Swat History

The Yusufzai State of Swat’ By Major. W. R. Hay (Part 3)

Local politics at length forced him to migrate, and he wandered about for many years from place to place, until about 1845, when he returned to Swat and settled down at the village of Saidu. Here he remained till his death in 1877. His reputation as a saint rapidly increased and he soon became the leading figure in the valley, being famous all along the frontier as the Akhund of Swat. It was under his lead that the tribes took the field against us during the Ambela campaign of 1863, but apart from this his attitude to the British Government was not generally one of hostility, and his chief anxiety appears to have been to maintain the independence of his beloved Swat. He never aspired to temporal power, but led a simple religious life at his mosque in Saidu, where he was visited by countless pilgrims.

At this time and until the recent rise to power of Miangul Gul Shahzada, there was no leading hereditary Khan or Chief in Swat or Buner or any of the adjacent Yusufzai territory to the east. There were numerous petty Khans who were always fighting each other and a ruinous sort of party system prevailed. Sometimes one party would be in power and sometimes the other, and the party out of power usually had to abandon its villages and seek refuge elsewhere until it had gained sufficient strength to oust its rivals. These parties were guided by no political principle but purely by self-interest or ancient hereditary attachments. The result of this system was that the whole country was normally in a state of anarchy and chaos.

The Akhund on his death left two sons, Abdul Hanan and Abdul Khaliq, who with their descendants received the appellation of Miangul. Abdul Hanan was ambitious of temporal power and played a prominent part in local party politics, but without achieving his object. Abdul Khaliq led the life of a religious recluse. Abdul Hanan died about 1887 and Abdul Khaliq in 1892. Abdul Hanan left two sons, Said Badshah and Mir Badshah, and Abdul Khaliq two sons, Gul Shahzada and Shirin. All were still minors when Abdul Khaliq died in 1892. They soon began intriguing against each other, and the parties in Swat ranged themselves behind rival Mianguls. Said Badshah was murdered by his brother and cousins in 1903 and Mir Badshah was shot dead by Gul Shahzada in 1907. The elder branch of the family thus became extinct, but the two brothers Gul Shahzada and Shirin continued to intrigue against each other till 1915, when the appearance of a rival in the field forced them to unite.

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).

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