Khushal Khan Khattak

Khushal Khan Khattak (b.1613-1690) wrote in Pashtu during the reign of the Mongul emperors in the seventeenth century. He lived in the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains. He was a renowned fighter who became known are the Afghan Warrior Poet. A famous Afghan warrior, poet, and tribal chief of the Khatak tribe who called on the Afghans to fight the Moghuls then occupying their land. He admonished Afghans to forsake their anarchistic tendencies and unite to regain the strength and glory they once obsessed. Khushhal Khan was born near Peshawar, the son of Shahbaz Khan, a chief of the Khatak tribe. By appointment of the Moghul emperor, Shah Jehan, Khushhal succeeded his father in 1641, but Aurangzeb, Shah Jehan's successor, kept him a prisoner in the Gwaliar fortress in Delhi. After Khushhal was permitted to return to Peshawar he incited the Pashtuns to rebel. His grave carries the inscription: "I have taken up the sword to defend the pride of the Afghan, I am Khushal Khattak, the honorable man of the age." The Khattak tribe of Khushhal Khan now lives in the areas of Kohat, Peshawar, and Mardan.

The following stanza, referring to the destructiveness of tribal rivalries, mentions several Pusthun tribes who live in the Sulaiman Mountains (land of Roh).



Of the Pathans that are famed in the land of Roh,

Now-a-days are the Mohmunds, the Bangash, and the Warrakzais, and the Afridis.

The dogs of the Muhmunds are better than the Bangash,

Though the Mohmunds themselves are a thousand times worse than the dogs.

The Warrakzais are the scavengers of the Afridis,

Though the Afridis, one and all, are but scanvengers themselves.

This is the truth of the best of the dwellers in the land of Pathans,

Of those worse than these who would say that they were men?

No good qualities are there in the Pathans than are now living:

All that were of any worth are imprisoned in the grave.

This indeed is apparent to all who know them.

He of whom the Moghuls say, "He is loyal to us",

God forbid the shame of such should be concealed!

Let the Pathans drive all thought of honour from their hearts:

For these are ensnared by the baits the Moghuls have put for them.

From C. Biddulph, Afghan Poetry Of The 17th Century: Being Selections from the Poems of Khushal Khan Khattak (London, 1890)

Click Here For Khushal Khan Kattak's Picture


As I look on I am amazed

At this worlds denizens,

Just seeing what these dogs will do

To satisfy the flesh.


Such dealing as are brought about,

Men being what they are,

Satan himself could not devise,

Still less consider fair.


They place before them the Koran,

They read aloud from it,

But of their actions not a one

Conforms with the Koran.


In which direction should I go?

Where should I seek for them?

Wise men have now become as rare

As the alchemists stone.


Good men are like garnets and rubies,

Not often to be found,

While other common, worthless men,

Like common stones, abound.


It may be that in other lands

Good men are to be found

But they are few and far between,

I know, among Afghans.


However much he counsels hem

And gives him sound advice,

Not even his own fathers word

Does he consider good.


And yet Afghans, in all their deeds,

Are better than the Moguls;

but unanimity they lack,

and theres is the pity of it.


I hear talk of Sultan Baholol,

Also of Sher Shar Sur:

They were Afghans who won renown

As emperors in Hind.


For six or seven generations

They ruled in such a way

That all the people were amazed

At their accomplishments.


Either they were another kind

Than these Afghans today,

Or else it is by Gods command

That things have reached this pass.


I once Afghans acquire the grace

Of unanimity

Aged Khushal will thereupon

Become a youth again.

From C. Biddulph, Afghan Poetry Of The 17th Century: Being Selections from the Poems of Khushal Khan Khattak (London, 1890)


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