Tribes and clans of the Pothohar Plateau

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Tilla Jogian, second highest peak in Pothohar

The Potohar plateau, sometimes pronounced Pothohar Plateau (Urdu: سطح مرتفع پوٹھوہار‎), is a large region of plateau situated in northern Punjab, Pakistan. It is bounded on the east by the Jhelum River, on the west by the Indus River, on the north by the Kala Chitta Range and the Margalla Hills, and on the south by the Salt Range.[1]

The region roughly covers the modern-day Punjab districts of Attock, Chakwal, Gujrat, Jhelum and Rawalpindi and the Islamabad Capital Territory.

Tribes of the region[edit]

The Pothohar region is home to a number of tribal groupings, many of whom occupy distinct tracts. The Jhelum District Gazetteer gave the following account of the tribal groupings at the beginning of the 20th century.

The population is generally clearly sub-divided into tribes (quoms or zaats), having a common name and generally supposed to be descended from a traditional common ancestor by agnatic descent, i.e through males only.... Almost every tribe is again sub-divided into clans (muhi), or smaller groups of agnates, distinctly recognized as descended from a somewhat remote ancestor and usually bearing a common name.[2]

More recent works by the British anthropologist Pnina Werbner have confirmed the continuing strength of tribal feelings among emigrant Pothoharis in the United Kingdom.[3] This region was and still is an important source of recruitment into the old colonial British Indian army, and its successor, the Pakistan Army.[4] Official recruitment policies have also encouraged the sense of tribal belonging among the Pothoharis.[5]

The present Chakwal District was created out of the merger Talagang Tehsil of Attock District and Chakwal Tehsil of Jhelum District in 1985. The Islamabad Capital Territory was carved out of Rawalpindi District in 1959.


The name originally signified ancestry from the Arab tribe of Quraish.[6][page needed][need quotation to verify]


The Dhanial occupy the Karor village of Murree Tehsil, as well as the adjoining areas of the Islamabad Capital Territory.


The origins of the Gujjars are uncertain.[7] The Gujjar form a tribal element in the Pothohar region.


The Janjua are a Rajput tribe found in every district of the Pothohar region, barring the hill tehsils of Murree, northern parts of Kahuta (where Dhund Abbasis & Satti tribes dwell) and Kotli Sattian.


The Khattar are a Jatt clan exclusively in the Potohar Plateu in the districts of Attock, Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Chakwal. They are mostly prominent in Wah where they reside and own the Mughal Garden Wah. They have been traditionally been regarded as a high, aristocratic clan and have held high positions such as generals, ministers and rulers. They have produced people such as Muhammad Hayat Khan, Sikandar Hayat Khan, Liaqat Hayat Khan and more. One of the generals, Zubair Hayat Khan is related to this family from Liaqat Hayat Khan side.


The Jethal are a Rajput clan who claim Bhatti Rajput descent. Their origin is traced to a Bhutta who 12 or 14 generations ago married the sister of a Ghori Sultan. The king, however, drove Bhutta with his 21 sons in the Kirana Bar. Bhutta eventually crossed the Jhelum River, and settled at Ratta Pind, now a mound near the town of Kandwal.


The Langrial is a tribe of both Jat and Rajput status.

The Langrial are found throughout Punjab, the tribe has different traditions to its origin, depending on the region it inhabits.

The Multan Langrial, claim descent from a Brahmin of Bikaner. According to another tradition, they are Quraishi Arab, who held sawy over Thatta in Sindh under one Ghiasudin, who from the lavishness of his public kitchen (langar in Sindhi and Seraiki) obtained the title Langrial.

Chhachh Pathans[edit]

The Attock Pathans are found in two parts of the tehsil, those of Sarwala, and those of Chhachh. The Chhachh Pathans have very little in common with the Sagri Khattaks, as they are separated by the Kala Chita mountains. The Chhachhies are also known as Chhachi (Pashtun). The Chhachh have both Hindko and Pushto speaking communities, and have much in common with the Pashtun tribes settled in the neighbouring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Chhachh have Pukhtun culture and some people are following Pashtunwali code of conduct strictly like in KPK. Mostly Pathans in Chhachh came with Ghaznavi.

The Chhachh ilaqa is almost entirely held by the Pathans, as is the Nala estates, along the Haro river valey. The Attock Pathans were the earliest group of Pothoharis to start emigrating to Europe and North America. There are now large communities of Chhachh Pathan settled in British cities, such as Bradford, Birmingham and Manchester.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Salt Range: A Hidden Treasure". Daily Times. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  2. ^ Gazetteer of the Jhelum District, 1904, Punjab district gazetteers, Part A, at p. 86.
  3. ^ The Migration Process: Capital, Gifts and Offerings among British Pakistanis (Berg, 1990 and 2002).
  4. ^ Mustapha Kamal Pasha, Colonial Political Economy: Recruitment and Underdevelopment in the Punjab, Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 198–200. ISBN 0 -19-577762-X
  5. ^ Stephen P. Cohen, The Pakistan Army (1998 edition; paperback), Oxford University Press (July 1, 1998). ISBN 0-19-577948-7
  6. ^ Sekh Rahim Mondal, Muslims of Siliguri, Institute of Objective Studies (New Delhi, India).
  7. ^ "Gurjara-Pratihara Dynastyrv". Britannica Concise. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  8. ^ Alison Shaw, Kinship and Continuity: Pakistani Families in Britain, Routledge. ISBN 90-5823-075-9.