Faqir of Ipi

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Faqir of Ipi

Mirza Ali Khan (Urdu/Pashto: مرزا علی خان; born 1897, died 1960), known as the Faqir of Ipi, was a Pashtun from today's North-Waziristan Pakistan, Federally Administrated Tribal Areas. His followers addressed him as 'Haji Sahib' (or Respected Pilgrim). The village of Ipi is located near Mirali Camp in North Waziristan Agency, Waziristan, from where the Faqir of Ipi started his guerrilla warfare against the British Empire throughout the 1930s and 1940s until the British departure in 1947.

Early life[edit]

Mirza Ali Khan was born in 1901 at Kurta, a village near Tochi Valley in North Waziristan, present day Pakistan to Sheikh Arsala Khan.[1] He belonged to the Tori Khel branch of the Utmanzai Wazir tribe.[2] His father died when he was twelve. Mirza studied till fourth grade at a government school and later pursued religious studies at Bannu. He built a mosque and a house at Spalga, further South in North Waziristan agency in 1922. He moved to Ipi in mid 1920s and later went to perform Hajj at Mecca. Mirza became a religious figure among the locals and was called "Haji Sahab". The British intelligence records regarded him an influential figure of the tribal agency who had a following of armed men. In 1933 Mirza went to Afghanistan to fight against the Afghan King at Khost that furthered him as a resistance leader.[1]


Battle against the Bannu Brigade in Khaisora[edit]

In 1936, a British Indian court ruled against the marriage of a Hindu-converted Muslim girl at Bannu, after the girl's family filed case of abduction and forced conversion. The ruling was based on the fact that the girl was a minor and was asked to make her decision of conversion and marriage after she reaches the age of majority, till then she was asked to live with a third party.[3] The verdict 'enraged' the Muslims - especially the Daur tribesmen, Faqir Ipi's kinsmen, the Daur Maliks and mullahs left the Tochi far the Khaisora Valley to the south to rouse the Torikhel Waziris. The enraged tribesmen mustered two large lashkars 10,000 strong and battled the Bannu Brigade, with heavy casualties on both sides. Widespread lawlessness erupted as tribesmen blocked roads, overran outposts and ambushed convoys. The British retaliated by sending two columns converging in the Khaisora river valley. They suppressed the agitation by imposing fines and by destroying the houses of the ringleaders, including that of the Faqir of Ipi. However, the pyrrhic nature of the victory and the subsequent withdrawal of the troops was credited by the Wazirs to be a manifestation of the Faqir's miraculous powers. He succeeded in inducing a semblance of tribal unity, as the British noticed with dismay, among various sections of Tori Khel Wazirs, the Mahsuds and the Bhittannis. He cemented his position as religious leader by declaring a Jihad against the British. This move also helped rally support from Pashtun tribesman across the border.


Soon after the Khaisora campaign a general uprising broke out throughout Waziristan campaign, realising the futility of confronting the British Army directly especially with their advantage of air power, tribesmen switched to guerrilla warfare. Squadrons of the two air forces (RAF and RIAF) tried many tactics including scorched earth retaliation involving the burning of standing crops with jerry can petrol bombs and the killing of cattle with strafing attacks.[citation needed] This situation continued till Indian independence and the creation of Pakistan in 1947.

Pakistan Independence[edit]

The creation of Pakistan in 1947 significantly dulled the Faqir's insurgency. As the government was Muslim led, the religious grounds for the insurgency had been lost. This did not stop the Faqir from causing problems for the Pakistani government until his death. On 4 November 1954 his Commander-in-Chief, Mehar Dil, surrendered himself personally to the Deputy Commissioner Bannu, and this, in effect, brought the Waziristan insurrection to an end.


The Faqir of Ipi died at night on April 16, 1960. A long term sufferer of asthma during his last days, he became so sick that it was not possible for him to walk for a few steps. People from far away often used to come and see him and ask for his blessing. His funeral prayers or Namaz-I-Janaza was held at Gurwaikht led by Maulavi Pir Rehman. Thousands of people came for his Namaz-I-Janaza. He was buried at Gurwaikht.

See also[edit]


  • Dr. Shah, Syed Wiqar Ali German Activities in the North-West Frontier Province War Years 1914-1945. Quaid-e-Azam University. Available online at [1]. Last accessed on 22/03/06
  • Government of Pakistan: The Frontier Corps (NWFP) Pakistan and its headquarters. Available online at [2] Last accessed on 22/03/06
  • Siddiqui A. R. Faqir of Ipi's Cross Border Nexus. Available online [3]. Last accessed on 22/03/06.
  • Hauner, Milan (Jan., 1981) One Man against the Empire: The Faqir of Ipi and the British in Central Asia on the Eve of and during the Second World War. Available online at [4]. Last accessed on 22/03/06.
  • Shah, Idries, Destination Mecca, Chapter XXIII Contains interview with and the only photograph ever taken of Fakir of Ipi (London 1957). Possibly confirms the Fakir's dervish or Sufi status.
  • Batl-i-Hurriyet: Fakir of Ipi—Iman-Parwar Jihad By Dr Fazal-ur-Rehman Kitab Saraay, First Floor, Alhamd Market,Ghazni Street, Urdu Bazar, Lahore
  1. ^ a b Alan Warren (2000). Waziristan, the Faqir of Ipi, and the Indian Army: The North West Frontier Revolt of 1936-37. Oxford University Press. p. 84. ISBN 978-0195790160. 
  2. ^ Rob Johnson (2011). The Afghan Way of War: How and Why They Fight. Oxford University Press. p. 195. ISBN 978-0-19-979856-8. 
  3. ^ Yousef Aboul-Enein; Basil Aboul-Enein (2013). The Secret War for the Middle East. Naval Institute Press. p. 153. ISBN 978-1612513096. 

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