Khan Mir Aslam Khan Khattak

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Khan Mir Aslam Khan Khattak, Sameed Khattak
Published in Khyber.ORG on Saturday, February 28 2015 (

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Khan Mir Aslam Khan Khattak

Sameed Khattak

Publishing Date: Saturday, February 28 2015

Khan Mir Aslam Khan Khattak was a famous social worker and Civil Contractor and great human ideal, who struggled to survive at time of difficulties. What he has done for people of his area is unprecedented. Mir Aslam Khan was born in 1841 into the Khan Khel Khattak tribe of village shaidu, tehsil Nowshera, Distt Peshawar of the then British India. The village Shaidu is now a bustling town of about 75,000 people, in the Nowshera district of the Khyber Pakhtoonkhuwa, Pakistan. Khan Mir Aslam Khan Khattak was 7th in descent of Khushal Khan Khattak (1613-1689) who was a prominent Pashtun malik, poet, warrior, a charismatic personality and tribal chief of the Khattak tribe. He wrote a huge collection of Pashto poems during the Mughal Empire in the 17th century, and admonished Pashtuns to forsake their divisive tendencies and unite against the Mughal Army. Promoting Pashtun nationalism through poetry, Khushal Khan Khattak is the first Afghan mentor who presents his theories for the unity of the afghan, resistance against the foreign parts and the creation of a nation-state. In short Khushal Khan Khattak was chief of Khattak's kingdom.

Image: Taken about 1904-1909 at Kharagpur,Bangal Nagpur Railway Station. From L to R: Feroz Khan; brother of Mir Aslam Khan, Ghulam Habib Khan, Ghulam Siddiq Khan, Ghulam Osman Khan, Ghulam Faruque Khan and Khan Mir Aslam Khan

Image: Board of Governors, Anjuman Club Nagpur, India. In this photo, Hafiz Walayat Ullah father of first foreign secretary Ikram Ullah is shown. Khan Mir Aslam Khan is first from right.

Khan Mir Aslam Khan started his career as a Merchant after his father's death while he was still young. Later, he moved into the construction business. His construction career started with him being appointed as a Civil Contractor in North Western Railway, now renamed Pakistan Railways, where he helped in construction of tunnels on the Sukkur-Quetta route. After completing that project and keeping his hard work and honesty in view, he was asked by British Railway Authorities (BRA) to come to Central Province, India where he then did many projects of Indian Railways Authorities (Nagpur). He also constructed the General Post Office GPO (Nagpur) 1910-1912 which is now one of the heritage buildings of the Nagpur city. It is also one of the oldest and a fine examples of architecture and looks of buildings prevalent during the British Rule. In addition, he also did project of Khindsi Irrigation Tank at Ramtek. Work on the Ramtek tank scheme was started in 1906 and was completed in 1913. After Ramtek Water Tank project, he decided to construct similar water tanks in his native village to bring its barren lands under cultivation. A project was designed and British Government later allowed him to start this welfare project. However, due to opposition of a vew villagers who showed concern that the project may pose a danger in flood season, the Khan backed out from the project.

Mir Aslam Khan's social services are countless. He was the only contractor who didn't take advance money for any construction project and he used to construct water wells and a mosque near every construction project, especially where clean drinking water was a necessity of the local communities. He built plenty of water wells, Baoli's and mosques in his living area (Nagpur) and near his village (Shaidu). These wells became associated with the Khan's good name. Unfortunately today, many of these mosques, wells and baoli's are lost or filled in completely due to the large scale urbanization.

Mir Aslam Khan baoli and Speen Gumat are fine example of Architecture. Mir Aslam Khan Baoli is located near Akora Khattak. It was built between 1895-1905, when people used to travel and trade on a route which passes through Shaidu village and Akora Khattak, towards Kabul and Kaka Sahib Mazar. On this trade route, there was no source of clean drinking water for travelers. So Khan bought a land on the trade route for water well but later, he decided to construct a baoli instead. As there was no concept of baolis at that time, Khan Mir Aslam Khan sent an architect from Nagpur, British India. The architect easily designed the Baoli for him and construction began near his village, under the supervision of his elder son, Ghulam Nabi Khan. Mir Aslam Khan baoli is designed beautifully and is divided into two parts. On the left side, it has a deep water-well, which is about two to three stories deep, and on the other side, there are more than 50 stairs, which provide access to ground water of the baoli. Two interesting things can be noted in Mir Aslam Khan baoli; first, the stairs have a beautiful entrance and the lower second half of the stairs are covered by a shelter-like stone covering. This stone covering is constructed step wise; as the stairs continue to go down toward the ground water, the stone covering above it, also gets lower step-wise, toward the bottom of the step-well, which exhibits the marvelous architecture skills. In Mir Aslam Khan baoli, as one goes down the stairs, the temperature gets lower. It is observed that inside the baoli, the temperature is 3 to 4 degrees lower than the outside temperature. The aim of this social welfare project was to provide clean water and relief from daylight heat to travelers in hot summers. Another reason for making this a step-well instead of just a simple well was to allow cattle and horses to reach water and to maintain and manage well. The only raw materials used in its construction are different sized stones and cement of those days. When Khan Mir Aslam Khan Khattak's Sadaqa-e-Jariyah project was completed, he donated more than eighteen Kanals of land in his village Shaidu for maintenance work of this baoli, which is yet another of his generous contributions.

The income of this land was used to pay the maintenance expenses of Khan's Baoli, but now that land's money is used to pay expenses of the mosque he built in Mohallah Khan Khel.

Along with social services, the Khan worked for education sector also because he believed that education is the only way to change one's life and community living standards. Khan was on member of Board of Governors, Anjuman Club (Nagpur) and also member of All India Muhammadan Educational Conference in 1910. The All India Muhammadan Educational Conference was an organization promoting modern, liberal education for the Muslim community in India. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan founded it in 1886, the Muhammadan Educational Conference which held its meeting at various places to provide a forum for discussing problems that affected the Muslims at large. He was also devote of Hazrat Tajuddin baba of Nagpur. Khan was the only civil person who owned Morse Car in Nagpur after Cheif Commissioner's car, as mentioned by M. Hidayatullah in his book "my own boswell". Khan was a wealthy contractor but was living in a muddy house like an ordinary person. He lived a life of principles and did not accept any title from British Government, nor did he work under them but on this death, British India give him tribute and Honor of 3 minutes silence in 1922.

Mir Aslam was renowned to having belonged to a family of Khan's but lived in the hearts of the poor masses that saw him as their saviour. He was an intelligent and bold person from childhood. He was living in muddy houses and sleeping under the open sky like poor, ordinary people. There are number of books and articles written on his personality. Following are a few of them:

  1. History of Shaidu (Tareekh-e-Shaidu)
  2. A Man Living in Muddy House

Memories of him in his village are long. People still remember Mir Aslam Khan in good words after hundred of years due to his works. The Khattak family of the Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa would have been like any ordinary family living in Pakistan, if it had not been for an extraordinary man, Khan Mir Aslam Khan Khattak. He was a person with loving, caring and beautiful personality. He ruled over hearts of people because of his simple living, giving respect equally to rich, poor and also due to strong sense of fair play and Justice. Khan never brought his money to his step door on his visit to village. Mostly he brought medicines for poors of his area. People say his Hujra was like a free dispensary for people of his village.

In short, Khan Mir Aslam Khan Khattak was truly a great man in all respects, self-made, capable, religious , exceedingly loving and was always in truly Pashtoon tradition. All his prayers are answered because today his family has well-known name in power circle of Pakistan and are major contributor in economy of Pakistan. Each of his descendants has inherited some of his genius. No one in his Family or area quite matches up to Mir Aslam Khan Khattak. Khan Mir Alsam Khan Khattak left a legacy few men can ever hope to surpass.

Some of motivational lessons in life come from real life stories. That is the reason I came up with the idea to write about Khan Mir Aslam Khan Khattak's life.


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Khan Mir Aslam Khan Khattak, Sameed Khattak
Published in Khyber.ORG on Saturday, February 28 2015 (