Pathans of Punjab

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Pathans of Punjab
Regions with significant populations
 Pakistan (Punjab)
Related ethnic groups
PashtunsRohillaPathans of BiharPathans of GujaratPathans of SindhPathans of Uttar PradeshPathans of RajasthanMuhajir people

The Pathans of Punjab (Punjabi: پنجابی پٹھان (Shahmukhi); Pashto: د پنجاب پښتانه‎; also called Punjabi Pathans are originally Pashtun people who have settled in the Punjab region of Pakistan.[2] Most of these Pashtun communities are scattered throughout the Punjab and have over time assimilated into the Punjabi society and culture.

These non-frontier Pathans are usually known by the town or locality in which they are settled, e.g., Lodhianvi Pathans, Jalandari Pathans, or Lahori.[3]

History and origin[edit]

Pathun recruits in the First World War as part of British Indian Army

Colonies of Pathans (Pashtun people) arriving in Punjab are accounted for by Sir Densil Ibbetson in the following manner:

During the Khilji, Lodi and Suri dynasties many Pathans migrated to Punjab especially during the reign of Jalal-ud-din Khalji, Bahlol Lodhi and Sher Shah Suri. These naturally belonged to the Ghilzai section from which those kings sprang.[4]

— Sir Denzil Ibbetson

The history of Pathans in India is much earlier. Trapusa and Bahalika, variously assumed to be merchants or slaves from Balkh were the first lay-person to accept Buddha. During that time, the regions west of HinduKush, including Afghanistan were ruled by Mauryan empire and their vassal states of Indo-Greeks. These Indo-Greeks were staunch followers of Vishnu and Buddha and ruled large parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. They gave rise to the Hellenistic form of Buddhism which competed with the Mathura form.

Large numbers of Pathans accompanied the armies of Mahmud of Ghazni, Muhammad of Ghor and Babur, and many of them obtained grants of land in the Punjab plains and founded Pathan colonies which still exist. Many Pathans were driven out of present-day Afghanistan and khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to the invasion of the Mongol armies and took refuge in the plains east of the Indus River, which marked the terminus of Mongol aggression. Internal feuds or famine also prompted Pathan migrations.

Mehmond Pathan Hoshiarpur were also in the army of Mahmud of Ghazni, which show the strength of Pathan tribes.

The tribes most commonly to be found in the Punjab region are the Niazai, Kundi, Miana, Bangash, Yusufzai, Hassan Zai, Mandanr, Lodhi, Kakar, Sherwani, Orakzai, Tareen, Sulemankhel sulemani, Kakazai, Karlanri, barakzai, Khizerzai, Babar and the Zamand Pathans. Of these the most widely distributed are the Yusufzai, of whom a body of 12,000 accompanied the Mughal Emperor Babur in the final invasion of India, and settled in the plains of India and the Punjab. But as a rule, the Pathans who have settled away from the frontier have lost all memory of their tribal divisions, and indeed almost all their national characteristics.

The oral tradition of Pathans has that they are descendants of the soldiers of Alexander the Great who invaded the area in 327–323 BC. Archaeological evidence, however, suggests a Greek influence before this invasion. A phylogenetic study investigated the possible genetic relation of Pathans with Greeks and found evidence of a limited contributions of Greek genes in the Pathan population.[5]

Main divisions[edit]

The main tribes of the Pathans in the Punjab are as follows:

Niazi Pathans[edit]

Imran Khan Niazi Shermankhel (Former Cricketer, Politician and prime minister of Pakistan)

Niazi's were the descendants of Shah Hussain Ghauri of (Ghor) region of central Afghanistan. The origin of Niazi Pathans is from the area of Gardez and ghazna (Ghazni,Afghanistan) Niazi's marched out in Indian Subcontinent with Ghaznavid Dynasty and Ghorid Dynasty , Khilji Dynasty and with behlul lodhi in the tribal confederacy of Afghan tribes under the Sultan for compgains in Indian SubContinent. Later on due to the central asian raids and Mongol invasions forced the Niazi tribe along with his Cousin Marwat tribe and other tribes migrate from afghanistan into south waziristan near wana and tank district where they lived near about a century and than move down through dera tang in Esakhel. Niazi tribesmen and nobles fought along with babar in his campgain on Subcontinent and later served in Mughal empire as a commanders. Sher Shah Suri have Niazi commanders and governors , Haibat khan Niazi governor Multan and Isa Khan Niazi Governor lahore. Zaman khan Niazi noble of Esakhel tribe fight along with Ahmad shah abdali in the battle of panipat Now a days Mostly Niazi lived in Mianwali, d.I khan , Laki Marwat , Hangu , kohat , kacha Khu Khanewal , karachi and many other cities of Punjab and speaks Sraiki , hindko and Pashto But pashto is about to vanish. Notable and famous Niazis are Imran Khan, Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi, Abdul Sattar Khan Niazi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Munir Niazi, Ghulam Akbar Khan Niazi, Sher Afgan Niazi, Inamullah Niazi, Mansoor Aslam Khan Niazi (Sami Khan), Taifoor Khan Niazi, (TV Actor & Brother of Sami Khan), Shadab Khan, The Khan's of Isakhel the owners/sardars of the area (Khawaneens). (Rokhri is not a tribe of Niazis – it is a village in Mianwali)

Khizar Khel Niazi[edit]

Asmat Ullah Khan Niazi Khizar Khel, Ex Controller News PTV World.

Khizar Khel is a clan of Pashtun tribe Niazi from Khaglan Wala, Isakhel. They also live in Khanewal, Sukkur, Karachi, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur and many more cities


Miana Pathans of Taunsa sharif[edit]

Miana pathans (pashtun) were came from Afghanistan and settled near koh-suleman tounsa sharif. Khitrans are also settled here.And khawja family also these are the bigger families in tounsa the Punjab region do not speak Pashto as their first language instead they speak Urdu or Saraiki; Miana Tribe with its subtribe Khitran. (according to H.A Rose "descended from miana, brother of tareen, and the cousin of luni).[citation needed] . for centuries along with Sadozai. A vast part of their history is unknown because of the hate of Mughal Emperor Akbar who changed the history of many Pashtoon tribes.

Jalandhar Pathans[edit]

Humayun Akhtar Khan

The district of Jalandhar is home to well established community of Pashtuns, dating back to at least the 14th century.[6] The Bangash, Burki and Lodhi tribes were closely connected with the district. In 1947 the overwhelming majority of these Jalandhar based Pathans and others in the Indian side moved en masse to Pakistan.

Traditions of the Burki tribe point settlement in the district in the 16th century. The earliest settlements were Barikian and Rasta Ikhwand, both in Jalandhar city. After Jalandhar was burnt down by the Gurus of Kartarpur in 1757, Kot Khan Jahan was founded by Khan Jahan. This family was known as the Sadakhel; and other Burki tribes include the Guz, Aliak and Babakhel. Communities of the Burki, in and around the city of Jalandhar were referred to as the basti.

The Babakhel Burki are said to have come from Kaniguram in South Waziristan in 1617, accompanying Shaikh Darwesh, leader of the Roshaniya (Pir Roshan)Muslims. The founded Basti Shaikh, having bought this land from the proprietors of Jalandhar. They are also founded the town of Babakhel.

Basti Guzan was founded in the time of the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan, by three sons of Musa Khan of Guz tribe. This Musa Khan had come with Shaikh Darwesh from Kaniguram, and had settled initially in Basti Shaikh. They afterward bought land from the Lodhis and Sayyids, and founded Basti Guzan.

Other bastis (villages) included Basti Ibrahim Khan, Basti Pir Dad Khan, Basti Shah Quli, Basti Daanishmandan and Basti Nau.


The most important and oldest Pashtun settlement in the district was that of the Lodhi tribe. Kot Bure Khan, north of the city of Jalandhar, was said to be the original settlement of the tribe. According to the Ain-i-Akbari, the Jallandhar Mahal was occupied by the Lodhi who paid a revenue of 14 lakh of dams. The Lodhis of the town of Dhogri, six miles north east of Jalandhar, were among the oldest landowners in the district. Their ancestor Tatar Khan, accompanied, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna to India, and settled in the region. Lodhis are now found in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan.

Pathans of Hoshiarpur[edit]

These include descendants of Khwaja Khan and Mehdi Khan. There were also Musakhel tribes in Hoshiarpur. The Niazi tribe peoples also found in Hoshiarpur. Many peoples of Niazi tribe migrated to Pakistan at the time of Partition. Which are now settled in Multan, Lodhran, Khanewal .A famous Punjabi poet Munir Niazi and the former Chief of Naval Staff (Pakistan) Karamat Rahman Niazi also belonged to Hoshiarpur based Niazi clans.

Kasuri Pathans[edit]

Qusuri or Kusuri, a pathan of Kasur - Tashrih al-aqvam (1825)

When the Zamand section was broken up, the Kheshgi (or also pronounced Kheshki) clan migrated to the Ghorband defile, and a large number marched tence with the Mughal Emperor Babar and found great favour at his hands and those of his son Humayun, One section of them settled at Kasur, and are known as "Qasuria or Kasuri Pathans"[2]

The Qasuria or Kasuri Pathans increased in numbers and importance until the chiefs thought themselves strong enough to refuse to pay tribute to the Mughals. After some severe fighting the Qasuria Pathans were compelled to give in, they never lost heart however and maintained their independence until 1807, when they were finally subdued by the Sikhs. After the confiscation of Kasur by Ranjit Singh, the Pathans were ordered to remain on the left bank of the Sutlej where their leader was assigned the Jagir of Mamdot, in Firozpur District. The Mamdot family emigrated to Pakistan, after the independence in 1947. One portion of Kasuri Pathan most called Amchozi settled in Bahawalnagar district at Nadir Shah village near to Bahawalnagar city. Bahawalnagar one Bazar name is Nadir Shah Bazar. These Pathan are landlords as well as in government services.

Kakazai (Loye Mamund)[edit]

The Kakazai, along-with other Pashtun tribes, came to South Asia during invasions such as those of Mahmud of Ghazni and Bahlul Lodi, settling in various regions.

Noting the martial legacy of the Kakazai Pashtuns, Pir Moazzam Shah in his book ‘Tawareekh-e-Hafiz Rahmat Khani’ (Page 89-91 - Originally Published in 1624 AD) and Olaf Caroe in his book ‘The Pathans 550 BC-AD 1957’ (Page 184-185 - First published in 1958), wrote about a battle between the Yousafzais and the Dilazaks in which Malik Haibu (Dilazak) was given the first sword blow by Payenda Kakazai Tarklanri but eventually got beheaded by Burhan Kakazai Tarklanri sword blow while fighting on the side of the Yousafzais in order to aid them to conquer Bajour from the Dilazaks.

For the invading armies, much of Punjab and other areas became a repository with rest houses, cantonments and border posts established to keep an eye on things in the region as well as to keep abreast of any new information (such as the possible weakening of another empire etc.), and many officers along with their families would settle there. As is still very true in large areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Afghanistan's Pashtun belt, the land is often quite barren and hostile only capable of hosting a limited population. Once the population or a tribe's numbers exceeded a certain threshold, they would often travel East to more settled areas (Sindh, Punjab, Kashmir etc.) or would be pushed out by other tribes in the search of productive agricultural land. The area of Sialkot principally, as well as Faisalabad, Wazirabad and parts of Lahore, had much productive agricultural lands and were ruled by a series of Pashtun families many of whom were Kakazai but also Burki and Niazi Pashtuns.

British-Raj era Many Kakazai, Burki and other notable Pashtun families had previously settled in Jalandhar and Gurdaspur districts of Pre-independent British India where they had set up colonies. A major Kakazai group from Gurdaspur, East Punjab, India settled in twelve villages, including Babal Chak, Faizullah Chak, Sut Kohiah (Satkoha), and Wazir Chak, near Dhariwal. At the independence in August 1947, having been initially told they (being Muslim) would be in Pakistan, they were caught up in the ensuing violence and the survivors displaced when their area became part of India.

Today, the majority of the Kakazai reside in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, they reside in Marawara District, and the Barkanai and Shortan areas of Kunar .

In Pakistan, they reside in all provinces, particularly in the areas of Dara Kakazai (Valley of Watelai, also known as Mamund Valley),Bajaur Agency (Lagharai, Kalozai, Kaga, Mukha, Maina and Ghakhi areas of Mamund Tehsil), Peshawar,Lahore,Abbottabad, Sialkot (The Kakazai are still among the dominant tribes in Sialkot despite city's cosmopolitan flavor, and are still the original owners of vast swathes of prime land in this district.),Dera Ghazi Khan, Quetta, Karachi, Kashmir, Jehlum, Bhalwal, Sargodha, Chakwal, Gujrat, Chak Karal, Isa Khel, Musa Khel, and Killi Kakazai (Pishin, Baluchistan).

Consequently, language for the Kakazai Pashtuns not residing in Pashto-speaking areas, was considered Pashto until the early 19th century.However today in these areas despite practicing Pashtunwali and maintaining dress, cuisine and martial legacy as per their Pashtun traditions,the tribe does not exclusively speak Pashto but may speak other languages indigenous to Pakistan.

Malerkotla Pathans[edit]

In the Indian Punjabi city of Malerkotla, sixty-five percent of the total population is Muslim and out of this population, twenty percent are Punjabi Pathans.[7]

These Pathans trace their ancestry to Shaikh Sadruddin, a pious man of the Sherwani/Sarwani tribe of the Darband area of what is now the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan.[7] Behlol Lodhi (1451–1517), the Afghan king who had most of the western parts of India under his control, desired to rule Delhi and on his way, he was caught in a sand drift.[7] While there was nothing visible in the darkness, the King spotted a dim light of a lamp still burning in the wind. It was the hut of Shaikh Sadruddin and when the king found out, he came to the hut to show his respect and asked the holy man to pray for him to bear a son and have victory.[7] During 1451 and 1452, the king married off his daughter Taj Murassa to Shaikh Sadruddin after being enthroned in Delhi, and also gave him the area of Malerkotla.[7] The descendants of Shaikh Sadruddin branched into two groups. One started ruling the state and were given the title of Nawab.[7] The other branch lived around the Shrine of Shaikh Sadruddin, controlling its revenue.[7]

One notable thing about the Punjabi Pathans of Malerkotla is the fact the women strictly observe pardah, albeit they are no longer required to wear the burqa.[7] In regards to language, Pashto was their primary language until 1903. Afterwards, the Malerkotla Pathans began to speak Punjabi and Hindustani.[7] In the city, there are twenty-nine shrines to saints from Afghanistan, whom the Malerkotla Pathans revere.[7] Although the level of education is low among the community, many of these Pathans serve in the civil service, particularly in the Indian Police Service.[7] Others maintain businesses, rent property, and rear horses.[7] Because the level of religiosity amongst Malerkotla Pathans is high, many families sent their children to madrasahs where Qur'anic education is compulsory. For higher education, many children study in schools in Patiala or Ludhiana.[7]

Multani Pathans[edit]

The descendants of Zamand very early migrated in large numbers to Multan, to which province they furnished rulers, till the reign of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, when a number of the Abdali tribe under the leadership of Shah Husain were driven from Kandahar by tribal feuds, took refuge in Multan, and being early supplemented by other of their kinsmen who were expelled by Mir Wais, the great Ghilzai chief, conquered Multan and founded the tribe well known in the Punjab as Multani Pathans.

Zahid Khan Abdali was appointed Governor of Multan with the title of Nawab, at the time of Nadir Shah's invasion. Multan was Governed by different members of this family, until in 1818 the city was captured by the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh, after a heroic defence in which the Nawab and five of his sons were slain.

Their main clans were the Alizai, Badozai, Bamzai and Saddozai, all clans of the Durrani tribe. Other tribal communities include the Safi (Pashtun tribe), Babar, Khakwani, Tareen .[8] In Muzaffargarh District, the Pathans of the district are related to the Multani Pathans. They settled in Muzaffargarh in the 18th century, as small groups of Multani Pathan expended their control from the city of Multan. There distribution is as follows; the Alizai Durrani are found at Lalpur, and the Popalzai are found in Docharkha, while the Babars are based in Khangarh and Tareen in Kuhawar are other important tribes.[9]

Abbasi Pathans[edit]

Abbasi is a tribe of Pathans in Abbasianwala Tehsil KallurKot in District Bhakkar, Punjab or maybe in some other areas of Pakistan,They are migrated from Dera Ismail Khan, KPK in 19th century. Their ancestors belong to Kabul, Afghanistan. They are mostly Saraiki speaking but their ancestors were Pashto speaking. Their Sub tribes are Namdar Khel, Haitu Khel, Anwar Khel and Sardar Khel. Namdar Khel is well known subtribe of the family. Haji Rab Nawaz Khan (Namdar Khel) was the well known personality of Abbasi tribe of Pathans and his family is well educated, he was politically active in 1950's in local body Elections.


Majority of the Pashtuns settled in the Punjab region do not speak Pashto as their first language instead they speak Urdu or Punjabi. The Sagri Khattaks of Attock District and the Chhachh area speak Pashto language and practice Pashtun culture known as Pashtunwali. Sections of Niazi i.e. Sultan khel also speak Pashto. All the tribes residing in villages e.g.the niazi have retained the tribal system and the Pashtun culture as compared to other Punjabi Pathans.

Famous Punjabi-Pathans of Pathan ethnicity[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shah, Mehtab Ali (1997-12-31). The Foreign Policy of Pakistan: Ethnic Impacts on Diplomacy, 1971-94. ISBN 9781860641695.
  2. ^ a b Punjabi Musalmans; by J. M. Wikely
  3. ^ Punjabi Musalmans; by J. M. Wikely
  4. ^ Punjab Castes; by Denzil Ibbetson
  5. ^ Sadaf Firasat (2007) Y-chromosomal evidence for a limited Greek contribution to the Pathan population of Pakistan, European Journal of Human Genetics (2007) 15, 121–126. doi:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201726
  6. ^ Jullundur District Gazetteer Volume XIVA 1904
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Study of the Pathan Communities in four States of India". Khyber. Archived from the original on 2008-05-14. Retrieved 2007-06-07.
  8. ^ Imperial Rule in the Punjab 1818-1881 by J Royal Rosebury page 73
  9. ^ A Gazetteer of Muzaffargarh District Part A 1929 p. 76
  10. ^ Akbar, Ali (11 November 2015). "I will invite Shah Rukh Khan to visit his hometown Peshawar: Fawad Khan". Dawn. Retrieved 11 November 2015.