Editor ChoiceSwat History

‘The Yusufzai State of Swat’ By Major. W. R. Hay (Part 2)

The Yusufzai organization-like that of most other Pathan tribes is based on the theory that all members of the tribe have equal rights while those who are not members have none. Generally speaking, only a member of the tribe can own land, and any person who ceases to own land loses his tribal rights. Further, in the case of the Yusufzai, most, if not all, of the cultivable land belonging to the tribe was originally liable to redistribution per capita at fixed periods of years. This practice has mostly fallen into desuetude but is still in force in some parts across the border. The Yusufzai however differ from most other Pathan tribes on the border in the special position held by their Khans. These are presumably descendants of the men who led the tribe when it first conquered its present territory and received special recognition in consequence. They hold a special allotment of land over and above their ordinary tribal share; it is not liable to periodical redistribution, and on the death of a Khan is normally not split up amongst his heirs but passes undivided to his successor as Khan. The most important of these Khans for several generations has been that of Dir.

Possessing a large individual estate and exercising a certain amount of control over the whole of the Malizai in the Panjkora valley, the Khan of Dir has often extended his authority over neighbouring tracts and in particular over the country occupied by other Akozai sections on the right bank of the Swat river. Since the British Government entered into an agreement with the ruling Khan, Muhammad Sharif Khan, in 1895, in connection with the operations which were undertaken for the relief of Chitral, the position of the Khan of Dir has been greatly strengthened and he is now recognized as a hereditary Nawab and the head of a State much of which he rules with more or less autocratic powers. I am not dealing with Dir State in this paper, but it is necessary to refer to it briefly, because it was the effort of the right bank Swat tribes to throw off the yoke of the Nawab of Dir which gave to Miangul Gul Shahzada the opportunity of establishing his own position and founding a State more extensive and far more absolute than that of Dir.

Before proceeding further I will explain the origins of this remarkable man. Sometime towards the end of the eighteenth century an ordinary Safi tribesman left his own country on the farther side of Bajaur and settled at a hamlet called Jabrai in Upper Swat. About 1794 a son was born to him called Abdul Ghafur, who as a boy tended flocks and cattle, and when he began to grow up migrated, as many of the Swatis do, to the Peshawar District as a talib-ul-ilm, or seeker after religious knowledge. He studied at the feet of various Mullahs and eventually settled down as a hermit in a small village near the Indus, where he stayed for twelve years and acquired a great reputation for sanctity.

The article was published in the Geographical Journal, Volume 84, Number 3 in September of 1934 by the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).

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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