Buddhist Era in the Valley of Swat


Dr. Sultan-I-Rome, Swat State under the Walis (1917-69), Ph.D. Dissertation, P 28-35


The Indo-Greeks (those Greek rulers who occupied the seats in India after the downfall of the Mauryas) and the Scythian or had its relations and economic ties with them. Menander, among the Indo-Greeks occupied the Swat valley. It was later handed over to a sub-king Antimachus II. At the death of Menander his wife Agathocleia ruled at first in her own right and later jointly with her son. In order to counterbalance the influence of Antimachus- who assumed independence at Arrachosia (around Ghazni) - and other descendants of Diodotus, she appointed Zoilus I, a member of her family, as a sub- king in the Swat valley. Zoilus ruled briefly in Swat; for he was went to Arachosia, on the death of Antimachus II, to regain it. After Zoilus I, the known sub-king of Swat is Apollodutus who was overthrown by the Saka chief Maues.

Another Scythian tribe, the Sai of the Upper lli and different from the Scythians of the Jaxatas valley for other areas west of them, also reached and occupied Swat and the adjoining area. It was soon after 100 B.C. that Maues, the first known Saka King in India, followed the Indo-Greek rulers in Swat valley and Gandhara by overthrowing Apolodotus from the area.

Kadphises I, leader of the Kushans who were from the nomads race of Central Asia, seized vast territories extended to the south of Kabul river and established his rule. During the reign of the Kushana dynasty in the west and south of Swat the factual position whether Swat became an integral part of the Kushana Empire or retained it own independent status is uncertain. It is most probable that Swat or its petty chiefs had been a tributary Kushana.

When the boundaries of theTurki Shahi kingdom of Kabul were extended from the border of Sistan to northern Punjab, in the middle of the seventh century A.D., Swat was annexed in the process in about 745. The Turkey Shahi kingdom of Kabul was overthrown by Yaqub bin Lais in 870. The Hindu Shahi dynasty established its rule after the downfall of the Turkey Shahis, and with the passage of time extended boundaries of its kingdom. Information about Swat of the Hindu Shahi reign is also scanty. Nevertheless the Bari Kot incription of the reign of Jayapaladeva found on a hill to the north of Bari Kot hints at Swat being a part of the Hindu Shahi or at least under their over-lordship at the time. However, the question that whether Swat remained an integral part of the Hindu Shahi kingdom or not, is not easy to settle.

When the Hindu Shahi rule was sweft away by the Muslim under Mahmood of Ghazna, Swat was also not spared. The Muslim attacked Swat (ca. A.D.1001-1002), it seems, after the defeat of Raja Jaipal and besieged the reigning Raja Geera near Udigram . The traditions and legends make a fantasy and romance of the fall of the fortress by stating that the fortress, after withstanding repeated assaults by the forces of Mahmud, finally surrendered when the King's daughter, who was in love with one of Mahmud's general, revealed the place from where the fort got its water supply. Consequently, the supply was cut down, which forced the garrison to fight.

After the occupation of the valley by the Muslims, people from deferent pukhtun tribes settled in Swat. They came to be known Swati Pukhtuns. They established their rule for centuries. Practically, they remained independent and out of the sphere of the neighbouring Muslims rulers of Afghanistan and India throughout their occupation.

The sixteenth century proved turning point in the history of Swat as the Yusufzai Pukhtun occupied the land. At that time, the last decade of the fifteen-century, Swat was in the possession of the Swati Pukhtuns and Sultan Uwais was its chief ruler. Though the Yusufzais established matrimonial relations with the Sultan, they were ambitious for the valley. They worked out their plan, foiled defensive measures of the Swaties by a stratagem and occupied Lower Swat. By the sixteenth century Lower Swat was in the possession of the Yusufzais.Their advance came to a halt for the time being.

The Yusufzais resumed their advance during the reign of Humayun, the Mughal ruler of India, and Sultan Uwais and most of the old Swati Pukhtuns were compelled to leave their possessions in Upper Swat. Upper Swat was taken by the yusufzais. Though the Yusufzai did not make their advance toward the mountainous area of the Swat Kohistan, they continue their inroads in the other bordering areas, they extended their occupation to the territories of Gwarband, Puran, Chakisar and Kanra as well.

While the Yusufzais gained footing in Swat, Babur made himself master of Kabul. Collision between the two sides was unavoidable, because one of Babur's routs to India fell within the domain of the yusufzais. With the intentions of attacking the yusufzais, Babur marched for Swat and dismounted in between the water of Punjkora and united waters of Jandol and Bajawar. But he refrained from advancing in to Swat. Instead of arms he used diplomacy and tactics and left for Ashnaghar from Bajawar.

The Yusufzais of Swat retained their independent position during Babur's, Kamran's and Humayun's reign. Swat remained un-penetrated by the Mughals till Akbar's time. Akbar ascended the throne in 1556, but he did not succeed to rule over Swat. In December 1585 Akbar sent an army to conquer Kashmir and another army was sent under the command of Zain Khan Koka in to Bajawar and Swat.

Akbar's imperialism led to fighting. The Mughal forces sent under the command of Zain Khan faced stiff resistance and suffered great hardships. Zain Khan asked for reinforcements. The reinforcements, sent under the command of Raja Birbil and Hakim Abul Fateh, enter Swat in 1556 with great difficulty. Chakdara was made the base and foundation of a fort was laid there. From there the combined forces made their bed for Buner. But they were taken to task at Karakar defile. The Mughal forces met disaster. Raja Birbil lost his life along with eight thousand Mughal soldiers. They, however, made another bid under the command of Zain Khan and fought in Bajawar and Swat from 1587 to 1592 but without any real or lasting success.

Jahangir and Shah Jahan did not make bid for Swat. In Aurangzeb's reign the Swat's Yusufzais came to the help of their brethren in the plains, in 1667, who were fighting against the Mughals. In reprisal, the Mughals Commander-in-Chief entered the Swat valley and destroyed a village but returned in haste. The Swatis retained freedom throughout the Mughal period and also during the reign of the Durranis and the Sikhs.

With the annexation of the Punjab and occupation of Peshawar by the English, a new phase in the history of Swat began. Swat remained independent. It became a harbour of refuge for out laws and for refugees. And opponents of the colonial rulers from the British occupied territory; and a centre of inti-British sentiments. The Pukhtun under the English control constantly got inspiration from Swat to rise against the English.

The landmark was the formation of a government in Swat in 1849. Anxious for their independence, the Swati chiefs got alarmed with the British power at their doorstep. They held jigas and at last installed Sayyad Akbar Shah as the king of Swat. He died on 11 May 1857.

The year 1857, year of the War of Independence in India, passed off without disturbance in Swat because the king of the Swat State died on 11May 1857. Swat itself plunged in to civil war and remained entirely preoccupied with its own affairs. The attitude taken up by the Akhund of Swat, at this time, also favoured the British Government.

After 1857, the Swatis had no had no significant collision with the British until the Ambela campaign in 1863 when the British forces made their advance through the Ambela pass, in October 1863, in order to pass through Buner territory and crush the followers of Sayyed Ahmad Brailwi, in their colony, at Malka. Their advance was blocked and the tribes of Buner and Swat rose en mass.

The Imperial Government ordered that 15 Novembere 1863 should complete the operation, but it received telegram after telegram from the frontier, begging for more and more troops. Combination of the tribes firmly resisted the mighty British forces and gave them tough time for about two months. The Imperial power failed but its diplomacy worked. A truce was concluded and tribes dispersed.

The Swatis remained peaceful, after the Ambela war. They made no attempt, on the whole, against the Imperial Government till the Akhund of Swat, on January 1877, because the Akhund prevailed over the situation, despite great pressure upon him. In 1895, the internal developments once more resulted in a collision and stiff fighting between the Swatis and the British forces when the Swatis resolved to block the passage of the British forces, through their country, to Chitral and Umara khan of Jandol. When Umara Khan ignored the warnings and advice of the British officials at Chitral, Gilgit, Peshawar, or those with the Asmar boundary mission, the authorities ordered mobilization at Peshawar, of the First Division of the field army under Major-General Sir Robert Low as the Chitral Relief Force of some 15,000 men to implement orders.

A proclamation informed the tribes about the causes for the passage of the forces through their territory. They were assured that if they remained neutral and did not try to molest the passage of troops no harm would be done to them or to their property, and that government had no intention of annexing their country. Disregarding the Britishers proclamation, the Swatis held all the three passes from which the troops could enter Swat en route Chitral.

The Chitral Relief Force left Nowshera on 1 April 1895, under the command of Sir Robert Low. To keep the enemy divided, it was decided that Mora and Shah Kot passes be threatened and the main attack should be made on the Malakand, the strategy adopted some four centuries earlier by the Yusufzais themselves against the then defender of Swat. The attack was carried out on third of April. The tribesmen, most whom were unarmed, defended themselves with great gallantry, against the well-equipped and well-organised massive British troops. They continued their resistance and stopped the advance of the troops and artillery of the largest State of the world till 1895. The Britishers succeeded in making their advance and for the first time since the days of Zain Khan leader of Akbar's armies, a host from the south entered the green belt of the Swat valley. They established garrisons at Malakand and Chakdara. The Political Agency of Dir and Swat was also instituted with its head quarter at Malakand, which was given under the direct control of the Central British Indian Government because of its significance.

At the flight of Umara Khan of Jandol, the British Indian Government reinstalled Sharif Khan as the Khan of Dir. All the territories previously occupied by Umara Khan were bestowed upon him and he was raised officially to the status of the Nawab of Dir.

It was easy to win hearts of the people. They considered presence of the British Indian authority as a common danger. Emotions ran high and within the passage of barely two years the most formidable revolt against the British arms took place that was ever witnessed even in the north -west Frontier of India. There was great unrest not only in swat but throughout the tribal belt on north- west border of the British Indian Empire In such a time the Sartor Faqir appeared in the upper Swat in July 1897. He claimed that his mission is to turn the British off the Malakand and out of Peshawar.

The English gave little importance to the new movement at first, but gravity of the situation could no longer be ignored towards the end of July. The troops stationed in the neighborhood were alerted and were asked to be ready for action at the shortest notice, and on 26 July 1897, the guides were summoned from Mardan.

The Sartor Faqir started his march from Landakai, on 26 July, for Malakand and Chakdara. His standard became a rallying point for thousands of fighting men from Upper Swat, Buner, the Uthman Khel country and even more distant parts. On the British side, the Guides arrived from Mardan at Malakand on the other day, 27 July, after their famous march. By 28 July the mobilisation of more troops in India was ordered. Heavy fighting continued at both the places, actually almost never ceased, until Malakand was relieved on the 1st August and Chakdara on the second.

Releasing the severe nature of the uprising, the Governor General in Council sanctioned the dispatch of the Malakand Field Force, on 30 July 1897, for holding Malakand and the adjacent posts and for punishing the tribes involved. For the support of the Field Force immediate formation of a Reserve Brigade was also decided early in the August 1897. The first and the last punitive expedition in the Swat valley was led.

The forces reached Mingawara on 19 August 1897, after facing stiff resistance at various places up the valley and after bearing heavy losses especially of H.L.S. MacLean and Lieutenant R.T. Greaves. Reconnaissances were made up to Gulibagh and the Ghwarband pass. After a stay for four days at Mingawara, the forces went back.

The severe nature of the fighting at Kota and Naway Kalay near Landakai at the time of the punitive expedition up the valley and its significance to the British can be judged from the fact that the British government awarded her highest award Victoria Cross to Lieutenant-Colonel Adams and Viscount Fincadtle, whereas Lieutenant MacLean was deprived due to his death in course of fighting, near Naway Kalay. Five person were awarded the Order of Merit.

The Swatis by their uprising of 1897,not only compelled the mighty British arms for a full week to fight against untold odds, but turned the year of the Diamond Jubilee of the English successful emergence from the Indian War of Independence 1857 in to surely one of the most troublous year in all Indian history.

During the post-Malakand War years, the Sartor Faqir, however, had made no significant armed struggle against the British Indian Government in Swat. Due to the intermittent struggle and faction fights within Swat and against the Nawab of Dir and the role of some of those that were influential but were ambitious for the ruler-ship and were in good terms with the Government, notable collision did not occur. It was in 1915, that once more a bid was made, after the formation of Swat State, though not with success.