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Khushal Khan Khattak
Khushal Khan Khattak (1613 - 1689) (Pashto: خوشحال خان خټک) was a Pashtun warrior, poet and tribal chief of the Khattak tribe. He wrote in Pashto during the reign of the Mughal emperors in the seventeenth century, and admonished Afghans to forsake their divisive tendencies and unite. He was a renowned fighter who became known as the "Afghan Warrior Poet". He lived in the foothills of the Hindu Kushmarker mountains in what is now the North-West Frontier Provincemarker of western Pakistanmarker.


Khushal Khan was the son of Shahbaz Khan and was born in Akora (now in Nowshera District, Pakistanmarker). His grandfather, Malik Akoray, was the first Khattak to enjoy widespread fame during the reign of the Mughal King Jalal-ud-din Akbar. Akoray moved from Terimarker (a village in Karak District) to Sarai Akora, the town which Akoray founded and built. Akoray cooperated with the Mughals to safeguard the trunk route and was generously rewarded for his assistance. The Akor Khels, a clan named after Akoray, still hold a prominent position in the Khattak tribe. The Khattak tribe of Khushhal Khan now (2007) lives in areas of Karak, Kohatmarker, Nowsheramarker, Peshawarmarker, Mardanmarker and in other parts of the North-West Frontier Province.

Khushhal Khan’s life can be divided into two important parts — during his adult life he was mostly engaged in the service of the Mughal King, and during his old age he was preoccupied with the idea of the unification of the Pashtuns.

His first involvement in war occurred when he was just 13 years old. Shah Jehan appointed him as the tribal chief and Mansabdar at the age of 28 after the death of his father. By appointment of the Mughul emperor, Shah Jehan, Khushhal succeeded his father in 1641, but in 1658, Aurangzeb, Shah Jehan's successor, locked him away as a prisoner in the Gwaliormarker fortress.


After Khushhal was permitted to return to Pashtun dominated areas (now constituting the NWFPmarker), he incited the Afghans to rebel against the Mughal Emperor Aurenzeb.

Along with the Rajputs, the Pashtun tribesmen of the Empire were considered the bedrock of the Mughal Army. They were crucial defenders of the Mughal Empire from the threat of invasion from the West. The Pashtun revolt in 1672 was triggered when soldiers under the orders of the Mughal Governor Amir Khan attempted to molest women of the Safi tribe in what is now Kunar. The Safi tribes attacked the soldiers. This attack provoked a reprisal, which triggered a general revolt of most of the tribes. Attempting to reassert his authority, Amir Khan led a large Mughal Army to the Khyber passmarker. There the army was surrounded by tribesmen and routed, with only four men, including the Governor, managing to escape.

After that the revolt spread, with the Mughals suffering a near total collapse of their authority along the Pashtun belt. The closure of the important Attock-to-Kabul trade route along the Grand Trunk road was particularly critical. By 1674 the situation had deteriorated to a point where Aurangzeb himself camped at Attock to personally take charge. Switching to diplomacy and bribery along with force of arms, the Mughals eventually split the rebellion and while they never managed to wield effective authority outside the main trade route, the revolt was partially suppressed. However the long term anarchy on the Mughal frontier that prevailed as a consequence ensured that Nadir Shah's forces half a century later faced little resistance on the road to Delhi.

Forced to flee after the Mughals reasserted control, he died after many years of attempting to unite the various Pakhtun tribes together.

His grave carries the inscription:da afghan pa nang me watarla tura, nanagyalai da zamana khushal khattak yam "I have taken up the sword to defend the pride of the Afghan, I am Khushal Khattak, the honorable man of the age." Khushhal Khan Khattak died on February 25, 1689, in Dambara.

The Mazar of Khushal Khan Khattak is situated near the Railway Station of Akora Khattak in Nowsheramarker district. N.W.F.P, Pakistan.

Published works

His poetry consists of more than 45,000 poems. According to some historians the number of books written by him is more than 200. His more famous books are Baz Nama, Fazal Nama, Distar Nama and Farrah Nama.

H. G. Raverty was the first translator of Khattak into English; Selections from the Poetry of Afghans (1862, Kolkata) has ninety eight poetic pieces. This was followed by Biddulph’s translation Selections from the Poetry of Khushhal Khan Khattak in 1890 published in London. Evelyn Howell and Olaf Caroe jointly translated and published The Poems of Khushhal Khan Khattak in 1963, from the University of Peshawar. Another translation was that by Dr N. Mackenzie Poems from the Diwan of Khushhal Khan Khattak published from London in 1965.

Dost Mohammad Khan Kamil was the first Pakhtoon scholar to initiate research on Khattak along scientific lines. He wrote two important and comprehensive books, one in English called On a Foreign Approach to Khushhal and the other in Urdu titled Khushhal Khan Khattak published in 1952. Diwan-i-Khushhal Khan Khattak was published under the directive of H .W. Bellew in 1869 (Jail Press, Peshawar), the manuscript of which was provided by Sultan Bakhash Darogha, an employee of the British government. More recently his poetry has been translated again.

In October 2002, a book on Khushal Khan Khattak "Khushal Khan, The Afghan Warrior Poet and Philosopher " has been published. Sponsored by Pashtoon Cultural Society (Regd) and Pashto Adabi Society (Regd) Islamabad/Rawalpindi, written by a well known writer and scholar, Ghani Khan Khattak who is reputed for having established the literary and cultural societies and for promoting Pushto literary and cultural activities in the federal capital, Islamabad (Pakistan).The significance of the above named book lies in that this is the first book in English on Khushal. Most of the written material available on Khushal Khan Khattak is either in Pashto or in Urdu. Although orientalists have always given importance to Khushal in their findings but they have not ever presented a detailed picture of the exceptional man known as Khushal Khan.


Khushal khan Khattak died in 1689, in his will which he described in one of his beautiful verses, he wished for his final resting place to be "as far from the soil disgraced by the Mogals" as his heirs could find. He is buried near Akora Khattak in N.W.F-P.marker. A tomb site with a rest house and a library in his name have also been erected at the site.


  1. Khushal Khan Khattak - The Warrior and the poet
  2. "Biography: Khushal Khan Khattak" Afghan-Web
  3. Khoshal Khan Khattak
  4. Cultural Rendezvous at Kotla Mohsin Khan
  5. Recurring patterns in tribal uprising THE NEWS 17 Feb 2008. Retrieved 20 feb 2008
  7. Khushal Khan Khattak [1]
  8. Pashto Poetry :: Khushal Khan Khattak
  9. Khushal Khan Khattak (Great Emblem of Gandhara Civilization), Poet: Khushal Khan Khattak, Translator: Hideki Ishizuka (Political Counsellor, Embassy of Japan in Pakistan), 68: PP, Price: Not listed, printed at Pan Graphics (Pvt) Ltd., Islamabad.

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