History of the North-West Frontier Province

North-West Frontier Province History Ancient history Since ancient times the region has been invaded by numerous groups including Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Kushans, Huns, Arabs, Turks, Mongols, Mughals, Sikhs, and the British. Between 2000 and 1500 BC, the Aryans split off into an Iranian branch, represented by the Pakhtuns who came to dominate most of the region, and various Dardic peoples who came to populate much of the north. Earlier pre-Aryan inhabitants include the Burusho. The Vale of Peshawar was home to the Kingdom of Gandhara from around the 6th century BC and later ancient Peshawar became a capital of the Kushan Empire. The region was visited by such notable historical figures as Darius II, Alexander the Great, Hiuen Tsang, Fa Hien, Marco Polo, Mountstuart Elphinstone, and Winston Churchill, among others. Following the Mauryan conquest of the region, Buddhism became a major faith, at least in urban centers, as attested by recent archaeological and hermeneutic evidence. Kanishka, a prominent Kushan ruler was one of the prominent Buddhist kings. “ The region of Gandhara has long been known as a major centre of Buddhist art and culture around the beginning of the Christian era. But until recently, the Buddhist literature of this region was almost entirely lost. Now, within the last decade, a large corpus of Gandharan manuscripts dating from as early as the 1st century A.D. has come to light and is being studied and published by scholars at the University of Washington. These scrolls, written on birch-bark in the Gandharan language and the Kharosthi script, are the oldest surviving Buddhist literature, which has hitherto been known to us only from later and modern Buddhist canons. They also institute a missing link between original South Asian Buddhism and the Buddhism of East Asia, which was exported primarily from Gandhara along the Silk Roads through Central Asia and thence to China. [9] ” Rural areas retained numerous Shamanistic faiths as evident with the Kalash and other groups. The roots of Pashtunwali or the traditional code of honour followed by the Pashtuns is also believed to have Pre-Islamic origins. Persian invasions left small pockets of Zoroastrians and, later, a ruling Hindu elite established itself briefly during the later Shahi period. [edit] The Shahi era During the early 1st millennium, prior to the rise of Islam, the NWFP was ruled by the Shahi kings. The early Shahis were Turkic Buddhist rulers and reigned over the area until 870 CE when they were overthrown and then later replaced . When the Chinese monk Xuanzang visited the region early in the 7th century CE, the Kabul valley region was still ruled by affiliates of the Shahi kings, who is identified as the Shahi Khingal, and whose name has been found in an inscription found in Gardez. While the early Shahis were Central Asian and Turko-Tocharian in origin, the later Shahi kings of Kabul and Gandhara may have had links to some ruling families in neighbouring Kashmir and the Punjab. The Hindu Shahis are believed to have been a ruling elite of a predominantly Buddhist, Zoroastrian and Shamanistic population and were thus patrons of numerous faiths, and various artefacts and coins from their rule have been found that display their multicultural domain. The last Shahi rulers were eventually wiped out by their cousin tribes led by Mahmud of Ghaznavi who arrived from Afghanistan. [edit] Arrival of Islam Buddhism and Shamanism remained prominent in the region until Muslim Arabs and Turks conquered the area before the 2nd millennium CE. Over the centuries local Pashtun and Dardic tribes were converted to Islam, while retaining some local traditions (albeit altered by Islam) such as Pashtunwali or the Pashtun code of honour. The NWFP became part of larger Islamic empires including the Ghaznavid Empire and the empire of Muhammad of Ghor and was nominally controlled by the Delhi Sultanate and the Ilkhanate Empire of the Mongols. Muslim technocrats, bureaucrats, soldiers, traders, scientists, architects, teachers, theologians and sufis flocked from the rest of the Muslim world to the region. [edit] Pashtun nationalism The NWFP was an important borderland that was often contested by the Mughals and Safavids of Persia. During the reign of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, the NWFP required formidable military forces to control and the emergence of Pashtun nationalism through the voice of local warrior poet Khushal Khan Khattak united some of the tribes against the various empires around the region. The area, as a predominantly Pashtun region, merged, following a loya jirga, with the Durrani Empire founded by Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1747. British era Main article: Durand Line A series of conflicts known as the Anglo-Afghan wars during the imperialist Great Game between the United Kingdom and Russia, led to the eventual dismemberment of Afghanistan. The annexation of the region led to the demarcation of the Durand Line and administration as part of British South Asia. The Durand line is a term for the poorly marked 1,519-mile (2,445 km) border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. After fighting in two wars against Afghans, the British succeeded in 1893 in imposing the Durand line, dividing Afghanistan and what was then British India. Named for Sir Mortimer Durand, the foreign secretary of the British colonial government, it was agreed upon by representatives of both governments. While the Afghan side greatly resented the border and viewed it as a temporary development, the British viewed it as being a permanent settlement. One of the two representatives of the Afghan government was the revered Ahmadi Sahibzada Abdul Latif of Khost. The border was drawn intentionally to cut through the Pakhtun tribes. The British, who had captured most of rest of South Asia without significant problems, faced a number of difficulties here. The first war with the Pashtuns resulted in a devastating defeat, with just one soldier coming back alive (out of a total of 14,800 people). Unable to enforce their writ in the region, they changed tactics and played a game of divide and rule, installing puppet Pashtun rulers and dividing the Pashtuns through artificially created regions and ruling indirectly so as to reduce the chance of confrontation. Despite this, occasional Pashtun attacks did take place, including the Siege of Malakand, well documented by Winston Churchill who was a war correspondent at the time. The province was formed on November 9, 1901 as a Chief Commissioner province. The Chief Commissioner was the chief executive of the province. He ran the administration with the help of his principal advisers and civil servants better known as judicial and revenue commissioners. The formal inauguration of the province took place five and half months later on April 26, 1902 on the occasion of the historical “Darbar” in Shahi Bagh in Peshawar held by Lord Curzon. The province of NWFP then comprised only five districts. They were Peshawar, Hazara District, Kohat, Bannu, and Dera Ismail Khan. The Malakand, which consisted of three princely states of Dir, Swat, Chitral was included in it. The NWFP also included the four tribal administered agencies, Khyber, Khurram, North Waziristan, and South Waziristan (now seven). The first chief commissioner of the NWFP was Harold Deane, a strong administrator, he was followed by Ross-Keppel in 1908, whose contribution as a political officer was widely known amongst the tribal/frontier people. The NWFP was raised to a full-fledged Governor province in 1935. The decision was actually made in the Round Table Conference held in 1931. It was agreed upon in the conference that the NWFP would be raised to a governor province with its own Legislative Council. Therefore, on January 25, 1932, the Viceroy inaugurated NWFP Legislative Council. The first provincial elections were held in 1937 and independent candidate and noted landlord Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum Khan was elected as the provinces first Chief Minister.
Tagged with: