Hazara, Pakistan

Hazara, Pakistan

Hazara is a valley and region located in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Until the year 2000 the region was an administrative subdivision of the NWFP known as Hazara Division, headquartered at the city of Abbottabad. [Hazara -Nordisk familjebok] However, the divisions were abolished in 2000, as part of an administrative shake up. Although the administrative division has been abolished by the government, the identity and name have been retained and used for other purposes. For example, the University of Hazara, based in Mansehra, provides higher education to people of the region. The election commission of Pakistan also groups the districts of Pakistan under the former divisions. Five districts make up Hazara; these are Abbottabad, Battagram, Haripur, Kohistan and Mansehra [ [http://www.ecp.gov.pk/content/District.html Divisions/Districts of Pakistan] ] .


According to the Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 13, p. 76: "The origin of the name Hazāra is obscure. It has been identified with Abisāra, the country of Abisares, the chief of the Indian mountaineers at the time of Alexander's invasion. Dr. Stein regards it as derived from Urasā, the ancient name of Pakhli. Another possible derivation is from Hazara-i-Karlugh, or the Karlugh legion, which was settled in this tract by Timur after his invasion of India." [ [http://dsal.uchicago.edu/reference/gazetteer/pager.html?objectid=DS405.1.I34_V13_082.gifHazāra District - Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 13, p. 76.] ]

In spite of Imperial Gazetteer's above-quoted views, modern historians and distinguished Indologists including Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee, Dr B. C. Law, Dr J. C. Vidyalankar, Dr M. Witzel, Dr M. R. Singh and Prof K. N. Dhar concur with Dr Stein's identification of modern Hazara with the ancient Sanskrit name Urasa ["Kalhana's Rajatarangini: A Chronicle of the Kings of Kaśmīr (1988), P 267, Kalhana, M. A. Stein; The Historical Background of Pakistan and Its People (1973), P 156, Ahmed Abdulla; Ethnic Settlements in Ancient India: A Study on the Puranic Lists of the Peoples of Bharatavarsa (1955), P 91, Sashi Bhusan Chaudhuri; Kalhana (1978), P 57, Somnath Dhar; The Indian Society: A Process of Peoples' Revolutionary Struggle Through the Ages (1974), P 207, R. P. Saraf; Indian Conquest of the Himalayan Territories: Military Exploits of General Zorawar Singh Dogra (1978), P 18, Sukh Dev Singh Charak; Maharaja Ranjitdev and the Rise and Fall of Jammu Kingdom, from 1700 A.D. to 1820 A.D. (ed. 1971), P 133, Sukh Dev Singh Charak; Studies in Alexander's Campaigns (1973), P 48, B. C. (Binod Chandra) Sinha; History of India (1906), P 76, Henry Miers Elliot, Romesh Chunder Dutt, Vincent Arthur Smith, Stanley Lane-Poole, Sir William Wilson Hunter, Sir Alfred Comyn Lyall; Hindu Sahis of Afghanistan and the Punjab - P 77, Yogendra Mishra; Who's Who In The Age Of Alexander The Great: Prosopography of Alexander's Empire (2006), P xxviii, Waldemar Heckel; The North-west India of the Second Century B.C. )1974), P 20, Mehta Vasishtha Dev Mohan; Studies in Skanda Purāṇa – 1965, Page 1, A. B. L. Awasthi; The Indian Historical Quarterly (1963), P 553; History of the Panjab Hill States (1933), P 671, John Hutchison, Jean Philippe Vogel; Eminent Rulers of Ancient Kashmir: A Detailed History of the Life and Rule of Ten Kings and...(1975), M. L. (Manohar Lal) Kapur; The Greek World in the Fourth Century: From the Fall of the Athenian Empire to the Successors of...(1997), P 224, Lawrence A. Tritle; The Panjab, North West Frontier Province and Kashmir – (2003), P 160, James Douie; History of the Panjab Hill States (1994), P 667, John Hutchison, Jean Philippe Vogel; The Geographical Encyclopaedia of Ancient and Medieval India: Based on Vedic, Puranic, Tantric,..(1967), P 40, Krishna Datta Bajpai; The Travels of Marco Polo: The Complete Yule---= al Shri Parmananda Research Institute; An Advanced History of India (1956, P 164; Ancient Nepal (1969), P 21, D. R. Regmi; The Geographical Dictionary of Ancient and Mediaeval India. (1971), p 236, Nundo Lal Dey; Kashmir: an historical introduction (1961), P 100, James P. Ferguson; History of Kanauj (1990), P 84, Rama Shankar Tripathi; Foundations of the Hindo Indian Culture Pt. 1 & 2 (1991), P 24, Govind Chandra Pande; Kashīr, Being a History of Kashmīr from the Earliest Times to Our Own (1949), P 238, Ghulām Muhyid Dīn Sūfī, Ghulam Muhyi'd Din Sufi; On Yuan Chwang's Travels in India, 629-645 A.D. (1904), P 257, Thomas Watters, Vincent Arthur Smith, Thomas William Rhys Davids, Stephen Wootton Bushell; Accounts of India and Kashmir in the Dynastic Histories of the Tʾang Period (1968), P 24, Hsü Liu, Hsiu Ou-yang; Indological Studies (1950), P 18, Bimala Churn Law; Harsha and His Times (1970), P 211, Baijnath Sharma; Memoirs of Zehīr-Ed-Dīn Muhammed Bābur: emperor of Hindustan (1921), P 201, Babur; Trubner's Oriental Series: Translated from the Chinese of Hiuen Tsiang (A.D. 629), (2001), Samuel Beal - Social Science; Yuan Chawang, pp 256-57 (I), Watters etc etc". ] .

Evidence from 7th C Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang [ Watters, Yuan Chawang, Vol I, p 284. ] attests that Hazara District of Kashmir had formed part of epic Kamboja and that the Kamboja rulers of this region observed a republican system of government [Mahabharata 7/91/39-40; Political History of Ancient India (1996), p 133, 218/220, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee; History of India (1944), P 94; Narendra Krishna Sinha, Anil Chandra Banerjee; Chilas: The City of Nanga Parvat (Dyamar) (1983), p. 120, Ahmad Hasan Dani; Indological Studies (1950), P 18, Dr B. C. Law; A Companion to Middle Indo-Aryan Literature (1977), P 168, Suresh Chandra Banerji; A Companion to Sanskrit Literature: spanning a period of over three thousand years, containing... (1971), P 486, Sures Chandra Banerji; Asoka - P 31, Dr R. G. Bhandarkar; J.N. Banerjea Volume: A Collection of Articles by His Friends and Pupils (1960), p 18, University of Calcutta. Dept. of Ancient Indian History and Culture. Alumni Association. ] .

Alexander the Great and Ashoka

Alexander the Great, after conquering parts of Punjab, established his rule over a large part of Hazara. In 327 B.C., Alexander handed this area over to Abisaras (Αβισαρης), the Raja of Poonch state.

Hazara remained a part of Taxila during the rule of the Maurya dynasty. Ashoka was the Governor of this area when he was a prince. After the death of Ashoka’s father, Bindusara, Ashoka inherited the throne and ruled this area as well as Gandhara. Today, the famous edicts of Ashoka, inscribed on three rocks near Bareri Hill, serve as evidence of his rule. These edicts also show that this area was a famous religious centre for pilgrims. The name Mansehra is a modified form of the name Maan Singh, who once ruled over this area.

Hazara has several places of significance for the pagans related to the Pandavas . In the 2nd century CE, a mythical king Raja Risalu, son of Raja Salbahan of Sialkot, brought the area under his control. The local people consider him as their hero and, even today, parents tell their children the stories of Raja Risalu and his wife Rani Konklan on winter nights. When a Chinese pilgrim, Hiun-Tsang, visited this area, it was under the control of Durlabhavardhana, the ruler of Kashmir.

The Turkish Shahi Dynasties ruled Hazara one after another. Among the Hindu Shahi dynasty rulers, Raja Jayapala is the best known. Mehmood of Ghazni defeated Raja Jayapala during his first campaign. However, there is no historical evidence that Mehmood of Ghazni ever visited or passed through Mansehra. After the fall of the Shahi dynasty, in the 11th century, the Kashmiris took control of this area under the leadership of Kalashan (1063 to 1089). From 1112 to 1120, King Susala ruled this area. In the 12th century, Asalat Khan captured this area but soon after Mohammad of Ghor's death the Kashmiris once again regained control of Hazara.

Turkish rule

In 1399, the great Muslim warrior Timur, on his return to Kabul, stationed his Turk soldiers in Hazara to protect the important route between Kabul and Kashmir. By 1472, Prince Shahab-ud-Din came from Kabul and established his rule over the region. Prince Shahab-ud-Din, a Turk of central Asian origin, founded the state and named it Pakhli Sarkar and chose Gulibagh as his capital. During the Mughal rule, these local Turkish chiefs acknowledged Mughal authority. In fact, Hazara (Pakhli) provided the main route to Kashmir and was the most commonly used route for Emperor Akbar to travel to Kashmir. During the last days of Emperor Akbar's rule, the Turkish Chief Sultan Hussain Khan revolted against the Mughals. He claimed that the Mughals were interfering with his internal affairs. After this complaint, he was exiled by the Mughals, but later was pardoned and given back his land. Now, descendants of these Turkish rulers live in village Behali and some other villages of Mansehra, Abbottabad, and Haripur districts.They are known as Rajas as the local people called them even at that time when they called themselves Sultan.

Durrani rule

When Ahmad Shah Durrani expanded his kingdom to Punjab, Hazara also came under his control. Durrani considered it wise to rule the area through local tribal chiefs, like Saadat Khan and Faqir Khan of Garhi Habibullah. Saadat Khan was such an authoritative man amongst Swatis whereas Faqir Khan was the khakan of his Mughal tribe and they were considered to be the fighting machines, even disputed matters of Jadoons and Tanolis had been sent to them for rectification through jirgas. The Durranis' rule ended abruptly in the beginning of the 18th century.

The first quarter of the 18th century was miserable for the Turks. Their rule came to an end due to the decay of their vitality and the increasing aggression of the Pukhtoons. The most crucial attack was that of the Swatis in 1703, under the command of Syed Jalal Baba who was a son-in-law of last Turk ruler, Sultan Mehmud Khurd. During the absence of his father-in-law Syed Jalal Baba invited Swatis to invade Pakhli Sarkar. Being an insider, he provided crucial information to invading forces and succeeded in overthrowing his in-laws through his shrewd conspiracy. Turks had already became weak due to their internal feuds, as well. Swatis thus ousted the Turks from upper Hazara (Mansehra and Batagram) and captured it. However, the extremely hostile and powerful Tanolis, of the Tanawal Mountains, brave and hardy, who were deemed the best swordsmen in Hazara, remained loyal to the Turks until the end of latter's rule in Hazara. By the time Awans, Jadoons, Karlal and Tareens captured lower Hazara (Abbottabad and Haripur), the Tanolis, who later on founded a state named Amb, had already established their authority over Tanawal. Upper Tanawal and Lower Tanawal, covering the greater part of Hazara, have been ruled by Tanolis for centuries. Descendants of the former Turkish rulers of Hazara now live in the village of Behali, district Mansehra, and in some other villages of Abbottabad, Haripur and Mansehra.

Another famous martial tribe called the Gakhars settled in Khanpur (NWFP) in the early 18th Century. This tribe once ruled areas from Attock to Jhelum.

ikh rule

Durrani rule had weakened considerably at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1818 Ranjit Singh formally annexed Hazara; however, in 1820 his generals were defeated. In 1821, during another attempt at conquest by the Sikhs, Amar Singh was killed at Harroh. Sardar Hari Singh, the governor of Kashmir, then went to Hazara to battle against the tribes, but it took him three years to subdue the warlike mountaineers of the outer hills. It was not until 1836 that the Gakhars of Khanpur were finally defeated. [http://www.nrb.gov.pk/city_district/list_of_towns.htm Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 13, p. 77.] ]

However in 1845 the local populace, taking advantage of the problems in Lahore (the capital of the Sikh Empire), rose up in rebellion. They drove the governor of Hazara, Diwan Mulraj, to Hasan Abdal in 1846. However, with the conclusion of the first Sikh War, Hazara along with Kashmir was given to Raja Gulab Singh. But in 1847 the Raja gave back Hazara to the Lahore Darbar in exchange for land near Jammu, and Hazara passed into British control.

British rule and Pashtun resistance

After the first Sikh War, the area was governed by
Major James Abbott. Abbott managed to secure and pacify the area within a year. During the Second Sikh War Abbott and his men were cut off by the Sikh army from supplies and reinforcements from the rest of the British Army, but were able to maintain their position.

By 1849, the British had gained control of all of Mansehra. However, the western Pashtun tribes remained rebellious. These tribes included the clans of Allai, Batagram in the Nandhiar valley, and the tribes inhabiting both slopes of the Black Mountain of Hazara.

In 1852, after three years of relative peace, Zaman Shah of Kaghan turned against the British. James Abbot sent an expedition to Kaghan which deprived Zaman Shah of his territory and he was exiled to Pakhli plain. After four years the British forgave him and he was permitted to get back his lost territory.

The British sent many expeditions against the Pashtun tribes to crush the rebellion between 1852 and 1892, especially against the Black Mountains. Along with some parts of Balakot which are located near to the boundary of Azad Jammu & Kashmir including Neelum Valley to stop the resistance by Mughal tribes and those tribes were command by Faqir Khan of Lambian Pattian.

To maintain peace in the area the British also took preventive measures by co-opting the local rulers.

The British divided Hazara District into three Tehsils (administrative subdivisions) : Mansehra, Abbottabad, and Haripur; and decided to annex it to the Punjab. In 1901, when the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) was formed, Hazara was separated from Punjab and made a part of NWFP. Throughout their rule in Mansehra, the British met fierce resistance from the local Pashtun tribes and declared martial law. Meanwhile, the people of Mansehra's many villages largely governed themselves. Many of Mansehra's citizens joined the Khilafat movement.

When the Muslim League in Pakistan started its movement for a separate land, the local people joined and struggled for liberation under the leadership of Quaid-i-AzamFact|date=October 2007. Their eventual victory culminated in the creation of Pakistan, an independent state for the Muslims of the sub-continent. During Bhutto's regime, Mansehra was upgraded to a district, containing two subdivisions: Mansehra and Batagram. Later, the Mansehra district had the Balakot subdivision added to it.

Swatis were given places by Turks in Hazara so that they can protect the valley from the foreign attacks. There was no fight fought between Turks and Swatis; Punjabis remained popular.


During British rule, the region of Hazara had formed part of the Punjab province, until the western parts of that province were separated to form the new North-West Frontier Province. The areas around Abbottabad and Mansehra became the Hazara District of Peshawar Division, whilst areas to the north of this became the Hazara Tribal Agency and the Kohistan Tribal Agency. Sandwiched between Hazara Tribal Agency and the Hazara district were the small princely states of Amb and Phulra. This system of administration continued until 1950, when these two small states were incorporated into the Hazara district.

From 1955 to 1970, the North-West Frontier Province became part of West Pakistan under the One Unit policy, with the Hazara district forming part of the Peshawar division of West Pakistan. On the dissolution of West Pakistan, the Hazara district and the two tribal agencies were merged to form the new Hazara division with its capital at Abbottabad. The division was initially composed of three districts (Abbottabad, Kohistan and Mansehra) but within a few years, Haripur district was spun off from Abbottabad District and Batagram District was spun off from Mansehra District.

In 2000, administrative divisions were abolished and the fourth tier districts were raised to become the new third tier of government in Pakistan.

Geography and climate

Hazara is bounded on the north and east by the Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir. To the south are the Islamabad Capital Territory and the province of Punjab, whilst to the west lies the rest of the North-West Frontier Province. The river Indus runs through the division in a north-south line, forming much of the western border of the division. The total area of Hazara is 18,013 km².

Because it lies immediately south of the main Himalaya Range, and is exposed to moist winds from the Arabian Sea, Hazara is the wettest part of Pakistan. At Abbottabad, annual rainfall averages around 1,200mm (47 inches) but has been as high as 1,800mm (70 inches), whilst in parts of Mansehra District such as Balakot the mean annual rainfall is as high as 1,750mm (68 inches). Due to its location on the boundary between the monsoonal summer rainfall regime of East Asia and the winter-dominant Mediterranean climate of West Asia, Hazara has an unusual bimodal rainfall regime, with one peak in February or March associated with frontal southwest cloudbands and another monsoonal peak in July and August. The driest months are October to December, though in the wettest parts even these months average around 40mm (1.6 inches).

Due to the high altitude, temperatures in Hazara are cooler than on the plains, though Abbottabad at 1,200m still has maxima around 32°C (90°F) with high humidity in June and July. Further up, temperatures are cooler, often cooler than the Northern Areas valleys due to the cloudiness. In winter, temperatures are cold, with minima in January around 0°C (32°F) and much lower in the high mountains. Snowfalls are not uncommon even at lower levels.


The population of the Hazara region was estimated to be over 4.5 million in 2005. The total area of Hazara is 18013 km²: See table below.


Only two districts in the division are Pashtun and Dardic in character, these bieng Kohistan and Batagram. Dardic and Pashto speakers form the majority population in Kohistan District, and district Batagram is overwhelmingly Pashtun. The remaining three districts of Manshera, Abbottabad and Haripur are predominantly Hindko speaking and the people similar to those of Northern Punjab. Overall approximately half of the population speaks Gujri and Hindko and most of the rest speak Pashto and Kohistani. Small numbers of people speak other languages (Persian, Panjabi, Pohari etc) but there is considerable bilingualism and multilingualism amongst the population. The districts of Haripur and Abbottabad have higher literacy rates than most districts of the province.

Afghan refugees, although predominantly Pashtun (including the Ghilzai and Durrani tribes), and other smaller groups are found throughout the Division. There is a considerable presence of Tajik's, Uzbek's (Mazar-e-Sharif Restaurant) and Hazara (Afghan)in the area.

The population of Hazara was estimated to be over 4.5 million in 2005.

The University of Hazara provides higher education to people of the region.


Hazara lies close to the crossroads formed by the river Indus and the Grand Trunk Road. The Karakoram Highway begins at the town of Havelian and goes north through the division towards China via the Northern Areas.

See also

* Divisions of Pakistan
* North-West Frontier Province
* 1974 Hunza earthquake
* Battagram


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