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The Khattak (Pashto : خټک [xaˈʈak] ) is a Pashtun tribe numbering over 3 million, who speak a variant of the softer Pashto.


The Khattaks are settled along the western bank of the Indus River from as north upwards as Lund Khwar, Katlang, Sawaldher, Sher Garh and near Malakand, Shaidu Nowshera District, Kohat District, Mianwali District, Attock District & Karak District in Pakistan.

In Afghanistan, a smaller number of Khattaks are scattered in Kandahar, Ghazni, Logar and Khost in Afghanistan. The historic capitals of the Khattaks were Teri, a town at District Karak, and Akora Khattak, a town at District Nowshera in Pakistan. [ citation needed ].

A number of Khattak are also found in Swat valley near Ramet village (Hawai) Hazar village kanju , totano Bandai village and Madyan verified by residents lived there and by the presence of their tribe names “Khattak” in the land records of Bahrain.


Migration from today's Afghanistan

Early records show migration of the Khattak from Ghazni, Ghor and Logar of modern-day Afghanistan. Later on, the Khattak settled in the Shawal region of present-day Waziristan in Pakistan.

They migrated further eastwards and settled in Bannu District, where the Pashtun tribes of Mangal and Honai were already settled. In the 14th century, the Shitaks, a tribe allied to the Khattaks which also previously held Shawal, migrated to Bannu. The Shitaks first defeated and drove away the Mangals and the Honais, and later gradually captured Bannu and pushed the Khattaks northwards to the southern portions of Kohat, where the Khattaks settled in Bahadur Khel and Teri.

Then the Khattak allied with the Bangash, defeated the other Pashtun tribes, and occupied northeastern Kohat, Gumbat, Pattiala and Zira Tippas. Eventually, the Khattak settled in Karak and Nowshera (Pabbi, Jalozai, Kotle,Bakhti, Shahkot, Salehana,chapri, Dak Asmail Khel, Khesare, Lakare, Spin Kanre, Sheikhi, Jabba khattak(the famous Islamic person amer zaman and it also known molyan mohla)Spinkhak, Urmar and finally a small number migrated to Nizampur, Mardan and Malakand. [1]

A number of Khattak are also found in Swat valley near Ramet village (Hawai) and Madyan verified by residents lived there and by presence of their tribe names “Khattak” in the land records of Tehsil Bahrain Swat. Khattak also migrated from Akora Khattak more than 100 years ago, and settled down in city of Mansehra in the current day province of Khyber Pashtunkhwa. They are settled in the city of Mansehra, and in the villages of Lambi Dheri, Kotkay, Jhagir, and Labarkot.

Khushal Khan Khattak

A warrior poet by the name of Khushal Khan Khattak (1613–1690) was once the chief of this tribe, and his contributions to Pashto literature are considered as classic texts. [2] His life and times are one of the most chronicled and discussed subjects in Pashtun history, as he was active on the political, social and intellectual fora of his times. He was a most voluminous writer, and composed no less than three hundred and sixty literary works, both in the Pashto and Persian languages. [3]

His poetry revolves around concepts of Pakhtunwali; Honour, Justice, Bravery and Nationalism and his works have been translated into numerous languages, English and Urdu being the primary ones. [4]

Older references

According to Nimatullah's 1620 work History of The Afghans, the Khattaks are amongst the oldest of the Afghan tribes. [5]

The Sattagudai (Ancient Greek : Σατταγύδαι) were a people mentioned by Herodotus in connection to people under the influence of the Achaemenid Empire. [6]

Herodotus, Book 3, 91. [7] (In this and the two succeeding passages the historian is giving a list of the Achaemenian satrapies and their peoples.)

The Sattagudai and the Gandarioi and the Dadikai and the Aparutai, who were all reckoned together paid 170 talents.

Herodotus, without assigning a name to the satrapy, tells us that Darius' yth Satrapy was inhabited by four tribes, the Sattagudai, the Gandarioi, the Dadikai, and the Aparutai. [8] [9]

The addition of the Aparutai/Aparidai correspondence helps to buttress the case for finding in Herodotus traces of names which carry through to the present day. Bellew has gone further and identified the Sattagudai with the famous Khatak tribe. "The Pathans 55O B.C.-A.D. 1957" printed St Martin's Press 1958 by MacMillan and Company Limited" [9]


Numerous historians identify the Khattak with the Sattagudai. [7] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15]

Sir Olaf Caroe, The Pathans 550BC 1957AD: [9]

"Let us now refer to the third passage cited, in which Herodotus, without assigning a name to the satrapy, tells us that Darius' yth

Satrapy was inhabited by four tribes, the Sattagudai, the Gandarioi, the Dadikai, and the Aparutai.

Bellew has gone further and identified the Sattagudai with the famous Khatak tribe, and the Dadikai with an obscure branch of Kakars whom he calls Dadi."

Khattaks and Shetaks

Sir Olaf Caroe, The Pathans 550BC 1957AD: [9]

"Neither Khataks nor Shitaks appear by name until the period of publication of genealogies under the Mughals, and the time of Akbar's dealings with the Khataks for the protection of the highway to Peshawar. Babur indeed in his memoirs mentions the Karranis (Karlanis) whom he encountered in 1505 around Bannu along with the Niazis and Isakhel. It is probable that this reference of his is to Khattaks or Shitaks, or both, for both are Karlani tribes, and the other Karlanis who live in that area, Wazirs and Bangash, Babur mentions by name when he comes to them."

It is thus clear that Babur & other Mughals in their descriptions identify Khattaks & Shetaks together without any differentiation.

In Pashtun history

Sir Olaf Caroe, The Pathans 550BC 1957AD: [9]

"Taken together, the Khataks and the Shitaks, who now have a common boundary close to Bannu, cover a stretch of territory as large as that held by any Afghan or Pathan tribe, whether Ghilzai, Yusufzai or Durrani. From the Khatak settlements around Lundkhwar, close to the Malakand Pass, to the Shitak villages in Upper Daur in the Tochi, the distance is over 200 miles. The wide extent of their present territory, their large population, and the association of both groups of tribes at one time or another with the rich oases of Bannu and the Tochi, suggest sufficiently their importance in this family of peoples."

Theory of Israelite descent

Khattak tribe has oral traditions and legendary history of descent from the Israelites. [16]

Khushal Khan Khattak, chosen malak[ clarification needed ] in 1641, believed that malak was a continuation of the Israelite title malak given to the legendary progenitors King Saul and Malak Afghana. [17]

Khushal expresses that the Khattak reputation for fierceness and valor stems from the fact that Khattaks and Afghans have been nursed by the Lioness's (King Saul's wife) milk. [18] [19]

One of the first progenitors of the modern tribe is Manal. Manal is considered to be a modification of Manas from the word Manasseh.[ citation needed ] In his book The Armies of India, A.C. Lovett declares the Khattaks to be a widely enlisted tribe, who also lay claim to the Pashtun Jewish descent. [20]

Theory of descent from the Greeks

After the creation of Pakistan, some Pakistani scholars, suggested a Greek descent for the Khattaks. However, from the Histories of Herodotus, Herodotus, Book 3, 91., [7] it is clear that a tribe by the name of SattaGydae (or Sattagudai) were already settled in the area around current day Ghor in Afghanistan and paid as tribute coinage and materials to the Greeks when they subjugated these areas:

"The Sattagudai and the Gandarioi and the Dadikai and the Aparutai, who were all reckoned together paid 170 talents."

Later Bellew, Caroe and other historians both Pashtun and Western through their works identified the Sattagudai with the famous Khatak & Shitak tribes. "The Pathans 550 B.C.-A.D. 1957" printed St Martin's Press 1958 by MacMillan and Company Limited" [9]

Though all Afghan DNA [21] including Khattak DNA has minor contributions from haplogroups more common to the Greeks, [22] these are minor enough to rule out a direct lineage. Together with works from Herodotus and more recent historians, the theory of Khattak descent from the Greeks is unfounded.

Afridi and Khattak history

Sir Olaf Caroe, "The Pathans 550BC - 1957AD" : [9]

"The Afridis and Khataks lumped together as Karlanis, can be held to reflect a knowledge that they represented a more aboriginal stock, which only later absorbed the characteristics of the invaders. In other words, it is not surprising that in looking for a prototype in the oldest recorded history bearing on this region we hit on the ancestor of the Pakhtun."

One theory of the Oriya Khel is below: 1. A sub tribe of the Kattaks known as Oriya Khel has the DNA of both the Khattak and Afridi tribes. Oriya was an Afridi woman who married a Khattak chief known as Saleh Khan and from their off spring we now have the Oriya Khel sub tribe, consisting of the following 5 villages: Saleh Khana, Kotli Kalan, Bakhte, Sappara/Chapri and Kotli Khurd.

2. The other theory is that some of the Oriya Khel is that The people of these villages belong to the Zakha Khel clan and then the sub clan Oriya Khel of the Afridi tribe. This could only be the case if the male progeny belonged to the Afridi Zama Khel tribe. these tribals have migrated from their homeland in the Tirah valley in Afghanistan to their current village during the 17 century.

3. A third and more realistic assertion is one that combines the above. The different Khels in the villages above may be better explained as an amalgamation of people from different backgrounds coming to settle in the area for work. The British who were at a confrontational footing with the Afridi and would not let Afridia settle in the area allowed the Khattaks to settle in the area that was used for arms trade and repair. The Area being known as Aslah khanna. The Various Khels who has settled rebranded themselves as Khattaks to survive in annonymity and retain title and ownership of the lands given and taken. Such is the case of the Tatar Khel who are seen as a branch of the Afridi Adam Khel and also present in various Sajaras. The same Tatar Khel seem to be more paile in complexion than some of the other Khels. The Zaka Khel are also present but they are not the whole tribe.

Molding and amalgamation

Sir Olaf Caroe, "The Pathans 550BC - 1957AD" : [9]

"This is not to assert that the ethnic or linguistic stock can be traced through to tribes of similar names today. The case would be rather that these were sub-stratum agglomerations of people who, through contact with later-comers, modified their language and were assimilated to later cultures, but retained in the more inaccessible places sufficient of their older inspirations to boast their original names. The theory does at least give a starting-point to Pathan history & the stock belief in the Bani Israel."

The Khattak super Tribe and sub tribes. Khattak Family Tree. Khattak family Tree.jpg
The Khattak super Tribe and sub tribes. Khattak Family Tree.


The Khattak sub tribes include the Seni Khattak (Kohat), Barak Khattak (Karak), bora a Khel Khattak (From Lundkhur to Nizampur), Mungi Khel Khattak (Shakar Dara), Mattu Khel Khattak (Shakar Darra), and the Saghri Khattak (Narra Kanjoor, chhab, nakka afghan, INJRA AFGHAN, injra, Jand - Attock).[ citation needed ]

They also live in Sndh, Balochistan and Punjab provinces of Pakistan. In past there was democratic process to make a new leader of the tribe by vote of leaders of clans. each tribe leader was given extra land as Jagir (padgai or pagrrai) to cover the expenses of his Public Kitchen (Langer). There are 3 Chieftain of Khattak's, Khan of Terri, Akora and Makhad. it seems till the time of Khushal Khan, khattaks were having one Chieftain at Akora.[ citation needed ]

Bangi khels live at Narrah (Taraf Jamal Khel of Narrah) Bani Afghan, Tabbi sari at Mianwali and some village at Shakar Dara District Kohat. Bangi khel are much in count so mostly considered separate tribe of Khattak's but actually Bangi khel and Akora's are part of Saghri's. Saghris living at Shakardara are called as "Topi Sughri" whereas at Attock are called "nar-rray sughri" in local dialect. According to Punjab government revenue record, Saghri khattak's living at Tehsil Jand belong to the following clans/ Pats. Taraf Narrah comprise the Patti khosar khel, Patti Nanadrak, Patti Khatter khel, Patti Abdullh Khel and Patti Chandel Khel, Patti Taraf Syeded Khel comprise Patti Nanadrak, Kotiwal, Qureshi, Bangash, Awan, Malyar and Sarban and Patti Taraf Jamal khel. The property belonging to each Patti is separately compiled as book to avoid mistake due to repetition of names. This system provide authentic family tree through inherited land transfer record. today each Patti is sub divided in dozens of sub khels.[ citation needed ]

Saghris that live in shakardara they in the past were warlike people and didn't have written history but wisely they recorded their existence through naming their new settlements with old names.[ citation needed ]

Lund Khwar

Lund Khwar was known in the old days as Sammah. [9] The Khattaks here are the direct descendants of those khattak warriors who came down from the khattak hilly areas and settled down in the early sixteenth century during the times of the great Khushal Khan Khattak. In his campaign of Swat, Khushal Khan Khattak had camped here and those of the Khattaks that live here today helped him in his wars against the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. [ citation needed ]


See also

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Further reading