Wednesday, November 25, 2009


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The Gandapur are a Pashtun tribe inhabiting the environs of Dera Ismail Khan, a major commercial center the west bank of the Indus River, in the southern region of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan, near the frontier with South Waziristan. The Gandapurs reside principally in the small town of Kulachi on the bank of River Gomal, a tributary of River Indus and trace their origin to Afghanistan. They settled in Dera Ismail Khan area in 17th century A.D. A part of the tribe lives in Sur Kalay in Ghazni Province of Afghanistan.




The Gandâpûr, like many other nomadic Pashtun groups in the region, regularly moved between Afghanistan and the Dâmân plains stretching from the Indus to the eastern slopes of the Solaymân mountains. They combined pastoral nomadism with transporting and peddling of goods between Central Asia and South Asia. The pattern of these nomadic movements and the transformations of their society fluctuated with the rhythms of trade and the nature of their contacts with the surrounding political economies throughout their history. During the 17th century, most of the Gandâpûr had settled in Dêra Ismâîl Khân, with large numbers engaged in the trade between India and Khorasan, which intensified in the next two centuries.[1]

Tradition of tribe's origin

The origin of the Gandapurs is based only on traditions not yet properly researched. In some sources, Gandapurs are described as syeds. There is a tradition that they are the descendants of Syed Muhammad Gaisu Daraaz who was a Sufi Poet of 16th century AD (it is 14th century); the saint died in 1422. This tradition, as supported by Tarikh-e-Pushtun and Tarikh-e-Gandapur,and by Tarikhe Khan Jahani of early 17th century, traces the origin of Gandapurs as follows:

  • Syed Muhammad Gaisu Daraaz =>> Storay (meaning Star in Pashto) =>> Tairi Khan or Gandapur.

The tradition tells us that Tairi married a girl Gul Andama. Gul Andama belonged to a hostile tribe and so Tairi had to migrate to avoid revenge from his wife's tribe. His Father Storay bid him farewell and prayed for him as "Ganda pura" (Pashto words meaning Ganda = Bag and Pura = Full) and it meant "Tairi should always have full bounties and blessings of all kinds" and hence it became the epithet of Tairi and was later known as Gandapur. The original name of Gandapur was Tairi Khan. He had four sons and a daughter. The names of the sons and daughter are as follows;

  1. Yaqub Khan (His descendants known as Yaqub Zai)
  2. Ibrahim Khan (His descendants known as Ibrahim Zai)
  3. Hussain Khan (His descendants known as Hussain Zai)
  4. Imran Khan (His descendants are divided into many sub-branches the first two main branches however are Isa Khel and Gund Khel which again have a number of sub branches). The Bara Khel branch of Isa Khel is the most dominant one it has so far produced two Chief Minsters; Sardar Aurangzeb Khan (May 1943 to March 1945) and sardar Inayatullah Khan (April 1973 to Feb 1975)and one Minister Aminullah Khan (Oct 2000 to Dec 2002)
  5. Khubai, the daughter of Gandapur. Her descendants are known as Khubezai. The two major branches named after her sons are Zuhakzai and Sikanderzai. Sikandar Khan has two Sons: Kamal Khan and Hafiz Bakhtiar Khan. The descendants of Kamal Khan are known as Kamal Khel while descendants of Hafiz Bakhtiar Khan are known as Hafiz Khel.

The Khaddal Luvan episode

Luvañ is a small Pashtun tribe residing in and around Qamardin Karez in the west of Zhob district in the north-west Balochistan. Gandapurs used to pass through their area while going from their place in Ghazni to Dera Ismail Khan in a usual annual cycle of Nomadic life.

Khaddal Luvanh was chief of the Luvanh tribe in 16th century A.D. He chose a narrow pass in the way of nomadic tribes going to Dera Ismail Khan and the rest of Indus plain passing through his area and laid there. He demanded that girls from various tribes should come and lift him in their shawls. That was very humiliating demand and none of the tribe could accede to that. When the Gandapurs arrived to at the narrow pass, they found Khaddal luvanh lying in the pass. When lengthy negotiations bore no fruit, some of the Gandapur young men disguised themselves as girls wearing shawls of women and came to Khaddal. Apparently they had come to lift him in their shawls but they divided him into pieces.

The death of Khaddal Luvanh brought them in confrontation with the Luvanh tribe and their route from Ghazni to Dera Ismail Khan no longer remained safe. This led to the separation of the tribe into two parts. One part of the tribe settled in Damaan, Kulachi, Dera Ismail Khan and the other part remained in their original abode in Ghazni, Afghanistan. A distance of more than 450 kilometers between two places and the enemy tribe inhabiting the route divided the tribe. Over a period of almost four centuries, both the parts of Gandapur tribe have lost any contact between them.

Gandapur or Afghanpur

When the great Afghan King and worrior Ahmad Shah Abdali gathered all the Pashtun tribes and conquered a large part of the area presently comprising Afghanistan and Pakistan, Gandapurs were part of his army. As the tradition goes, soldiers speaking Persian used to pronounce "d" in the word Gandapur as soft d (such as th in the English word The). With the soft d, the word "Ganda" would become a Hindustani language word "Ganda" (meaning not clean or untidy). When Ahmad Shah Abdali came to know that fact, he bestowed upon Gandapurs the title of "Afghanpur". Gandapurs were held in high esteem by Ahmad Shah Abdali.

Size of the tribe

Gandapurs living in Pakistan do not form a very large tribe. They have occupied northern part of Tehsil Kulachi. The area occupied by Gandapurs is roughly one-third of the area as occupied by Marwat Tribe. Population of Gandapurs may range from 70,000 to 90,000. But their influence is more as compared to their size of population.

The Gandapurs living in Afghanistan may also range between 30,000 to 40,000 according to conservative estimates. They live in Ghazni district in Afghanistan where they associate themselves with Tarakai tribe.

There is no interaction between Gandapurs living in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Sub Tribes

The tribe is further divided into following sub-tribes; it has not been possible to trace how these subtribes are inter-related to each other. These are the sub-tribes existing in Kulachi, Dera Ismail Khan region at present. It is also possible that some of these sub-tribes may not be part of the original lineage of Gandapur. They may have been living with Gandapurs and may have merged with them over a period.

  • Ali Zai (They are not to be mixed with Alizai of Dera Ismail Khan)
  • Allah Dad Khel
  • Bahadur Khel
  • Bara Khel
  • Behlol Khel
  • Bazeed Khel
  • Hafiz Khel
  • Hammarh (Cousins of Gandapur)
  • Hussain Zai
  • Ibrahim Zai
  • Ikhtiar Khel
  • Kamal Khel
  • Khadar Khel
  • Khuaji Khel
  • Maani Khel
  • Malang Khel
  • Musa Zai
  • Marirh (Cousins of Gandapur)
  • Nakundar Zai
  • Nattu Zai
  • Shakhi (Shakhi was the brother of Tarai)
  • Shehzad Khel
  • Usman Khel
  • Yakhel (or Yahya Khel)
  • Yaqub Zai
  • Zuhak Zai

Some of the sub tribes though living with Gandapurs are not considered as part of the original tree. They are as follows:

  • Ghuarani
  • Marhail
  • Rana Zai
  • Noor Ahmad Khel

In Afghanistan, Gandapurs are considered as Cousins or a part of the large Tarakai tribe.


The Gandapurs in Pakistan speak a dialect of Pashto language known as Gandapuri Pashto. Their dialect is part of the southern dialect group of pashto. Gandapurs in Afghanistan speak a variant of Ghilzai Pashto.

Present State of Gandapurs

Gandapur are a small tribe as compared to other Pashtun tribes. Their main concentration is in northern part of Tehsil Kulachi where every sub tribe was allotted large chunk of lands. A large number of Gandapurs reside in Dera Ismail Khan, Zhob, and also in Loralai. Some educated and wealthy families also reside in Peshawar, Islamabad and Quetta. As their lands are mostly barren, they are not very rich people. Most of them live below poverty line. Education has been the only escape from the clutches of poverty. They are regarded as one of the most talented Pashtun tribe.

Notable people

Since Gandapurs live in Kulachi on lands most barren due to paucity of water, education has been the only means to move forward on the path of development and prosperity. Gandapurs have made a mark in various walks of life and ratio of educated and talented people is more than any other tribe of Southern NWFP as compared to their total population. Some of the important personalities are as follows;


  • Mamoon Tariq Khan: Inventor of the communication technology Moonitin In 1993, he broke the speed record for the fastest time to memorize 52 abstractions with no errors. In doing so, he was the first ever to memorize 52 abstractions in less than 52 seconds (44.62 seconds).[2] And, as the world record is the only time-based brain/memory efficacy record in the Guinness Book, his world record is considered one of the most substantial of all individual human achievement records. He is thus credited as "The Man with the Finest Retentive Brain in the World".


  • Noor Muhammad Tarakai: He was the President of Afghanistan after the Communist Revolution. He founded the Afghan Peoples Party. He was also a great literary figure. He belonged to Shabi Khel tribe of the Tarakai which in fact are the Gandapurs who remained in Afghanistan after the Khaddal Luvañ death.
  • Naurang Khan: He had in his possession some 2 and half lac kanal (almost 30 thousand Acres of land )in tehsil kulachi (Granted by Britishers for his services to Betray the freedom fighters-Please refer to the "Mahfoz Khana, ("Taqsem-i-kalan and Taqsem-i-Khurd) Maal Record of District DIKhan Revenue department). According to the Gazetteer of Dera Ismail Khan District 1882-83, Naurang Khan "did a yeoman service" and saved the British forces in Multan in the Indian War of Independence 1875 A.D. He was rewarded jagir in Multan and also in Marwat area near Bannu and the village has been named after him as Sarai Naurang Khan. He had six sons. Before going to settle down in "the New village of Serai Naurang“, the sardar awarded some of his property (around the than Railway line currently GT Road) to the kundi tribesman from Gul Imanm "Tank" area and the rest he allotted equally to his five out of six sons. And the five villages were named after his sons (Kotka meherdil khan gandapur, Kotka nawaz khan gandapur, kotka sarfraz khan gandapur, Kotka bakhtyar khan gandapur i.e. the son of Zaman khan elder son of Sardar naurang khan Gandapur) and the younger one Kotka sikandar khan Gandapur. All these property does lie on the bank and around the Kakki Road in Tehsil serai naurang khan.
  • Aurang Zeb Khan: An Aligarh law graduate who had been the President of the Student Union there. Practiced law at Peshawar. Participated in the second Round Table Conference held in London in 1931 as the Assistant of Sir sahibzada Abdul Qayoom, who represented NWFP there. Became a member of the First Legislative Council and then remained a member of the first legislative assembly of NWFP from 1937 to 1945. Founded first Muslim League Parliamentary Party in the Assembly in 1937 and became its leader and the Leader of Opposition in December 1937. He was one of the seconders of the Lahore (Pakistan) Resolution (the only one from Frontier) and was the only Frontier leader to have the honour to address that Open session at Minto Park Lahore on 23 March 1940. Became the first Muslim League Chief Minister in May 1943 and remained so till March 1945 when a No-Confidence Motion moved Congress led by Dr. Khan Sahib was successfully carried. (Incidentally it was with the support of two Muslim League members, Saadullah Khan of Umarzai and Faizullah Khan Ghaznikhel, who voted for Congrees)After the No-Confidence he completed his tenure as Leader of the Opposition but did not take part in the next election and retired from politics immediately after indepenendence.[6]
Sardar Innayat ULLAH Khan Gandapur
  • Inayat Ullah Khan: Born in Kulachi on 27 August, 1919, famous for his Texan attire, served as Chief Minister of the North-West Frontier Province from 1973 to 1975, and held various portfolios of Revenue, Excise & taxation, Transport, Law & Parliamentary affairs, Communication and works, Irrigation, Finance, Agriculture from his tenure in 1970s to 2005. He would always stand as an independent candidate in his political career. He was the oldest member of the North West Frontier Province Parliament and died, while still being a member of parliament at the age of 86, on 28 April 2005, leaving behind 6 daughters and 3 sons.
  • Aminullah KhanBorn in 1944 was commissioned in the famous Frontier Force Regiment he saw action in Rann of Kutchh (Mar-June 1965) and Indo Pak war (Sept 1965) was awarded Commander in Chief Commendation Card for "conspicuous courage and devotion to duty. Remained on the instructional staff of the Pakistan Military Academy and School of Infantry and Tactics. Qualified for Australian Staff College Course on the basis of 1942 entrance examination Resigned in 1973 and was later Minister for Revenue, Excise and Taxation Government of NWFP from Oct 2000 to Dec 2002. It was in his tenure that the work on the Gomal zam Dam started a project of prosperity for Gandapurs, providing canal irrigation facility to their rain fed lands.[6]

Civil Service

  • Abdul Qayyum Khan: An Income Tax Group Officer belonging to the 1965 batch. He served as Income Tax Officer at Nowshera, Mardan and Abbottabad. He retired as Additional Commissioner of Income Tax in 1996. He lived at Islamabad after his retirement and breathed his last on August 22 2009.
  • Abdul Latif Khan: An officer of the Police Service of Pakistan belonging to 2nd CTP. He currently works as Additional IG in NWFP.
  • Nasim-uz-Zaman Khan: An officer of the Police Service of Pakistan. He has served as SP and SSP in seven districts of Punjab. He has also served in Special Branch and NH & Motorway Police as DIG. He is currently attending Staff College Lahore.
  • Abdur Rauf Khan: An Office Management Group Officer of 19th CTP. He is an engineer by profession and currently serves as a Joint Secretary in the Economic Affairs Division.
  • Akhtar Hayat Khan: An officer of the Police Service of Pakistan belonging to 22nd CTP. An Engineer by profession who also holds an LLM from University of Warwick, UK. He has been the DPO of Haripur, Charsadda (twice), Nowshera, Mardan, Swat and Mansehra districts and served as SP and SSP in Peshawar. He currently works as a DIG in NWFP.
  • Farhat Qayyum: An officer of the Income Tax Group belonging to 24th CTP. She currently works as an Additional Commissioner of Income Tax at Abbottabad.
  • Muhammad Ali Khan: An officer of the Police Service of Pakistan belonging to 27th CTP.He currently serves as an SP in ICT.


  • Atta Ullah Khan: Persian Poet and scholar of the 20th century. He belongs to Bahadur Khel sub-tribe of Gandapur. He was educated at Aligarh and was a famous lawyer practicing in the D.I. Khan region. President Ghulam Ishaq Khan did his law apprenticeship under him. His son Inayat Ullah Khan and grandson Engr: Zaka Ullah Khan are editing a literary magazine quarterly "ATTA" in his memory.
  • Sher Muhammad Khan: Writer of "History of Pashtun" in the latter half of the 19th century.[3]
  • Faqir Noor Muhammad (RA):[4] Great Sufi and writer of various books. He was an authority on interpretation of the teachings of well known Sufi Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA). He translated the important writing risala-Roohi written by Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) in Urdu.[5]
  • Tahir Kulachvi: Son of Faqir Noor Muhammad. Important Pashto Poet. Received pride of performance for his literary services.


  • Aman Ullah Khan: Son of Atta Ullah Khan (see above in Literature), played football/soccer for Punjab University, Aligarh University, Mohammadan Sporting, and was a pivotal full-back of the All-India Football Team.
  • Abdur Rashid Junior: Highest hockey goal scorer of the 1960 Mexico Olympics and winner of all three Olympic medals: Gold, Silver, and Bronze.
  • Abdul Hamid Hamidi: The Captain of the Pakistan Hockey Team in 1960, winners of Pakistan's first Olympic Gold Medal. A veteran of 4 Olympic games.
  • Inam Ullah Khan: Winner of two Gold medals in Free Pistol event of the 1993 Dhaka SAF Games.[1]

Future of the Tribe

The future of the tribe is brighter then the other tribes living nearby. The main reasons of their non projection are poverty, trade, internal feuds and political maneuvering of the tribe. The completion of the underconstruction Gomal Zam Dam would change the economic conditions of the tribe as the barren land would get canal irrigation facilities.


6. ^ Tarikh-e-Sarzamin-e-Gomal (History of the Gomal Land) Udru, Aminullah Khan Gandapur, National Book Foundation Islamabad 2008. 7. ^

Further reading

The most important sources regarding the history of Gandapurs areas follows;

  • Tarikh-e-Pushtun (History of Pushtun) by Sher Muhammad Khan Ibrahim Zai Gandapur. It is originally a book written in Persian under the title "Khurshid e Jahan" (Sun of the World) for Begum of Bhopal. This book was published in 80s by Alauddin Khan Gandapur, the great grandson of Sher Muhammad Khan in collaboration with the Urdu research writer Jamil Jalibi who arranged the book to be translated in Urdu by Siraj Uddin Alvi. This book was written in the later half of the 19th century.
  • Tarikh-e-Ganadapur (History of Gandapurs) by Qadir Dad Khan Gandapur. This book is mainly based on information drawn from Tarikh-e-Pushtun (History of Pashtun) by Sher Muhammad Khan. This book was written in 70s and also gives valuable information about Gandapurs and their town Kulachi in mid twentieth century.
  • Tarikh-e-Sarzamin-e-Gomal, (Urdu) (History of the Gomal Land) by Aminullah Khan Gnadapur, published by National Book Foundation, Islamabad. 2008 The book has comprehensively covered the events chronologically from their origin and migration into this area right up to 1977. The only book on the subject having a detailed bibliography and further reading references.
  • Gazetteer of District Dera Ismail Khan (1882-83) provides valuable information about the Gandapurs and their areas. This is one of the most authentic sources about the Gandapurs of the later half of the 19th century. It provides for various statistics regarding Gandapur population and their area.