Swat History

“WESH” AND “JIRGA” SYSTEM IN SWAT IN 1906

When these countries came into possession of the tribe who now occupy them (Yusufzai tribe) ,they were again sub-divided according to ancient custom between the subdivisions of each tribe, and again between the sub-sections of each sub-division. To each individual member of a sub-section was allotted equal shares of the land (daftar) which fell to the portion of that sub-section. Such shareholder is a “daftari,” and, as long as he retains a share, is entitled to the name ” Pathan” and has a voice in the village of tribal councils (jirga). The lower classes such as cultivating tenents , “Kasht Kars”, armed retainers “mallatars” and craftsmen are known as “ Fakirs”  and have no voice in the jirga. The management of all matters relating to a village rests with the village council “jirga.” Each village was represented in the jirga of its ” Khel,” each Khel in that of its sub-division, and each sub-division in the jirga of the whole tribe. The system still holds good (referring to 1906 when this report was written) except that it has been modified by one of party government which has since come into existence. In each village there are two or more political parties (dalla), each represented by its own jirga. The party who by numbers or influence are the stronger are in power, “bande dalla,”  and their jirga, for the time being, rule all matters concerning the village, administer justice and control the village revenues. The party in opposition “lande dalla”  have to bow to the will of the party in office until such time as they are able to challenge the government. A few days contest, generally accompanied by fighting, settles the matter one way or other, and the winners settle themselves in office. The same party system prevails throughout the whole tribe and according to the results of the village parliamentary contests varies the power of the party jirga in the higher tribal councils. All these matters are regulated by an unwritten but widely recognized code of constitutional law. The above system of party government is common to the whole country under report and has become but slightly modified in portions of the country by the growth of an aristocracy.

The system of land tenure obtaining throughout Dir, Swat, Bajaur and the Utman Khel country is one and the same and has undergone but little change since the time when the present owners of the country first came to it.

On the occupation of the country by the Pathans, all lands were divided between the sub-sections of each tribe. The portion “daftar”  of each main subdivision was called a “tappa.” Each “tappa” was sub-divided between the various sub-sections (khels) of each tribal sub-division, and the “daftar”  of each khel was then again sub-divided into shares (called brakha) among the individual members of the khel. Any person possessing a share, however small, in a “daftar” is called a “daftari.”  In order to make the shares of each “daftar” equal in value the lands of a khel were classed according to the nature of the soil or facilities for irrigation into plots, or “wands.” Certain lands called “seri” were set aside as grants and were sometimes given to a powerful Khan, sometimes for the use of the village or tribal jirga, but more frequently to the priestly classes as glebe land and are as a rule lands on the border between two communities, disputed lands, and lands which for some reason or other would be difficult to hold except by those whose strength or religious status enabled them to form useful buffers for the rest of the community.

The already complicated system of the division of land is rendered still more so by a system of periodical redistribution of all tribal lands with the object of further equalizing the shares of land. This system of redistribution is called “Khasanre”  or  “Vesh” and is universal throughout the whole country under report, except in Sam Ranizai where it has fallen into disuse. It takes place periodically at intervals of 5, 10, 15, and so years according to local custom. It extends not only to the lands of individuals but to those of whole sub-sections and sub-divisions. With the lands go villages, houses and all other buildings. “Seri” lands only are not subject to redistribution. This system is a fertile source of quarrel and strife and is a most pernicious form of land tenure, the evil results of which are everywhere patent. It is worth no man’s while to enrich the land or plant a tree or to build anything but a hovel of stones and mud to live in. No tenants have any occupancy rights in land under this Pathan system of land tenure.

There are no obligations of revenue payment attaching to the ownership of land, beyond that of paying one-tenth of the produce, “ushar,” which is laid down by Muhammadan Law. The payment of “usher” is not universal. The Uthman Khel and most of the Upper and Lower Swat tribes on the left bank of the Swat river, and the Sam Ranizai do not pay “Ushar” to anyone. The tribes of Dir and the Swat tribes on the right bank of the river pay “Ushar” to the Khan of Dir to the local Khan to whom the Dir ruler may have assigned any particular tract of country. In Bajaur  “usher” is taken by the Khan of Nawagai or minor Khans from such portions of each tribe as the Khans may from time to time have under their control. The “Fakir” classes pay rent in kind to the landowner. Village artisans and armed retainers “mallatar” and others hold land as tenants free of rent in return for services.

Source of Information:

Military Report on Dir , Swat and Bajour (First Edition), Intelligence Branch , Division of the Chief of Staff, India, Shimla (1906), Pages 47-49.

TO BE CONTINUED…

The Chief Editor of the website (www.swatencyclopedia.com) is Jalal Uddin. He hails from Saidu Sharif, Swat. He is M.phil Scholar and his research field is Swat State. He regularly writes on Swat State and its various aspects.
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The Chief Editor of the website (www.swatencyclopedia.com) is Jalal Uddin. He hails from Saidu Sharif, Swat. He is M.phil Scholar and his research field is Swat State. He regularly writes on Swat State and its various aspects.
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