Gaju Khan Yousafzai

Gaju Khan (ګجو خان) was a powerful Pashtun chieftain who headed the Yousafzai and the vassal tribes in mid-16 century and controlled large swathes of what is now Northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Henry George Raverty states that if there was one Pashtun chief who from the extent of his territory, the number of his troops and extent of his power, was entitled to be called a king up to that period, it was Khan Gaju. At the height of his power, he was acknowledged from Nangarhar and Kunar in the west to the Margallah hills (in the Islamabad capital of Pakistan) and Gakkhar territory in the east, and from upper Swat in the north to Kohat in the south. The ruler of Pakhli (a Qarlugh Turk) and Sultan Adam (the chief of Gakkhars) in Punjab acknowledged the superiority of Gaju Khan and paid allegiance to him. He was able to bring into field over 140,000 men. 
Gaju Khan was a Saddozai Mandanr by tribe and son of a malik (chieftain) named Qara. The former was a man of fighting age in circa 1525 AD when Yousafzais battled with Dilazaks at Katlang. Following the rout of the Dilazaks in that battle, Gaju Khan led his men in the pursuit of the fleeing Dilazaks as far as river Indus. Seeing Gaju Khan, the chief of Dilazaks implored him to keep back his men, that the Dilazak females might be sent across the river, otherwise they would all throw themselves into it and perish rather than be made captives. Taking pity on the Dilazaks, Gaju Khan cried out to his clansmen, “Give over, kinsmen, let them alone! don not harm them, for, after all they are Pashtuns like ourselves.” The Dilazak chief was thus able to get across river safely with his family. Not long after the daughter of that Dilazak chief became the bride of Gaju Khan. She was his favorite wife, and her son, Ibrahim Khan, was Gaju Khan’s heir.

At some point in 1530s, Gaju Khan went to Hindustan and served under the banners of Sher Shah Sur. When Malik Ahmad died, the jirgah of Khashi tribes chose Gaju Khan as his successor. The latter surpassed his predecessor and Yousufzais gained more power and prosperity in his time. Around 1550 AD, Gaju Khan formed a great confederation of Khashi tribes and defeated the Ghoria Khels at Shaikh Tapur. In 1553 Gaju Khan besieged Sikander Khan Uzbek, the Mughal Qiladar of the fort of Peshawar. Gaju Khan had neither artillery nor firearms. His lashkar consequently, could achieve nothing against the Peshawar fort, and he lifted the siege. Next, he crossed the river Indus and raided Pindi-gheb. In another campaign he again crossed the river Indus and fully conquered Chahch Hazara and Karlugh Hazara. Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din (the ruler of Pakhli) and Sultan Adam Gakkhar sent tributes to him as token of submission.

Brig. (r) Haroon Rashid writes: “The times were favourable to him (Gaju Khan), for it was not many years after his succession to the chieftainship that Akbar was able to pay attention to the state of affairs in this territory and by that time Khan Khaju had passed away and the confederated tribes and territory, which his talent had wielded into one, again fell under the independent rule of their respective chiefs, or under the sovereignty of Emperor Akbar”. 

Gaju Khan
From ‘Dictionary of Words and Things’ by Larive and Fleury, 1895.


1-  Tawarikh Hafiz Rahmat Khani
2- “Notes on Afghanistan and parts of Baluchistan” by H.G.Raverty
3- “History of the Pathans by Haroon Rashid
4- Makhzan-i-Afghani” by Naimatullah,
5- “The Pathans”by Olaf Careo.
6-  Yousafzay” by Allah Bakhsh Yusfi, “
7- Hayat-i-Afghani by Muhammad Hayat Khan

Read also:

1- Yousafzai tribe (early history)
2- Kalu Khan Yousafzai



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