History of North-West Frontier Province

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Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a province of Pakistan. It lies in the mountainous region of Hindu Kush, where the South Asian subcontinent meets with Afghanistan.[1]

The province was named North-West Frontier Province during the colonial period when it formed the North-West frontier of British India; recently the government of Pakistan has approved its new name.[2]

Pre-modern history

Main article: Gandhara

Early history finds the Iranians dominating the whole Indus valley. At some date later than 516 BC Darius Hystaspes sent Scylax, a Greek seaman of Karyanda, to explore the course of the river. Darius Hystaspes subsequently subdued the races dwelling west of the Indus and north of Kabul.[3]

Gandhara, the modern District of Peshawar, was incorporated in a Persian satrapy, and the Assakenoi, with the tribes farther north on the Indus, formed a special satrapy, that of the Indians. Both satrapies sent troops for Xerxes' invasion of Greece (480 BC).

In the spring of 327 BC Alexander the Great crossed the Indian Caucasus (Hindu Kush) and advanced to Nicaea, where Omphis, king of Taxila and other chiefs joined him. Thence Alexander dispatched part of his force through the valley of the Kabul river, while he himself advanced into Bajaur and Swat with his light troops.[3]

Craterus was ordered to fortify and repeople Arigaion, probably in Bajaur, which its inhabitants had burnt and deserted. Having defeated the Aspasians, from whom he took 40,000 prisoners and 230,000 oxen, Alexander crossed the Gouraios (Panjkora) and entered the territory of the Assakenoi and laid siege to Massaga, which he took by storm. Ora and Bazira (possibly Bazar) soon fell. The people of Bazira fled to the rock Aornos, but Alexander made Embolima (possibly Amb) his basis, and thence attacked the rock, which was captured after a desperate resistance. Meanwhile, Peukelaotis (in Hashtnagar, 17 miles (27 km) north-west of Peshawar) had submitted, and Nicanor, a Macedonian, was appointed satrap of the country west of the Indus.[4]

Alexander then crossed that river at Ohind or, according to some writers, lower down near Attock. Nicanor was succeeded as satrap by Philippus, who was, however, assassinated by his Greek mercenaries soon after Alexander left India, and Eudamos and Taxiles were then entrusted with the country west of the Indus. After Alexander's death in 323 B.C. Porus obtained possession of the Lower Indus valley, but was treacherously murdered by Eudamos in 317. Eudamos then left India; and with his departure the Macedonian power collapsed, and Sandrocottus (Chandragupta), the founder of the Mauryan dynasty, made himself master of the province. His grandson Asoka made Buddhism the dominant religion in Gandhara and in Pakhli, the modern Hazara, as the rock-inscriptions at Shahbazgarhi and Mansehra show.[4]

After Asoka's death the Mauryan empire fell to pieces, just as in the west the Seleucid power was waning. The Greek princes of Bactria seized the opportunity for declaring their independence, and Demetrius conquered part of Northern India (c. 190 B. C.). His absence led to a revolt by Eucratides, who seized on Bactria proper and finally defeated Demetrius in his eastern possessions. Eucratides was, however, murdered (c. 156 B.C.), and the country became subject to a number of petty rulers, of whom little is known but the names laboriously gathered from their coins. The Bactrian dynasty was attacked from the west by the Parthians and from the north (about 139 B.C.) by the Sakas, a Central Asian tribe. Local Greek rulers still exercised a feeble and precarious power along the borderland, but the last vestige of Greek dominion was extinguished by the Yueh-chi.[4]

This race of nomads had driven the Sakas before them from the highlands of Central Asia, and were themselves forced southwards by the Hiung-nu. One section, known as the Kushan, took the lead, and its chief Kadphises I seized vast territories extending south to the Kabul valley. His son Kadphises II conquered North-Western India, which he governed through his generals. His immediate successors were the kings Kanishka, Huvishka, and Vasushka or Vasudeva, of [4] whom the first reigned over a territory which extended as far east as Benares and as far south as Malwa, comprising also Bactria and the Kabul valley.[5]

Their dates are still a matter of dispute, but it is beyond question that they reigned early in the Christian era. To this period may be ascribed the fine statues and bas-reliefs found in Gandhara (Peshawar) and Udyana (Buner). Under Huvishka's successor, Vasushka, the dominions of the Kushan kings shrank to the Indus valley and the modern Afghanistan; and their dynasty was supplanted by Ki-to-lo, the chief of a Yueh-chi tribe which had remained in Bactria, but was forced to move to the south of the Hindu Kush by the invasion of the Yuan Yuan. The subjects of Ki-to-lo's successors who ruled in the valley of Peshawar are known to the Chinese annalists as the Little Yueh-chi. Their rule, however, did not endure, for they were subdued by the Ephthalites (Ye-ta-i-li-to or Ye-tha), who established a vast empire from Chinese Turkistan to Persia, including the Kabul valley. Known to the Byzantines as the White Huns, they waged war against the Sassanid dynasty of Persia.[5]

Ancient history

Since ancient times numerous groups have invaded Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including the Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Kushans, Huns, Arabs, Turks, Mongols, Mughals, and the British. Between 2000 and 1500 BC, the Aryans split off into an Iranian branch, represented by the Pushtuns who came to dominate most of the region, an Indo-Aryan branch represented by the Hindkowans who populated much of the region before the time of the Pashtuns and various Dardic peoples who came to populate much of the north. Earlier pre-Aryan inhabitants include the Shin or shinwaris and Burusho. The region is mentioned in the Mahabharatha epic as Gandhara Kingdom and lied in the outer fringes of Bharatvarsha. The Vale of Peshawar was home to the Kingdom of Gandhara probably from around the 6th century BC. It was known for its Hindu and Buddhist heritage. It was part of Nanda, Mauryan and Sunga empire before being overrun by foreigners. Ancient Peshawar then known as Purushupura became a capital of the Kushan Empire. The region was visited by such notable historical figures as Darius II, Hsuan Tsang, Fa Hsien, Marco Polo, and Mountstuart Elphinstone, among others. Following the Mauryan conquest of the region, Buddhism became a major faith, at least in urban centres, as attested by recent archaeological and hermeneutic evidence. Kanishka, a prominent Kushan ruler was one of the prominent Buddhist kings.

Rural areas retained numerous Shamanistic faiths as evident with the Kalash and other groups. The roots of Pashtunwali or the traditional code of honor followed by the Pashtuns is also believed to have Pre-Islamic origins. Persian invasions left small pockets of Zoroastrians and, later, a ruling Hindu elite established itself during the later Shahi period.

The Shahi era

During the early 1st millennium, prior to the arrival of Muslims, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region was ruled by the Shahi kings. The early Shahis were Buddhist rulers and reigned over the area until 870 CE when they were overthrown and then later replaced.

When the Chinese monk Xuanzang visited the region early in the 7th century CE, the Kabul valley region was still ruled by affiliates of the Shahi kings, who is identified as the Shahi Khingal, and whose name has been found in an inscription found in Gardez.

While the early Shahis were Turko-Iranian and Kabulistani in origin referred as Kushano-Hepthalites, the later Shahi kings of Kabul and Gandhara were Hindu and had links to some ruling families in neighbouring Kashmir and the Punjab. The Hindu Shahis are believed to have been a ruling elite of a predominantly Buddhist, Hindu and Shamanistic population and were thus patrons of numerous faiths, and various artefacts and coins from their rule have been found that display their multicultural domain.

The last Shahi rulers were eventually wiped out by Mahmud of Ghazni in the early 11th century AD.

Arrival of Islam

Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Shamanism were the prominent in the region until Muslim Arabs and Turks conquered the area before the 2nd millennium CE. Over the centuries some migrations took place by the local population consisting majorly of Hindus and Buddhists while the remaining converted to Islam. Local Pashtun and Dardic tribes converted to Islam, while retaining some local traditions (albeit altered by Islam) such as Pashtunwali or the Pashtun code of honor.

Ghaznavid Empire

Between 963 and 1187 AD the area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa became part of larger Islamic empires, including the Ghaznavid Empire (975-1187), headed by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, and the empire of Muhammad Shahabuddin Ghauri (reigned 1202–1206). The Ghaznavid domain included Afghanistan extending up to Punjab and parts of the South Asia, with its capital at Lahore from 1151 to 1186.

Later the Afghan Pashtun Muslims of the Delhi Sultanate controlled the region. (The "Delhi Sultanate" refers to the many Muslim states that ruled in India from 1206 to 1526.)

Several Turkic and Afghan dynasties ruled from Delhi instead of from Lahore: the Mamluk dynasty (1206–90), the Khilji dynasty (1290–1320), the Tughlaq dynasty (1320–1413), the Sayyid dynasty (1414–51), and the Lodi dynasty (1451–1526).

Modern history

Under Toramana and Mihirakula they held Northern India, ruling at Sagala, which may be Sialkot in the Punjab. Mihirakula penetrated far into India, but about 528 was defeated by a confederacy of Indian princes under Yasodharman, and was driven back to the Punjab and Indus valley. There were two distinct streams of Muslim invasion towards India. The earlier had resulted in the conquest of Khorasan ; but, though Kabul had been assailed as early as 655 and made tributary in 683, it regained its independence before 700, and the stream of invasion was deflected towards Multan and Sindh. Ghazni was only taken in 870; and in 902 we find the Kashmir forces deposing the rebellious ruler of Udabhandapura (Ohind) and giving his kingdom to Toramana, son of Lalliya, with the title of Komaluka-the Kamalu of Muslim historians.[5]

In 974 Pirin, the slave-governor of Ghazni, repulsed a force sent from India to seize that stronghold; and in 977 Sabuktagin, his successor, became virtually independent and founded the dynasty of the Ghaznivids. In 986 he raided the Indian frontier, and in 988 defeated Jaipal with his allies at Laghman, and soon after possessed himself of the country up to the Indus, placing a governor of his own at Peshawar. Mahmud of Ghazni, Sabuktagin's son, having secured the throne of Ghazni, again defeated Jayapala in his first raid into India (1001), Battle of Peshawar, and in a second expedition defeated Anandpal (1006), both near Peshawar. He also (1024 and 1025) raided the Afghans, a name that now appears for the first time as that of a people living in the hills between Ghazni and the Sulaiman range. The present territories of the North-West Frontier Province, excluding Hazara, thus formed part of the Ghaznivid empire.[5]

In 1179 Muhammad of Ghor took Peshawar, capturing Lahore from Khusru Malik two years later. After Muhammad was assassinated (1206), his able general, Taj-ud-din Yalduz, established himself at Ghazni, the Kurram valley being his real stronghold, until he was driven into Hindustan by the Khwarizmis (1215). The latter were in turn overwhelmed by the Mongols in 1221, when Jalal-ud-din Khwarizmi, defeated on the Indus by Genghis Khan, retreated into the Sind- Sagar Doab, leaving Peshawar and other provinces to be ravaged by the Mongols. Yet in 1224 we find Jalal-ud-din able to appoint Saif-ud-din Hasan, the Karlugh, in charge of Ghazni. To this territory Saif-ud-din added Karman (Kurram) and Banian (Bannu), and eventually became independent (1236).[6]

In the same year Altamsh set out on an expedition against Banian, but was compelled by illness to return to Delhi. After his death Saif-ud-din attacked Multan, only to be repulsed by the feudatory of Uch, and three years later (1239) the Mongols drove him out of Ghazni and Kurram, but he still held Banian. In his third attempt to take Multan, he was, however, killed (1249), whereupon his son Nasir-ud-din Muhammad became a feudatory of the Mongols, retaining Banian. Eleven years later (1260) we find him endeavouring to effect an alliance between his daughter and a son of Ghiyas-ud-din Balban, and to reconcile the Mongol sovereign with the court of Delhi. By this time the Karlughs had established themselves in the hills.[6]

In 1398 Timur set out from Samarkand to invade India. After subduing Kator, now Chitral, he made his devastating inroad into the Punjab, returning via Bannu in March 1399. His expedition established a Mongol overlordship in the province, and he is said to have confirmed his Karlugh regent in the possession of Hazara. The descendants of Timur held the province as a dependency of Kandahar, and Shaikh Ali Beg, governor of Kabul under Shah Rukh, made his power felt even in the Punjab. But with the decay of the Timurid dynasty their hold on the province relaxed.[6]

Meanwhile the Afghans were rising to power. Implacably hostile to the Mongols, they now appear as a political factor. At the close of the fourteenth century they were firmly established in their present seats south of Kohat, and in 1451 Bahlol Lodi's accession to the throne of Delhi gave them a dominant position in Northern India. Somewhat later Babar's uncle, Mirza Ulugh Beg of Kabul, expelled the Khashi (Khakhai) Afghans from his kingdom, and compelled them to move eastwards into Peshawar, Swat, and Bajaur. After Babar had seized Kabul he made his first raid into India in 1505, marching down the Khyber, through Kohat, Bannu, Isa Khel, and the Derajat, returning by the Sakhi Sarwar pass. About 1518 he invaded Bajaur and Swat, but was recalled by an attack on Badakhshan.[6]

Mughal era

In 1519 Babar's aid was invoked by the Gigianis against the Umr Khel Dilazaks (both Afghan tribes), and his victory at Panipat in 1526 gave him control of the province. On his death in 1530 Mirza Kamran became a feudatory of Kabul. By his aid the Ghwaria Khel Afghans overthrew the Dilazaks who were loyal to Humayun, and thus obtained control over Peshawar; but about 1550 Khan Kaju (Mandanr), at the head of a great confederation of Khashi Afghan tribes, defeated the Ghwaria Khel at Shaikh Tapur. Humayun, however, had now overthrown Kamran, and in 1552 he entered Peshawar, which he garrisoned strongly, so that Khan Kaju (Mandanr) laid siege to it in vain. Nevertheless the Mughal hold on these territories was weak and often precarious.[7]

On Humayun's death in 1556 Kabul became the apanage of Mirza Muhammad Hakim, Akbar's brother; and in 1564 he was driven back on Peshawar by the ruler of Badakhshan, and had to be reinstated by imperial troops. Driven out of Kabul again two years later, he showed his ingratitude by invading the Punjab; but eventually Akbar forgave him, visited Kabul, and restored his authority. When Mirza Hakim died (1585), Akbar's Rajput general, Kunwar Man Singh, occupied Peshawar and Kabul, where the imperial rule was re-established, Man Singh becoming governor of the province of Kabul. In 1586, however, the Mohmands and others revolted under Jalala, the Roshania heretic, and invested Peshawar.[7]

Man Singh, turning to attack them, found the Khyber closed and was repulsed, but subsequently joined Akbar's forces. Meanwhile, the Yusufzai and Mandaur Afghans had also fallen under the spell of the Roshania heresy; and about 1587 Zain Khan, Kokaltash, was dispatched into Swat and Bajaur to suppress them. The expedition resulted in the disastrous defeat of the Mughals, Birbal, Akbar's favourite, being killed. In 1592 the Afghans invested Peshawar, but Zain Khan relieved the fortress, and in 1593 overran Tirah, Swat, and Bajaur. The Roshanias, however, were still far from subdued. Tirah was their great stronghold, and about 1620 a large Mughal force met with a severe defeat in attempting to enter that country by the Sampagha pass.[7]

Six years later Ihdad, the Roshania leader, was killed ; but Jahangir's death in 1627 was the signal for a general Afghan revolt, and the Roshanias laid siege to Peshawar in 1630, but distrusting their Afghan allies retreated to Tirah. Mughal authority was thus restored, and Tirah was invaded and pacified by the imperial troops in an arduous campaign. Shah Jahan, however, attempted to govern the Afghans despotically and caused great discontent. Nevertheless Raja Jagat Singh held Kohat and Kurram, and thus kept open the communications with Kabul. In 1660 Tirah had to be pacified again; and in 1667 the Yusufzai and Mandaur Afghans were strong enough to cross the Indus, and were only defeated near Attock.[7]

In 1672 Muhammad Amin Khan, Subahdar of Kabul, attempted to force the Khyber, and lost his whole army, 40,000 men, with baggage and materiel. Other disasters followed. At Gandab in 1673 the Afridis defeated a second Mughal army, and in 1674 they defeated a third force at Khapash and drove it into Bajaur. These reverses brought Aurangzeb in person to Hasan Abdal, whence he dispatched a force to Kohat, while a second army forced the Khyber.[8]

Aurangzeb appears to have adopted a conciliatory policy towards the Afghans, some of whom now received fiefs from the emperor. This policy and their internal dissensions kept the country in a state of anarchy, but prevented any concerted Afghan rising against the Mughals. Nevertheless the Afghans overran the Pakhli district of Hazara early in the eighteenth century and the Mughal power rapidly declined, until in 1738 Nadir Shah defeated Nazir Shah, the Mughal governor of Kabul, but allowed him as feudatory to retain that province, which included Peshawar and Ghazni.[8]

Of Nadir Shah's successors, Ahmad Shah Durrani indeed established something more nearly approaching a settled government in the Peshawar valley than had been known for years, but with the advent of Timur Shah anarchy returned once more. On the death of Timur Shah his throne was contested with varying fortunes by his sons, whose dissensions gave ample opportunity to the local chieftains throughout the province of establishing complete independence. Peshawar ultimately fell to the Barakzai family; Dera Ismail Khan to the Sadozais.[8]

Maratha era

Main article: Maratha conquest of North-west India

In April–May 1758, the Marathas under Raghunathrao captured Punjab, Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa defeating Durrani forces. Peshawar was captured by Marathas on 8 May 1758 when Afghans under Timur Shah Durrani were defeated in the Battle of Peshawar. However the Maratha rule in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was short-lived as Durrani re-captured the province in 1759.

Sikh era

The Sikh invasions began in 1818, and from that date to the annexation by the British the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh were steadily making themselves masters of the country. In 1818 Dera Ismail Khan surrendered to a Sikh army, and five years later the Sikhs harried the Marwat plain of Bannu. In 1836 all authority was taken from the Nawabs of Dera Ismail Khan and a Sikh Kardar appointed in their place. But it was not till after the first Sikh War that the fort of Bannu was built and the Bannuchis brought under the direct control of the Lahore Darbar by Herbert Edwardes.[8]

Under the Afghans, Hazara-i-Karlugh, Gandhgarh and the Gakhar territory were governed from Attock; while Kashmir collected the revenue from the upper regions of Pakhli, Damtaur and Darband. In 1813, the Sikhs conquered the fort of Attock, at which time lower Hazara became tributary to them. Upper Hazara shared the same fate in 1819, when the Sikhs conquered Kashmir. The territory referred to as Hazara was united when it was bestowed as a jagir to Hari Singh Nalwa, Commander-in-Chief of the Sikh army, by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1822.[9]

The Sikhs forayed into Peshawar for the first time in 1818, but did not occupy the territory. In 1823, following the Battle of Naushehra on the banks of the Kabul river, Hari Singh Nalwa and his men chased the Afghans first to Peshawar and then to the mouth of the Khyber Pass. The Sikhs entered the city of Peshawar for a second time, once again affirming to hold Peshawar as a tributary to the Sikh Court of Lahore. After plundering the city they burnt its fortress, the Bala Hissar.[10] The Sikh occupation of Peshawar in 1834 was executed in a most unusual manner.[11] By 1836, with the conquest of Jamrud the frontier of the Sikh Kingdom bordered the foothills of the Hindu Kush Mountains and the Khyber Pass formed its western boundary.[12]

The death of Hari Singh in battle with the Afghans near Jamrud in 1837 brought home to Ranjit Singh, now nearing the close of his career, the difficulty of administering his frontier acquisitions. On his death the Sikh policy was changed. Turbulent and exposed tracts, like Hashtnagar and Miranzai, were made over in jagir to the local chieftains, who enjoyed an almost complete independence, and a vigorous administration was attempted only in the more easily controlled areas.[8] Of the Sikh governors, the best remembered for his bravery is Hari Singh Nalwa (1834-1837) and that for his cruelty and barbaric executions is Ranjit Singh's Italian General Avitabile (1838-1842).

The most significant contributions of Sikh rule to this region were the city of Haripur, the first planned city in this entire region, and the forts of Sumergarh (Bala Hissar, Peshawar) and Fatehgarh (Fort of Jamrud at the mouth of the Khyber Pass).[13]

British era

Following the treaties of Lahore and Amritsar, the British annexed the frontier territory after the proclamation of 29 March 1849. For a short time the Districts of Peshawar, Kohat, and Hazara came under the direct control of the Board of Administration at Lahore, but about 1850 they were formed into a regular Division under a Commissioner. Dera Ismail Khan and Bannu, under one Deputy-Commissioner, formed part of the Leiah Division till 1861, when two Deputy-Commissioners were appointed and both Districts were included in the Derajat Division, an arrangement maintained until the formation of the North-West Frontier Province.[14]

The internal administration differed in no way from the rest of the Punjab. But to maintain the peace of the border the Board directly ordered the raising of a special force—the Punjab Frontier Force. It consisted at first of 5 regiments of cavalry, the corps of Guides, 5 regiments of infantry, 3 light field-batteries, two garrison batteries, two companies of sappers and miners, and the Sind camel corps. Various changes occurred in the composition of the force, which at length, in 1886, was removed from the control of the Punjab Government and amalgamated with the regular army.[14]

The attitude of the people during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 is the highest tribute that can be paid to the success of the internal administration.[according to whom?] In the history of the frontier the interest of that period of stress centred at Peshawar. The Hindustani regiments at Dera Ismail Khan and Kohat were disarmed without difficulty, and troops and levies were hurried away to strengthen the garrison of Peshawar or join the British forces cis-Indus. The situation in Peshawar was very different. The District contained a large Hindustani force, which proved mutinous to the core. It was thought possible that the Amir of Kabul might pour an army through the Khyber.[14]

For one reason or another almost every powerful tribe beyond the border was under a blockade. When the news of the outbreak reached Peshawar, a council of war was at once held and measures adopted to meet the situation. The same night the Guides started on their march to Delhi. On May 21 the 55th Native Infantry rose at Mardan. The majority made good their escape across the Indus, only to perish after fearful privations at the hands of the hill-men of the Hazara border. On May 22, warned by this example, the authorities of Peshawar disarmed the 24th, 27th, and 51st Native Infantry, with the result that Pathans not only of Peshawar, but also from across the border, came flocking in to join the newly raised levies. The next few months were not without incident, though the crisis was past. When the mutiny was finally suppressed, it was clear that the frontier districts had proved to the British government a source of strength rather than of danger.[14]

After independence

During the early 20th century the so-called Red Shirts led by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan agitated through non-violence for the rights of Pashtun areas.

Following independence, the North-West Frontier Province voted to join Pakistan in a referendum in 1947 by a very small majority of 50.1%. Ghaffar Khan and his Khudai Khidmatgars, however, chose to boycott the polls along with other nationalistic and pro-India Pakhtuns. Some have argued that a segment of the population voted was barred from voting.[15] In addition, Afghanistan's loya jirga of 1949 declared the Durand Line invalid, which led to border tensions with Pakistan. Afghanistan's governments have periodically refused to recognize Pakistan's inheritance of British treaties regarding the region,[16]

During the 1950s, Afghanistan supported the Pushtunistan Movement, a secessionist movement that failed to gain substantial support amongst the tribes of the North-West Frontier Province. Afghanistan's refusal to recognize the Durrand Line, and its subsequent support for the Pashtunistan Movement has been cited as the main cause of tensions between the two countries that have existed since Pakistan's independence.

After Ayub Khan eliminated Pakistan's provinces, Yahya Khan, in 1969, abolished this "one unit" scheme and added Amb, Swat, Dir, Chitral and Kohistan to the new North-West Frontier Province as the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas.

Afghan jihad and war with the USSR

During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979–1989) the North-West Frontier Province served as a major base for supplying the Mujahideen who fought the Soviets during the 1980s.

Following the arrival of Soviet forces, over five million Afghan refugees poured into Pakistan, most residing in the North-West Frontier Province (as of 2007, nearly 3 million remained).

The North-West Frontier Province remained heavily influenced by events in Afghanistan. Civil war in Afghanistan (1989–1992) led to the rise of the Taliban, which had emerged in the border region between Afghanistan, Baluchistan, PATA and FATA as a formidable political force. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the FATA and bordering North-West Frontier Province became a front-line region again, as part of the global "War on Terror".

In 2010 the name of the province changed to "Khyber Pakhtunkhwa". Protests arose among the local ethnic Hazara population due to this name change, as they began to demand their own province. Seven people were killed and 100 injured in protests on 11 April 2011.[17]


The province was created during the colonial rule of the British empire and was a province of British India. As a province of British India it had an area of 38,665 square miles (100,140 km2), of which only 13,193 was under direct control of the British, the remainder occupied by the tribes under the political control of the Agent to the Governor-General.[18]

It was bounded by the Hindu Kush to the north by Baluchistan and Dera Ghazi Khan District to the south, to the east by the princely state of Kashmir and Punjab; to the west by Afghanistan.[18]

The tract between the Indus and the hills comprises four minor natural divisions, each of which formed a separate district. The most northern is the Peshawar valley, a lacustrine basin encircled by hills. To the south of Peshawar lies Kohat, a rugged table-land broken by low ranges of hills and separated from Peshawar by the Jowaki range. South of Kohat again is Bannu, in the broad basin of the Kurram river and completely surrounded by low ranges. The District of Dera Ismail Khan (later Dera Ismail Khan Division) stretched south of Bannu, a vast expanse of barren plain enclosed between the Sulaiman range on the west and the Indus on the east, and tapering to a blunt point at its southern extremity.[19]

In the north the vast territories between the Hindu Kush and the border of Peshawar District formed the Political Agency of Dir, Swat, and Chitral. In the south-west the Wazir hills were divided into two political agencies: Northern Waziristan, with its headquarters in the Tochi valley; and Southern Waziristan, with its headquarters at Wana. In the latter agency the Wazir hills merge into the Sulaiman range, the highest point of which is the Takht-i-Sulaiman in the lower Shirani country, a political dependency of Dera Ismail Khan District. The precipitous Takht presents the grandest scenery on the frontier, and formed an impassable barrier between the North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan.[20]

Mughal Empire

In 1526 the Delhi Sultanate was absorbed by the emerging Mughal Empire and the Ilkhanate Empire of the Turks, coming from Great Timur Lang and his grandsons like Babur the Mughal Dynasty.

Muslim technocrats, bureaucrats, soldiers, traders, scientists, architects, teachers, theologians and sufis flocked from the rest of the Muslim world to the region and Islam flourished because of these Northern Afghan and Central Asian invaders.

Afghan control

The area formed part of the Durrani Empire founded by Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1747. Ahmed Shah Durrani was born in Kabul which was at that time part of Afghanistan. The empire included Bahwalpur, Kashmir, Gilgit, Hazara with its main city Haripur. Under Ahmed Shah Durrani and later his son Timur Shah, who ruled from Lahore and Multan, but later shifted it back to Kandahar.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was an important iranian borderland that was often contested by the Mughals and Safavids who considered it part of their land. During the reign of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa required formidable military forces to control and the emergence of Pashtun nationalism, who opposed Mughals who were trying to infiltrate it from India across the Indus River. A leading force in inspiring Pashtun miltancy was the local warrier poet Khushal Khan Khattak who united some of the tribes against the various empires around the region.

As the Mughal had lost control by 1757, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa came under the control of the Amir of Afghanistan Ahmad Shah Abdali.

Sikh rule

Most of the region referred to in the twenty-first century as the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa came under Sikh rule in the first half of the nineteenth century, when the Sikhs gained control of Peshawar.[21]

The Afghans governed Hazara-i-Karlugh, Gandhgarh and the Gakhar territory from Attock; while Kashmir collected the revenue from the upper regions of Pakhli, Damtaur and Darband. In 1813, Diwan Mohkam Chand defeated Kabul Wazir Fateh Khan at Attock in an open pitched battle and ended Muslim rule in Attock. The Sikhs ruled Attock till British Empire captured it, at which time lower Hazara became tributary to them. Upper Hazara shared the same fate in 1819, when the Sikhs conquered Kashmir. The territory referred to as Hazara formed when Maharaja Ranjit Singh bestowed the area as a jagir on Hari Singh Nalwa, Commander-in-Chief of the Sikh army, in 1822.[9]

The Sikhs forayed into Peshawar for the first time in 1818, but did not occupy the territory. In 1823, following the Battle of Naushehra on the banks of the Kabul river, Hari Singh Nalwa and his men chased the Afghans first to Peshawar and then to the mouth of the Khyber Pass. The Sikhs entered the city of Peshawar for a second time, once again affirming to hold Peshawar as a tributary to the Sikh Court of Lahore. After plundering the city they burnt its fortress, the Bala Hissar.[10] The Sikh occupation of Peshawar in 1834 was executed in a most unusual manner.[11] By 1836, with the conquest of Jamrud the frontier of the Sikh Kingdom bordered the foothills of the Hindu Kush Mountains and the Khyber Pass formed its western boundary.[12] However the death of Sikh general Hari Singh Nalwa at the Battle of Jamrud spelt a blow to Sikh forward advance policy and their wish to conquer Kabul. The death of King Ranjit Singh in 1839 plunged the Sikh kingdom into turmoil and after the Sikhs lost the two Anglo-Sikh wars, British administrators took direct control of the region.

The most significant contributions of Sikh rule to this region were the city of Haripur, the first planned city in this entire region, and the forts of Sumergarh (Bala Hissar, Peshawar) and Fatehgarh (Fort of Jamrud at the mouth of the Khyber Pass).[13]

The British Raj and the Durand Line Agreement

Main article: Durand Line

The British, who had captured most of the South Asia without significant problems,[dubious ] faced a number of difficulties here. However, crossing the Indus River on to the Iranian plateau and Pushtun territory which lay there gave them a new type of challenge. The Pashtuns, strong in their belief that they must defend their land from foreign incursion, resisted the British advancement. The first war between British and the Pashtuns resulted in a devastating defeat for the British, with just one individual, Dr. William Brydon coming back alive (out of a total of 14,800-21,000 people). This happened during the First Anglo-Afghan War of 1849 and later the Second Anglo-Afghan War of 1876. The Third Anglo-Afghan War of 1919, was also a continuation of the fight for Reclaiming Areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and claiming independence from British occupation efforts which the Afghans or the Pashtuns resisted with greatest zeal and effort to remain as independent nation.

Unable to enforce their rule and invade these territories fully in the region, the British changed their tactics and played a game of divide and rule. They exploited religious differences, installed puppet Pushtun rulers, divided the Pashtuns through artificially-created regions, and ruled indirectly to reduce the chance of confrontation between Pashtuns and themselves. Although the smallest size province Pushtoons were divided into Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA), Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Frontier Regions (FR) and Settled Areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was restricted to five districts.

Occasional Pushtun resistance and attacks did take place on British in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including the Siege of Malakand and Swat, both well documented by Winston Churchill who was a war correspondent at the time.

A series of conflicts known as the Anglo-Afghan Wars during the imperialist Great Game, wars between the British and Russian governments, led to the eventual dismemberment of Afghanistan into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan and Khurasan. Divide and rule policy and the annexation of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan region led to the demarcation of the Durand Line and administration as part of British India.

The Durand line is a poorly marked 1,519-mile (2,445 km) border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. After fighting in two wars against Afghans, the British succeeded in 1893 in imposing the Durand line, dividing Afghanistan from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan, FR regions, FATA which were incorporated into what was then British India. It was agreed upon by representatives of both governments.

The international boundary line separating two countries was named after Sir Mortimer Durand, foreign secretary of the British colonial government, who in 1893 had negotiated with Abdur Rahman Khan, the Amir of Afghanistan, on the frontier between modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Areas annexed from Afghanistan were the FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces of Pakistan, the successor state of British India and the successor Iranian state of Khorasan.

In 1893, Sir Mortimer Durand was sent to Kabul by the government of British India for the purpose of settling an exchange of territory required by the demarcation of the boundary between northeastern Afghanistan, Iran and the Russian possessions.

The Amir showed ability in diplomatic argument, his tenacity where his own views or claims were in debate, with a sure underlying insight into the real situation. The territorial exchanges were amicably agreed upon; the relations between the British Indian and Afghan governments, as previously arranged, were confirmed; and an understanding was reached upon the important and difficult subject of the border line of Afghanistan on the east, towards India.

From the British side the camp was attended by Sir Mortimer Durand and Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum the, Political Agent for the Khyber Agency. Afghanistan was represented by Sahibzada Abdul Latif and the Governor Sardar Shireendil Khan representing the King Amir Abdur Rahman Khan.[22]

While the Afghan side greatly resented the border and viewed it as a temporary development, the British viewed it as being a permanent settlement. The North-West Frontier Province was formed on November 9, 1901, as a Chief Commissioner ruled province, the Chief Commissioner was the chief executive of the province.

He ran the administration with the help of his principal advisers and Civil servants better known as judicial and Revenue Commissioners.

The formal inauguration of the province took place five and half months later, at Shahi Bagh on April 26, 1902, on the occasion of the historical Darbar in the Shahi Bagh (Kings Garden) in the capital town of Peshawar.

It was held by Lord Curzon the Governor of the North-West Frontier Province. The province then comprised only five districts after dividing annexed areas from Afghanistan into FATA, Frontier Regions and the North-West Frontier Province and Southern Punjab.

North-West Frontier Province districts were Peshawar District, Hazara District, Kohat District, Bannu District and the Dera Ismail Khan District.

The first Chief Commissioner of the North-West Frontier Province was Harold Deane. He was known as a strong administrator and he was succeeded by Ross-Keppel, in 1908, whose contribution as a political officer was widely known amongst the tribal/frontier people.

North-West Frontier Province was raised to a full-fledged governor-ruled province in 1931 in accordance with the demand by the Round Table Conference held in 1931. It was agreed upon in the conference that the North-West Frontier Province would be raised to a governor-ruled province with its own Legislative Council. Sir Ralph Griffith was appointed the first Governor in 1932 (having succeeded Stuart Pearks as Chief Commissioner in 1931).

Therefore, on January 25, 1932, the Viceroy inaugurated the first North-West Frontier Province Legislative Council. The first provincial elections were held in 1937 and the independent candidate and noted British loyal civil servant Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum was elected as the province's first Chief Minister.

See also

  • List of archaeological sites and monuments
  • Shahi
  • Paktha


This article incorporates text from the Imperial Gazetteer of India, a publication now in the public domain.

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