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Yusufzai – Tribes of Afghanistan

Yusufzais are one of the largest Pashtun tribes. The majority of the Yusufzai tribe resides in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Provincially Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. And now sindh as URDU speaking. They are the predominant population in the districts of  Dir, Swat, Mardan, Malakand,Swabi, Buner, Shangla and in Mansehra and Battagram, they are known as Sawati. Other Yusufzai colonies can be found in the inner city of Sialkot and Lahore, arriving in the 13th century. There is also a Yusufzai clan of Dehwar tribe in the Mastung district of Balochistan who speak Persian with some mixture of Birahvi words. The name Yusafzai originates from Yusuf who was the younger son of Manday along with his elder brother Omar. Both died young and left behind only one son Mandanh. The descendants of Yusuf inhabit Swat, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, and Malakand while the descendants of Mandanh live in Swabi and Mardan. The closest neighboring trive to the Yusufzai’s are the Alizai. Yusafzai speak the northern variant of “Pukhtu” with the hard “kh” replacing the softer “sh” of southern Pashtun tribes.

History: They migrated from Kandhaar when Mirza Ulugh Beg was governor. He succeeded his father, Shah Rukh, who was a son of Timur (Taimur-e-Lang), in 1446 A.D. In the time of Babur, who first came to Kabul in 1504 A.D., Peshawar had been colonized by Afghan tribes, such as the Swatis and Dilazaks. On his second visit, fourteen years later, he found the Yusufzais had spread into Swat. The current settlement of the Yusufzais must have come about after this time.

The Yusufzai took much of their current lands from the Afghan Dilazaks and Swatis, after a single decisive battle fought on the plains between the villages of Gadar and Langarkot. Babur helped subdue the tribes fighting the Yususfzais, using matchlocks for the first time against the Jahangiri sultan, Mir Haider Ali Gebri of Bajour. In previous battles the armies of Babur where never able to defeat the Yusufzai. In one instance Babur sent an army of 100,000 against the Yusufzai with elephants only to have the entire army almost completely routed.

Wars & Notable Personalities:

The Yusufzai tribe came to Swat in approximately 1450 and began fighting with the Pushtun tribes of Afridi, Swati and Dilazak. After several bloody battles between the Tanolis and the Yūsufzai, Tanoli Sultan Ameer Khan was killed while fighting with the Yūsufzai at Topi (near Swabi). The Tanolis were pushed to the eastern bank of the Indus. The Yusufzai tribes ruled northern India for centuries. The British army tried to take control of the Yusufzai parts of northern India but were defeated. The Yusufzai have fought the British in the 18th and 19th century, especially the clans of Swat and Black Mountain of Hazara. The battle of Ambela, Sura took place in 1863. Bakht Khan Rohilla (1797–1859) was the nominal Commandar-in-chief of Indian rebel forces in the Indian Rebellian of 1857 against the British East India Company. He too was a Yusufzai.

Demography: Three sections of the tribe, the Hassanzai, Akazai and Chagharzai, inhabit the west slopes of the Black Mountain, and the Yusufzai country stretches to the Utman Khel territory. The population demographics of Yusufzais is unknown but there are more than 3 million Pashtu speaking Yusufzais. The main districts of Yousafzais are Mardan,Malakand, Swabi and Dargai. The large populations of this tribe are also found in Northern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. Small proportions in Burma, Nepal.

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