History of the Bangash tribe

Bangash is the name given to a number of Pashtun tribes, formerly estimated to amount to some 100,000 families, as well as to the tract of mountainous country which they held. This tract was once divided into Bala (Upper) and Pain (Lower) Bangash and was thence called the Bangashat (in the plural) or the two Bangash. The first historical mention of the Bangashat occurs in Babar’s Tuzuk, but the two tracts had long been under the control of the Turk and Mughal rulers of the Ghazniwi empire as the most practicable routes from Ghazni and Kabul into India lay through them. At a period when the Khataks and Orakzais are barely referred to, we find constant mention of the Afghans of Bangash. Roughly speaking, Upper Bangash included Kurram and Lower Bangash the country round Kohat, but it is difficult to define accurately the shifting boundaries of the tuman as it was called by the Mughal. According to the Ain-i- Akbari this tuman formed part of the sarkar and subah (province) of Kabul.

The Afghan tribes of Bangash were of Karani (Karlarni) origin . The Baizai, descendants of Bai, and the Malik-Miris or Miranzais, sprung from Malik Mir, were the parent tribes of the Afghans of Bangash, and to these were affiliated the Kaghzi, descended from Kakhai or Kaghai, daughter of Malik Mir, by a husband of an unknown tribe. The Malik-Miris, as Malik Mir’s descendants in the male line, held the chieftainship, but it subsequently passed to the Baizais. The latter has several brandies, the Mardo, Azu, Lodi and Shahu Khels. The Miranzai khels are the Hassanzai, with the Badah, Khakhai, and Umar khels. A third branch the Shamilzai, apparently identical with the Kaghzi, produced the Landi, Hassan Khel, Musa Khel and Isa Khel.

Like the other Karlarni tribes,  the Afghans of Bangash were disciples of the Pir-i-Roshan, and their attachment to that heresy brought about their ruin, the Mughal government organizing constant expeditions against them. After the Khataks had moved towards the north-east from the Shawal range (in Waziristan), the Baizai, Malik-Miris and Kaghzis then settled in the Upper Bangash, invaded the Lower (Kohat) and, in alliance with the Khataks, drove the Orakzai who then held the Lower Bangash westwards into Tirah. This movement continued till the reign of Akbar.

The history of the Bangash tribes and the part they took in the Mughal operations against the Roshanias are obscure. Probably they were divided among themselves. But those of them who had remained in Kurram appear to have adhered to the Roshania doctrines.

After Aurangzeb’s accession in 1659, we find Sher Muhammad Khan, of Kohat, chief of the Malik-Miris, in revolt against the Mughals. He was captured, but subsequently released and became an adherent of the Mughals. Khushhal Khan the Khatak gives a spirited account of his little wars with Sher Muhammad Khan which ended in his own defeat and the final establishment of the Bangash in their present seats.

Source: Glossary Of The Tribes And Castes Of The Punjab And North-west Frontier …

Read also: BANGAṦ – Encyclopaedia Iranica 

A Bangash, 1827-1843. By Imam Bakhsh Lahori, Illustrations des Mémoires du général Claude-Auguste Court, Lahore. Source

Group of Buland Khels (Bangashs), 1907 (c). Postcard by Raphael Tuck & Sons.
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