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Pathans of Punjab

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Pathans of Punjab

Pathans of Punjab
Total population
Approx. 35-50 million
Regions with significant populations
Islam, Hinduism
Related ethnic groups
PashtunsRohillaPathans of BiharPathans of GujaratPathans of SindhPathans of Uttar PradeshPathans of RajasthanMuhajir people

The Pathans of Punjab (Punjabi: ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਪਠਾਨ (Gurmukhi), پنجابی پٹھان (Shahmukhi), पंजाबी पठान (Devanagari); Pashto: د پنجاب پښتانه‎; also called Punjabi Pathans or Punjabi Pashtuns depending upon region of Punjab) are originally Pashtun people (Pathans) who have settled in the Punjab region of Pakistan and India.[2] These Pashtun communities are scattered throughout the Punjab and have over time assimilated into the Punjabi identity, both culturally and linguistically.

These non-frontier Pathans are usually known by the town or locality in which they are settled, e.g., Qasuria Pathans or Multani Pathans.[3] They should not be confused with the Hindkowan people, mostly comprising several Indo-Aryan groups from the same region who are a distinct yet closely related group to the Pathans, albeit there are some Hindko-language speaking clans who also have ethnic Pathan roots.


  • History and origin 1
  • Main divisions 2
    • Jalandhar Pathans 2.1
      • Lodhi 2.1.1
      • Yusufzai Of Jhajjar 2.1.2
      • Pathans of Hoshiarpur 2.1.3
    • Kasuri Pathans 2.2
    • Malerkotla Pathans 2.3
    • Mianwali , D.I.KHAN and Chach Pathans (Attock District) 2.4
    • Multani Pathans 2.5
  • Language 3
  • Famous Punjabi-Pathans of Pathan ethnicity 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6

History and origin

Colonies of Pathans (Pashtun people or ethnic Afghans) arriving in Punjab are accounted for by Sir Densil Ibbetson in the following manner:
During the Lodi and Suri dynasties many Pathans migrated to India especially during the reign of Bahlol Lodhi and Sher Shah Suri. These naturally belonged to the Ghilzai section from which those kings sprung.[4]
—Sir Densil Ibbetson

The history of Pathans in India is much earlier. Trapusa and Bahalika, variously assumed to be merchants or slaves from Balkh were the first lay-person to accept Buddha. It should be noted that during that time, the regions west of HinduKush , including Afghanistan were ruled by Mauryan empire and their vassal states of Indo-Greeks. These Indo-Greeks were staunch followers of Vishnu and Buddha and ruled large parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. They gave rise to the Hellenistic form of Buddhism which competed with the Mathura form.

Large numbers of Pathans accompanied the armies of Mahmud of Ghazni, Muhammad of Ghor and Babur, and many of them obtained grants of land in the Punjab plains and founded Pathan colonies which still exist. Many Pathans have also been driven out of Afghanistan due to devastated invading forces such as Genghis Khan and his Mongol armies, including internal feuds or famine, and have taken refuge in the plains east of the Indus River where the Mongols marked the line of their aggression.Mehmond Pathan Hoshiarpur are also in the army of Mahmud of Ghazni. Which are the strength of Pathan tribes.

The tribes most commonly to be found in the Punjab region are the Bangash, Yusufzai, Hassan Zai, Mandanr, Lodhi, Kakar, Sherwani, Orakzai, Tanoli, Kakazai, Karlanri and the Zamand Pathans. Of these the most widely distributed are the Yusufzai, of whom a body of 12,000 accompanied the Mughal Emperor Babur in the final invasion of India, and settled in the plains of India and the Punjab. But as a rule the Pathans who have settled away from the frontier have lost all memory of their tribal divisions, and indeed almost all their national characteristics.
The oral tradition of Pathans has that they are descendents of the soldiers of Alexander the Great who invaded the area in 327–323 BC. Archaeological evidence, however, suggests a Greek influence before this invasion. A phylogenetic study investigated the possible genetic relation of Pathans with Greeks and found evidence of a limited contributions of Greek genes in the Pathan population.[5]

Main divisions

The main division of the Pathans in the Punjab are as follows:

Jalandhar Pathans

Humayun Akhtar Khan

The district of Jalandhar is home to well established community of Pashtuns, dating back to at least the 14th century.[6] The Bangash, Burki and Lodhi tribes were closely connected with the district. In 1947 the overwhelming majority of these Jalandhar based Pathans and others in the Indian side moved en-mass to Pakistan.

Traditions of the Burki tribe point settlement in the district in the 16th century. The earliest settlements were Barikian and Rasta Ikhwand, both in Jalandhar city. After Jalandhar was burnt down by the Gurus of Kartarpur in 1757, Kot Khan Jahan was founded by Khan Jahan. This family was known as the Sadakhel; and other Burki tribes include the Guz, Aliak and Babakhel. Communities of the Burki, in and around the city of Jalandhar were referred to as the basti.

The Babakhel Burki are said to have come from Kaniguram in South Waziristan in 1617, accompaniying Shaikh Darwesh, leader of the Roshaniya (Pir Roshan) sect of Islam. The founded Basti Shaikh, having bought this land from the proprietors of Jalandhar. They are also founded the town of Babakhel.

Basti Guzan was founded in the time of the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan, by three sons of Musa Khan of Guz tribe. This Musa Khan had come with Shaikh Darwesh from Kaniguram, and had settled initially in Basti Shaikh. Thry afterwards bought land from the Lodhis and Sayyids, and founded Basti Guzan.

Other bastis (villages) included Basti Ibrahim Khan, Basti Pir Dad Khan, Basti Shah Quli, Basti Daanishmand and Basti Nau.


The most important and oldest Pashtun settlement in the district was that of the Lodhi tribe. Kot Bure Khan, north of the city of Jalandhar, was said to be the original settlement of the tribe. According to the Ain-i-Akbari, the Jallandhar Mahal was occupied by the Lodhi who paid a revenue of 14 lakh of dams. The Lodhis of the town of Dhogri, six miles north east of Jalandhar, were among the oldest landowners in the district. Their ancestor Tatar Khan, accompanied, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna to India, and settled in the region. Lodhi's are now found in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan.

Yusufzai Of Jhajjar

There were concentrations of Yusufzai pathans mainly in the areas of Jallandhar,Jhajjar, Amritsar, and Ludhiana. Jhajjar Pathans moved to Sargodha after the independence in 1947.

Pathans of Hoshiarpur

These include descendants of Khwaja Khan and Mehdi Khan. There were also Musakhel tribes in Hoshiarpur.

Kasuri Pathans

Qusuri or Kusuri, a pathan of Kasur - Tashrih al-aqvam (1825)
Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri

When the Zamand section was broken up, the Khweshgi (or also pronounced Kheshki) clan migrated to the Ghorband defile, and a large number marched tence with the Mughal Emperor Babar and found great favour at his hands and those of his son Humayun, One section of them settled at Kasur, and are known as "Qasuria or Kasuri Pathans"[2]

The Qasuria or kasuri Pathans increased in numbers and importance until the chiefs thought themselves strong enough to refuse to pay tribute to the Mughals. After some severe fighting the Qasuria Pathans were compelled to give in, they never lost heart however and maintained their independence until 1807, when they were finally subdued by the Sikhs. After the confiscation of Kasur by Ranjit Singh, the Pathans were ordered to remain on the left bank of the Sutlej where their leader was assigned the Jagir of Mamdot, in Firozpur District. The Mamdot family emigrated to Pakistan, after the independence in 1947.

Malerkotla Pathans

In the Indian Punjabi city of Malerkotla, sixty-five percent of the total population is Muslim and out of this population, twenty percent are Punjabi Pathans.[7]

These Pathans trace their ancestry to Shaikh Sadruddin, a pious man of the Shirani tribe of the Darband area of what is now the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan.[7] Behlol Lodhi (1451–1517), the Afghan king who had most of the western parts of India under his control, desired to rule Delhi and on his way, he was caught in a sand drift.[7] While there was nothing visible in the darkness, the King spotted a dim light of a lamp still burning in the wind. It was the hut of Shaikh Sadruddin and when the king found out, he came to the hut to show his respect and asked the holy man to pray for him to bear a son and have victory.[7] During 1451 and 1452, the king married off his daughter Taj Murassa to Shaikh Sadruddin after being enthroned in Delhi, and also gave him the area of Malerkotla.[7] The descendents of Shaikh Sadruddin branched into two groups. One started ruling the state and were given the title of Nawab.[7] The other branch lived around the Shrine of Shaikh Sadruddin, controlling its revenue.[7]

One notable thing about the Punjabi Pathans of Malerkotla is the fact the women strictly observe pardah, albeit they are no longer required to wear the burqa.[7] In regards to language, Pashto was their primary language until 1903. Afterwards, the Malerkotla Pathans began to speak Punjabi and Hindustani.[7] In the city, there are twenty nine shrines to saints from Afghanistan, whom the Malerkotla Pathans revere.[7] Although the level of education is low among the community, many of these Pathans serve in the civil service, particularly in the Indian Police Service.[7] Others maintain businesses, rent property, and rear horses.[7] Because the level of religiosity amongst Malerkotla Pathans is high, many families sent their children to madrasahs where Qur'anic education is compulsory. For higher education, many children study in schools in Patiala or Ludhiana.[7]

Mianwali , D.I.KHAN and Chach Pathans (Attock District)

The districts of Mianwali and Attock, which border the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) are a home to substantial Pathans communities. The Isakhel Tehsil of Mianwali is home to the Niazi, Afghan Khaisor , Afghan Khasors have roots from Afghanistan.They speak Sariki but very rarely some of them speak Pashto as well.they reside in the Union Council *Kirri Khaisore *Tehsil PaharPur Of Dera Ismail Khan , Turkhel and Bhangi Khel Khattaks. The Khattaks still speak Pashto.Sumbal,a prominent Pathan clan, lives in Kundian and many other areas of Mianwali.

Attock district is home to large Pathan/Pashtun communities which are found in two parts of the district, those of Sarwala, and those of Pashtun culture and people strictly follow Pashtunwali code of conduct which is based on highly primitive and backward traditions.

Multani Pathans

The descendants of Zamand very early migrated in large numbers to Multan, to which province they furnished rulers, till the reign of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, when a number of the Abdali tribe under the leadership of Shah Husain were driven from Kandahar by tribal feuds, took refuge in Multan, and being early supplemented by other of their kinsmen who were expelled by Mir Wais, the great Ghilzai chief, conquered Multan and founded the tribe well known in the Punjab as Multani Pathans.

Zahid Khan Abdali was appointed Governor of Multan with the title of Nawab, at the time of Nadir Shah's invasion. Multan was Governed by different members of this family, until in 1818 the city was captured by the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh, after a heroic defence in which the Nawab and five of his sons were slain.

Their main clans were the Alizai, Badozai, Bamzai and Saddozai, all clans of the Durrani tribe. Other tribal communities include the Babar, Khakwani, Tareen and Yousafzai.[8] In Muzaffargarh District, the Pathans of the district are related to the Multani Pathans. They settled in Muzaffargarh in the 18th century, as small groups of Multani Pathan expended their control from the city of Multan. There distribution is as follows; the Alizai Durrani are found at Lalpur, and the Popalzai are found in Docharkha, while the Babars are based in Khangarh and Tareen in Kuhawar are other important tribes.[9]


Almost all the Pathans settled in the Punjab region now speak Punjabi or Hindko while those in southern Punjab speak Saraiki as native languages. The only exemption are the Sagri Khattaks of Attock District and the Chhachh area, who still speak Pashto language and practice Pashtun culture known as Pashtunwali. Sections of Niazi i.e Sultan khel also speak pashto. Niazi tribe has retained tribal system and the pashtun culture as compared to other Punjabi Pashtuns. The Bhangi Khel of Isakhel Tehsil of District Mianwali and Jand Tehsil of District Attock also speaks Pashto. Many people wrongly assume all Pathans speak pushto and that all pushto speakers are Pathans. This is highly misplaced for example the Khans and Kakars of Chach area rarely converse in Pushto as Hindko is now the lingua Franca in the region yet their lineage to the Pathan ethnicity is not in anyway affected by this evolution in language.

Famous Punjabi-Pathans of Pathan ethnicity

٭ Ashfaq Ahmed, Famous Urdu writer & philosopher

See also


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b Punjabi Musalmans by J M Wikely
  3. ^ Punjabi Musalmans by J. M Wikely
  4. ^ Punjab castes by Denzil Ibbetson
  5. ^ (2007) 15, 121–126.European Journal of Human GeneticsSadaf Firasat (2007) Y-chromosomal evidence for a limited Greek contribution to the Pathan population of Pakistan, doi:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201726
  6. ^ Jullundur District Gazetteer Volume XIVA 1904
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Study of the Pathan Communities in four States of India". Khyber. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  8. ^ Imperial Rule in the Punjsb 1818-1881 by J Royal Rosebury page 73
  9. ^ A Gazetteer of Muzaffargarh District Part A 1929 p. 76
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