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| Turi |

Ishrat Hussain

Turi are a Pashtun tribe on the Kohat border of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. The Turis inhabit the Kurram Valley, which adjoins the western end of the Miranzai Valley. They speak Pashto and ranking as Pashtun, they are by origin a Turki tribe, of the Shiah sect, who subjected the Bangash Afghans some time early in the eighteenth century. They are strong, hardy, and courageous, and are rated horsemen. Their early dealings with the British government were inclined to turbulence, and they were concerned in the Miranzai expeditions of 1851 and 1855. But the only expedition specially sent against them was the Kurram expedition of 1856. Since then they have settled down and engaged in trade. During the Second Afghan War they supplied Sir Frederick Roberts with guides and provisions. In 1892 they voluntarily accepted British administration. They now furnish a large part of the tribal militia in the Kurram Valley.


The kurram, like various other rivers of the frontier, finds mention in the "Rig Veda", and its valley must always have been one of the easiest and most used routes into India for the great migrations which took place between 4000 to 2000 BC; although no detailed information is available about this. The river is mentioned under the name of Krumu, as one of the tributaries, which joins the Indus on its right bank.

The Safed-koh range that forms the boundary of the present kurram Agency appears to be the same as the ancient svethpatha, and it is likely that the rich and healthy uplands of the kurram and khost areas would always have been a place of habitation and agriculture. As in other parts of the frontier too a number of Hindu names of mountain peaks and rivers exist to the present day, proving the undoubted occupation of the country by early Hindu Aryan immigrants. It seems likely that a greek settlement was established in the area by the successors of Alexander, for in the inscriptions found in the Sanchi stupas in mountain of gift by a Greek resident of the Sufed koh, or the sevethpatha. Three coins recently found in Bagzai village have been identified as belonging to the reign of king Sotermegas, or Kodphises; another coins of the horseman and ball type, found in the same place has been attributed to the Sahia dynasty that ruled over the entire territory between the Indus and Afghanistan in the 10th century AD.

The first definite landmark in the history of the kurram was the fact that 1148 A.D, Behram Shah of Ghazni fled there after being defeated in battle, and gathered forces with which he subsequently returned and recovered ghazni, in 1163 the Sultan of Ghor placed his brother Mohammad in-charge of the area, and in 1176-77 he conferred the two villages Shilozan and Karman on one of his dependents, Taj- ud-Din Yaldaz, and used to halt her every year on his way to India. After his assassination his body was taken back to Ghazni through the Kurram, of which Karman remained the capital until 1206 From thjis date until 1239 was a period of confused fighting when a succession of rulers held sway. The interruption of the Mangols in 1239 submerged the Kurram, and it disappears from history until humayun , who then ruled at Kabul occupation it before his re-conquest of India. This was immediately after its occupation by the Bangash tribe, who trace their descent from the Quresh tribe of Arabia, and who appear to have descended on the kurram valley after wandering for nearly two centuries though the southern Punjab and back through Waziristan to Khost. At the time of Akbar, the kurram was a part of the area held by this tribe and was divided into two districts of Upper Bangash, or the Kurram valley proper and Lower Bangash, the present kohat district. The Afghans of this tract, called Karlanria Afghan, were known as Roshanis after the of their religion leader, and they led Afghan opposition to Moghul rule,with the kurram as a secure base. They were suppressed under Jehangir, but the Moghuls appear to have exercised very little real control at this remote periphery of their empire, and the area was nominally governed, independently of Kabul, by Bangash tribal leaders from Kohat. On the breakup of the Moghul Empire, the kurram became part of the kingdom of Afghanistan; but in the meanwhile the Turis had overcome the Bangash tribes. This followed the great dispersal from central Afghanistan where most of the tribes led by the Yusafzais, who now inhabit the north-west frontier of India poured over the mountains into their present homes.

The origin of the Turis is obscure; it appears that after a period of migration, up and down the kurram in the manner of Powindahs, they had settled at Nilab on the banks of the Indus, whence they gradually forced their way, perhaps on account of droughts and the pressure of increasing population as permanent settlers up to the kurram valley. One theory says that they are of Turkish origin; Mohammad Hayat Khan says that they are Karlanria Afghan; Lumsden says they are descended from Mughols while Edwards and other hold that they are a Hindki race.

The Turis themselves say that they came originally from Persia, and that driven from there they wandered in nomadic fashion till they came to Arabia and the adjacent country at the top of the valley. There they established a summer headquarters, and in the winter took their flocks and herds down country as far as the Indus. Returning each year to the parent colony. All authorities are agreed that the Turis are not pure Afghans although in language, customs and habits (except their religion) they are Pathans. No true Afghan , however, is a Shiah, and the Shiahs of Afghanistan all belong to non-Afghan races such as the Hazarahs, Kizilbash, and Tajik etc.

Throughout the seventeenth century the Bangashes remained in possession of the Kurram, While the Turis from the country above pursued their nomad wanderings up and down the valley. Meanwhile the Turis appear to have increased in strength and numbers, while the Bangashes were weakened not only by internal fends but by the drain on their recourses caused by the colonization of Miranzai and by the struggles with the Orakzai for the possession of that valley. Finally, according to story, about the beginning of the eighteenth century matters reached a crises over an insult offered to a Turi women. The Turi threw off the disguise of nomad vassals, and attacked and conquered Barki which stands on the higher ground above Khalachi. Then they proceeded to consolidate themselves for a time, after which they captured Paiwar. They then held command of the two passes from Afghanistan. The chief obstacle to further progress lay in the villages of Shilozan and Zeran, by far the largest in the valley. With these some arrangement was made, and passing by Shilzan, the Turis took Milana. Paiwar was divided among the Chardai section and Milana among the Saragalla. Once the Turi were in possession of these upper villages, the tide of conquest flowed on uninterruptedly. The Bangashes of shilozan and Zeran were not long in perceiving the turn of affairs, and on their embracing the Shia tenets were admitted into full brotherhood and equal rights with Turis. The remaining Bangashes pressed from above and probably summoned from below to joint in the struggle with the Orakzai, appear to have made little resistance, and the Turis soon found themselves in possession of the whole valley with the Bangashes as their dependents or clients.

It is to be remembered, however, that the tribe at that time still retained its nomadic habits, and was devoid of any fixed residence except for the settlements under the Safed-koh, Which they had previously wrested from the Bangshes and used mainly as summer headquarters. Their presence in the summer in the Parachinar plateau and their alliance with the Bangshes of Shilozan and Zeran enabled them to retain an effective hold over the plateau. To the east they weer threatened by the Chamkanis, but a series of campaigns against the encroaching section of about Bughaki, the Jalandharis, and the Shargha Khels, who had crossed the hills into the Kurram watershed and settled at Jallandhar and Shakardara, embracing the Shiah religion settling down as allies of the Turis. In the lower Kurram the case was otherwise and the Turis confined their annexation to only that portion of the country, which lay on their line of march to their winter grazing grounds.

This route lay on the western side of Charmoghar, and conscquently left untouched the country on the riverbank from arawali up to the mouth of the parachinar plateau. At this point the valley is wide and the country comparatively flat and open, and pressure from above resulted in the tide of occupation, flowing down to within a few miles of Sadda. Here the hills close in, and the configuration of the country is reversed, as the broadening of the valley is in the direction of the Tirah hills.