The Afghan principality of Kasur (1526–1807)

Qasur is plural of Qasr (قصر) which means fortress or castle in Arabic. The place was named so because of the twelve forts built by Pashtuns settlers in 16th century, majority whom belonged to the Khweshgi (also spelled as Kheshgi) tribe of Pashtuns. The twelve forts were named after the heads of the twelve clans of Kheshgis. 

The Khweshgi Pashtun joined the army of Mughal king Babur in Kabul and fought against the army of Sultan Ibrahim Lodi in 1526. As a reward for their services, Babur granted them the present territory of Kasur as jagir.. They were regarded with favour by Mughal emperors and many of them attained high ranks in the Mughal nobility.

Khweshgis founded a considerable principality, with territory on both sides of the river Sutlej. When the Sikhs rose to power, they experienced great opposition from the Indo-Afghans of Kasur; and, though the chiefs of the Bhangi confederacy stormed the town in 1763, and again in 1770, and succeeded for a while in holding the entire principality, the Indo-Afghans leaders re-established their independence in 1794, and resisted many subsequent attacks. In 1807, however, Kutb-ud-din Khan, the last chieftain, was forced to give way before Ranjit Singh, and retired to his property at Mamdot, beyond the Sutlej. The town of Kasur was then incorporated in the kingdom of Lahore. The Indo-Afghan element declined after the fall of Kasur to Sikhs. 

The city of Kasur built and ruled by Pashtuns, was massive. William Barr saw the extensive ruins of Kasur (destroyed by Ranjit Singh) in 1839 and writes: “Kusoor, a large and ancient town, that in former days must have covered an extensive area , as its ruins are interminable”.

Arzani Kheshgi

Mullah Arzani Kheshgi was a Pashtun Sufi poet of Roshniya movement and originally belonged to Kasur. He belonged to the Zerzai sub-tribe of Kheshgis. He was a profound scholar and a prominent figure in Pashto literature. He was a close associate and follower of Bayazid Ansari (Pir Roshan). Mullah Arzani returned to India to propagate Bayazid Ansari’s mission there. After a long residence in Patna , he died there in 1623 and is buried there. His tomb is in the Sultanganj area of Patna city.

Nazar Bahadur Kheshgi

Nazar Bahadur Kheshgi was a noble of Mughal empire in the reigns of Jahangir and Shah Jahan. He reached the mansab of 4,000/4,000.

For detailed history of the Afghans of Kasur, see “Tarikh-i-Punjab aur Afaghana-i-Kasur ka kirdar” by Muhammad Ayub Khan (published in 1988). “Hayat-I-Afghani” by Muhammad Hayat Khan (published in 1865) contains a note on the Afghans of Kasur. 

Ghulam Husain Khan, an Afghan , 1815, inhabitant of the Fort of Ali Jan Khan in Kasur (Punjab). From Fraser Album.


Portrait of Nazar Khan Khweshgi. Source
 Shrine of Arzani Kheshgi in Patna, 1814’s Water-colour painting by Seeta Ram



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