Kalu Khan Yousafzai

Kalu Khan Yousafzai was 16th century leader of the Yousafzais who inflicted one of the greatest defeats upon Mughals. Roshan Khan gives his parentage as Kalu Khan son of Ali Khan (Rustam) son of Mubarak who was of Razar clan of the Mandanr tribe (Yusufzai Qaum Ki Sarguzisht”, pp-218-219). 

In 1581 A.D, when Mughals devastated the entire Yousafzai country after the defeat and death of Mullah Meru, Kalu Khan decided to take over the task of restoring the organization and unity of the Yousafzais. He consulted his friends and supporters and organized a jirga which also had participation of Yousafzai figures like Ayub son of Rusi, Babu son of Saifu Aba Khel Mandanr, Mirwais son of Mullah Meru etc. This jirga toured the various parts of Yousafzai country and preached about unity and warned about the consequences of disunity (Yusufzai Qaum Ki Sarguzisht”, p-220).

According to Ain-i-Akbari, when Mughal emperor Akbar came to the Kabul province to chastise Mirza Muhammad, Kalu Khan accompanied him to Agra. He was treated with favour , but later he fled from Agra. Khwaja Shamsuddin Khwafi seized him near Attock and sent him to the Court. He again ran away to his native country and became the leader of the seditious elements in the country. (Ain-i-Akbari, p-367) Abu Fazal doesnt give details about how, why and under what circumstances Akbar brought Kalu Khan to Agra.

In the absence of Kalu Khan, Yousafzais had elected Ghazi Khan Malezai as their chief. But within a short time, Ghazi Khan got killed in a battle with Mughals in Bajaur. Kalu Khan, who had arrived back from Agra, also fought in that battle. Yousafzais elected him again as the chief of tribe at Damghar in a Swat at a gathering. 

Kalu Khan roused his tribe against the Mughals. Zain Khan Koka was sent to crush Yousafzais, who after initial successes, suffered heavy losses. Akbar sent Birbal, Abu Fateh and Said Khan Ghakkar to help Zain Khan in 1586. Subsequently Yousafzais under the leadership of Kalu Khan defeated the combined forces of Zain Khan and Birbal between Karakar Pass and the Malandrai pass. Birbal was killed in this battle. According to Mughal historian Khafi Khan, forty to fifty thousand Mughal soldiers were killed in this battle. While according to Badoani, nearly 8000 Mughal soldiers were killed in this whole affair. This was one of the largest military losses for Akbar. He was said to have expressed his grief over the loss of his favorite courtier Birbal and not taken food or drink for two days.

Kalu Khan Yousafzai


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