Origin of the Langah sultans of Multan; Pashtun or Sindhi?

From 1438 to 1526, Multan (much of Saraiki belt) functioned as completely independent kingdom. It was ruled by Langah tribe.

The two nearest contemporary sources which throws some light on the origin of the Langah sultans of Multan, are Tarikh-i-Farishta written by Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah in 1612 AD, and Tarikh-i-Haqqi written by Abdul Haq Dehlawi in 1597 AD. 

The author of the Tarikh-i-Farishta refers to the Langah as an Afghan (Pashtun) tribe and states that Rai Sehra (the founder of Langah dynasty) was chief of the Langah tribe of Afghans and he belonged the Siwi (Sibi) town and its environs. 


The author of Tarikh-i-Haqqi call the founder of Langah dynasty, Budhan Khan Sindhi (i.e a Sindhi speaker). Shaikh Nurul Haq (son of afore-mentioned Shaikh Abdul Haq) in his book Zabdat al-Tawarikh writes that Budhan Khan Sindhi was from Lehri. Note that all other sources have Rai Sehra instead of Budhan Khan. Langahs were most likely Sindhi-speaking Jats. They could also be Sindhi-speaking Rajputs or any other Sindhi-speaking tribe.

Map of Sibi and Lehri
Map of Sibi and Lehri

In Wikipedia’s article about Langah sultans, someone has written: “Abd al-Haqq, in the 16th century, referred to the Langah as a Baloch tribe”. This is a lie. Original Persian text of Tarikh-i-Haqqi does not refer to the Langah as a Baloch tribe. It calls the founder of the Langah dynasty, a Sindhi. 

Tarikh i haqqi

The question arises as to why the author of Tarikh-i-Farishta has identified Langahs as Afghans (Pashtun). One explanation that comes to my mind is that the town of Siwi (Sibi) and its environs was inhabited by Panni Pashtuns in circa 1610 when Muhammad Qasim Farishta was writing his book. Perhaps it was an assumption on the part of Farishta that Rai Rehra was a Pashtun since Siwi was associated with Pashtuns in his times. Rai title was used by Hindu rulers or by those Muslims who converted from Islam so Rai Sehra definitely had Hindu background. There is no solid evidence that Pashtuns were Hindus before Islam or that their chiefs used the Rai title. Though it is open to speculation that some Pashtuns settled near Sindh had either converted to Hinduism or had imbibed some Hindu/Indian cultural influences. The Sibi-Kachhi region was considered part of ‘Afghanistan’ in 13th century (Reference Tarikh-nama Herat) and some Pashtun tribes were settled in this region. According to Tarikh-nama-Herat, one of the chieftains of Afghanistan was named ‘Rana Kanjar’. Rana is a Hindu (particularly Rajput) title for rulers. It is in the realm of possibility that Langahs were either originally Pashtuns or became Pashtunized when the region was dominated by Pashtuns in 13th century and before. Even today, many ‘Pashtun’ clans of Sibi are Pashtuns only by name; they mostly speak Sindhi and Seraiki.

The Langah Khans of Shujatpur possess a late 18th century hukam-nama issued by Zaman Shah Durrani in which Langahs are referred to as Afghans.

Langah dynasty

It indicates that Langahs (at least their chieftains) were identifying as Afghan in 18th century. It might be that they were identifying as Afghan simply on the basis of information provided by Tarikh-i-Farishta. Or it was an oral tradition in their family. Contrary to the speculation by the author of the book in the above screenshot, Shujatpur (located in the Multan district) was not part of “Afghanistan” (a term which in 18th century was exclusively used for Pashtun belt), and only Pashtun people (and people akin to Pashtuns) of the Durrani empire were referred to as “Afghan” by the Saddozai kings. The word Afghan acquired broader meaning only in 20th century.

Map of Langah Multan



Recommended external link: ʿABD-AL-ḤAQQ DEHLAVĪ – Encyclopaedia Iranica (iranicaonline.org)

Categories Multan

4 thoughts on “Origin of the Langah sultans of Multan; Pashtun or Sindhi?”

  1. Good article, but I would have liked it if you were a bit more specific.

    I first want to mention that it’s not all that helpful to differentiate between regional identities. The only requirement to consider yourself as a Punjabi or Sindhi is that you live in those lands, or can trace lineage to people who lived in those lands, and that you have assimilated into that culture.

    The Saraikis are people who claim various origins (including Pashtun, Baluchi and Sindhi), but they all came to Punjab and were influenced by Punjabi culture and language. On a similar note, we know that the dynastic language of the Langahs was Punjabi, so make of that what you will.

    With that being said, the main claim that the Langahs are Pashtuns is from the Tarikh-i Firishta.

    But how did the Langahs perceive themselves, according to their own tribal traditions?

    In their own genealogies, they mention Langah as the fifth son of Malhi. Langah had 10 sons who would become the founding patriarchs of those individual clans within the Langah tribe (those being: Chachak, Chach, Chuch, Chachra, Chachi, Sultan, Laang, Langah, Jahan Khan and Mauji).

    According to tribal tradition, it was under the chief Shuja Khan, the tribe migrated to the Punjab. Under the chief Saif Khan, they would become notable landowners around the Multan region. And after the confusion caused by Timur’s invasions, Multan was mostly independent from Delhi, and the chosen ruler Sheikh Yousaf Qureshi was not prepared for the conquest of chief Rai Sahra.

    They were ultimately overthrown by the Mughals, under governor Shah Hasan Arghun. They would then settle in the Shujabad district. The Malik family of Jalalpur village claim descent from this.

    As for their ethnicity, there are various theories. Again, Faristha mentions an Afghan origin, and to this day you will find many Langahs who claim an Afghan origin. But ethnographers like H. A Rose theorize a link to Panwar Rajputs, while James Todd mentions a link to the Solanki Rajputs (although we find no reference of Solankis within the Langahs themselves). It is also worth mentioning that the Sindhi writter Lal Bux Naich mentioned a link to the Jamotes (or Jatts); and considering the original homeland of the Jatts was Sindh, before migrating to Punjab, that seems to be very likely, especially considering the Multanis of the region, as well as northern Langahs, call them as Jatts.

    So you are right, they probably claimed Afghan origin for some political legitimacy, especially due to being surrounded by Afghan-ruled states (although that didn’t help much considering the Lodis regularly invaded them anyways).

    • If you look at DNA samples of the different tribes or castes, you will see that Punjabis cluster together. Meaning it doesn’t matter if the Langahs were this or that, if they were in Punjab for a significant amount of time, then they would have eventually mixed and become ethnically the same. And besides, you already mentioned that the Langahs spoke Punjabi in their own dynastic affairs, so if nothing else, it is clear that they were fully Punjabized by the time they had power in Multan.

      • Yes, they generally cluster together. The result of mixing for generations. I just want to be as specific as possible, since settling in Punjab and being culturally Punjabized doesn’t necessarily make you an ethnic Punjabi. For example, the Tughluqs: lovers of Punjab and its culture, commissioners of the first vaar, establishers of a Punjabi Muslim elite that would later form the Muzaffarid, Sayyid and Sharqi sultanates… but still probably not Punjabi themselves. Sure, Amir Khursau didn’t mention any clear foreign lineage for the dynasty, but most people still lean towards them being descended from a lesser tribe of Turk or Khurusani origin.

        (If you consider the Tughluqs to be Punjabis regardless of paternal ancestry because of the above, then you can probably understand why I initially called Punjabi a regional identity)

    • This is a very elaborate explanation, but you should mention that the Langah clan is a Jatt clan. Yes, they invited and allowed for Baloch settlers in exchange for military service, and might have come from Sindh, but all of that is secondary to the fact that the sultans themselves were ethnic Jatts. And as you mentioned, to this day, the Langahs identify mostly as Jatts (with the exception of those few who think they’ll get more prestige by identifying as Afghans lol).


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