covered the Burki and Kaniguram in his book "Warrior Race". Interestingly the invading armies in Afghanistan seem to have paid significant attention from a historical perspective. During the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, Saint Petersburg State University Institute of Oriental Studies seemed to have been the institution tasked to study the Roshaniyya movement, in order to understand their foe (see reference section below). The Soviets were not far off the mark as it so happens that Waziristan was the focal point for some of the toughest fighters against the Soviets.

Following the 2002 invasion, the West also sent their scholar into the field to study and understand this movement. Dr. Sergei Andreyev, (Chief Joint Mission Analysis Center, United Nations), an Oxford academic was sent on UN assignment to Afghanistan, while at the same time he was funded by the Institute of Ismaili Studies to research and write a book on the movement. There have been multiple editions of this book; however its sale and distribution remains restricted 10 years on.

See also[edit]



  • The Rawshaniyya: Sufi movement in the Mughal tribal periphery, in Late Classical Sufism. (Curzon Persian Art & Culture) (Hardcover) Sergei Andreyev
  • Warrior Race - Imran Khan - Butler & Tanner Ltd ISBN 0-7011-3890-4
  • Babur-Nama By Mughal Emperor Babur Translated by Annette Beveridge: Pg 527.530.544.589.594.598-601.638.673.679.692.681. Birki, Barak, Barakistan, Birkistan.
  • Olaf Caroe, The Pathans
  • Henry Walter Bellew, "An Enquiry into the Ethnography of Afghanistan," 1891.
  • Punjab Notes and Queries Volume II, Page 160 (History of Bayezid) Desiples of Sheikh Bazid – Pathans of Mastwi – Tirah (FYI)
  • Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall - Geschichte der Assassinen.
  • Dabistan of Mohsani Fani (Translated by Leyden, Volume 11 of the Asiatic Researches (Pages 406, 407, 420 (Ala Dad))
  • Captain Leech - The Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengalâ{(Vol. VII-1838), Part-I January to June, 1838}, About five pages from 727 to 731
  • Memoirs of the Saints, translated by Dr. Bankley Behari[clarification needed]
  • Dr. Bellew on Barik/Baraki Pathans - An Inquiry into the Ethnography of Afghanistan by H.W. Bellew.
  • H.C. Wylly (1912). "From the Black Mountain to Waziristan". London, Macmillan. p. 56. 
  • Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi. Rawshaniyya movement ... Reprinted from Abr-Nahrain. Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. OCLC 504213038. 
  • Religious factor in the traditional Pashtun warfare, in Proceedings of the International Conference on Weaponry and Warfare in Historical and Social Perspective, Hermitage Press, St Petersburg, 1998, pp. 55–59
  • Uwaysi Aspects in the Rawshani Doctrine, in Central Asia and the Eastern Hindukush. Countries and Peoples of the East journal, vol. XXXII, St Petersburg, 1998, pp. 137–148.
  • The Rawshaniyya; Millenarian Sufi Movement in the Mughal Tribal Periphery, in Persianate Sufism in the Safavid and Mughal Period. An International Conference on Late Classical Sufism, London 19–21 May 1997, Abstracts, pp. 7–8.
  • British Indian Views of the Later Followers of the Rawshaniyya, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, in Iran, volume 22, London, 1994, pp. 135–138.
  • Turmoil on the Roof of the World, in Central Asia and the Caucuses in World Affairs, Hastings, 1993, pp. 1–5
  • Notes on the Ormur People, in St Petersburg Journal of Oriental Studies, vol. IV, St Petersburg, 1993, pp. 230–238.
  • On a Little-Known Rawshani Source, in: Man, Culture, Philosophy, The Urals University Press, Yekaterinburg, 1992, pp. 335–349 (In Russian).
  • Two Rawshani Sources on Five Pillars of Islam, in: St Petersburg Journal of Oriental Studies, vol. I, St Petersburg, 1992, pp. 380–384 (in Russian).
  • Aminullah Gandapur, "Tarikh-e-Sar Zamin-e-Gomal" (Urdu) History of the Gomal Land; National Book Foundation, Islamababd, 2008, P- 58-60; Quoting from sources like "Tuzk-e-jahangiri" (Emperor Jahangir) Notes (Raverty) 'Glossary of Tribes' (Sir Danzil Ibbeston, Edward Maclagan and H.A.Rose) and Imperial Gazetteer of India NWFP 1901.