Turi (Pashtun tribe)

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Portrait of An old Turi Tribesman 1894.jpg
Portrait of An Old Turi Tribesman captured in 1894 in Kurram Agency, North West Frontier.

The Turi or Torai are a sub-tribe of the Karlani [1] Pashtun tribe, inhabiting the Kurram Valley, in Kurram Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, with a smaller number living across the Durand line in the Paktia province of Afghanistan. They speak Pashto and are adherents of the Twelver Shia sect of Islam. [2]



The Turis came into prominence by the end of the 15th century. They use to wander in nomadic fashion between Aryob Valley of Paktia and Kurram Valley. They would migrate in the winter, cross the Kurram Valley which was then inhabited by the Bangash, and travel as far as the Indus River. From Narr'ra, on the bank of Indus River near, tehsil jand, Attock, the Turis appear to have migrated annually during the hot weather back to the Kurram Valley. [3] [4] The Mughal Emperor Babur mentions the Turis in Kurram in his diary of 1506.

In the 18th century, the Turi and their cousin tribe Zazi came into quarrel with the Bangash of the Kurram Valley which was then part of Durrani Empire (Kurram came under the British Raj after the Second Anglo-Afghan War of 1879-80). The Turis succeeded to capture the Paywar Pass, Shalozan and Malana, pushed the Bangash of the area southeastwards towards the Miranzai Valley, and eventually the Turis settled in the upper Kurram Valley. [5]

British Indian annexation of Kohat

After the annexation of Kohat to British India, the Turis, in league with other clans, repeatedly harassed the Miranzai border, attacking the Bangash and Khattak villages in Kohat. In 1854 they made a treaty, but their raids continued, though punitive measures were not resorted to, as the tribe was held to be under the control of the Amir of Afghanistan. [5]

However their raids increased in audacity, and in 1856 a force under Brigadier-General Neville Bowles Chamberlain entered the valley. Following this, compensation (the payment of which was guaranteed by the governor Ghulam Jan) was exacted, the Turis agreeing to pay 8,630 rupees. In 1859 the Turis joined the British expedition against the Kabul Khel Wazirs, but their feud with that tribe subsequently gave much trouble, with reprisals being undertaken by Wazirs in British territory for Turi offenses. In 1816, serious disturbances arose between the Bangash of Lower Kurram and the British village of Thal out of a boundary dispute. In 1877 the Turis were discontented with the oppressive administration of Shahbaz Khan, governor of Kurram, and when the Amir demanded from them a contribution of 50,000 rupees (a poll tax of 5 rupees on every adult female) and 6,000 recruits for his war against the British, they revolted and fled to the hills. [6]

Attempts to pacify the tribe were unsuccessful for a time, but the Turis at last agreed to send a jirga to Kabul and pay a benefaction of 25,000 rupees, while Shahbaz Khan was recalled by the Amir. [6]

In November 1878, a column under General Roberts entered Kurram from Thal, and occupied Kurram Fort on the 25th of that month. Following on from subsequent British conquests the Turis now co-operated with the British expedition against the Zaimukhts, whose hostility had been marked by the murder of Lieutenant Kinloch, and Kurram was held without further disturbance until its evacuation in October, 1880. The Turis throughout furnished supplies, their levies were employed in escorting convoys, and they, with the Bangash, petitioned that the British should take over the valley and free them from Afghan rule; but the British elected to evacuate the country and the tribe was declared independent. [6]

Internal feuds broke out in a few months, and throughout 1882-4 the Turis were constantly fighting among themselves, as well as with the Jajis and Zaimukhts. The administration of the valley was finally undertaken by the British Government, at the request of the Turis themselves, in 1892. [6]

Although their early dealings with the British government were inclined to turbulence, and they were involvedin the Miranzai expeditions of 1851 and 1855, the only expedition specially sent against them was the Kurram expedition of 1856. After this they settled down and engaged in trade. During the Second Afghan War they supplied Sir Frederick Roberts with guides and provisions. In 1892 they voluntarily accepted British administration and furnished a large part of the tribal militia in the Kurram Valley. [7]

Conflict with Jihadists

The Turi have had a long history of conflict with Jihadist groups. During the Soviet–Afghan War, Sunni Mujahideen attacked the Turis and other Shias of Kurram. Kurram was the launching pad for Mujahideen attacks into Afghanistan and the Shias were uncooperative, preventing the Mujahideen from passing through their areas in order to fight in Afghanistan. [8] [9] More recently, the conflict with the Turi has extended to the Taliban and Al Qaeda and Haqqani network supporters in the area. As well as a religious aspect (the Taliban follow a hardline Sunni sect, scornful of Shi'as), the Turi territory is strategically important to cross-border trade and raids into Afghanistan added to which are intertribal tensions. [10] [11] [12] Major battles were fought in 2007 [13] [14] and fighting continues. [15]


The Turis, who are also called Turizais, have five divisions. These are known as Hamza Khel, Mastu Khel, Ghondi Khel, Alizai and Duparzai. These are grouped into two main group or clans. The Hamza Khel and Mastu Khel are known as Sargullai, whereas the remaining three are called "Chardari". [ citation needed ] Detail of each division and the area occupied by them are given below:

See also

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  1. http://www.khyber.org/pashtotribes/t/turi-t.shtml
  2. U.S. plan to win Afghanistan tribe by tribe is risky, by Thomas L. Day, McClatchy Newspapers Thomas L. Day, Mcclatchy Newspapers. February 4, 2010.
  3. Hussain, Ishrat. Khyber.ORG. Turi
  4. http://www.parachinar.net/Localtribes.htm
  5. 1 2 Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 16, p. 49
  6. 1 2 3 4 Kurram Agency - Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 16, p. 50
  7. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Turi". Encyclopædia Britannica . 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 417–418.
  8. Eamon Murphy (2012). The Making of Terrorism in Pakistan: Historical and Social Roots of Extremism (illustrated ed.). Routledge. p. 133. ISBN   9780415565264.
  9. D.P. Sharma (2005). The New Terrorism: Islamist International. APH Publishing. p. 322. ISBN   9788176487993.
  10. "Fresh Flare-Up of Taliban--Shia Clashes in Kurram", www.southasiaanalysis.org
  11. "Ending Kurram’s sectarian strife", The Express Tribune, Pakistan
  12. The Pakistani tribe that is taking on the Taliban, BBC
  13. Siraj Haqqani sheltering in Kurram, near area of US helicopter strikes, www.longwarjournal.org
  14. Pakistan army blockades anti-Taliban tribe in Kurram, BBC
  15. Recent news stories on conflict