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The Swati (also Swatey in Pashto) is a Pashtun tribe. The majority of the Swati tribe reside in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, and are the predominant population in the districts of Mansehra, Batagram and to some extent in Kohistan as well. They speak the northern variant of "Pukhtu" with the hard "kh" replacing the softer "sh" of southern Pashtun tribes. The Swatis are usually characterized by their Pashto language, adherence to Pashtunwali, some times they call it "Swatiwali" also, (a pre-Islamic indigenous religious code of honor and culture). All of the Swatis are Sunni Muslim. They are also settled in other places such as Upper Dir and Sama Swat, etc., other notable Pashtun tribes which live around them in the adjoining Districts of Abbotabad, Haripur and Shangla, are Jadoons, Tareens, Mashwanis and Yousafzais.



The original inhabitants of Swat were non-Pathan Dilazak tribes from south-east Afghanistan,[1] who were then displaced by Swatis,[1] who were in turn driven across the Indus into the upper banks of the Hindus (the territory of Hazara) by the Yousafzai tribe in the XVth or XVIth century.[2][3] Both the Swatis and the Yusuzfais came from the Kabul valley.[1] They have settled in Hazara/Mansehra ever since.

According to some authorities, when the king of Kabul, Mirza Ulugh Beg assassinated six hundred Yousafzai tribal chiefs, the remaining tribesmen along with their families had been compelled to leave their homeland, they took refuge in Swat and Bajour, which were under the Kingdom of Swati/Jahangiri sultans, Yousafzais had received warm welcome from their Pashtun brothers, but due to conspiracies of Mughals, the tribes fought an intense guerilla war against each other for more than two decades, culminating in the withdrawal of the Swatis from their lands, and had to migrate to east into the land of Hazara Division, where Swatis predominated with their sir name swati, reflecting their link to the region. King Babur himself took part in conquering their strongholds (the fort of Gabar in Bajour), match locks had also been introduced for the first time against the Jahangiri king of Bajour, Mir Haider Ali. Last of the Swati sultan of Swat was Mir Uwais Jahangiri. According to Yousafzai authorities, their tribal chief's sister had been married to Sultan Uwais Jahangiri, who had been killed by the Sultan later, which provoked Yousafzais to start battle against Swatis. Swati is branch of hassan zai[citation needed]

According to some authorities, In the times of Mohammad Ghori they came to conquered Swat from the areas of Afghanistan namely Gabar Mountain, Markhanai, Khazani, Sher Khan Khel as the front line soldiers and Chiefs of the Army and showed great bravery. Swati is consist of different Afghan tribes but as they lived together for the period of time so became famous as one Pashtun tribe.

Swatis have ruled Jalalabad, Swat, Malakand, Dir and other regions up to Jehlum for more than 300 years.[citation needed] They also ruled Kashmir from 1339 to 1561.[citation needed] First ever Muslim ruler of Kashmir was Shah Mir Baba a Swati, by whom Islam became the major religion of Kashmir. They took Pakhli (Hazara Division) from the Turks in 1703 under the pious leadership of Syed Jalal Baba. Turks ruled Hazara for more than two and half centuries and their rule came to an end when Syed Jala Baba invited Swatis to attack Pakhli.[citation needed]. He was the son-in-law of the last Turk ruler of Hazara. The last Turk ruler of Pakhli Sarkar (the name of Sarkar(Government) of Turks in Hazara) was sultan Mehmud Khurd.[citation needed].

Sa'adat Khan Swati was the first ruler of Pakhli (1762-1780), during the reign of Durranis, a notable man, his verdicts had been accepted regarding any issues even of Jadoons and Tanolis.[citation needed]. One of his ruler sons, Najeebullah Khan Swati, was martyred in the War of Mangal against the Sikhs.

The Swati were part of the 1897 revolt against the British 'Forward Policy' on Pakistan.[4]

Batagram was a tribal area until 1958, when the people of that district themselves wished to be a part of Pakistan. It was in 1956, when a Jirga took place in the valley of Tikri and decided to join Pakistan.

Majority of them belong to Ali Khel, Suleman Khel and Aka khel of Khiljis and Bhattni tribes. Some of the famous khels and subsections of the Swatis are Jahangiri,Haleem khel, Malkal, Deeshan, Pir khel, Younus khel, Shan khel, Khawaja khel, Sher khan khel, Arghushal, Masha Khel,Mahabat Khel, Musa Khel, Gabarzai or Gabri, Markhani khel or Burkhani and Ghoris. Their spoken language is Pashto. Three another great Pashtun tribes of Hazara division are Jadoons Tareens and Mashwanis but the big tribe is swati.

Theories of Origin

About the origin of the Swatis the historians hold different views but almost half of the Swatis relate their lineage to Qais Abdur Rashid the remote ancestor of the Pashtuns. During the rule of Mohammad of Ghor they came to Swat, from Afghanistan, where they defeated the Hindus and established their rule. Sir Denzil Ibbetson is of the opinion that the original Swatis were a race of Indian origin who once ruled the whole country into the hills of Swat and Buner.

The late Pashto poet and philosopher Abdul Ghani Khan shares that opinion. He considers the Pashtuns a mixture of various races that came through their territories from Central Asia. Suddum (mardan), Khyber (Peshawar) and Elum (Swat) have place names resembling those of the Bani Isra'il, and Mir Afzal Khan Jadoon asserted that the features and habits of the Pashtuns resemble those of the Jews. Apart from the clans of Karlanr and Mati, Swati, and Jadoons have similar dwellings and clothes resembling those of Jews of the past.

The name Swat cannot be found in ancient history. Early peoples called the area by various other names. For example, some 3,000 years ago, it was called Udhyana (Garden). In the writings of Chinese travelers, the name Soto is mentioned (the name which comes closest to Swat), while in Greek accounts the name Asoconoi is given. Mahmud of Ghazni called it Qerat.

Others believe the name is of Arabic origin. Some authorities say the word Swat is derived from Aswad ("black") because the hills and mountains of the area are covered with thick forests, which appear black.

Still another account relates that when Mahmood of Ghazni conquered the land, he wanted to settle some of his people to keep control of it, so he settled two tribes, the Swati and Dalazak, in the territory. As the Swati tribe was larger, the area took its name from that tribe.

According to some authors, the Swatis are descended from Bitan of Ghilzai, one of the sons of Pashtun, a mythical and whimsical ancestor of the Pashtun people. Another account claims they originated in the Ranizai section of the Yousafzai.

Bedoulph a very known historian is of the view that the Swati tribe settled in Mansehra are of the same origin as the Dardic tribes of Kohistan. They were spread over into Swat when the Yousafzai Pakhtun tribes came into Swat region and forced them into the Hazara division where they settled down.

Other historians say Swatis were brave Assakenois and a related section Aspasios as Yousafzais, who had fought great wars against Alexander the Great in 326-27 BC.[citation needed]


British view

Sir Ian Scott said that these tribes respected authority and preferred to have chieftains, which is not a Pashtun characteristic.[5] It also described the permanent small petty fights between these chieftains, which were only suspended during the times of sow and of harvest.[5]

The 1892 Census Report for the Punjab made by the British colonial government said that the Swati were a tribe allied to the Pathan, not usually acknowledged as Pathan, but long associated to them in manners, customs and character.[6]

Some British reports did acknowledge the Swati as Pashtun, like the Indian Borderland, 1880-1900 report from geographer T. Hungerford Holdich.[7]

Major R.T.I Ridgway 40th Pathans Late Recruiting staff Officer for Pathans reports in Book "PATHANS" that " It is more probable that Swatis are descended partly from the ancient Indian Tribe, the Gandhari, one of the divisions of the Pactyan nation (*), who were settled in Swat and Bunner, and were later driven out of them by the Yousafzais into Hazara, and partly from the heterogeneous number of tribes who migrated from Swat at the beginning of the 17th century under the leadership of Sayad Jalal Baba, and outsted the tribes of Turk and Hazara extraction who had settled there after the invasions of Sabuktagin and Tamerlane. A part of their number possibly included the Shilmanis, another tribe of Indian extraction, who came from the Takht-i Suleman direction, and were driven from the Peshawar valley into the northern hills by the Yusfzais. The tribe is thus of very mixed genealogy. page(242).

  • Pactyan nation, page B of the book Pathans

In the year B.C 327 Alexander the Great invaded India and we learn from the historian Herodouts that the Buddhist Pactyan nation consisting of the Aparytae, the Satragyddae, the Dadicae and the Gandhari, of whom the Pathans proper are the modern representatives, was then in existence.

Page 4 Thus by the end of the twelfth century the original Pactyan nation, the true Pathans were converted to Islam.


Swati is among few of the largest land-owning tribes of Pashtuns in the North-West Frontier Province. The population is widely spread from Mansehra, Agror, Konsh/Battal, Balakot, Shinkiari, Baffa, Peshora,Chappargram, Kaghan, Thakot,sub-district Pakhal khaki and Batagram further, all the way to eastern slopes of the Black Mountain of Hazara and the mountains of Allai. Politically and economically, they have very strong hold in the region. Approximately three-quarters of the tribe speaks Pashto and rest speak Hindko.

Sub-Tribes and Khels

Some khels and subsections of the Swatis are Mandravi, Dodal, Malkal, or Malkaals, Raja khel,Haleem khel, Jahangiri, Naror, Ashror, Allaiwals, Aznali, Deshiwal, Zarif Khel, Tikriwals, Akhun Khel, Khan khel Beror, Jadoor, Ghani Khel, Kuchelai, Kumar, Mada Khel, Moosa Khel, Samkori, Sana Khel, Sumla Khel, Mahabat Khel, Warozai, Khazani, Sherkhani, Sabdini, Khabardini, Barkhani, Ashror, Anaat khel ,Darochis,Surkhaili,Khadar khani, Shams khel ,Raza khani, mula khel, younas khel

See also


  1. ^ a b c Fredrik Barth (1981). Routledge. ed. Features of Person and Society in Swat: Collected Essays on Pathans (illustrated ed.). pp. 19–20. ISBN 0710006209. 
  2. ^ Victoria Schofield (2003). Tauris Parke Paperbacks. ed. Afghan Frontier: Feuding and Fighting in Central Asia (illustrated ed.). ISBN 1860648959. 
  3. ^ Jasleen Dhamija, Crafts Council of India (2004). Abhinav Publications. ed. Asian Embroidery (illustrated ed.). p. 102. ISBN 8170174503. 
  4. ^ G. S. Chhabra (2004). Lotus Press. ed. Advanced study in the history of modern India (3 ed.). p. 487. ISBN 818909307X. 
  5. ^ a b Ian Scott, Denis Judd (1999). The Radcliffe Press. ed. A British Tale of Indian and Foreign Service: The Memoirs of Sir Ian Scott (illustrated ed.). pp. 67–68. ISBN 1860643809. 
  6. ^ *Rose, Horace Arthur (1911), A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province: Based on the Census Report for the Punjab, 1883, by the late Sir Denzil Ibbetson, K.C.S.I., and the Census Report for the Punjab, 1892, by Sir Edward Maclagan, K.C.I.F, C.S.I., 3 (L-Z), Lahore: Government Printing House, p. 216,  (fasc. 1990 New Delhi: Asian Educational Services)
  7. ^ T. Hungerford Holdich (1996). Asian Educational Services. ed. Indian Borderland, 1880-1900: 1880-1900 (illustrated ed.). p. 227. ISBN 8120611853. "(...) it was inevitable that the military instincts of the Kabul Court should be directed towards those outlying tribes who never yet have been subdued from either side. (...) Such are the kafirs of Kafiristan and their Pathan neighbours, Mahmunds or Mohmands, Bajaoris, Swatis, Afridis, and Waziris." 
  • Pashtun apni nasal ke ainey mein by Syed Bahadur Shah Zafer Kaka Khel.
  • History of Hazara, by Sher Bahadur Khan Panni
  • Shahadat Gah-e-Balakot, by Piyam Shahjahanpuri.
  • Pashtun Tribes of the North West Frontier of India, a dictionary prepared by the General Staff Army Headquarters (Calcutta 1910)
  • Across the border or Pashtun and Biloch, by Edward E Oliver, M. (1890)
  • Twarikhe Hafiz Rehmat Khani
  • Tazkara by Khan Roshan Khan.
  • The memoirs of Kind Babur (Tuzk-e-Babri).
  • Hazara Gazetteer by D.H.Watson. 1883-84 and 1907.
  • Baharista-e-Shahi by an unknown Persian author (A.D 1614)
  • Maghza-e-Afghani by Niamatullah Hirvi (A.D. 1612)
  • An article by Abdul Qayum Balala.
  • On Alexander's track to the Indus by Sir Aurel Stein, first pablished 1929.
  • Panjab Castes by Sir Denzel Ibbeston.

External links


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