Yusufzai State of Swat

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Yusufzai State of Swat, Major. W. R. Hay
Published in Khyber.ORG on Sunday, October 23 2005 (http://www.khyber.org)

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Yusufzai State of Swat

Major. W. R. Hay

Geographical Journal, Vol 84, No 3, September 1934

Publishing Date: Sunday, October 23 2005

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). For more information, visit http://www.rgs.org.

The object of this paper is to describe the creation and progress of an autocratically ruled State which since 1917 has come into being in the Tribal Territory on the North-West Frontier of British India-the Yusufzai State of Swat, as it is styled by its founder.

The Pathans, who reside in the tribal territory on our border, are essentially a democratic race, and though from time to time a Khan or Mullah has arisen amongst them who has acquired such influence that he has come to be regarded locally more or less as a King, it is doubtful whether an individual has ever before succeeded in establishing over any part of their country such absolute power as that now enjoyed by the present Ruler of Swat, Miangul Gul Shahzada Sir Abdul Wadood, K.B.E. Though his State occupies only a very small portion of the world's surface, its creation is such a unique achievement that a brief description of it may not be considered out of place in the Society's Journal.

The Darel Valley; Swat Kohistan

Swat Valley at Baranial; Mankial Tsukai in the Extreme Distance

Bridge over Swat River at Paiti

The Swat State

Position of States on the North West Frontier of India

Miangul Gul Shahzada Sir Abdul Wadood, Ruler of Swat

Fort at Baranial

The Swat valley is rich in historical and archaeological associations. It was the scene of one of Alexander the Greats' campaigns and the home of an extensive Buddhist civilization. Almost every spur is crowned with the solid remains of ancient dwellings, while here and there in the side-valleys one suddenly encounters the majestic pile of some old Stupa gradually crumbling away and covered with grass and bushes. This aspect of the country has however been ably and meticulously described by Sir Aurel Stein in his paper which was published in the Society's Journal for November and December 1927, and in his book 'On Alexander's Track to the Indus,' and I shall not therefore deal further with it in the present paper.

During the last few years, by the kindness of the Ruler, I have visited many parts of Swat State by car or on foot, while through the courtesy of the Royal Air Force any parts of the State which I have not visited on the ground I have been able to see from the air. I have also had many long talks with the Ruler and those about him and have learnt direct from them all the recent history of the State and the details of its administration.

The Yusufzai are one of the largest of the Pathan tribes on the North - West Frontier of our Indian Empire. They are divided into two main branches, the descendants of Yusuf and the descendants of his nephew Mandanr. The latter are mostly settled in the Mardan Sub-Division of the Peshawar District in British territory, and we shall only be concerned in this paper with a few of them who occupy a fringe of the hilly country on the northern border of the Swabi Tehsil. The descendants of Yusuf are divided into four branches: the Akozai, who occupy the Panjkora and Swat valleys and some very mountainous country between the Swat valley and the Indus; the Malizai and Iliaszai, who live in Buner and some adjacent country towards the Indus; and the Isazai, who are mostly found on the left bank of the Indus but possess a small slice of country on the right bank of that river. All these sections are divided into numerous sub-sections of which I need only mention the powerful Malizai, a sub-section of the Akozai, who occupy practically the whole of the main Panjkora valley and must not be confused with the Malizai of Buner.

The Yusufzai organization-like that of most other Pathan tribes-is based on the theory that all members of the tribe have equal rights while those who are not members have none. Generally speaking, only a member of the tribe can own land, and any person who ceases to own land loses his tribal rights. Further, in the case of the Yusufzai, most, if not all, of the cultivable land belonging to the tribe was originally liable to redistribution per capita at fixed periods of years. This practice has mostly fallen into desuetude but is still in force in some parts across the border. The Yusufzai however differ from most other Pathan tribes on the border in the special position held by their Khans. These are presumably descendants of the men who led the tribe when it first conquered its present territory and received special recognition in consequence. They hold a special allotment of land over and above their ordinary tribal share; it is not liable to periodical redistribution, and on the death of a Khan is normally not split up amongst his heirs but passes undivided to his successor as Khan. The most important of these Khans for several generations has been that of Dir.

Possessing a large individual estate and exercising a certain amount of control over the whole of the Malizai in the Panjkora valley, the Khan of Dir has often extended his authority over neighbouring tracts and in particular over the country occupied by other Akozai sections on the right bank of the Swat river. Since the British Government entered into an agreement with the ruling Khan, Muhammad Sharif Khan, in 1895, in connection with the operations which were undertaken for the relief of Chitral, the position of the Khan of Dir has been greatly strengthened and he is now recognized as a hereditary Nawab and the head of a State much of which he rules with more or less autocratic powers. I am not dealing with Dir State in this paper, but it is necessary to refer to it briefly, because it was the effort of the right bank Swat tribes to throw off the yoke of the Nawab of Dir which gave to Miangul Gul Shahzada the opportunity of establishing his own position and founding a State more extensive and far more absolute than that of Dir.

Before proceeding further I will explain the origins of this remarkable man. Some time towards the end of the eighteenth century an ordinary Safi tribesman left his own country on the farther side of Bajaur and settled at a hamlet called Jabrai in Upper Swat. About 1794 a son was born to him called Abdul Ghafur, who as a boy tended flocks and cattle, and when he began to grow up migrated, as many of the Swatis [1] do, to the Peshawar District as a talib-ul-ilm, or seeker after religious knowledge. He studied at the feet of various Mullahs and eventually settled down as a hermit in a small village near the Indus, where he stayed for twelve years and acquired a great reputation for sanctity.

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.

At this time the Swat tribes were engaged in one of their periodical attempts to free the right bank of their valley from the yoke of the Nawab of Dir, and in order to bring about the union necessary to achieve this object, they determined to take unto themselves a king. Once in the time of the Akhund, when they feared a British invasion, they had a king for a few years, and it was his grandson they now called in, Abdul Jabar Shah, a Syed from Sathana in Amb territory on the right bank of the Indus. The Mianguls at once began to work against him, and allied themselves with the Nawab of Dir; they were however defeated and for a time turned out of Saidu. They were soon back again, and it was not long before the Swatis grew tired of Abdul Jabar Shah, who had not proved successful as a leader in the field. In September 1917 they quietly escorted him out of their country and invited the Mianguls to take his place as joint rulers. The Mianguls readily accepted the offer and were not slow in consolidating their position and taking the field against the Nawab of Dir. It was perhaps providential for the future peace of the valley that the younger Miangul, Shirin, was killed in a fight with the Nawab's forces in 1918, and that Gul Shahzada was left in sole and undisputed authority.

The Nawab of Dir continued his efforts to re-conquer his revolted provinces on the right bank of the Swat river, but in August 1919 he suffered a crushing defeat in the Harnawai valley, as a result of which Gul Shahzada was able to eradicate the last remnants of his authority over the right-bank Swat tribes and even to occupy Adinzai, which had long been regarded as an integral part of Dir State, and through which a section of the Chitral road runs. Fighting continued in Adinzai till 1922, when Government was forced to intervene and the Nawab of Dir and Gul Shahzada were induced to sign an agreement whereby Adinzai was handed back to the Nawab, and each ruler undertook to refrain from interference in the other's territory. A limit was thus set to the expansion of the new State towards the west. North of the Swat river it marched with Dir State, the boundary from north to south being the main Swat-Panjkora watershed as far as Adinzai, and then a subsidiary watershed running down to the Swat river between Adinzai and Shamzai; while south of the Swat river the Landakai and Mora ridges separated it from Ranizai, a tract which was taken under the protection of the British Government when the Malakand was occupied in 1895. Adinzai, Shamzai, and Ranizai are names which denote originally certain sub-sections of the Akozai tribe, but are also applied geographically, as is often the case, to the tracts allotted to the same sub-sections in the original distribution of Yusufzai land.

During his struggles with the Nawab of Dir, Gul Shahzada had frequently to face the opposition of recalcitrant Khans in the Swat valley itself, but by 1922 he had completely established his authority over all the Swat Pathan tribesmen. At the northern end of the valley however is a large block of extremely mountainous country occupied by non-Pathan races who are loosely known as Kohistanis. These are probably the descendants of the people who were forced northwards into the mountains when the Yusufzai occupied the lower valleys. They boast an Arab origin but speak a variety of "Dardic" languages. The majority in the Swat valley employ a dialect which is known as Torwali, but the inhabitants of one side-valley use Khilliwal, the language of the Indus Kohistan, while there is at least one village in the extreme north of the main valley which speaks Khowar, the language of Chitral. The Swat Kohistanis had helped some of the Khans of the lower part of the valley in their efforts to curb the Miangul's increasing power. The Miangul therefore, as soon as he was free from anxiety on the Dir side, at once turned his attention to them. Although they are a wild and independent people they possess no cohesion, and he had little difficulty in occupying the whole of their country as far north as Peshmal. Above this at the extreme northern end of the valley is a tract containing valuable forests which is usually referred to as Kalam, though properly speaking this is only the name of a single village. His Highness the Mehtar of Chitral had long laid claim to this tract, and when the Miangul showed signs of occupying it His Highness first sent a peaceful mission to Saidu and then began to mobilize his forces. Government was again forced to intervene, and the Miangul agreed not to interfere in Kalam provided the Mehtar of Chitral and Nawab of Dir similarly refrained from interference. Kalam has thus been left as a sort of no-man's land in a maze of snow-capped peaks between the three States.

Having dealt with the west and the north the Miangul now turned his attention to the south. Across the mountains which bound the Swat valley in this direction lies Buner, a wide open tract of country drained by the Barandu river. At this time Buner was more or less controlled by a party of Khans with their headquarters at Daggar. As elsewhere in Yusufzai country there were two factions, and sometimes one set of Khans was in power and sometimes another. Early in 1922, while he was still fighting with the Nawab of Dir in Adinzai, the Miangul had been seriously threatened by a tribal force from Buner under the ex-King of Swat, Abdul Jabar Shah. In April 1923 therefore he dispatched his Wazir with a large force and occupied the whole of Buner and the Chamla valley beyond it without a single shot being fired. The method pursued by the Miangul when he had made up his mind to occupy new territory was to make friends with one of the local factions. He would then enter the country in support of that faction, and having half the country already on his side, his forces were usually sufficient completely to overcome the opposite faction. In this case however the Miangul was not left in undisputed possession of his newly acquired territory. The Nawab of Amb, a small State on the Indus, was determined to curb the Miangul's rapidly growing power and sent a force into Chamla. Some quite severe fighting ensued, but one night the Nawab of Amb's forces suddenly melted away without having suffered any serious reverse. The next year the Miangul advanced still farther and occupied the tracts known as Khudu Khel and Sori Amazai, and began to interfere in Gadun country. Meanwhile the Nawab of Amb had asked Government to intervene, and as it was considered undesirable that fighting should continue between the two rulers, a neutral zone was fixed which included Gadun and Isazai country, and they were both forbidden to interfere in it. By the conquest of Buner, Chamla, and Khudu Khel the Miangul had extended his dominions on the south right up to the border of British administered territory, while to the south-east his further advance was prevented by the neutral zone described above.

North of the eastern portion of Buner and east of the Swat valley lies a stretch of extremely mountainous country intersected by deep ravines running down to the Indus. Most of this is occupied by Akozai tribes who have their headquarters on the left bank of the Swat river. With the occupation of Buner a small portion of this country, called Makhozai, also passed under the Wali's rule and he constructed a fort at a place called Choga. Here he was almost immediately attacked by the tribesmen of the adjoining tracts. He proceeded to beat off the attack, and before the end of the year had occupied the whole of the country down to the Indus, which he was forbidden by Government to cross.

There was now only one direction in which further advance was possible; the north-east, where lies the wild and little-known Indus Kohistan. Here again assistance afforded to rebel Khans gave the Miangul an excuse for action. In 1925 he occupied the Kormang valley, and in 1926 he advanced farther and established posts at Lahor and Besham. In doing this however he encountered unexpectedly heavy opposition and many casualties were sustained. In the winter of 1926-z7 the Kohistanis made vigorous efforts to expel his forces from Lahor; they were repulsed after heavy fighting, but no attempt has since been made to penetrate farther into the Indus Kohistan. Beyond Lahor is a great tract of extremely mountainous country comprising the Dubair Seo and Kandia valleys and containing rich forests. It is believed that no European has ever visited it. The inhabitants live in village communities, acknowledge no ruler, and are said to devote most of their time to their local feuds. They speak a tongue which is known as Khilliwal.

In May 1926 Government formally recognized Miangul Gul Shahzada as Wali or Ruler of Swat, while he in turn undertook to respect the various boundaries prescribed for his State. In 1933 his eldest son Jahanzeb was similarly acknowledged as his Wali-e-Ahad or Heir Apparent.

I will now endeavour to give a brief geographical description of the new State, and will then say something about the Wali's system of administration and the great progress which the country has made under his beneficent rule.

The boundaries of the State have already been described. In shape it is roughly a rectangle with the Khudu Khel country as an excrescence at the south-eastern corner. Its length from north to south measures about 80 miles, and its width from west to east about 60 miles. Its population is estimated at about 300,000 and except in the Kohistani country in the extreme north, consists of Yusufzai Pathans with a large admixture of Syeds, Mians, and various menial classes, together with a few Hindus.

For purposes of administration the State is divided into four provinces: (I) Swat proper; (2) Buner; (3) the Mandanr country consisting of Chamla, Sori Amazai, and Khudu Khel; (4) the country lying between the eastern watershed of the Swat river and the Indus. Though these divisions are partly racial in character they form a satisfactory basis for the geographical description of the country.

The Swat valley is one of the beauty spots of northern India, rivalling even Kashmir. Fed from numerous sources amongst the snows of the Kohistan the Swat river cleaves its way through forest-clad slopes down to Paiti, where the valley begins to broaden out until it attains a width in places of 3 or 4 miles. The river also grows wider and splits here and there into numerous channels enclosing fertile islands. It is difficult to say whether the valley is more beautiful in the early autumn when the full river winds its way through vivid rice-fields and the hill-slopes are green after the summer rains, or at the beginning of spring, when the more slender stream laces the valley with the deepest blue, and the young wheat and barley crops are full of pink-and-white tulips and blue lilies, and the mustard-fields light up the skirt of the hills with a blaze of yellow, while every turn presents a new vista of snow-clad peaks.

The side valleys too are full of charm. Those on the left bank are mostly short and steep with brooks that hurtle down through a tangle of scrub, past narrow terraced fields and occasional clumps of lofty chinars, while those on the right bank are larger and more open. Two of the latter call for special mention. The first of these is the Harnawai valley, which is upwards of 20 miles long and is the home of two important sections, the Shamzai and Sebujni. It is usually referred to by the inhabitants of the main valley as Bar (Upper) Swat. The Harnawai stream has its sources in mountains 13,000 feet high and supplies sufficient water for extensive cultivation. The second valley, which is known as Nikpi Khel from the section which inhabits it, is an open expanse of undulating country drained by several converging watercourses. Cultivation is largely dependent upon rain, and the people in consequence are not so prone to malaria and are of better physique than the rest of the inhabitants of the Swat valley.

In the Kohistan I have only been on the ground as far as Baranial, but in May 1933 I was privileged to fly over the top of the highest peak, Mankial Tsukai, which is 18,750 feet. The Wali was a passenger in the same flight. The whole country is a maze of peaks and ridges intersected by deep forest-clad valleys.

There are no large towns in Swat. The biggest centre of population is Mingora, where there is a bazaar which has recently been widened and rebuilt by the Wali. The capital of the State is 2 miles away at Saidu, where the Wali resides and where the tomb of the famous Akhund is situated. A few miles above Saidu, in a little valley running down from Mount Ilam, lies Maina, which the Wali has made his summer residence. The only local industry is the weaving of blankets and the country is almost entirely dependent on agriculture except in the Kohistan, where the forests are an important source of income. No mineral wealth has been discovered. The average annual rainfall in the lower part of the valley is probably between 20 and 30 inches, about half of which falls between December and May and the rest during the monsoon from July to September. There is practically no monsoon rainfall in the Kohistan, but the abundant snow which falls in the winter feeds the Swat river during the summer months. Wheat is the principal spring crop of the valley, while rice and maize are grown during the hot weather. There is sufficient grazing on the hills for considerable flocks and herds, and ghee or clarified butter of very good quality is produced, while wool and hides are also exported.

All the lower hills within easy reach of the river have long been denuded of trees, and even in the Kohistan the more accessible forests have been ruined within the past few generations by indiscriminate felling. With the Wali's consent the surviving forests are now controlled by the Forest Department of the North-West Frontier Province, and it is hoped that it will eventually be possible to reforest some of the denuded areas.

The Swat valley where it forms part of the State is shut in both on the north and south by high mountain ranges, and is only easily accessible from the Malakand Agency lower down in the same valley. To the north the range that forms the boundary with Dir State nowhere drops below about 8000 feet, while the Karakar Pass, the lowest point in the southern range which separates Swat from Buner, is 4384 feet. The latter range contains the peak of Ilam (9222 feet), a well-wooded cone which forms a very conspicuous feature of the landscape as viewed from the plains of the Peshawar District. On its summit is a Hindu shrine which is visited by numerous pilgrims of that faith at certain seasons of the year, and, as Sir Aurel Stein has shown, the mountain was famous as a sacred site in ancient Buddhist times.

Buner I have viewed from the air and from the tops of the mountains that enclose it on the north and south. It is a wide open plain lying between the range of hills which borders the Peshawar plain on the north and the range which has just been described. Its average elevation is about 2500 feet, and it is studded with sudden peaks and ridges. It has an arid aspect and most of the cultivated land is un-irrigated, the chief crop being barley. It slopes towards the east and is drained by the Barandu river direct into the Indus. Three considerable valleys debouch into the plain from the north-Gadaizai, Gokand, and Chagharzai, the first and last of these names being tribal and the second topographical. In Gadaizai is the shrine of Pir Baba, the most famous and frequented place of pilgrimage on the North-West Frontier. As is the case throughout the rest of the State the tribesmen live in village communities, and there are no large centres of population.

I traversed most of the Mandanr country in 1929 when I climbed Mahaban (7379 feet) from Gadun country and descended by the Nagrai valley (Sori Amazai) on the farther side to Chamla, returning to British territory by the Ambela Pass at the head of the Chamla valley. Chamla consists of one long valley averaging a mile or two in width and drained by the Chamla stream which flows into the Barandu a few miles above the latter stream's junction with the Indus. It is more fertile than Buner, and derives its name from the fact that after its acquisition by the Mandanr tribe it was divided up into "chams" or plots, one of which was allotted to each Mandanr sub-section except the Amazai, who were separately provided for in Sori and Pitao Amazai. Sori Amazai, meaning Amazai of the Shade, is a narrow well-watered valley running down from the northern slopes of Mahaban and forms part of the Wali's dominions. The best-known place in it is Malka, which was once the stronghold of the Hindustani Fanatics and was destroyed by the tribesmen in the presence of British officers after the Ambela Campaign of 1863. Pitao Amazai, or Amazai of the Sunshine, lies east of Mahaban and is independent, being part of the neutral zone interposed between the Wali and the Nawab of Amb. Mahaban, which means Great Forest, is a well-wooded ridge and is the highest point of the range which skirts the northern edge of the Peshawar plain. Until Sir Aure1 Stein visited it in 1904 it was often erroneously identified with Arrian's Aornos. In the foothill country running up to Mahaban from the south-west lies Khudu Khel. This tract extends right down into the plain nearly as far as Swabi itself, and geographically forms part of the Swabi Tehsil. The Sikhs however never succeeded in subduing the Khudu Khel and their country was therefore not included in the Peshawar District when the British took over from the Sikhs. It remained independent until absorbed by the Wali in 1923, and now forms a sort of excrescence to his State, being the only part of it which lies south of the divide between the Peshawar plain and the Barandu drainage area. The country consists of narrow cultivable valleys among the barren foothills and a strip of plain which is irrigated from the Upper Swat Canal.

I have only seen the country lying east of the Swat-Indus divide from the air. It consists of a tangled mass of mountains intersected by three deep and narrow valleys. The mountains rise to heights of 8000 or 9000 feet and fall away in great sweeps and precipices to tortuous ravines, down which silver streams wind their way towards the Indus. This river has here forged a broad course through successive mountain ranges and flows with a strong but not tumultuous stream at an altitude of less than 2000 feet. The slopes of the hills wherever they are not too steep or rocky are terraced for cultivation up to high altitudes, and there is not much forest. There are only a few large villages and most of the population live in scattered dwellings up and down the mountain slopes. The most southerly of the three valleys in this area is drained by a stream which is called on the map the Itai river, though I have never heard this name actually used. This stream has two forks forming two separate tracts called Makhozai and Puran, which have been made by the Wali into one Tehsil, though they are tribally distinct. The lower part of the valley forms a separate Tehsil with its headquarters at Martung. The central valley is called Chakesar and forms one Tehsil. The northern valley has two forks at its western end-Ghorband and Lilauni-and a large tributary farther down on its left bank called Kana. These form three separate Tehsils. The main stream that drains the valley is known as the Sain Khwar. There is one other Tehsil with its headquarters at Besham on the Indus; this consists of the corner of the Indus Kohistan which forms part of the Wali's dominions.

As far as I know, only one European has visited any part of this country on the ground, and that is Sir Aurel Stein, who identified the height of Pirsar lying just north of Chakesar with the famous stronghold of Aornos, the capture of which by Alexander the Great is described in so much detail by Arrian. Sir Aurel Stein has given a description of this expedition in the paper to which I have already referred.

Swat proper is controlled directly by the central authorities who reside at the State's capital Saidu. It is divided up into eleven Tehsils, nine of which bear the names of various Akozai sub-sections and coincide with their tribal holdings in the valley. Of the other two Churarai comprises a few villages occupied by Syeds and a portion of the Kohistan, while the administrative headquarters of the rest of the Kohistan is at Baranial. Buner consists of five Tehsils based on tribal sub-divisions and is administered by a Hakim or Governor residing at Gagra. In Mandanr the three tracts I have described Chamla, Sori Amazai, and Khudu Khel-each forms a separate Tehsil, and the Governor resides at Totali in the last-named tract. In the country between the Swat valley and the Indus there are, as already noted, seven Tehsils formed on geographical rather than tribal lines. Six of these are under a Governor who resides at Chakesar, while the seventh, Kana, is for special reasons controlled directly by the central authorities at Saidu. Governors of districts administer the Tehsils in which they reside. Other Tehsils are under Tehsildars responsible either to the Governor or directly to the central State authorities, as the case may be.

The whole State is ruled autocratically by the Wali, who is assisted by his eldest son, the Wali-e-Ahad, his Wazir, and his Sipah Salar or Commander in-Chief. The Wali-e-Ahad is chiefly responsible for financial matters, the Wazir for the political and judicial administration, and the Sipah Salar for the military organization. The Wali is illiterate but decides every matter of importance himself verbally over the telephone. The revenue of the State is derived chiefly from Ushar, or the tax on grain and other products, and from tolls on imports and exports. The ushar is mostly recovered in kind, and State employees are mostly paid in kind. The average annual revenue works out in cash at about twelve lakhs of rupees, say 90,000, a year. The State finances are carefully handled and the expenditure is not allowed to exceed the income. Justice is administered on the lines of tribal custom. Whenever the Wali occupied a new tract he called upon the local elders to put on record their riwaj or tribal custom, and this custom is normally followed in all cases of purely local importance. Offences against the State or crimes affecting the public welfare, such as highway robbery, are generally settled by the Wali himself on their merits.

Before the Wali had consolidated his position every tribesman was armed and was under an obligation to turn out for his ruler or tribe in a time of emergency. As soon as he felt himself strong enough the Wali disarmed all his subjects except at one or two points in his State where there is a danger of attack from outside. The more serviceable of the arms he immediately reissued to selected men in each village as State property, thus creating an army of his own to take the place of the old tribal lashkar, which lacked all organization and was liable to be fickle in its allegiance. The army is paid in kind and is divided into two separate forces. One mans the numerous forts, with which the countryside is studded, and may be regarded as a sort of constabulary, while the members of the other live in their villages ready to take the field when necessity arises.

The progress made by the country under the Wali's strong but beneficent rule is marvellous. Peace and order reign even in the most remote and mountainous regions and trade flourishes. At Saidu there is a large school with about five hundred boys, a well-attended hospital, and a veterinary dispensary. There are also schools in many of the outlying districts. Fine residences have been erected at Saidu for the Wali and his eldest son, and several of the leading Khans and Maliks in the villages have built for themselves large tin-roofed bungalows on more or less modern lines.

Amongst other reforms the Wali has abolished the Wesh or periodical redistribution of land except in the case of the rice-lands in the Swat valley, where constant changes in the stream afford some justification for the system. Formerly in the case of one at least of the Swat tribes whole villages used to change hands every few years.

Perhaps the most notable development is in the matter of roads and telephones. The Wali has fully realized the importance of both of these for tribal control. In Swat there are now about ISO miles of motor-able roads. These run along both banks of the main river as far north as Churarai, and up several of the side valleys. In Buner and Chamla too excellent roads have been constructed between the Tehsil headquarters, but these districts will not be accessible by car until the road over the Karakar Pass has been completed. Much money has already been expended on this road, but in the present financial stringency the Wali cannot find sufficient funds to complete it. In the Indus tracts the country is so mountainous that the expense of making motor-able roads would be prohibitive; the Tehsil headquarters however have all been connected by good riding paths. In addition to this the whole of the State is covered by an elaborate telephone system, so that the Wali can at any moment ring up his officials in the remotest parts of his dominions.

How great is the achievement of one man in thus carving out for himself a State amongst the wild frontier hills only those who know the nature of the tribes and the character of their country will be able to appreciate. Miangul Gul Shahzada Sir Abdul Wadood, K.B.E., Ruler of Swat, is now in his fifty-first year and is still as strong in body as he is in will. He starts his day at dawn with a constitutional, usually a 1000-foot climb, and is extremely frugal in his habits. He is a first-class shot and spends most of his spare time on shikar. He is the most genial of hosts and unsparing in his hospitality, and loves nothing better than sharing his sport with his friends. The Wali-e-Ahad is polished and capable and should in due course prove a worthy successor to his father. Let us hope that the State which Miangul Gul Shahzada has founded will continue to prosper and remain for very many years to come a haven of peace on our troubled border.


  1. I Where I use the word "Swati" I mean an inhabitant of the Swat valley. The name is also applied to a tribe which once had its home in Swat, but now lives on the left bank of the Indus.


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Yusufzai State of Swat, Major. W. R. Hay
Published in Khyber.ORG on Sunday, October 23 2005 (http://www.khyber.org)