Mianwali District

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ضِلع مِيانوالى
Mianwali District
Country Pakistan
Province Punjab
Headquarters Mianwali
 • District Coordination Officer Muhammad Khan Ranjha
 • Total 5,840 km2 (2,250 sq mi)
Population (2010–11)
 • Total 1,400,000
Time zone PST (UTC+5)
Number of tehsils 3
Thal Canal

Mianwali District (Urdu: ضِلع مِيانوالى‎), (Pashto,Punjabi: ضلع میانوالی), is a district in the northwest of Punjab province, Pakistan. It is capital is Mianwali city.Upper Mianwali is historically known for two prominent migrant clans namely Niazis (Pashtuns) and Awan. Over the years some Baloch made Mianwali their home and Awans.


The district is administratively divided into three tehsils and 56 union councils:[2]

Name of tehsil No. of union councils
Isakhel 14
Mianwali 28
Piplan 14
Total 56
Grave of Lt. Col. A J O'Brien, 1st Deputy Commissioner of Mianwali district, at Brompton Cemetery, London

Deputy commissioners served as the head of the district until 2004. The first deputy commissioner was Captain A. J. O'Brien and the first district judge was Sardar Balwant Singh. The system continued even after the creation of Pakistan as a sovereign nation. It was not until the year 2000 that the new local government system was introduced and three basic changes were implemented:

  • Divisions which used to be the third tier of the government were abolished and more autonomy was given to the districts with the aim of decentralization of power.
  • With this new status of the districts, nazims were to become the administrators of the districts, with more authoritative powers.
  • The post of D.C. was abolished with the aim of putting an end to bureaucratic rule; however, the bureaucracy was offered an olive branch by creating the new post of District Coordinating Officer. The nazim remained the main elected representative and administrator while the D.C.O.s served as representatives of the government.

It borders eight district: Attock District in the north, Chakwal District in the northeast, Khushab District in the east, and Bhakkar District in the south, while Lakki Marwat lies to the west, Kohat and Karak districts to the northwest and Dera Ismail Khan District to the southwest.

In November 1901, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was carved out of Punjab and the present-day towns of Mianwali, Isa Khel, Kalabagh, and Kundian were separated from Bannu District (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa); hence a new district was made with the headquarters in Mianwali city and placed in Punjab province.


Dialects of Punjabi

As per the 1998 census of Pakistan, the following are the demographics of the Mianwali district, by spoken language:

Though Mianwali is claimed an integral part of Seraiki speaking belt by the Seraiki language activists but Punjabi-Seraiki division seems to hold little influence on common people in this district. Awans, Jats, Ghakkars with various subclans living in Mianwali and Khushab always associate themselves with Punjabi identity. While Niazis associate themselves with Seraiki identity. According to 1998 census three fourth (74.2 percent) of the population named their spoken language as Punjabi while only 12 per cent answered that they speak Seraiki.[3]

Inhabitants of Mianwali district speak a great variety of Punjabi dialects.

Other Languages include:

  • Pashto which is also spoken by sizable population in the KPK province border areas and in the cities. Khattak tribes, Chapri, Bhangi Khel, Sultan Khel, Makarwal and Bani Afghan are bilingual and Pashto is their primary language but they can easily communicate in Punjabi as well.
  • Urdu is mother tongue of few people but being national language is spoken and understood by the sizeable population.
  • English is also understood and spoken by few, mainly educated elite.


According to the 1998 census of Pakistan, the district had a population of 1,056,620,[4] out of which 20.39%[5] (i.e., 85,000 inhabitants) lived in the district capital Mianwali. The Niazi (Pathan) tribe is the most dominant tribe of this district, with an estimated 40 percent of the total population.


Nawab of Kalabagh Malik Amir Muhammad Khan(1910–1967), ex-Governor West Pakistan

Mianwali district covers an area of 5,840 square kilometres (2,250 sq mi). The area in north is a continuation of the Pothohar Plateau and the Kohistan-e-Namak. The district consists of various towns, including Kalabagh, Isa Khel, Kundian, Paikhel, Piplan sharif, Kamar Mushani, Mochh, Swans, Bori Khel, Rokhri, Harnauli, Musakhel , Alluwali, Wan Bhachran, Daud Khel, Uttra Kalan and the district capital, Mianwali city.

  • Mianwali city is the capital of Mianwali district. It is the district's largest city, with a population of about 85,000 people. It is also the economic and commercial hub of the district.
  • Kundian is the second largest town, at a distance of 15 km from the city of Mianwali. Important sites such as Chashma Nuclear Power Plant (Chashnupp), Chashma Barrage, Kundian-Jehlum or Chashma-Jehlum Link Canal are located here.
  • Piplan is another important town and tehsil headquarters located in the southern part of the district.
  • Kalabagh is famous for the Kalabagh Dam, the Nawab of Kalabagh, the red hills of the salt range, and scenic views of the Indus River.
  • Isa Khel is another important town and tehsil headquarters located in the west of Mianwali. It is a historical town named after Isa Khan, a famous Niazi chief. It is also the home town of famous folk singer Attaullah Khan Essa Khailwi
  • Kamar Mushani is famous for its trade and minerals.
  • Tabbi Sar is another important town and the headquarters of Bangi Khel Tribe located in the northern part of the district. Missar wala is the main village of Tabbi sar. Missar Wala is located from Tabbi sar south side.
  • HERNOLI is a very famous town located south part of district. Known for production on peanut and grams. The judicial complexes of Piplan and Danish school system are prominent features of Hernoli.
  • Uttra kalan is famous for his Agriculture areas. People are educated and civilized.
  • Musakhel famous due to Niazi tribe and personnel like Dr Ghulam Akbar Khan Niazi, Maulana Kausar Niazi and Dr Ajmal Niazi.
  • [piplan sharif] famous due to Peer Mazhar Qayum sahib.
  • [Doaba] Famous due to Syed Shah Mardan shah who migrated from Bukhara, Uzbekistan , who was a great spiritual saint laid the foundations of Doaba . famous families are Syed, Bhamb,Namdarikhail,Arwar,sojrha,Bahchar,seelu and Rajpot in This town.
  • [Bori Khel] is famous tribe of Niazi (Pathans)


Mianwali district has several educational institutions from elementary up to post-graduate level, affiliated with the University of the Punjab. A private Engineering College named as NAMAL College is affiliated with University of Bradford. There are numerous other private schools and colleges in the district. Recently the University of Sargodha opened a sub-campus in Mianwali.


Mianwali district has an extreme climate, with a long, hot summer season and cold, dry winters. Summer lasts from May to September and winter lasts from November till February. June is the hottest month with average temperatures of 42 °C (highest recorded temperature 52 °C); in winter, December and January monthly average temperatures can be as low as 3 to 4 °C. The average rainfall in the district is about 385 mm.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Avg high °C 19 21 26 33 38 42 39 37 37 33 28 21 31
Avg low temperature °C 3 6 12 17 22 27 27 26 23 16 9 4 16
Rainfall in. (cm) 1.6 2.1 4.1 2.4 1.9 1.8 7.6 11 4.5 0.7 0.1 0.9 38.5
Source: Weatherbase


Mianwali District was agricultural region with forests during the Indus Valley Civilization. The Vedic period is characterized by Indo-Aryan culture that invaded from Central Asia and settled in Punjab region. The Kambojas, Daradas, Kaikayas, Madras, Pauravas, Yaudheyas, Malavas and Kurus invaded, settled and ruled ancient Punjab region. After overrunning the Achaemenid Empire in 331 BCE, Alexander marched into present-day Punjab region with an army of 50,000. The Mianwali was ruled by Maurya Empire, Indo-Greek kingdom, Kushan Empire, Gupta Empire, White Huns, Kushano-Hephthalites and Shahi kingdoms.

In 997 CE, Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi, took over the Ghaznavid dynasty empire established by his father, Sultan Sebuktegin, In 1005 he conquered the Shahis in Kabul in 1005, and followed it by the conquests of Punjab region. The Delhi Sultanate and later Mughal Empire ruled the region. The Punjab region became predominantly Muslim due to missionary Sufi saints whose dargahs dot the landscape of Punjab region.

Syed Mian Ali Sahib migrated from Baghdad, Iraq, who was a great spiritual saint laid the foundations of Mianwali. In those days it was called "Mian Ali Wali", which later was converted to Mianwali. After him, his son Hazrat Syed Sultan Muhammad Zikria remained the holly leader and saint of the Pathan Tribes and other tribes of the area for a long period and settled all the disputes among the tribes successfully. He is known as Sahib E Karamat wallee. His descendants are still respectable and have political influence in the area too.

Mughal era, rule of Ghakkars and invasion of Nadir Shah[edit]

Historically, all major rulers of South Asia governed this area in their turn. Mughal emperor Babur mentioned Isakhel while he was fighting against the Pakhtuns as part of his campaign to conquer the Punjab during the 1520s (ref. Baburnama). Prior to the invasion of Nadir Shah in 1738, there is little to relate concerning the history of the northern part of the district. The upper half of the district was ruled by the Gakhars, who became feudatories of the Mughal Empire, of which the district continued to form a part until the invasion of Nadir Shah. In 1738 a portion of his army entered Bannu, and by its atrocities so cowed the Bannuchis and Marwats that a heavy tribute was raised from them. Another portion of the army crossed the Darra Pezu and worked its way down to Dera Ismail Khan. Contingents raised from the neighbourhoods of Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan marched under Nadir Shah's banner to the sack of Delhi. In 1739 the area west of the Indus was surrendered by the Emperor of Delhi to Nadir Shah, and passed after his death to Ahmad Shah Abdali.

In 1748 a Durrani army under one of Ahmad Shah's generals crossed the Indus at Kalabagh, and drove out the Ghakkars, who still ruled in the cis-Indus tracts of the district, owing nominal allegiance to the Emperor at Delhi. Their stronghold, Muazzam Nagar, was razed to the ground, and with their expulsion was swept away the last vestige of authority of the Mughal Emperor in these parts. The armies of Ahmad Shah marched repeatedly through the district, the cis-Indus portion of which was, with the rest of the Punjab, incorporated in the Durrani Kingdom in 1756, and for the next sixty years a precarious hold was maintained on their eastern provinces, including this district, by Ahmad Shah and his successors to the throne of the newly created Kingdom of Kabul. Source:[1]

Sikh era and British Raj[edit]

After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the Sikh Empire invaded and occupied Mianwali District. The Muslims faced restrictions during the Sikh rule. During the period of British rule, Mianwali district increased in population and importance.[citation needed]

During British rule, the area was subdivided into province, divisions and districts. divisions remained the third tier of government until 2000). The British had made the towns of Mianwali and Isa Khel tehsil headquarters of Bannu District then part of Dera Ismail Khan Division of Punjab province.

Modern history[edit]

The current district of Mianwali was created in November 1901, when the North West Frontier Province was carved out of Punjab and the towns of Mianwali, Isa Khel, Kalabagh, and Kundian were separated from Bannu District. A new district, named Mianwali district, was created with its headquarters in Mianwali city and placed in Punjab, and it became a part of Multan Division. Mianwali originally contained four tehsils: Mianwali, Isa Khel, Bhakkar, and Layyah. In 1909 Layyah was transferred to Muzaffargarh District. The district became a part of Sargodha Division in 1961. In 1982 Bhakkar Tehsil was removed from Mianwali and became a separate district of Sargodha Division.

The predominantly Muslim population supported Muslim League and Pakistan Movement. After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the minority Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India while the Muslim refugees from India settled in the Mianwali District.


The district has been settled by triple immigration from opposite directions: Niazis from the northwest of Pakistan, Awans from the northeast, and Jats, Balochs and Talokar Jatts up the valley of the Indus from the south.

Immigration of Awans[edit]

Watercolour of an Awan sepoy, painted by Major A.C. Lovett, circa the early 20th century

In Mianwali, Awans are mostly known as Maliks. Awan are Syed and relate them to the Qutab Shah descended from the lin of Hazarat Ali, who had Arab ancestry thus giving a proof to their Arab origin. The Awans now occupy part of the district which lies east of the Dhak Spur of the Salt Range and is known as Khudri, Pakhar, or Awankari. "Men of Mianwali mostly know the name Pakhar; but residents of the Kacha and Isakhel generally speak of the tract and parts beyond as utrad. i.e., the high country.".[6]"DHAROEE" family lying in the alluwali village are also from awan family and known as a warrior family.

Notable personalities[edit]

Places of interest[edit]

A view of Namal Lake in Mianwali Salt range
"Days of Yore" PR ZE. class 230 en route to Lakki Marwat from Mari Indus in frosty winter morning circa 1987. (Mianwali was the only district in Punjab with about 80 km of narrow gauge section, which was closed in 1992.)
  • Kalabagh Dam is located about 40 km north of Mianwali city. The proposed dam site is located between beautiful mountains narrowing down on the River Indus at an ancient town known as Kalabagh.
  • Chahshma Barrage and Lake is located south of Mianwali city and is a beautiful lake.
  • Jinnah Barrage
  • Namal Lake: Namal or (Nammal) lake is a place of interest located at the foot of Namal mountain near Musakhel, Punjab and Chakrala. It is a beautiful scenic place frequented by hikers and holiday-makers. In 2008, Namal College was established by Namal Lake at the base of the Salt Range.
  • Thal Desert: It is a large area which is mostly desert and semi-arid. It is located between the Jhelum and Indus river (The Sindh-Saagar Doab). The boundaries of the old district established in 1901 included almost 70% of this great area, but after the separation of Layyah and then Bhakkar Tehsils, only about 20% remains in this district. First deputy commissioner A J O'Brien wrote in his memoirs: "In 1901 the District of Mianwali was formed out of the two Punjab halves of two older districts, and I had the good fortune to be put in charge. It was a lonely District with, as my Assistant Mr. Bolster called it, 'three white men in a wilderness of sand'."[7]
  • River Indus
  • Kalabagh Old Town
  • Ruins at Mari Indus and Mari City: At Mari in the Mianwali Tehsil, there is a picturesque Hindu ruin, crowning the gypsum hill, locally called Maniot (from Manikot, meaning fort of jewels), on which the Kalabagh diamonds are found. The ruins themselves must once have been extensive. It appears that the very top of the hill was built over with a large palace or fort.
  • Architectural objects and remains: In the southern part of the district the general absence of antiquarian remains tends to prove that it can never have been the site of a rich and populous government. In the Kachhi tract, of course, such remains could not survive the action of river floods, and this tract must, at one time, have been much wider than it is now. The Thal, however, is admirably suited for the preservation of antiquarian relics, had any such ever existed, but there are none that date from earlier than the fourteenth century.
  • Ruins of Sirkapp Fort: Overlooking the village site of Namal in the Khudri Dhoke Majhwan Dhoke Ayyub Saandh Dhoke Wahab kheil are the ridge of great natural strength, cut off on three sides by hill torrents. On the top of this ridge there are extensive ruins of what is said to have been the stronghold of Sirkapp, Raja of the country, who was a contemporary of Raja Risalu of Sialkot, by whom he was vanquished. The outer wall of the fort still exists in part in a dilapidated condition, but the enclosure, which must once have contained accommodation for a fairly large garrison, is now one mass of fallen houses and piles of hewn or chiselled stones. The series of lifts, made for carrying water from the bed of the stream to the top of the hill, have left their marks.
  • Other antiquities: The above, together with two sentry-box like buildings, supposed to be dolmens, midway between Namal and Sakesar, and several massive looking tombs, constructed of large blocks of dressed stones in the Salt Range, comprise all the antiquities above ground in the district. No doubt many remain concealed beneath the surface. The encroachments of the Indus and even of the Kurram near Isakhel often expose portions of ancient masonry arches and wells. The only other antiquity worth mentioning is a monster baoli at Wanbhachran, said to have been built by order of Sher Shah Suri. It is well preserved and similar to those in Shahpur District.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • "Wichara Watan" By Harish Chander Nakra, New Delhi, India


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°00′N 71°30′E / 32.000°N 71.500°E / 32.000; 71.500