In this post, I shall look at four tribes, namely the Bib, Karlal, Sarrara and Turks that are found in the Hazara region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Hazara is located in the North-Eastern part of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, east of the Indus River and comprises six districts: Abbottabad, Battagram, Haripur, Mansehra, Kohistan, and New District Torghar. The region is bounded on the north and east by the Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir. To the south are the Islamabad Capital Territory and the province of Punjab, whilst to the west lies the rest of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The river Indus runs through the division in a north-south line, forming much of the western border of the division. The total area of Hazara is 18,013 km².
Hazara lies in a region which is a crossroads of cultures, where the plains of the Punjab meet the Central Asia. Its population consists of numerous tribes, many of whom claim and are of Pashtun ancestry. However the tribes looked at in this post make no such claim. It is likely that they are of Hindu ancestry, but other then the Turks, they now all claim Arab ancestry. Like most of the population of Hazara, all these tribes speak the Hindko language, which main be descended from the ancient language of the Gandhara civilization. The population are referred to as Hindkowan, meaning people who speak Hindko.
I start this post with one of the least known of the Hazara tribes, the Bib. The origin of the Bib is subject to some argument. According to their own traditions, the Bib are a branch of the Awan tribe, a claim generally not accepted by the Awans. They, like the Awans claim descent from the fourth Caliph of Islam, Ali. Their customs are similar to neighbouring Hindkowan communities, and they are entirely Sunni.
The are found in the Abbotabad District, occupying two villages between the Rash plains and Thandiani range. This region is extremely mountainous, located in the northeast of Abbottabad District in the foothills of the Himalayas. To the east beyond the Kunhar River lies the Pir Panjal mountain range of Kashmir. Cut from the other the Awans of the Haripur plain, the Bib have much in common with their neighbours the Karlal and Sarrara, rather then the Awans.
The Karlal, also known as Kard’al, Karaal, Karhral, or Kiraal, is a Hindko speaking tribe, found mainly in Abbottabad District, inhabiting the hilly area of the Galyat and the Nara tract. A minority are also settled in the Haripur District. A small number are also found in neighbouring Azad Kashmir, in Kotli District. Many Karlal now prefer the self-designation Sardar, meaning chief in Farsi.
The tribe trace their descent from a Sardar Kallar Shah son of Sujann Shah who is believed to have come from southern Afghanistan, and was a descendant of Alexander the Great. In Haripur and Abbottabad, they are known as Sardars, a name they acquired during the time of the Delhi Sultanate (1206–1296), when the tribal members were made rulers of the galliyat region of Hazara. There is also some argument as to the religion of the Karlal, as whether they were Hindu or not. As some of the oldest inhabitants of Hazara, a region that was largely Hindu till the early 13th Century, it is likely that they were either Hindus, or strongly influenced by Hinduism.
It does seem that throughout the middles ages, the Karlal maintained their independence. During Mughal era (1550-1730), when the Gakkars were trying to extend their authority in the entire lower Hazara from their base in Khanpur in what is now Haripur District, the leader of Karlal tribe Morcha Kulli Khan at that time was able to murder the Ghakkar chief and retained his tribes independence. Similarly the Turks, whose territory lay to the north, were also never able to extend their authority over this tribe although enjoying suzerainty over large portion of Pakhal Sarkar (an old name for Hazara). In the Durrani period (1740-1800), no attempt was made by Afghan rulers to subdue their territory. However, when the Sikhs captured lower Hazara they tried to gain control over entire lower Hazara including Karlal territory.
In 1822, Ranjit Singh sent a large force under famous General Amar Singh Majitta which was defeated by Karlals with great slaughter. Amar Singh was also murdered by the Karlal. Lepel Griffin, author of a colonial history of Hazara, writes in his book about this battle of Sumandar Khata. From 1822 to 1845 Karlal tribe fought many battles with Sikhs and were able to retain their independence. In 1844 once again Lahore Darbar sent a large force under Diwan Mulraj and Hari Singh to subdue Karlal country. Taking advantage of the difficult geographical terrain of their country, the Karlals were able to defeat Sikh army at place called Nah and killed more than 150 Sikh soldiers.
During the British period at the time of mutiny in 1857, the Karlal tried to revolt against the rule of East India Company, however, British were able to imprison Karlal chief Sardar Hassan Ali Khan and many mutineers of this tribe were hanged along with some Dhund tribesmen (Mutiny Reports 1857 of Hazara District). Subsequent to that, the Karlal remained fairly quite throughout the rest of the British period ending in 1947.
According to some sourdes, the Karlal make up 30% of the population of the district of Abbottabad, concentrated in the Galyat region bordering Murree and Azad Kashmir. The Karlal together with the Dhund, who are their neighbours to the south, speak a dialect of Hindko called Dhundi-Kariali, which is quite distinct from other Hindko dialects.
The next tribe I will look at are the Sarrara, who closely connect themselves to the Dhund, a tribe found mainly in the Murree hills. Some traditions make the Sarrara a branch of the Dhund, like the Dhund, the Sarrara claim to be Abbasi Arabs.
A strong tribal tradition, make their ancestor Sarrara one of twelve son of Akber Gai Khan, the ancestor of both Dhund and Sarrara tribe. Akber Gahee Khan was son of Zarab Khan who said to have come to Kashmir as general of the army under the command of Qutab Shah, the supposed ancestor of the Awan tribe. On signing a treaty with King of Kashmir and marrying his daughter he was on way back when he went to a saint in Kahuta, who asking him to pray for a child of him. The saint asked for promise of staying at the place as a reward for his prayer. The prayer of the saint led to the birth of a boy named as Akber Gahee Khan. This Akber Gahee Khan had twelve sons, namely:
Kahonder Khan ( forefather of Dhund)
Tanoli Khan (forefather of Tanolis in area of Tanawal and Amb Durband)
Kool or Koor
The legend seems to suggest a close connection with the Dhund, and the Sarrara customs and traditions are close to the Dhund. Like the Dhund, they are hill farmers, speak the Dhundi-Kariali dialect of Hindko.
However, another tradition refers to their ancestors having come some time ago from Pakpattan in the Punjab. The tribe is classed as Sahu and inter marry on equal terms with Dhund.
The Sarrara are only found in the Boi tract between the Thandiani range and Kunhar river in the Abbottabad District. They are found mainly in Pattan Kalan and other villages such Chamiali, Bandi Sarrara, Darer, Batangi, Sialkot, Kotlian, in Kukmang Union Council.