Chitral Today

Distortion of Chitral’s history

By Shahzad Nadeem

This is with reference to the article captioned “Chetrar under Katoor dynasty: Domain and political structure” written by Ghulam Sarwar Sehhrai dated July,16 2012.

I would like  to refute the historical manipulation made by the writer. It is proverbial that the people who distort their history, history distorts them. In the present time because of the technological developments and the scientific approach to research self-opinionated interpretation of history for the sake of gaining cheap reputation and personal interests, no one can play havoc with the historical facts. I shall be precise and clear because the honourable writer has dealt with the given topic with bias and self-motivated views. For a researcher of history, it is self-contradictory and opinion-based elaboration of history for meeting one’s personal ends.
The references he has given are from the very sources which he himself says weak because of their courtly affiliations. Even these sources present a different picture. The writers might have inclination towards the Katoor dynasty but the overall reading of their books reveal that Khoshwakhty dynasty had its own entity and both the dynasties had their own separate sovereign status. But they were in perpetual conflict with one another. Throughout history, the sharing of power has swung from side to side and only at the time of Amanul Mulk (1880), he captured the Khoshwakht territories through intrigues (GW Leitner 1893).
According to Shahnama Siyyar, Shah Khoshwakht usurped power from Raees for the first time in the history of Chitral. He divided the territory and gave the lower tracts of Chitral from Mulkhow to Drosh to his brother Muhtaram Shah-1 and himself became the sovereign of upper Chitral and also kept fertile lands of Jughoor, Denin, Jang Bazar, Chumurkhon and Ayun, Arandu as fief (Siyyar, Mirza Ghufran and Ghulam Murtaza).
The so-called researcher has shown Khoshwakht rulers as deputies of Katoor Mehtars. On the contrary, the Khoshwakht rulers like Shah Khoshwakht, Shah Alam, Shah Faramurd, Shah Khairullah, Sulaiman Shah and Gauher Aman held sway over the entire tracts of Chitral from Chaghansarai in south to Chatorkand Gilgit in the north (Siyyar, Bidulph, Mirza Ghufran, Barrow, Gordon).

Even Sulaiman shah and Gauhar Aman expanded the territories of their rulership from Nooristan to Poonji Gilgit (ibid).
If Sulaiman Shah were the deputy of Katoor dynasty, how it happened that Muhtaram Shah-II walked barefooted all the way from Chitral to Chuinj in Mastuj to seek pardon from him so that he could maintain the rulership over the tracts of lower Chitral (Barrow, 1887)? How it occurs that Gauhar Aman as a deputy plays a conciliatory role to settle the conflicts between Shah Afzal-II and his sons (Faiz Bakhsh, 1883).
One face to fathom that Khoshwakhtay rulers carried out correspondence with Chinese authorities and Maharaja Kashmir and their bosses. Katoor rulers have nothing to show as documentary proofs for such kind of diplomatic relationship (Webber, 2007). It is ridiculous and intellectual dishonesty to distort such historical facts.

Even John Bidulph eulogises the war-like spiriti and adventurous valour of the Khoshwakhtay rulers. I do not like to extend my rebuttal for the sake of of readers convenience as there are numerous historical evidences published and unpublished to support the supremacy of the Khoshwakhtay over others.
The given few sources prove that Chitral was not a one sovereign entity all the time. Khoshwakhtays have never been deputies to Katoor dynasty. On the other hand Katoors have remained subservient to the Khoshwakht rulers like Shah Khoshwakht , Shah Alam, Shah Faramud, Shah Khairullah and Gauhar Aman who extended their territories from Chaghan Sarai in South to Poonji Gilgit in the North.The Khoshwakht territories were occupied by Amanul Mulk through intrigues only for fifteen years from 1880-1885 (Ghufran and Ghulam Murtaza).
I will end up my discourse with a useful advice for the novice researcher that research is always based on objective analysis of Primary and Secondary sources. It is totally different from writing and opinion -based article in a news paper. A researcher must have clear mind and a clear conscience not driven by personal grudges and self interest. Only a neutral and unprejudiced researcher can find a niche in the annals of chronicles.

9 Replies to “Distortion of Chitral’s history”

  1. From Raees Kamil Jan Baigal
    HISTORY: From ancient times, Chitral was an important point on the trade routes from northern Afghanistan (ancient Bactria) and the Tarim Basin to the plains of Gandhara (in northern Pakistan), and the region near Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan. Chitral nevertheless has remained an independent state for centuries with its own culture and language. In the late nineteenth century it became part of British India. It was a princely state in 1947, which acceded to Pakistan in that year. The rule of the Mehtar came to an end in 1954 and power was henceforth exercised by the political agent posted at Chitral. The state was merged into Pakistan in 1969. The recorded history of Chitral is divided into six epochs as follows:
    Iranian rule
    The Achemeanian Empire of Persia was extended to these regions during 400 BC. Its more than two thousand years since this empire receded but its supremacy was so strongly established that many Persian cultural traits are still in practice in Northern Areas as well as few parts of Chitral. In some valleys surrounding Chitral such as Wakhan, Shaghnan, and upper parts of Chitral people speak Persian language. Even Khowar, which is the native language of the local people (Khow), contains much borrowing from Persian.
    Zoroastrianism, an Old Persian religion, has also left behind some of its traces in this area. Traditions also tell about leaving of dead bodies unburied in caves in the wilderness or in the hollow of trees. Such practices were specific in this religion. A festival on 21st March (Nouroz) the first day in Persian calendar still prevails in Chitral. It is celebrated in few valleys every year. (Israr Chitral A historical sketch
    Kushan rule
    The Kushan dynasty established its rule in this area in 200 AD. In the second century Kanishka the most powerful emperor of Kushan dynasty had extended his rule all over Northern India, probably as far as south Vindyas and all over the remote region up to Khotan beyond the Pamir pass.
    Chinese rule
    The Chinese extended their influence in the 4th century AD and remained in power until the 8th century. The rock inscription of Pakhtoridini near Maroi refers to Chinese rule. Another inscription in Barenis refers to the Kushans. According to Sir Aurel Stien, the inscription says that Jivarman ordered to make the pertinent drawing of a stupa. Such rock carvings have created confusion for writers like Buddulph and many others to believe that Chitral formed part of the last Hindu Shahi ruler of Kabul. It’s also believed that the northern parts had embraced Islam by the end of 9th century when Arabs defeated Bahman, chief of the country. By the time of withdrawal of Arabs many people had accepted Islam. (Souvenir, 2nd Hindukush Cultural Conference, p.19-21)
    Kalash rule
    In the 11th century AD southern Chitral was invaded by the Kalash from Afghanistan, who occupied the country as far to the North as Barenis village, while the upper parts were under another chief Sumalik. some Kalash Chiefs Rojawai, such as Nagar Shah and Bala sing ruled Southern Chitral from 11th to 13th centuries A.D.
    Rais rule
    In the beginning of 11th century Shah Nadir Rais occupied southern Chitral and defeated the Kalash. Shah Nadir Rais extended his dominion from Gilgit to the present southern boundaries of Chitral. Rais family ruled over Chitral for about three hundred years when
    Katura family succeeded them.
    During the Rais rule in Chitral its boundaries extended from Narsut in the extreme south of the state to Gilgit in the east. The rulers had an effective council of chiefs of the local tribes to run the affairs of the country. The ruler of this family also worked for the dissemination of the teachings of Islam in the state.
    There were no regular state forces to defend the state frontiers so the local headmen and chiefs called all the persons of their tribes to fight for the state under the collective defense system. The Mehtar (ruler) had friendly relations with the rulers of surrounding countries. (Baig, Hindu Kush study series vol. two)
    Katur rule
    The Katur succeeded the Rais dynasty in 1595. Muhtaram Shah I was the founder of Kature rule in Chitral, whose descendants ruled over Chitral until 1969 when the State was merged as a district of NWFP.
    During the rule of Amirul Mulk in 1895, Umra Khan the chief of Jandool crossed the Lawari pass and invaded lower Chitral. As a result, there was fierce fighting in which the Mehtar of Chitral and British officers were besieged in Chitral fort for 42 days. Troops from Gilgit and Nowshera came to the rescue of the besieged fort and the British rule was extended over entire Chitral in April 1895. Shuja ul Mulk emerged as the ruler after the war who ruled for 42 years until 1936.
    During the Pakistan movement there was a campaign in Chitral in favor of independence. The people backed all India Muslim League and Mehtar Muzafarul Mulk openly declared his backing to the Pakistan movement. In May 1947 H.H. Muzafarul Mulk informed the Viceroy about his intention to join the new state of Pakistan. The accession instrument was signed on November 7, 1947.
    The ruling family of Chitral traces its decent from Baba Ayub, a disciple of the saint Kamal Shah Shamsuddin Tabrizi, who settled in the village of Lon and Gokher. According to family tradition, Ayub was a son of Fareidun Hussein, tenth son of Shah Abu’l Ghazi Sultan Husain Baiqara Bahadur Khan, Padshah of Khorasan. However, Persian, Central Asian or Mughal sources are silent on such a connection. Baba Ayub is said to have arrived in Chitral from Khorasan, married the daughter of the ruler, a supposed descendant of Alexander the Great. The grandson of this marriage founded the present dynasty. Accordingly, the family actually owes their fortunes to Sangan Ali, sometimes Minister to Shah Rais, ruler of Chitral during the sixteenth century. His sons seized power following his death in 1570, establishing a new ruling dynasty over the state.
    The period between Sangan ‘Ali’s accession to power and modern times is clouded by fratricidal warfare, contests for power with the former Raisiya dynasty, the Kushwaqte family and endless disputes with neighbouring rulers. So much so that it is nearly impossible to date the reigns or lives of many of the rulers. Only during the middle of the nineteenth century, when permanent Dogra rule was established in Kashmir, European travellers, administrators and scholars began to enter the area and take an interest in its history, and gradually the history of the country, its people, languages and culture, began to emerge from the mists of time. However, this task is far from complete and it will be many years before Chitral yields up all its mysteries and secrets.
    Shah Afzal II, who ruled from the beginning of the nineteenth century until its middle, fought against the Afghans in support of his allies, the rulers of Badakhshan. He also fought against the Dogras and against his Kushwaqte kinsmen, but later switched sides and concluded treaty relations with the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. Thereafter becoming a protectorate of Kashmir in return for an annual subsidy to pay for troops and the supervision of the Afghan border. Aman ul-Mulk, Afzal’s younger son, succeeded his brother in 1857. After a brief dispute with Kashmir, in which he laid siege to the garrison at Gilgit and briefly held the Puniyal valley, he accepted a new treaty with the Maharaja in 1877. After a relatively long reign, he died peacefully in 1892. Aman’s younger son, Afzal ul-Mulk, proclaimed himself ruler during the absence of his elder brother. He then proceeded to eliminate several of his brothers, potential contenders to his throne. This initiated a war of succession which lasted three years. Afzal ul-Mulk was killed by his uncle, Sher Afzal, the stormy petrel of Chitral and a long-time thorn in his father’s side. He held Chitral for under a month, then fled into Afghan territory. Nizam ul-Mulk, Afzal ul-Mulk’s eldest brother and the rightful heir, then succeeded in December of the same year.
    At about that time, Chitral came under the British sphere of influence following the Durand Agreement, which delineated the border between Afghanistan and the Indian Empire. Nizam ul-Mulk’s possessions in Kafiristan and the Kunar Valley were recognised as Afghan territory and ceded to the Amir. Within a year, Nizam was himself murdered by yet another ambitious younger brother, Amir ul-Mulk. The approach of a strong military force composed of British and Kashmiri troops prompted Amir to flee with to his patron, the Khan of Jandul. The British had decided to support the interests of Shuja ul-Mulk, the youngest legitimate son of Aman ul-Mulk, and the only one untainted by the recent spate of murder and intrigue. After entering Chitral and installing the young Mehtar, British and Kashmiri forces endured the famous defence against a seven-week siege by Sher Afzal and the Khan of Jandul. The British then captured Sher Afzal and Amir ul-Mulk, deporting them both to Madras. Although Shuja ul-Mulk was now firmly established as ruler, the Kashmiris annexed Yasin, Kush, Ghizr and Ishkoman. Kashmiri suzerainty over Chitral ended in 1911, Chitral became a salute state in direct relations with the British.
    Mastuj, also removed from the Mehtar’s jurisdiction in 1895, was restored to him within two years. Shuja reigned for forty-one years, during which Chitral enjoyed an unprecedented period of internal peace. He was probably the first ruler to journey outside Chitral, visiting various parts of India and meeting a number of fellow rulers. He supported the British during the Third Afghan War in 1919, during which four of his sons and the Chitral State Forces served in several actions guarding the border against invasion. Nasir ul-Mulk, succeeded his father in 1936. He was the first ruler of his line to receive a modern education, becoming a noted poet and scholar in his own right. He took a deep interest in military, political and diplomatic affairs, and spent much of his time on improving the administration.
    Dying without a surviving male heir in 1943, his successor was his younger brother, Muzaffar ul-Mulk. Also a man with a military disposition, his reign witnessed the tumultuous events surrounding the transfer of power in 1947. His prompt action in sending in his own Body Guard to Gilgit was instrumental in securing the territory for Pakistan. The unexpected early death of Muzaffar ul-Mulk saw the succession pass to his relatively inexperienced eldest son, Saif ur-Rahman, in 1948. Due to certain tensions he was exiled from Chitral by the Government of Pakistan for six years. They appointed a board of administration composed of Chitrali and Pakistani officials to govern the state in his absence. He died tragically in a plane crash while returning to resume charge of Chitral in 1954.
    Saif ul-Mulk succeeded his father at the tender age of four. He reigned under a Council of Regency for the next twelve years, during which Pakistani authority gradually increased over the state. Although installed as a constitutional ruler when he came of age in 1966, he did not enjoy his new status very long. Chitral was absorbed and fully integrated into the Republic of Pakistan by Prime Minister Bhutto in 1971. In order to reduce the popular Mehtar’s influence, he, like so many other princes in neighbouring India, was “invited” to represent his country abroad. He served in various diplomatic posts and retired from the service as Consul-General in Hong Kong in 1989.
    TENURES OF MEHTARS: Mehtars of Chitral [1] 1712 – 1745, Sangalli 1745 – Unknown date, Mohammad Beg Unknown date – 1775, Unknown ruler 1775 – 1790, Faramarz Shah of Yasin 1790 – 1795, Shah Afzal I1795 – 1798, Shah Fazal 1798 – Unknown date, Shah Khairullah Khuswaqte Unknown date – 1818, Mohtaram Shah II (1st time) 1818 – 1820s, Nawaz Khan 1820s – 1833, Aman ul-Mulk I 1833 – 1837, Mohtaram Shah II (2nd time) 1837 – 1853, Shah Afzal II 1853 – 1857, Mohtaram Shah III 1857 – 30th August 1892, Aman ul-Mulk II 30 August 1892 – 1 December 1892, Afzal ul-Mulk1 December 1892 – 12Â December 1892, Shir Afzal Khan 12 December 1892 – 1 January 1895, Nizam ul-Mulk1 January 1895 – 2 September 1895, Amir ul-Mulk 1 May 1895 – 13 October 1936, Shuja ul-Mulk 13 October 1936 – 29 June 1943, Mohammad Nasir ul-Mulk 29 June 1943 – 7 January 1949, Mohammad Muzaffar ul-Mulk 7 January 1949 – 14 October 1953, Saif ur-Rahman 14 October 1953 – 28 July 1969, Mohammad Saif ul-Mulk Nasir 28 July 1969 State of Chitral dissolved.

    1. Professor Mumtaz Hussain sahib is the treasure of information. He has very vast knowledge of history, current affairs and general knowledge. I would like to request him to keep writing about the style of governance of those rulers, covering their administration, finance, means of communications and foreign affairs etc.

  2. From Raees Kamil Jan Baigal
    Mumtaz Hussain
    History of the Chitrali Historiography is not as short as generally believed to be. Muhammad Siyar wrote his Shahnama, sometimes around the last closing of the Eighteenth Century. Next work of any importance, on this topic came a hundred years later, when Mirza Ghufran compiled his seminal work titled Tarikh e Chitral in 1893. This work became foundation of further writings on the history of this region in the forthcoming years. From the middle of the Nineteenth Century, Western writer also began writing on the history of Chitral and the adjacent areas. Today we have got volumes of works on the history of region, but all this material is basically a narration of the events which took place after the taking over of the Katur Dynasty. Very little has been written on the periods before the advent of the Katurs so far. Recently, some local writers published books on the Pre-Katur history, but these works bear little utility or credibility, due to lack of writing skills in the writers. The works are just haphazard conglomeration of traditions and opinions, and one gain hardly anything after going through these books.
    However, some western researchers have tried to reconstruct the early history of this area with the help of historical works of the surrounding areas, as well as the local traditions. Some very interesting facts have been uncovered as a result of this research.
    One of these discoveries is a name “Shah Baber Raees”. This name appears nowhere in the works of the local or earlier Western Writers. Mirza Muhammad Ghafran’s first book on the History of Chitral makes only casual reference to the Raees Rule, without mentioning any of the names. A list of ten Raees rulers have been recorded by Mirza Ghufran in his second version of the same book in 1919. Where from these names came? It is a big question mark. Some Western writer suspected that these were invented by Nasir ul Mulk around 1940. But their presence in an earlier work has made the opinion baseless. The omission of Shah Babur from the list of Raees rulers, adds more suspect and discredit to it, as well as to the chronology associated with it.
    The name of Shah Baber Raees was first mentioned in Bahr al Asrar, a history of the Uzbek Kingdom of Balkh, written in the seventeenth century. It says that a Shia ruler, by the name of Shah Baber, was ruling Chitral about the year 1620. The name appears in many other sources such as Akhmedov, the Uzbec historian. Although local traditions in the Khowar speaking areas are silent on this, except that the village of Babur Abad (corrupted as Bakrabad) is named after him. He is said to have brought the area under cultivation, by constructing a water channel from the Jughur Steam. The name Shah Babur, is however repeatedly mentioned in the oral traditions of the Non-Khow communities in the Southern Chitral. Sometimes the name Sha Bumbur also appears in these traditions, which may or may not be the same man. Prince Afzal ul Mulk is reported to name Babur as one of the earlier rulers of Chitral, while talking to a French traveller in 1887. Hidayatur Rehman, a local writer on history, identifies the name Taj Mughol as Shah Babur Raees. He says that the Mughols of Kashghar were the first outside ruler to conquer this country, so the local people considered Mughol and foreign invaders to be synonymous. When Babur, an outsider from Badakhshan, conquered this country, they called him Mughul, but a Taji (Tajik) Mughol. This argument is supported by outside sources, which call him a Shia (Ismaili). According to local traditions, both in Chitral and Gilgit, Taj Mughol was responsible for the spread of Isamili faith.
    The picture of this man which can be constructed with all these discoveries is like this. He was originally a ruler of Badakhshan, ousted by the Uzbeks of Balkh. He came to Chitral with a considerable number of followers, and conquered it. As he was Ismaili, the creed got foothold in the country, and continued to flourish. However he himself was forced to convert to Sunnism, when threatened by the Uzbeks, who were by now masters of Badakhshan. Later in 1641, Chitral was invaded by the the Chaghtai Kingdom of Kashghar, and Babur became a tributary to Kashghar. What happened next, is not known. Babur disappears from the history after this, however his son Shah Raees is said to rule Yasin, sometime later.
    Some of the sources are given here for ready reference.
    Holzwarth.W. (1996) Chitral History, 1540-1660: Comments on Sources and Historiography. In Bashir and Israr-ud-Din: 1996.
    Cacopardo, A.M. & A.S. Cacopardo (2001) Gates of Peristan, History, Religion and Society in the Hindu Kush.
    Biddulf, J. (1880) Tribes of the Hidoo Koosh. Calutta. Repr. Peshawar1986. مرزا محمد غفران (۱۸۹۳) تاریخ چترال فارسی نسخہ دوم .
    مرزا محمد غفران (۱۹۲۰) تاریخ چترال فارسی نسخہ دوم
    غلام مرتضیٰ (۱۹۶۱) نئی تاریخ چترال اردو .

  3. Chitral proper and lastly Kosht/Mulkho was the capital of this northern region formerly called Kafiristan. A few points to be noted..1- Raees period was much peaceful without many internal feuds. 2- Khushwaqtan rulers did know of being Chitral as the real capital. So they respected its authority: Mirza Ghufran has also declared it as a subject state to Chitral and that its rulers are recommended by that of Chitral is a false concept based on prejudice. Some stronger among Khushwaqts did occupy Chitral for a short period but could not rule over it. All history books, land demarcation documents and details of tribes of this whole region were provided to English from the office of Chitral State. Khushwaqtans were weaker to Katur in energy and force and because of their being Ismailis. They possessed a force comprised of Tangiri/Dangerik, Kohistanis and diverse variety which were no a match to the traditional dedicated and disciplined Katur people of Torkho, Mulkho and both Kuhs.

  4. Dear Writer, whether the Khoshwakhtays were more powerful or the Katoors, that’s not an issue. Because both Khoshwakhtays and Katoors belong to the same clan and have the same blood in them!! So it doesn’t matter whether Khoshwakhtays were more powerful or the Katoors!! Both are same!

  5. What about the Raees dynasty? Their rule was perhaps the non-bloody and the most important era in Chitral’s history. Being a genuine chitrali and a Raees myself, I refuse to accept anything that lacks thorough research and that is pseudo-scientific and pseudo-intellectual, especially when that thing has something to do with people’s “race” and sentiments.

  6. This is the worst and most blatant crap i have ever heard. This fellow has the most imaginative mind and what a falsification and distortion of history, he is calling the sky black, the grass blue and the water orange. His objective is to cause friction between the Kators and Khoshwakhty brothers. Referencing from books and taking one line out of context, when the same books contradict everything that he says. I urge this brother to repudiate his statement and take back his words. You cannot rewrite history to your own liking and expect to change history. Please show some respect to the people of Chitral, they are not the gullible.

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