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 (Pathans) 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. Jalandhuri Pathans, Qasuria Pathans, Multani Pathans, or Lahore.[3]

History and origin[edit]

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

During the Lodi and Suri dynasties many Pathans migrated to Punjab especially during the reign of Bahlol Khan Lodi and Sher Shah Suri. These naturally belonged to the Gharzai section (Ghar means mountain, Zai means son i.e. son of mountain) to which these kings themselves belonged.[4]

— Sir Densil 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. It should be noted that 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 devastated invading forces such as Genghis Khan and his Mongol armies, including internal feuds or famine, and have taken refuge in the plains east of the Indus River where the Mongols marked the line of their aggression.Mehmond Pathan Hoshiarpur were also in the army of Mahmud of Ghazni. Which show strength of Pathan tribes

The tribes most commonly to be found in the Punjab region are the Niazai, Miana, Bangash, Yusufzai, Hassan Zai, Mandanr, Lodhi, Kakar, Sherwani, Orakzai, Tareen, Sulemankhel sulemani, Kakazai, Karlanri, barakzai, Khizerzai 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.

Some have suggested a Caucasian-origin to the Afghans, possibly from Alexander the Great's conquest of the Indian Subcontinent. Historical evidence for this idea is, however, limited to hypothesis. A hundred years before Alexander was born, Western Civilization's first historian, Herodotus, who tried to write a history of the world, mentioned the Pathans as "the nation of Pakhtuike" (helenized version of the word Pakhtun) who live in Ancient Bactra (modern Afghanistan) and who are "the most warlike of all the Indians". Indeed, there is limited, if any, traceable European DNA among the Afghans. 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] Only 3% of the Pathan population was found to have one chromosome that could be traced to Europe i.e. the Greeks. These would be the (limited) descendant of the soldiers of Alexander who remained in Afghanistan. A much more likely explanation is that the majority of the Pakhtun peoples characteristics developed in the Indian mountain landscape. One possible origin of the word "Pathan" is from the Sanskrit word for Mountain-top "patha", thus making Pathans the people who came from the mountain tops.

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)

The Niazi Pathans mainly live in the areas of Punjab like Mianwali, Khanewal and many other cities of Punjab. 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). (Rokhris and Kundis are sub-clans of the Niazi...the Rokhris are mostly found in Mianwali, and the Kundis are found around D.I. Khan district).

Khizar Khel Niazi[edit]

Asmat Ullah Khan Niazi Khizar Khel, He is famous for his work in PTV News.

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.

Pathans of Taunsa sharif[edit]

Kakars, Tareens,Miana, Mandokhel tribes of Pashtuns from Balochistan have settled in this region.(According to H.A Rose "descended from miana, brother of tareen, and the cousin of luni).[citation needed]

Jalandhar Pathans[edit]

Humayun Akhtar Khan

The district of Jalandhar is home to well established community of Pashtuns, dating back to the 14th century, since the first Afghan King established his rule in Delhi.[6] The Bangash, Burki and Lodhi tribes were closely connected with the district. The history of the Pathans in the Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar districts is directly connected to the Delhi Sultanate. The Afghans, who played a significant role as part of the nobility, came with their clans to supply fighting men and were, in turn, gifted lands in fertile districts of Punjab, in the Jagirdar system. The kings in Delhi allowed these Khans to create semi-autonomous fiefdoms and govern themselves. This served two purposes: one was to keep them busy in the countryside, so they would remain a step away from the Sultanate itself, as the Afghans had a reputation for being too fiercely independent for the liking of their kings. And the second reason was because all conquering armies from Central Asia had to pass through the Hoshiarpur/Jalandhar region to reach the seat of power in Delhi (Delhi is only a few hours away from Hoshiarpur on horseback).

For this reason, hundreds of thousands of Afghans were settled in these districts in semi-fortified villages, known as "basees" or "bastis" (these Pashtuns sometimes referred to as "basteeon wallay Pathan"), to act as a wall against any would-be invader. In fact, the broader shape of these bastis was created in a semi-circular shape, curving away from Delhi, as a protective shield. These twin districts were sometimes referred to as "Punjab ka Afghanistan", and it was the Sardars of the leading families of this area that, frequently, chose the leadership of the city of Lahore in undivided Punjab as well.

Two armies of Mongols, one led by Changez Khan's own son as its leading general, were defeated by the Pathans of Hoshiarpur and Jalandhur. The Pathan clans met the Mongols in an adjoining Northern district, Bijwara, near Do-Ab (literally "two rivers"). Extra fortifications were built in the area after the first Mongol attempt to cross through and conquer India. This is why, even at the peak of their power, the Mongols, who created the world's largest land empire, were never able to establish rule over Delhi.

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, accompaniying 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. Thry afterwards 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.

In 1947 the overwhelming majority of these Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar-based Pathans and others in the Indian side moved en masse to Pakistan. Many settled in Lahore and Faislabad.


The most important and oldest Pashtun settlement in the district was that of the Lodhi tribe. The Lodi clan name originates from the Pashto word Loya, which means "big" or "great". Many Lodis are very tall in stature. 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 Lodi who paid a revenue of 14 lakh of dams.

The Lodis 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. Lodhi's are now found in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan.

Bahlol Khan Lodi, who went on to found the Lodi Dynasty in Delhi (Sikander Khan, his son, built Agra) made Hoshiarpur his operational base when he began his military career as Governor of Punjab. That is one reason why many members of the Lodi clan moved to Hoshiarpur, and founded many cities and towns bearing the clan's name. It was Sikander Khan's brother, Alam Khan Lodi, who invited Babar to invade India in a sort of "palace coup" against his own nephew, Ibrahim Khan Lodi. Ibrahim Khan, who was considered haughty and asked his nobility to bow before him (an unheard of custom among Afghans) was widely considered unfit to be king. This was in direct contrast to Ibrahim Khan's grandfather, Bahlol Khan, who was known as a righteous leader. This led to the First Battle of Panipat. Babar's invading forces were also led by an Afghan, Langar Khan Niazi. The Niazi are a close cousin-clan of the Lodi, both of which belong to the "Bettani" branch of Pakhtuns.

The Marwat Pakhtuns are a sub-clan of the Lodi. A Niazi general was once tasked by the Delhi Sultanate to put down down a Baloch incursion into South-Western Punjab, which was laying waste to large tracts of land. When the Niazi found himself with insufficient men for the job, he reached out to his nearby cousin, Marwat Khan Lodi for assistance. Marwat Khan Lodi is said to have shown up with 100,000 men and crushed the Baloch rebellion. In honor of Marwat Khan's great achievement, his descendants began to use his name to distinguish themselves as a separate clan, thus creating the Marwat clan of Pathans. The area where this battle took place was named "Lakki Marwat" i.e. the place where 1 lakh Marwats assembled. Even today, many Marwat Lodis are found in Lakki Marwat district.

Pathans of Hoshiarpur[edit]

Along with the Niazi, Lodi, Bangash, Tareen and Burki, there were also the Orakzais (most commonly found in Orakzai Agency, which is named after them) and Alizais (who are branched out of the Wazir, after whom Waziristan is named) in these Hoshiarpur basees. The Niazi clan includes descendants of Khwaja Khan, Mehdi Khan and Suleh Khan. There were also Musakhel tribes in Hoshiarpur. Many peoples of Niazi tribe migrated to Pakistan at the time of Partition and are now settled in Multan, Lodhran, Khanewal. The famous Punjabi-language poet Munir Niazi (from the village Khanpur), a Brigadier-General Niaz Ahmad Khan Niazi and his close cousin, the former Chief of Naval Staff (Pakistan) Karamat Rahman Niazi also belong to the Hoshiarpur-based Niazi clan. General and Admiral Niazi belonged to the village Mochpur in Hoshiarpur District. Their nephew Tanvir Ahmad Khan (Niazi) was a well-respected Pakistani Foreign Secretary.

The famous landmark near Mochpur was Qilla [Fort] Sher Khan, a fort which was established when Afghan King Ahmed Shah Abdali came to Hoshiarpur to crush a Sikh uprising against his control over Punjab. Certain Niazi clans of Hoshiarpur trace their arrival in the area to this battle. After the battle, the Niazi men remained in the area and were given responsibility for managing the fort, which was named after one of the important warriors from this Afghan-Sikh battle.

Sher Shah Suri's (born Farid Khan Sur; Sur is a cousin-tribe of the Nyazai) family was also settled in the Hoshiarpur/Jalandhar area. Many historians consider Sher Shah to be one of the most competent administrator in the history of the Delhi Sultanate. After Sher Shah's untimely death, his son waged his unsuccessful campaign for the throne against Mughal Emperor Humayun from these Pathan-dominated districts, where he was given refuge. At the height of Mughal power, Emperor Akbar the Great sought to bring these districts under his control more firmly and went to war with these Pathans, but was unsuccessful. Ultimately, Akbar was forced to sue for peace to end hostilities and earn the Afghans favor once more.

Kasuri Pathans[edit]

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

When the Zamand section was broken up, the Khweshgi (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 landlord as well as in government services. Akbar Khan Amchozi is a graduate civil engineer and working as director engineer in Punjab province.

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 Shirani 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 descendents 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 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]

Language and Culture[edit]

Majority of the Pashtuns settled in the Punjab region do not speak Pashto as their first language any longer. 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. The Niazi clan has retained their tribal system and the Pashtun culture compared to other Pathans settled in Punjab. They are known to still follow many aspects of Pashtunwali, the honor-code of the Pakhtuns.

Famous Pathans of Punjab[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  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 Punjsb 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.