List of Pashtun empires and dynasties

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The following is a list of Pashtun empires and dynasties. It includes states, regions, princely states, empires and dynasties in the history of Central and South Asia which were founded by Pashtun rulers. The Pashtuns, alternatively known as ethnic Afghans or Pathans, are an eastern Iranian ethnic group originating from northwest Pakistan and Afghanistan, and have an extensive military history in the region (see military history of Pakistan and military history of Afghanistan). As a result of migration and military conquests in South Asia, a large number of communities throughout the region claim Pashtun ancestry, especially in areas which were previously ruled by Pashtun dynasties.


Ibrahim Lodi, grandson of Bahlul Khan Lodi and the last ruler of the Lodi dynasty.
Sher Shah Suri, founder of the Sur Empire.
Mir Wais Hotak, founder of the Hotaki dynasty.
Ahmad Shah Durrani, founder of the Durrani Empire.
  • Sur Empire (1540–1557), founded by Sher Shah Suri, a Pashtun military and political figure born in Bihar who belonged to the Sur tribe of Ghilzai confideration.[1] The Sur dynasty displaced the Mughals in north India and controlled areas encompassing eastern Afghanistan, Pakistan, northern India and up to Bengal, with Delhi as its capital. The Surs were supplanted by the Mughals in 1557 after a seventeen-year rule.

Local dynasties[edit]

Dynasties that ruled in the native Pashtun region:

  • Durrani dynasty (1747–1826). In 1747, Ahmad Shah Durrani united the various Pashtun and Afghan tribes and formed the powerful Durrani dynasty in Afghanistan. He rallied the tribes against neighboring powers, pushing towards the Mughals and the Marathas of the Indian subcontinent in the east, the Afsharids of Persia to the west and the Khanate of Bukhara to the north. The rise of the Durrani dynasty established the Durrani Empire in South–Central Asia.

Dynasties in South Asia[edit]

  • Swati Dynasty (1339–1561), founded by Shah Mir Swati, the first Muslim dynasty ruling in Kashmir.[7]
  • Lodhi Dynasty of Multan (961–1040), founded by Hamid Khan Lodhi after Arab rule.
  • Langah dynasty (1445–1526), founded by the Langah tribe. The Langah claim to be a tribe of Afghan origin who came to Multan from Sibi.[8] They ruled Multan for eighty years.[8] The Langah dynasty was terminated by the Arghun Dynasty who captured Multan in 1526.[8] Shortly after, the Arghuns submitted to the Mughal Empire led by Babur, who made conquests in the region at around the same time.
  • Rohilla Chieftaincies (1710–1950), Ali Mohammed Khan founded a strong Rohilla state in western U.P. After his death in 1748, Rohilkhand split up into several independent Rohilla Chieftaincies. Notable Chiefs were Hafiz Rahmat Khan, Najib ad-Dawlah, Faizullah Khan, Ali Mohammed Khan Bangesh and Dundy Khan. In 1772 the total force of the Rohilla leaders was estimated at 80,000 cavalry and infantry.[9] Rohillas were main allies of Durranis in Third Panipat war 1761.Most of the Rohilla leaders were defeated in Anglo-Rohilla wars, only Rampur under Faizullah Khan survived as a Princely state.
  • Karrani dynasty (1564–1576), founded by Taj Khan Karrani. He hailed from the Karlani tribe, was a former employee of Sher Shah Suri and had moved to Bengal. The Karrani dynasty ruled over all of Bengal, as well as Orissa and parts of Bihar. It was the last dynasty of the Bengal Sultanate. The Karrani were defeated by the Mughals, losing all territory to the latter by the seventeenth century.
  • Babi Dynasty, founded in 1735 by Muhammed Sher Babi. He belonged to the Babi clan of the Yusufzai Pashtun tribe.[10][11] The Babi dynasty ruled over parts of Gujarat. Babi's descendants (see Pathans of Gujarat for more information) controlled the following princely states:

Princely states[edit]

Several independent princely states founded by Pashtuns existed during the British Raj era. Most of the Pashtun region east of the Durand Line was annexed by the British in the twentieth century and formed the North-West Frontier. The Pashtun tribal agencies along the Durand Line, further west from the North-West Frontier, formed a buffer zone between Afghanistan and the North-West Frontier of British India. Following the end of the Raj and the independence of Pakistan and India, the North-West Frontier and tribal agencies became part of Pakistan. The princely states were also given the choice to formally accede to the Dominion of Pakistan or Dominion of India, depending on their geographical location. The princely states were eventually abolished and integrated into the federation (see Former administrative units of Pakistan and Political integration of India).

Nawab Sir Khan Zaman Khan of Amb.
  • Dir (1626–1969), a small princely state comprising the present-day Upper Dir and Lower Dir districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan. The state was founded in the seventeenth century by an Akhun Khel nawab, with Dir serving as the capital. Dir acceded to Pakistan in 1948. In 1969, the state along with the royal house was abolished.
  • Amb (1772–1972),[12] Amb was a princely state of the former British Indian Empire ruled by the Pashtun Tanoli tribe of Ghilji confederation. In 1947 by the Indian Independence Act 1947, the British abandoned their supremacy, and following the Partition of India Amb's Tanoli Nawab decided to give up his state's independence by acceding to the new country of Pakistan. However, Amb continued as a distinct state within Pakistan until 1969, when it was incorporated into the North West Frontier Province (now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa). In 1972, the royal status of the Nawab was abolished by the Government of Pakistan.[1]
  • Malerkotla State (1657–1948), The Malerkotla state was founded in 1454 A.D. by Sheikh Sadruddin-i-Jahan, a pious man of the Sherwani tribe of the Darban Kalan and Frontier Region of Drazinda. The State of Malerkotla was established in 1657 by Bayazid Khan. Bayazid Khan was granted the privilege to build a fort, which he named Malerkotla and eventually gave its name to the state. On 3 May 1809 Maler Kotla became a British protectorate and was made part of the Cis-Sutlej states until 1862. Many local people attribute this peaceful strain to the presence of the shrine of 'Baba Haidar Sheikh', the Sufi saint, who founded the town of Malerkotla more than 500 years ago.
  • Pataudi State (1804–1947), established in 1804 during the rule of the British East India Company and capital as Pataudi
  • Rampur State (1774–1949), The Rohilla State of Rampur was established by Nawab Faizullah Khan on 7 October 1774 in the presence of British Commander Colonel Champion, and remained a pliant state under British protection thereafter.The first Nawab proposed to rename the city 'Faizabad'. But many other places were known by the name Faizabad so its name was changed to Mustafabad alias Rampur. Nawab Faizullah Khan ruled for 20 years. He was a great patron of scholarship, and began the collection of Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Urdu manuscripts which now make up the bulk of the Rampur Raza Library
Dost Mohammad Khan, the founder and first Nawab of Bhopal.
  • Tonk State (1768-1949),The founder of the state was Muhammad Amir Khan an adventurer and military leader of Afghan descent and a Rohilla. In 1817, upon submitting to the British East India Company, he kept his territory of Tonk and received the title of Nawab. While retaining internal autonomy and remaining outside British India, the state consisted of six isolated districts. Four of these were under the Rajasthan province, namely, Tonk, Chhabra, Pirawa and Nimbahera. The other two, Aligarh (formerly Rampura and Sironj were in Madhya pradesh province.
  • Bhopal State (1723–1949), a princely salute state existing from 1818–1949, although its origins date back to 1723 when the Bhopal State was established by Dost Mohammad Khan, a Pashtun soldier in the Mughal Army who belonged to the Mirazi Khel clan of the Orakzai tribe from Tirah (located in the present-day tribal areas of northwest Pakistan).[13] The state came under the suzerainty of the Nizam of Hyderabad shortly after its foundation in 1723, and then came under the Marathas in 1737 after their victory in the Battle of Bhopal. It became a princely state in 1818, following the defeat of the Marathas in the Third Anglo-Maratha War. Islamnagar served as the first capital, followed by Bhopal (in present-day Madhya Pradesh). It was the second largest Muslim princely state in pre-independence India, after Hyderabad State. In 1949, the state acceded to the Dominion of India (see Pathans of Madhya Pradesh for more information).
  • Kurwai State (1730–1948), founded by Muhammad Diler Khan, a Pashtun rising through merit in the Mughal Army. Muhammad Diler Khan belonged to the Firoz Khel clan of the Orakzai tribe from Tirah[14][15] and was a cousin of Dost Mohammad Khan, the founder of the neighboring Bhopal State.[16] Diler Khan's state consisted of the town of Kurwai and several surrounding villages in present-day Madhya Pradesh. Diler Khan's descendants continued to rule the state until 15 June 1948, when the last ruler acceded to India.[citation needed]
  • Basoda State (1753–1947), The rulers of the state were related to the ruling families of Mohammadgarh and Kurwai states. Its headquarters were at Ganj Basoda.
  • Jaora State (1808–1948), founded by Abdul Ghafur Muhammad Khan, a Pashtun cavalry officer serving Muhammad Amir Khan, the Pashtun founder of the princely state of Tonk. Abdul Ghafur Muhammad Khan also served the Holkar ruler, annexing Rajput territories in northern Malwa. For his services, he was designated the title of a nawab. His state existed in modern Madhya Pradesh, comprising the tehsils of Jaora, Barauda, Tal and Barkhera, along with the dependencies of Piploda and Panth-Piploda.
  • Palanpur State (1597–1948),Palanpur state was founded in 1597 and was ruled by the Lohani ( Jalori ) dynasty, a forebearer of the family is reputed to have wed the foster-sister of the Mughal emperor Akbar and received Palanpur and surrounding areas as dowry.
  • Savanur State (1672–1948), Savanur State was founded in 1672 when Abdul Karim Khan, a Pathan of the Miyana or Miani tribe, in the service of the Mughal Empire, was granted the jagir of Sarkar Bankapur near Bijapur in 1672. His successors ruled over extensive territories almost independently for over a century. However, Savanur was located between the increasing power of the Marathas and the equally powerful Nizam of Hyderabad, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, ofKingdom of Mysore which gradually eroded away Savanur’s territory. By the second half of the eighteenth century, more than half of Savanur had been ceded to the Marathas. By the end of the century, Tipu Sultan had annexed the remainder. The occupation by the Kingdom of Mysore (Mahisur) had begun in 29 Oct 1786 and lasted until 17 December 1791.The name Savanur is said to be the corruption of the Persian/Urdu word Shahnoor, which means 'king of light'.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kissling, H. J.; N. Barbour; Bertold Spuler; J. S. Trimingham; F. R. C. Bagley; H. Braun; H. Hartel (1997). The Last Great Muslim Empires. BRILL. p. 302. ISBN 90-04-02104-3. Retrieved 2011-07-20. 
  2. ^ Malleson, George Bruce (1878). History of Afghanistan, from the Earliest Period to the Outbreak of the War of 1878. London: p. 227. ISBN 1402172788. Retrieved 2010-09-27. 
  3. ^ Ewans, Martin; Sir Martin Ewans (2002). Afghanistan: a short history of its people and politics. New York: Perennial. p. 30. ISBN 0060505087. Retrieved 2010-09-27. 
  4. ^ "Aḥmad Shah Durrānī". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  5. ^ "Afghanistan (Archived)". John Ford Shroder. University of Nebraska. 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-21. 
  6. ^ a b "The Durrani dynasty". Louis Dupree, Nancy Hatch Dupree and others. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2010. Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c Rose, H.A. (1997). A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province: L.-Z, Volume 3. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 30. ISBN 9788185297705. 
  9. ^ Penny Magazine of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, Volume 12 page 429
  10. ^ "Junagadh". Genealogical Gleanings. Soszynski, Henry. University of Queensland. Retrieved 2010-04-12. 
  11. ^ "Junagadh". The Royal Ark. Buyers, Christopher. Retrieved 2010-04-12. 
  12. ^ citation|last=Lethbridge|first=Roper|title=The Golden Book of India: A Genealogical and Biographical Dictionary of the Ruling Princes, Chiefs, Nobles, and Other Personages, Titled or Decorated, of the Indian Empire|year=1893|location=London|publisher=Macmillan, page-328
  13. ^ "Mirazi" is probably of "Mir Aziz". (Shaharyar M. Khan, 2000)
  14. ^ Aitchison, Sir Charles Umphersto (1932). A Collection of Treaties, Engagements and Sanads Relating to India and Neighbouring Countries: Central India Agency. Government of India Central Publication Branch. p. 99. 
  15. ^ Khan, Shahryar M. (2000). The Begums of Bhopal: A History of the Princely State of Bhopal. I.B.Tauris. p. 238. ISBN 9781860645280. 
  16. ^ Sultan, Abida (2004). Memoirs Of A Rebel Princess. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195799583.