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Niazis, The Pashtuns of Punjab.jpg
Regions with significant populations
 Pakistan Afghanistan
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The Niazi (Pashto: نيازي‎, Niāzī; IPA: [niːˈɑːziː]), or Niazai, is a branch of the Lohani[1] Lodi tribal confederacy of the Pashtuns, originating in north western Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan.

Etymology and origins[edit]

Niazi is a major Pashtun tribe, a branch of the Bettani Pashtuns of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The word Niazi is derived from Niazai, like the other forms of Pashtun tribes, such as Yusafzai and Orakzai. In the Pashtun tribal hierarchy Niazi is one of the most respected tribes. According to some assumptions Niazi belong to Ghilji tribe of Pashtuns but the view is considered to be wrong as the history showed that it is different from Ghiljis and are one of major tribes of Batani pashtoons.

The history of the Pashtuns is ancient, and much of it has yet to be fully researched. From the 2nd millennium BC to the present, Pashtun regions have seen invasions and migrations including Aryan tribes (Iranian peoples, Indo-Aryans), Medes, Persians, Mauryas, Scythians, Hephthalites, Greeks, Arabs, Turks, and Mongols. There are many conflicting theories about the origins of the Pashtun people, some modern and others archaic, both among historians and the Pashtuns themselves. Some anthropologists lend credence to the theory of Pashtun descent from Israelites, however, most modern authorities have found this oral tradition to be inconsistent. Ghiljis are reputed to be descended from the Mongolic people, as well as the numerous other invaders from Central Asia and the Middle East who entered present Pashtun terrotiries over the centuries. Their name being another form of Khitali the Turkish word for 'swords man' who early settled, perhaps as mercenaries rather than as a corporate tribe, in the Siah-band range of the Ghor mountains. They first rose into notice in the time of Mahmud of Ghazni when they accompanied in his invasions of India. The Niazi (Pashto: نیازی ), also written as Niayazi, Niazovi is a famous Pashtun tribe of Lodhi descent. The family head of Niazi tribe was known as Ibrahim. Legends has it that the tribe derives from a descendent of [Qais Abdur Rashid Khan ] (the legendary patriarch of all Pashtuns).

Theory of Niazi descent from Israelites[edit]

The Niazi and other Pashtuns of Afghanistan and Pakistan have also been alleged to be the descendants of the lost Jewish tribes. However, DNA and other research towards validating such claims has been inconclusive.[2][3][4]


See also Bannu

The Niazi's originally lived in the Salghar area on the border of present day Afghanistan and Pakistan and belong the main branch Betan pashtoon root, Betan was the son of Qais Abdur Rasheed, from where they migrated eastwards, and settled in Tank. For several generations, they lived there as traders and carriers along with their cousins, the Marwats, whom they had allied with. In the later 15th century, the Niazi's expanded northwards towards the present-day Lakki Marwat, and settled on the banks of the Kurram and Gambila rivers south of Bannu Eventually, the Niazi's migrated across the Kurram river towards Isakhel and Kamar Mushani, and then settled in Mianwali District.[5] after expelling the Awans they found there, and reducing the miscellaneous Jat inhabitants to quasi-serfdom.

Niazi's were incredibly dominant in the northern parts of the country even before the Emperor Akbar presented it in jagir to two of their local chiefs. During the civil commotions of Jahangir's reign, the Niazi's drove away the Ghakars across the Salt Range, and though in the following reign the latter recovered their position, still their hold on the country was unstable, and came to an end about the middle of the 18th century. The remains of Muazam Nagar, their local capital, were visible on the left high bank of the Indus about six miles south of new Mianwali until 1857 AD, when the site was eroded by the river. The Niazi's thus established themselves in Essa Khel about 500 years ago, but their Sarang branch did not finally obtain their possessions in Mianwali until nearly 150 years later. The acquisition of their cis-Indus possessions was necessarily gradual, the country having a settled though weak government, and being inhabited by Awans and Jats.

Isa Khan's Tomb

Isa Khan Niazi (Pashto: عیسی خان نيازي‎) was a Pashtun noble in the court of Sher Shah Suri and his son Islam Shah Suri, of the Sur dynasty, who fought the Mughal Empire. Isa Khan Niazi was a prominent member among the Ruling family. Being in the same tribal unit of nobels like Ibrahim Lodhi, Sher Shah Suri .Similarly Haibat Khan Niazi was The Governor of The Punjab Province during Suri's Reign.The large part these families was attached with Delhi Derbar.

However, a large number of the Niazi tribe still lives in parts of Afghanistan, mainly in Qalaye Niazi, Gardez, Logar and Paktia province. A considerable number have also settled in Karachi and other major Pakistani cities such as Multan, Lahore, Islamabad and Quetta.


The Niazis in Pakistan mainly live in Mianwali (Mianwali although included in Punjab lies at the confluence of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab), Khanewal, Multan, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Chakwal District, Swabi, Mardan, Bajaur Agency, Peshawar, Hangu, Quetta, Tank, Pishin, Loralai, Faisalabad, Kohat and Bhakkar. Across the Durand Line, a large number of the Niazis still lives in parts of Afghanistan, mainly in Qalaye Niazi, Khost, Laghman, Kandahar, Ghazni, Gardez, Logar and Paktia provinces. A considerable number have also settled in Karachi and other major Pakistani cities such as Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar.

Many Niazis are also found in the United Kingdom where some descendants live.

The Niazis living in Afghanistan speak Pashto, as do those inhabiting the districts of Hangu, Kohat, Swabi, Mardan, Peshawar, Bajaur Agency, Lakki Marwat and Bannu in KPK, Pakistan. However, the Niazi living in Trans-Indus region, especially east of the Indus, speak Hindko[6]

Some Niazis are the Pathans of Punjab (Punjabi/Saraiki: پنجابی پٹھان; Pashto: د پنجاب پښتانه‎; also called Punjabi Pathans or Saraiki Pathans depending upon region of Punjab) are originally Pashtun people (Pathans) who have settled in the Punjab region of Pakistan and India.[7] These Pashtun communities are scattered throughout the Punjab and have over time assimilated into the Punjabi identity, both culturally and linguistically. On the other hand, those who settled in the southern parts of Punjab have gradually assimilated into Saraiki culture. The Niazi Pathans of Punjab mainly in the areas of Punjab like Mianwali, Khanewal and many other cities of Punjab.They Speak Saraiki Language of Niazi's which is derived from Pashto and Hindko.Notable and famous Niazi Pathans of Punjab are Imran Khan, Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi, Abdul Sattar Khan Niazi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Junaid Khan, Kausar Niazi, Tariq Niazi, Ghulam Akbar Khan Niazi, Sher Afgan Niazi, Amir Abdullah Khan Rokhri, Hassan Niazi (Actor), Inamullah Niazi.

These non-frontier Pathans are usually known by the town or locality in which they are settled, e.g., Kasuri Pathans or Multani Pathans.[8] They should not be confused with the Hindkowan people, mostly comprising several Indo-Aryan groups from the same region who are a distinct yet closely related group to the Pathans, albeit there are some Hindko-language speaking clans who also have ethnic Pathan roots.

Notable people[edit]

Given name[edit]

Niazi was originally a given name among Muslim people.

Pashtun surname[edit]


  1. ^ Encyclopaedia Asiatica, Comprising Indian Subcontinent, Eastern and Southern Asia: H. Jangtang By Edward Balfour Published by Cosmo Publications, 1976 Item notes: v. 4 Original from the University of Michigan Page 188
  2. ^ Amir Mizroch (9 January 2010). "Are Taliban descendants of Israelites?". The Jerusalem Post. 
  3. ^ Sachin Parashar (11 January 2010). "Lucknow Pathans have Jewish roots?". Times of India. 
  4. ^ Rory McCarthy (17 January 2010). "Pashtun clue to lost tribes of Israel". The Observer. 
  5. ^ Excerpts from Gazetteer of the Bannu District, 1887. Khyber.ORG. History and Settlement of Bannu: The Niazi's.
  6. ^ H.A . Rose, p . 241
  7. ^ Punjabi Musalmans by J M Wikely
  8. ^ Punjabi Musalmans by J. M Wikely

Further reading[edit]