The Bettani or Bēṭanī (Pashto: بېټني) (also spelled Bhittani in older British sources) is a Pashtun tribal confederacy located mostly in Pakistan with a small number dwelling in Afghanistan. The Bettani are named after Shaykh Beṭ, their legendary ancestor who is said to be the second son of Qais Abdur Rashid. The Bettani confederacy includes the supertribes of Ghilji and Lodi, as well as the tribe of Shirani.
The Bettani proper reside in Frontier Region Tank, a territory that is a buffer zone separating Tank District from the Mahsud tribe of South Waziristan Region in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The Bettani tribe live in the Frontier Region of District Tank and in FR Lakki Marwat of Khyber Pakhtunkwa, Pakistan. Jandola is considered the capital of the Bettani tribes in FR Tank. A tiny minority of Betani lives in Afghanistan, on the western edge of the Solayman mountains. The circumstances of its separation from the main body of the tribe are completely unknown. Perhaps this was the former location of the tribe. In the early 1930s three villages in the Ghazni area were reported to be inhabited by Betani, and in addition 100 nomadic Betani families migrated between eastern Afghanistan and the Derajat (Robinson, p. 158). The Bhittani claim descent from Shaikh Bet Baba (Baitan), the third son of Qais Abdurisheed, the founder of Pashtun. Sheikh Bet is reported to have lived in the Altamur range, between Logar and Zormat (Bellew, p. 12), and to have been buried at Ghazni (Hayat Khan, p. 156). His descendants in the male line, the Betani, are known to have inhabited the same area up to the ninth/fifteenth century, when their Ghilji cousins expelled them (Ibbetson, p. 78). Bhittani are also referred to as Bitani, Bettani, Battani, Bhettani and Bhittani. In eastern sources it is sometimes written Betani or Bittani, whereas in British sources it is habitually transcribed Bhettani or Bhittani. Some of the Bettani tribes are residing in Hyderabad, India and United Arab Emirate (UAE) from last 45 years (Need proper source).
District Tank, FR Tank & FR DI Khan & FR Lakki
The area is mainly inhabited by the Bhittanis who have three sub-sections namely Tatta,Waraspon and Dhanna. The Bhittanis, as evident from their name, claim decent from Baitan, the third son of Qais, the founder, according to one doctrine, of the Pukhtoon race. They also inhibit F.R. D.I. Khan and F.R. Bannu, mostly the mountainous area on the borders of Tank and Bannu from the Gabbar mountain in the north to the Gomal valley in the south.
According to traditions, they were first living in Koh-i-Sulaiman, but the Ghiljis drove them out of their homeland and they settled where they are now. During the reign of Pashtun Sultans of Delhi they enjoyed prestigious positions, and a large number of them used to serve in the Sultanate’s army.
Bhittanis tribe is divided in three sections: Tattao- at Jandola and Siraghar in the Dera Ismail Khan and some adjoining areas; Dhanna- on the Gabbar mountain and in the Bannu F.R.; Waraspun- inhibinting the F.R. Dera Ismail Khan and some adjoining valleys. Frontier Region Lakki is inhabited by the Boba, Bobak and Wargara clans of the Bhittanis. Most of Danni- inahibinting in F.R. Tank and some adjoining valleys.
The Betani are said to be named after their ancestor Betṭ Baba (claimed to be First Pashtu Poet), who lived in the Altamur range which is located between Logar and Zurmant and he was buried in Ghazni according to the legend. The Betani are known to have lived in the Logar, Zurmat and Ghazni area until the 15th century, but then they came into conflict with the Ghilji (Gharzai) and the Bettanis were expelled from the area towards the east. Some lineages succeeded to take control of Gabarḡar, which is located between the Bannu Basin and Dēra, while other Bettani lineages migrated further northeastwards.
Organisation of the tribe
The Bettani tribe has three sub-castes, which are called Tattha, Wraspoon and Dhana. The Tattha is further subdivided into three clans: the Umarkhail, Aba Khel, Naimat Khel and Khaishi. The Dhana tribe is divided into Ali khail, Bobi, Waroki and Dadi Khel subclans. The Wraspoon subdivides into Mazyani, Tari, Chapli and Shakhi. The Betani have always been few in numbers: From 8-9,000 in about 1884 (Gazetteer... Dera Ismail Khan, p. 69) they are said to have increased to more than 43,000 by about 1960 (Spain, p. 53). The current numbers of Bettani tribe around 200,000 and 250,000 individuals according to an estimates (need fresh survey).
A large number of Bettani are also living in Balochistan province especially in Quetta Cantt (required research). They have been there for last 70 or 80 years. Nowadays they have mixed themselves with the Nasuran. They had built strong family relation with them. Although they have arranged marriages in between them, yet they still remain two different Pashtun tribes.
Members of Bettani tribe (approximately 18,000 individuals) are also living in France for nearly a century (Need research). They are now totally mixed in French culture. They basically migrated there during British rule in sub-continent in 1897. Members of Bettani tribe are also living in West Indies but they now call themselves Indians (Need research)
Hospitality is given importance and tea is the most popular consumable item. The tribe has demonstrated a keen interest in facilitating educational accomplishments of youth; as a result, several doctors of this tribe contribute their services in different parts of the country and abroad. Bettanis are patriotic and loyal to their country. The tribal youth are fond of sports, including traditional sports Hinda, Kabadi, Kath Kath, football, volleyball and cricket. Cricket and football is the popular sports among the youth. Bettani are fond of traditional dancing called (Attan, Tarai). During marriage parties, anyone can join the night dancing party without any formal invitation. Traditional drummers (Daman) hired during marriages to entertain the participants. The dancing of this tribe bit different from other Pashtun tribes. The people of every age can be seen dancing in night marriage parties. Similarly the female of this tribe are found of dancing particularly on the occasion of marriages but they do it within their houses, separately. The local female drummers hired for entertaining the females. In most of the marriages big launch offered to the relatives, villagers and participants of the marriage. While in evening close friends and relatives invited for dinner. During evening dinner drummers are playing drums and the relative and friends coming along with sheep or goat, it is called in Pashtu 'Balanai'. On Balanai aerial firing also given by the attendants on the entry in the marriage premises. The cousin marriages are common in this tribe. Tribal women are very found of wearing ornaments and jewellery of all type made of gold and silver. A lot of money is spent on the local ceremonies, particularly on marriage, death, birth and other ceremonies/festivals like celebration of Eid and performing Haj. Most marriages are arranged, and most people live in a joint family system.
Commonly eaten foods include ghee, a bread called aishal, beef, Painda, and boiled rice with Lassi, Potato curry, Butter Kari, Milk kari, boiled meat, Fried meat "Larmoon", Beef pualao, Chicken Pualao, Sweet rice (Zarda), Boiled Grains, wheat Halwa (Sweet), salt onion bread, sweet bread (Kakoray), fried tomato, fried eggs, tomato sauc, all kind of vegetables curry, makan and pure ghee. Drinks includes tea, lemonade and lasi (butter water).
Bettani tribe culture is different from other Pashtuns.
In minor matters, disputes are common, and sometimes ongoing for decades. On different occasions they also cooperate, and their internal matters are decided in three Bettani jirga (tribal councils/(dary bettanay) based upon the three subclans of Tattha, Wraspoon and Dhana. The rival families give complete authority to the three Bettani councils, and the council's decisions are generally obeyed, but in cases of opposition to these decisions, a family may be fined. If the dispute is of bigger nature between the tribes then the DCO, PA, MNA and Senators, Maliks and elders, sometimes from neighboring FRs/agencies also participate in the jirga to resolve the disputes. The people have to accept the decision made by the jirga. The jirga results are presented to the DCO for information and record. If any one of the party is not happy or satisfied with the decision made by the jirga then the grieved party can go to the appellate court and then the Home Department, who decides the case under the FCR. Traditionally the household head has a strong hold and decision-making power for the whole family. The wives are traditionally submissive to their husbands and the likelihood of divorce or separation in the tribal society is negligible. The Bhittani are the hereditary enemies of the Mahsuds, however, over the centuries they have joined with them during important battles against invaders. In August 2007, Bhittani tribesmen threatened a Lashkar against Mahsud tribesmen if they did not return 16 kidnapped Bhittanis. Mahsud raiders had to pass through Bhittani territory to enter the settled areas so Mehsud tribe always avoid any kind of clash with Bettani tribe.
Agriculture is a widespread source of income as the land is very fertile. Crops include tomatoes, sugar cane, wheat, beans, melons and other fruits and vegetables. Livestock, such as sheep, goats and cattle, are a primary source of income. Most of the aged tribeswomen work in fields with the other family members. Specially tomato is the main crop which cultivated in different areas including Ummar Adda, Maghzai, Tank Zam area and several other areas of Frontier Region and Tank. Many of the men of this tribe serve in the Frontier Constabulary and Frontier Corps. Many people of this tribe work as PTC and CT teachers in the education department in the frontier regions and Tank. Nowadays scores of Bettani tribesmen are engaged in business, trade, commerce, Government and private sector and other respectable professions like medical field. The tribesmen are serving the country with a spirit of devotion and dedication.
Bettani or Bittani Tomato
Bettani or Bittani are known for cultivation of tomatoes and the land is highly suitable for this crop. The areas producing tomatoes include on Umar Adda and adjacent areas including FR Tank. The tomato is transported from Bettani areas (District and FR Tank) to other major cities of the country, including Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Lahore, Faisalabad and Peshawar. Most of the farmers community in these areas prefer tomato crop because the soil is very fertile for tomato crop. Several time I visited these areas specially in the tomato seasons, most of the farmer observed busy in fields of tomato.
Nearly 60 per cent people of the tribe are educated. Earlier people dependent only on the agriculture and livestock but now most of the keen to provide education to their children. Several government Primary and few high schools and one Government College for Boys is imparting education to the students in FR Tank. However there is dire need to establish more primary and high schools particularly for female students. According to Malik Bahik Khan, (a resident of Sobati Katch FR Tank) nearly 90 per cent youth of the tribe have basic education. But to poverty several people only have access to high, secondary schools and colleges. It is a good sign that the educated youth are broad minded and talented. The people will appreciate government and non government organizations to come forward and establish more educational institutions, technical and vocational centers in the areas. Annually five student of the Tribe, availing admission opportunity on Quota in Medical colleges of the country. I met a dozen of medical students in Ayub Medical College Abbottabad and found them very fashionable, modern and open mind
Sur Ghar (Red Hills), a beautiful hill destination near Peeng Area bordering the South Waziristan Agency. Some of the tribes residing there permanently, while others just residing here during summer season to enjoy pleasant weather. The weather of Sur Ghar remained pleasant during summer. Another beautiful place is "Khuviya", a famous forest in the hills, popular for hunting of Teetar bird and Rabbits. Most of the locals Rabbits and Birds hunters visiting this forest and staying there for two or three days to enjoy Natural Beauty and hunting. Another, attractive place is Tank Zam, (a proposed small dam) a stream where hills water dividing in three streams. Another, prominent place is Shrine of Mama Peer near Umar Adda (a famous town in the Settled area), several people of the area visiting shrine of Mama Peer on daily basis and particularly on Friday. A large number of devotees also visiting Sheikh Younas shrine. If government develop these areas as a tourism sites, would attract large number of people. It also good for the local people to get opportunities of business and jobs.
Names of Prominent Villages and areas
Tehsil Jandola,karri haider Sur Ghar, Ghabar Ali Khail, Saboti Katch (Pir Kaley), Kharghai, Manzai, Tank Zam, Khuviya, Umar Adda, Umar Kaley, Dhabara, Bazai, Lati Kaley, Idher, Shahrah One, Abahkhail, Kot Gulan, Umar Khan Kaley, Ihder Kaley, Chesan Kach and Tajori (FR Lakki) etc.
The climate in the region is hot in summer, with high temperatures around 110 °F, and cool in winter, with low temperatures around 40 °F. The average annual rainfall amount is 10 to 11 inches, with most rainfall in July and August. The driest months are October and November. Most of the streams which originate from the region are seasonal and normally end up in the arid plains of District Tank. The region experiences hot summers and cold winters. The summer season is from April to October with June, July and August as the hottest months. The winter season is from November to March, with December, January and February as the coldest months.
The Bettani tribe are of the Hanafi sect of Sunni Islam.
- Gazetteer of the Dera Ismail Khan District 1883-84, Lahore, 1884.
- Frontier and Overseas Expeditions from India II: North-West Frontier *Tribes Between the Kabul and Gomal Rivers, n.p., 1908, repr. Quetta, 1979, esp. pp. 363ff.
- (Late) Muntazir Bettani Poetry book Kuthab stuarey
- Historical Pashtu book written by Sohail Bettani "De Bettanu Tarikh" (History of Bhittani Tribe)
- Daily Dawn Newspaper
- Daily The News
- Daily The Nation
- Daily Mashriq
- Daily Times
- The Batani, Baitani or Bhittani 1935) "Powindah Bhittani" Notes on Nomad Tribes of Eastern Afghanistan Government of India Press, New Delhi, India, page 158.
- Daniel Balland
- Encyclopædia Iranica
- Gazetteer of the Bannu District 1883-84, Calcutta, n.d. [1884?].
- Gazetteer of the Dera Ismail Khan District 1883-84, Lahore, 1884.