Awan (tribe)

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Awan (Urdu: اعوان‎) is a tribe living predominantly in northern, central, and western parts of Pakistani Punjab, with significant numbers also residing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir and to a lesser extent in Sindh and Balochistan.


The Awans claim Arab descent from Qutb Shah of Ghazni, who ruled at Herat, but joined Mahmud of Ghazni in his invasions of India in 1004 A.D. and received from him the name of Awanor, which means Helper. Qutb Shah was descended from Ali, the son-in-law of the Islamic Prophet, Muhammad and the Awans have been Muslims from the beginning. Qutb Shah had six sons, Kalan Shah , who settled near Kalabagh, Gauhar Shah — who settled near Sakesur, Chohan Shah, who settled in the hills near the Indus River, Khokhar Shah, who settled in the country about the Chenab River, Tori Shah and Jhajh Shah who remained in the trans-border country where their descendants are said, still to live in Tirah and the Kurram Valley. Doubt has been thrown on this account by some ethnological authorities and a Hindu orgin has been assigned to the Awans by some writers, who point to the originally Hindu character of two of Qutb Shah's sons.[1]


A certificate issued in 1905 by the Deputy Commissioner of Shahpur, C.H. Atkins, to Khan Sahib Qazi Zafar Hussain, the youngest son of Qazi Mian Muhammad Amjad. This document also demonstrates the influence wielded by the Awan tribe in the Punjab, during the era of the British Raj.

People of the Awan community have a strong presence in the Pakistani Army[2][need quotation to verify] and have a strong martial tradition.[3] Christophe Jaffrelot says:

The Awan deserve close attention, because of their historical importance and, above all, because they settled in the west, right up to the edge of Baluchi and Pashtun territory. [Tribal] Legend has it that their origins go back to Imam Ali and his second wife, Hanafiya. Historians describe them as valiant warriors and farmers who imposed their supremacy on their close kin the Janjuas in part of the Salt Range, and established large colonies all along the Indus to Sind, and a densely populated centre not far from Lahore.[4]

Whereas Ahmad Hasan Dani claimed that the Awans were, in fact, indigenous to Northern Punjab, and might well be the ancient Abanii mentioned by Greek and Roman travelers and historians.[5]

On a rural level, Awans historically were of the zamindar or landowning class[6] and many Awan families to this day live on and cultivate land, which their ancestors have held for centuries. They often carry titles typical to Punjabis[7] who own tracts of ancestral land.

Notable people[edit]

Air Marshal Nur Khan, Commander in Chief of the Pakistan Air Force, 1965–69, Governor of West Pakistan, 1969–70

See also[edit]


  1. ^ J. M. Wikeley, Rana Rehman Zafar (1968). Punjabi Musalmans. Pakistan National Publishers. pp. 67, 68, 69. 
  2. ^ Jones, P.E., 2003, The Pakistan People's Party: Rise To Power, Oxford University Press, p.61.
  3. ^ Ali, I., 2003, The Punjab under Imperialism, 1885–1947, Oxford University Press, p.114.
  4. ^ Jaffrelot, Christophe (2004). A History of Pakistan and Its Origins (Reprinted ed.). Anthem Press. p. 205. ISBN 978-1-84331-149-2. 
  5. ^ AH Dani 'Some prominent tribes of Northern Punjab: A Monograph' Peshawar, 1993
  6. ^ Ahmed, S., 1977, Class and Power in a Punjabi Village, Monthly Review Press, p.p. 131-132.
  7. ^ Ahsan, A., 1996, The Indus Saga and the Making of Pakistan, Oxford University Press, p.88.
  8. ^ Sarwar, S., 2002, Wadi Soon Sakesar: The Soon Valley, Al-Faisal Nashran, p.35, p.149, p.152, p.163, p.177.
  9. ^ "City: Awan community grieved over Malik's demise. – PPI – Pakistan Press International | HighBeam Research – FREE trial". 2003-06-13. Retrieved 2010-12-29. [dead link]
  10. ^ Khan, R., 1999, The American Papers: Secret and Confidential India-Pakistan-Bangladesh Documents, 1965–1973, Oxford University Press, p.265.
  11. ^ Feldman, H., 1972, From Crisis to Crisis: Pakistan 1962–1969, Oxford University MPress, p.57.
  12. ^