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The Political Perspective

            Linguistically, culturally, historically, geographically and by race, the inhabitants of Kohistan are related with the population of Northern Areas while electorally this region is annexed with the Province of North West Frontier.

 

            The Greek historians Herodotus (?) and Patolmi (?) have described this Kohistani region as "Dadicae". During the ancient times, this territory has practically or hypothetically been included under the rule of several foreign rulers as is proven by many rock inscriptions. The population between Gurez and Hindukush has generally been referred to as Dardic or Dadric race. The Russian Researcher Yuri Gangofisky says,

            On proof that these people lived in the seventh province of the Kingdom of Makhamanshi, is that the Dardic lived in the neighboring areas of Ghandara and fought many battles as one platoon in Iranian army standing side by side with the residents of Ghandara. It is obvious from certain rock inscriptions of Maharaja Ashok's era that these people were his subject. As for Indus Kohistan, the history shows that no one was locally able to become a head or "Sardar" and the people always lived as free tribes. The Western historians have been describing them as anti-ruler nations.

 

            The influence of the Tibetans, Kashmiris, Chinese and finally the Sikhs and the English in the north of Kohistan had started much earlier and they had also acquired an access to these areas. The Kohistani tribes had become a headache for them.

 

            Sometimes they would collude with the people of Chilas and sometimes invade Kaghan. Sometimes they would take part in the battles between Wali of Swat and Wali of Amb states and create dangers. These people were united under a central system of diversified groups. Therefore, they were normally safe from the outer invaders. No one could ever conquer these areas. But generally the external rulers considered these areas as a part of their states. This tradition was continued until the British time. Dr. Karl Jettmar says in the past this region and the valley of Kunhar had been the part of Baloristan Kingdom. These areas were beyond the reach of the English during their reign in India. Still at another place, Jettmar says,

 

            "The valleys on the both sides of River Indus in front of Tangir and Daril could neither be conquered by well planned British attacks nor by the missions of the adventurous princes. These valleys remained out of the European military access."

 

            Kohistan had the important political impact when the Wali of Swat stirred by the English, took over Duber in 1938, Pattan in January 1939 and Khandia and Sea in July 1939 and merged the western part of Kohistan into Swat state. The main reason for his success did a few tribes of Pattan and Duber extend the support to him. Otherwise, the Swat Militia's defeat at their hand at Lapar was not a secret matter. The Wali of Swat has mentioned in his autobiography that Kohistanis usually posed a threat to his state because any one could easily provoke them against the State. In order to cope with these risks, the Wali of Swat made a few local alloys by posting them on honorary positions and granting them privileges. On the contrary to this, the eastern part of Kohistan remained independent or unadministered land till 1988.

 

            The Swatis and Gujars of Allai, the Syeds of Kaghan and the Wali of Swat himself made several efforts and conspiracies but did not succeed in them due to the local group cohesion and effective defense. These people enjoyed the support of Amb State also through Kutu Malak because the Wali of Amb was the opponent of the Wali of Swat and they created difficulties for each other.

 

            The following text is available in the book "History of Northern Pakistan", "Shumali Pakistan Ki Tareekh" on the subject of Kohistan's political affiliation:

"Historically and culturally greater part of the Kohistan district is a part of Northern Areas. It was considered so until late in the beginning of the present century, when the ruler of Swat, probably with the convenience of the British Master, raided right up to the western bank of the Indus and advanced even to Khandia valley in order to establish his administration control over the region. Even then the part, east of the Indus remain Yaghistan (unadministered area). This is confirmed by the following letter No.381 of 1913 from S. M. Fraser, Resident in Kashmir to Lt. Col. Sir George Roose-Keppel, Chief Commissioner of Peshawar, dated 24th February 1913....The Jalkotis, as you are aware, are a Kohistan tribe occupying a valley on the Indus of the south-west of Chilas and west of Kaghan in the Hazara district. Their country is independent territory but their political relations, so far as such relations exist, have been mainly with Gilgit Agency.

Further I think it will be agreed that since Jalkot falls naturally within the sphere of Gilgit Agency, by reason of geographical position, race, language and inter-communication, it is politically expedient for the initiative to lie with Chilas authorities."

This position is further confirmed in a letter no. Y 103/27, dated 12th February 1928 from the Resident in Kashmir to Col. C.P. Gunter, Director of Frontier, Survey of India, wherein he writes:

Unadministered areas, i.e. Darel, Tangir, Khandia, Jalkot, Sazin, Shatial and Harban.

"This position remained until 1947 and even later in 1950, when with the constitution of Kohistan district the area was separated from Gilgit Agency."

            During the period before ending, the people on western bank of River Indus dealt their matters with Swat and the people on the eastern bank with the English in Kaghan. In case of any attack on Kaghan or looting, the representative Jirga was called there and advised to keep peaceful. The English never meddled with them in person. The English author, Oliver writes in his book "Pathan and Baluch":

"It is the land of rebellions or anarchists who deny of orders from high officials or are care-free of them." (p 320)

            Mr. Emerson, ex-Commissioner, Hazara has also made such comments in his report "Sind Kohistan" compiled in 1931. But as it is apparent from the references given above that these areas were administrative part of Northern Pakistan mainly for its relations by reason of geography, history, race and language.

 

            The rural representatives were selected from these areas during the reign of Ayub Khan. It was the first time that these people joined a big national momentum. In other words, from the British time to 1955, the area from Kolai to Jalkot was the part of Northern Areas, while from 1955 to 1986, it remained under the administration of the tribal tribes of NWFP and in 1988, it was formally converted into a district by giving the representation in the Provincial and National assemblies.