Pathan: Tribes of Bannu

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This article is an extract from



Being a reprint of the chapter on
The Races, Castes and Tribes of
the People in the Report on the
Census of the Panjab published
in 1883 by the late Sir Denzil
Ibbetson, KCSI

Lahore :

Printed by the Superintendent, Government Printing, Punjab,

Indpaedia is an archive. It neither agrees nor disagrees
with the contents of this article.

Tribes of Bannu

On the southern border of the Bannu district, marehing with Derah Ismail; we find the Marwat and the Niazi; the northernmost of the Indian descendants of Baitan, while further north he the Wazari and Bannuchi of the great Karlanri section of Pathans. The migration of the Niazi from Tank across the Salt-range, and how the Marwat followed them and drove them across the Kurrain, have already been described in section 399. Their ancestor Niazai had three sons, Bahai, Jamal, and Khaku. The descendants of the first are no longer distinguish able ; while the Isa Khel among the Jamjil, and the Mushani and Sarhang clans among the Khaku, have overshadowed the other clans and given their names to the most important existing divisions of the tribe. The Isa Khel settled in the south and the Mushani in the north of the country between the Kohat Salt-range and the Indus, while the Sarhang crossed the river ,3 and after a struggle lasting nearly a century and a half with their quondam alhes the Gakkhars and their Jat and Aw^un subjects, finally drove the Gakkhars, whose stronghold on the Indus was destroyed by Ahmad Shah in 1 748, eastwards across the Salt-range, and established themselves in Mi an wall.

Towards the close of the 13th century^ the Mangal, a tribe of the Kodai Karlanri, and the Hanni, an affiliated tribe of Saiyad origin, left their Karlanri home in Birmil, crossed the Sulemans into the Bannu dis trict, and settled in the valleys of the Kurram and Gambila rivers. About a century later the Bannuchi, the descendants of Shitak, a Kakai Karlanri by his wife Mussammat Bannu, who with their Daur kinsmen then held the hills lying east of the Khost range in the angle between the Kohat and Bannu districts, with their head-quarters at Shawal, were driven from their homes by the Waziri, and, sweeping dowai the Kurram valley, drove the Mangal and Hanni back again into the mountains of Kohat and Kurram where they still dwell, and occupied the country between the Kurram and Tochi rivers which they now hold in the north-western corner of the district.

  • The figures for Biloch include 351 Andar in this district, who returned themselves as

Biloch Andar.

- The Kalul-i- Afghdni says that they held Lakkl and were driven out across the river by the Khatak. Tuis seems improliable.

^ The Kalid-i-Afghani fixes this dale at The middle of the 121 h century, and that of the Bannuchi invasion at about 1,300 A.D,

At the same time the Daur; a tribe of evil repute in every sense of the word, occupied the banks of the Tochi beyond om- border, which they still hold. Some 400 years ago the Bangi Khel Khatak, whose history will be sketched in sections 406-7, occupied the trans-Indus portion of the district above Kalabagh and the spur which the Salt-range throws out at that point. This they have since held without disturbance.

When the Darvesh Khel Waziri (see above), moving from their ancestral homes in Birmil, drove the Bannuchi out of the Shawal hills, they occupied the country thus vacated, and for 350 years confined them selves to the hills beyontl our border. But during the latter half of last century they began to encroach upon the plain country of the Marwat on the right bank of the Tochi, and of the Bannuchi on the left bank of the Kurram. At first their visits were confined to the cold season ; but early in the present century, in the period of anarehy which accompanied the establishment of the Sikh rule in Bannu, they finally made good their footing in the lands which they had thus acquired and still hold.

The latest comers are the Bitanni (see section 401), who have within the last 60 years occupied a small tract on the north-eastern border of the Marwat at the foot of the hills. Thus Pathans hold all trans-Indus Bannu, and as much of the cis-Indus portion of the district as hes north of a line joining the junction of the Kurram and Indus with Sakesar, the peak at which the Salt-range enters the district and turns northwards. The trans Indus Pathans, with the partial exception of the Niazi, speak Pashto of the soft and western dialect ; the Niazi speak Hindko, especially east of the Indus.

I now proceed to a detailed description of the different tribes, beginning from the south : —

The Marwat hold almost the whole of the Lakki tahsil, that is to say the south-eastern half and the whole central portion of the country between the trans-Indus Salt-range and the Waziri hills. Within the last fifty years they have begun to retrace their footsteps and have pas-ed southwards over the Salt-range into Derah Ismail, where they occupy small tracts wrested from the Kundi in the northern corner of Tank and along the foot of the hills and from the Balucli in the Paniala country. Their most important clans are the Musa Khel, Acha Khel, Khuda Khel, Bahram, and Tapi. With them are associated a few of the Niazi who remained behind when the main body of the tribe was expelled. The Marwat are as fine and law-abiding a body of men as are (o be found on our border. They are a simple, manly, and slow-witted people, strongly attached to their homes, good cultivators, and of pleasing appearance. Their women are not secluded. Their history has been sketched in section 399. Their hereditary enemies the Khatak say of them : Keep a Marwat to look after asses; •' his stomach well filled and his feet well worn.

The Bannuchi hold the central portion of the Banuu tahsil, between the Kurram and Tochi rivers. Their history is narrated in section 403. They are at present perhaps more hybrid than any other Pathan tribe. They have attracted to themselves Saiyads and other doctors of Islam in great numbers, and have not hesitated to intermarry with these, with the scattered representatives of the former inhabitants of their tract who remained with them as hamsdyah, and with the famihes of the various adventurers who have at different times settled amongst them ; insomuch that Bannuchi in its broadest sense now means all Mahomedaus, and by a stretch, even Hindus long domiciled within the limits of the irrigated tract originally occupied by the tribe.The descendants of Shitak, however, still preserve the memory of their separate origin and distinguish themselves as Bannuchi proper. They are of inferioi physique, envious, secretive, cowardly, lying, great bigots, inoffensive, and capital cultivators. Sir Herbert Edwardes says of them : 'The Banmichis are bad specimens of Afghans ; can worse be said of any race ? They have all the vices of Pathans rankly luxuriant, their virtues stunted.Their Isakhi clan, however, is famed for the beauty of its women. Who marries not an Isakhi woman deserves an ass for a bride.

The Niazi hold all the southern portion of Isa Khel and the country between Mianwali and the hills ; in other words so much of the Bannu district as is contained between the Salt range on either side the Indus, and the Kurram and a line drawn from its mouth due east across the Indus. Their history and distribution Lave been rclaled in sections 399 and 403. They are indifferent cultivators, and still retain much of tbe Pathan pride of race. The cis-Indus branch is the more orderly and skilful in agriculture. The Isa Khel is tbe predominant and most warlike section ; but they all make good salhers. A section of them is still independent and engaged in pawindah traffic, spending the summer about Kandahar and wintering in Derab Ismail. They are strict Sunuis. They seem to be a quarrelsome people, for the proverb says — The Niazi like rows.

Minor tribes are the Mughal Khel clan of Yusufzai who conquered a small tract round Ghoriwal some seven centuries ago, and still show their origin in speech and physiognomy. The Kbatak will bo described when I discuss the Koliat tribes.

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