Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Culture

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (often abbreviated KP or KPK; Pashto: خیبر پښتونخوا‎; Urdu: خیبر پختونخوا‎), formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province NWFP (Urdu: صوبہ سرحد‎), is one of the four administrative provinces of Pakistan, located in the northwestern region of the country along the international border with Afghanistan.
It was previously known as the North-West Frontier Province until 2010 when the name was changed to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by the 18th Amendment to Pakistan’s Constitution, and is known colloquially by various other names. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the third-largest province of Pakistan by the size of both population and economy, though it is geographically the smallest of four. Within Pakistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa shares a border with Punjab, Balochistan, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Islamabad. It is home to 17.9% of Pakistan’s total population, with the majority of the province’s inhabitants being Pashtuns. The province is the site of the ancient kingdom Gandhara, including the ruins of its capital Pushkalavati near modern-day Charsadda. Originally a stronghold of Buddhism, the history of the region was characterized by frequent invasions under various Empires due to its geographical proximity to the Khyber Pass.
Since the 9/11 attacks in the United States in 2001, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been a major theatre of militancy and terrorism which intensified when the Taliban began an unsuccessful attempt to seize the control of the province in 2004. With the launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azb against the Taliban insurgency, the casualty and crime rates in the country as a whole dropped by 40.0% as compared to 2011–13, with even greater drops noted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. As of July 2014, about 929,859 people were reported to be internally displaced from North Waziristan to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as a result of Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
On March 2, 2017, the Government of Pakistan considered a proposal to merge the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and to repeal the Frontier Crimes Regulations, which are currently applicable to the tribal areas. However, some political parties have opposed the merger, and called for the tribal areas to instead become a separate province of Pakistan. On 24 May 2018, the National Assembly of Pakistan voted in favour of an amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan to merge the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly then approved the historic FATA-KP merger bill on 28 May 2018 making FATA officially part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which was then signed by President Mamnoon Hussain, completing the process of this historic merger.
Etymology
Main article: Names of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa means the “Khyber side of the land of the Pashtuns (or Pakhtuns)”, where the word Pakhtunkhwa means “Land of the Pashtuns”, while according to some scholars, it refers to “Pashtun culture and society” The province is so named due to its ethnic Pashtun majority.
When the British established it as a province, they called it “North West Frontier Province” (abbreviated as NWFP) due to its relative location being in north west of their Indian Empire. After the creation of Pakistan, Pakistan continued with this name but a Pashtun nationalist party, Awami National Party demanded that the province name be changed to “Pakhtunkhwa”. Their logic behind that demand was that Punjabi people, Sindhi people and Balochi people have their provinces named after their ethnicities but that is not the case for Pashtun people.
Pakistan Muslim League was against that name since it was too similar to Bacha Khan’s demand of separate nation of Pashtunistan. PML-N wanted to name the province something other than which does not carry Pashtun identity in it as they argued that there were other minor ethnicities living in the province especially Hindkowans who spoke Hindko, thus the word Khyber was introduced with the name because it is the name of a major pass which connects Pakistan to Afghanistan.
Early history
During the times of Indus Valley Civilization (3300 BCE – 1300 BCE) the modern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Khyber Pass, through Hindu Kush provided a route to other neighbouring regions and was used by merchants on trade excursions. From 1500 BCE, Indo-Aryan peoples started to enter in the region(of modern-day Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, North India) after having passed Khyber Pass.
Gold coin of Kushan king Kanishka II with Shiva (200–220 AD)
Approximate boundaries of the Gandharan Empire; Alexander Army also passed through this area centered on the modern day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan
The Gandharan civilization, which reached its zenith between the sixth and first centuries BCE, and which features prominently in the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharatha, had one of its cores over the modern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The modern day capital city of Peshawar was originally known in ancient times as Purushapura when the region was Hindu. Vedic texts refer to the area as the Janapada of Pushkalavati. The area was once known to be a great center of learning.
Persian and Greek Invasions
At around 516 BCE., Darius Hystaspes sent Scylax, a Greek seaman from Karyanda, to explore the course of the Indus river. Darius Hystaspes subsequently subdued the races dwelling west of the Indus and north of Kabul. Gandhara was incorporated into the Persian Empire as one of its far easternmost satrapy system of government. The satrapy of Gandhara is recorded to have sent troops for Xerxes’ invasion of Greece in 480 BCE.
In the spring of 327 BCE Alexander the Great crossed the Indian Caucasus (Hindu Kush) and advanced to Nicaea, where Omphis, king of Taxila and other chiefs joined him. Alexander then dispatched part of his force through the valley of the Kabul River, while he himself advanced into modern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Bajaur and Swat regions with his troops. Having defeated the Aspasians, from whom he took 40,000 prisoners and 230,000 oxen, Alexander crossed the Gouraios (Panjkora River) and entered into the territory of the Assakenoi – also in modern-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Alexander then made Embolima (thought to be the region of Amb in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) his base. The ancient region of Peukelaotis (modern Hashtnagar, 17 miles (27 km) north-west of Peshawar) submitted to the Greek invasion, leading to Nicanor, a Macedonian, being appointed satrap of the country west of the Indus, which includes the modern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Hindu and Buddhist Rule
After Alexander’s death in 323 BCE Porus obtained possession of the region, but was murdered by Eudemus in 317 BCE. Eudemus then left the region, and with his departure Macedonian power collapsed. Sandrocottus (Chandragupta), the founder of the Mauryan dynasty, then declared himself master of the province. His grandson, Ashoka, made Buddhism the dominant religion in ancient Gandhara.
Relics of the Buddha from the ruins of the Kanishka stupa at Peshawar – now in Mandalay, Myanmar
After Ashoka’s death the Mauryan empire collapse, just as in the west the Seleucid power was rising. The Greek princes of neighboring Bactria (in modern Afghanistan) took advantage of the power vacuum to declare their independence. The Bactrian kingdoms were then attacked from the west by the Parthians and from the north (about 139 BCE) by the Sakas, a Central Asian tribe. Local Greek rulers still exercised a feeble and precarious power along the borderland, but the last vestige of Greek dominion was extinguished by the arrival of the Yueh-chi.
The Yueh-Chi were a race of nomads that were themselves forced southwards out of Central Asia by the nomadic Xiongnu people. The Kushan clan of the Yuek Chi seized vast swathes of territory under the rule of Kujula Kadphises. His successors, Vima Takto and Vima Kadphises, conquered the north-western portion of the Indian subcontinent. Vima Kadphises was then succeeded by his son, the legendary Hindu king Kanishka, who himself was succeeded by Huvishka, and Vasudeva I.
Early Islamic Invasions
Asia in 565 CE, showing the Shahi kingdoms, centered on modern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
After the Saffarids had left in Kabul, the Hindu Shahis had once again been placed into power. The restored Hindu Shahi kingdom was founded by the Brahmin minister Kallar in 843 CE. Kallar had moved the capital into Udabandhapura in modern-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from Kabul. Trade had flourished and many gems, textiles, perfumes, and other goods had been exported West. Coins minted by the Shahis have been found all over the Indian subcontinent. The Shahis had built Hindu temples with many idols, all of which were later looted by invaders. The ruins of these temples can be found at Nandana, Malot, Siv Ganga, and Ketas, as well as across the west bank of the Indus river.
At its height King Jayapala, the rule of the Shahi kingdom had extended to Kabul from the West, Bajaur to the North, Multan to the South, and the present day India-Pakistan border to the East. Jayapala saw a danger from the rise to power of the Ghaznavids and invaded their capital city of Ghazni both in the reign of Sebuktigin and in that of his son Mahmud. This had initiated the Muslim Ghaznavid and Hindu Shahi struggles. Sebuktigin, however, defeated him, and forced Jayapala to pay an indemnity. Eventually, Jayapala refused payment and took to war once more. The Shahis were decisively defeated by Mahmud of Ghazni after the defeat of Jayapala at the Battle of Peshawar on November 27, 1001. Over time, Mahmud of Ghazni had pushed further into the subcontinent, as far as east as modern day Agra. During his campaigns, many Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries had been looted and destroyed, as well as many people being forcibly converted into Islam.
Following the collapse of Ghaznavid rule, local Pashtuns of the Delhi Sultanate controlled the region. Several Turkic and Pashtun dynasties ruled from Delhi, having shifted their capital from Lahore to Delhi. Several Muslim dynasties ruled modern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the Delhi Sultanate period: the Mamluk dynasty (1206–90), the Khalji dynasty (1290–1320), the Tughlaq dynasty (1320–1413), the Sayyid dynasty (1414–51), and the Lodi dynasty (1451–1526).
Tanolis(تنولی) of Ghazni Afghanistan are also came with Ahmad Shah Durrani and settled in the mountainous area of Hazara called Tanawal (Amb).
Yusufzai Pashtun tribes from the Kabul and Jalalabad valleys began migrating to the Valley of Peshawar beginning in the 15th century, and displaced the Swatis ( a predominant tribe of Hazara div ) and Dilazak Pashtun tribes across the Indus River to Hazara Division.
Mughal
Bestowed by Mohabbat Khan bin Ali Mardan Khan in 1630, the white-marble façade of the Mohabbat Khan Mosque is one of Peshawar’s most iconic sights.
Mughal suzerainty over the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region was partially established after Babar, the founder of the Mughal Empire, invaded the region in 1505 CE via the Khyber Pass. The Mughal Empire noted the importance of the region as a weak point in their empire’s defenses, and determined to hold Peshawar and Kabul at all cost against any threats from the Uzbek Shaybanids.
He was forced to retreat westwards to Kabul, but returned to defeat the Lodis in July 1526, when he captured Peshawar from Daulat Khan Lodi,though the region was never considered to be fully subjugated to the Mughals.
Under the reign of Babar’s son, Humayun, direct Mughal rule was briefly challenged with the rise of the Pashtun Emperor, Sher Shah Suri, who began construction of the famous Grand Trunk Road – which links Kabul, Afghanistan with Chittagong, Bangladesh over 2000 miles to the east. Later, local rulers once again pledged loyalty to the Mughal emperor.
Yusufzai tribes rose against Mughals during the Yusufzai Revolt of 1667, and engaged in pitched-battles with Mughal battalions in Peshawar and Attock Afridi tribes resisted Aurangzeb rule during the Afridi Revolt of the 1670s. The Afridis massacred a Mughal battalion in the Khyber Pass in 1672 and shut the pass to lucrative trade routes Following another massacre in the winter of 1673, Mughal armies led by Emperor Aurangzeb himself regained control of the entire area in 1674 and enticed tribal leaders with various awards in order to end the rebellion.
Referred to as the “Father of Pashto Literature” and hailing from the city of Akora Khattak, the warrior-poet Khushal Khan Khattak actively participated in revolt against the Mughals and became renowned for his poems that celebrated the rebellious Pashtun warriors.
Afsharid
On 18 November 1738, Peshawar was captured from the Mughal governor Nawab Nasir Khan by the Afsharid armies during the Persian invasion of the Mughal Empire under Nader Shah
Durrani Afghans
The area fell subsequently under the rule of Ahmed Shah Durrani, founder of the Afghan Durrani Empire, following a grand nine-day long assembly of leaders, known as the loya jirga. In 1749, the Mughal ruler was induced to cede Sindh, the Punjab region and the important trans Indus River to Ahmad Shah in order to save his capital from Afghan attack In short order, the powerful army brought under its control the Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Turkmen, and other tribes of northern Afghanistan. Ahmad Shah invaded the remnants of the Mughal Empire a third time, and then a fourth, consolidating control over the Kashmir and Punjab regions, with Lahore being governed by Afghans. He sacked Delhi in 1757 but permitted the Mughal dynasty to remain in nominal control of the city as long as the ruler acknowledged Ahmad Shah’s suzerainty over Punjab, Sindh, and Kashmir. Leaving his second son Timur Shah to safeguard his interests, Ahmad Shah left India to return to Afghanistan.
Their rule was interrupted by a brief invasion of the Hindu Marathas, ruled over the region following the 1758 Battle of Peshawar for eleven months till early 1759 when the Durrani rule was re-established.
Under the reign of Timur Shah, the Mughal practice of using Kabul as a summer capital and Peshawar as a winter capital was reintroduced, Peshawar’s Bala Hissar Fort served as the residence of Durrani kings during their winter stay in Peshawar.
Mahmud Shah Durrani, became king, and quickly sought to seize Peshawar from his half-brother, Shah Shujah Durrani. Shah Shujah was then himself proclaimed king in 1803, and recaptured Peshawar while Mahmud Shah was imprisoned at Bala Hissar fort until his eventual escape. In 1809, the British sent an emissary to the court of Shah Shujah in Peshawar, marking the first diplomatic meeting between the British and Afghans. Mahmud Shah allied himself with the Barakzai Pashtuns, and amassed an army in 1809, and captured Peshawar from his half-brother, Shah Shujah, establishing Mahmud Shah’s second reign, which lasted under 1818.
Provincial flag
Flag of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Provincial animal
Kabul markhor
Provincial tree
Afghan pine tree
Provincial bird
White-crested Kalij pheasant
Provincial flower
Lady’s tulip
Provincial sport
Pashtun Archery