Kamer Khel

Kamar Khel are the smallest in numbers of all the Afridi tribes, their fighting strength estimated by the British being 800. Their permanent settlements are in the Bara valley adjoining Sipah and Zakhal Khel, but on the approach of winter, some of them migrate to Kajuri when they reside in caves from Chirgai Dagarai to Alladand, a distance of about a mile, having the Malikdin Khel both on the north and south of them.

On the Khyber road their responsibility extends from Shagai to Kotagat. In politics, they side with the “ Samil” faction. They are quiet and well conducted men. Their sole importance lies in their being the owners of the Tsaol Pass, which leads from the west of the Bara Valley past the villages of Takhtakai, into the Maidan of Tirah, and beingan easy road, is largely used by the Kambar Khel, Malikdin Khel, Sepah and Zakha Khel Afridis. A few men perched in the towers can easily render the road impassable to a large body of men and that is why remaining tribes like to be on friendly terms with the Kamarai.

Malaki = Rs. 9,000 for 2 Maliks.

Lungis = Rs. 14,610 for 11 elders (i.. Lungi Holders).

As compared to other clans, Kambar Khel has a low crime ratio.


Fighting men estimated as 3000 (Pre-partition figure). The permanent summer settlements of the Sipah Afridis are in the Bara valley. During the winner months they migrate to their cave dwellings in the Khajuri valley, which they hold for a length of about 8 km from Ucha Gagrai to the Bara Stream, and to Sandana which lies at the Bara end of the Jarobi Pass, from where they carry on a fair trade with the Peshawar District. Their area is surrounded on one side by Qambar Khel and on the other side by Zakha Khel. Within 3 Km of the Bara Fort, lies the Sepah village of Lam Gudar. It is situated on the left bank of the Bara river enclosures and cultivated land, extend westward from three to five Km. Sophisticated weapons particularly pistols are the manufacture of this tiny city of Sepah tribe.

The word ‘Alam Gudar’ may have been derived either from ‘Elam Gudar’ or ‘Lam Gudar’ or ‘Alam Gudar’. Gudar in Pushto, means place, valley, glen etc. and ‘Aalam’ means common people. The word ‘Alam Gudar’ therefore, means a place or valley where people at large gather and gossip. It is said that during the Tirah expeditions, the Afridis used to assemble at this place as their starting point. Hence the name. They also used this venue for launching crusades against the infidels. Hence the name Lama Gudar. ( Laam in Pashto means Lashker, war, Jehad etc i.e. a place wherefrom jehad was to be launched against the infidels). Still another version goes that in earlier time, this place was known for knowledge and academicians of diverse walks assembled there to gain or impart knowledge, hence it became known by the name of Elam Gudar i.e. the center of ‘Elm’ or knowledge. Whichever version is correct is open to historians and men of knowledge. As stated earlier, the village has its notoriety for the manufacture of 1st class pistols and rifles.

Other important villages in the Kajuri plain besides Alam Gudar are Sandana and Suran Khel in the Upper Bara. Sipah tribe sides with the ‘Samil’ faction. They are divided into three main sectors, Landi Khel, Urmur Khel and Babakri or Abubakkar Khel, the last two being each more important than the first, which follows the head of the Urmur Khel. This clan gets Rs. 60,600 and Rs. 22,420 as Maliki and Lungi allowances per annum having only one Malik and 158 Lungi holders respectively. Population according to 1981 Census is 10,94.

The Sepah youths bear a good name, and would make excellent soldiers, as they stand high amongst Afridis for bravery. For some reason few, if any, take service, and the one and sole reason assigned for this is, that they are the owners of excellent land in the Bara valley, and the produce of the harvest gives them ample for their wants. Their lands, which lie on the main Peshawar Bara road, carry high commercial value for official, agricultural and industrial purposes. The soil of Bara Tehsil H.Q is also claimed by Sepah. In the Khyber road, their charge extends from Shadi Bagyar to Shahgai, where they hold Jehangir Khawala tower.

Zakha Khel

This clan is considered to be the most important and powerful of the Afridi tribes, not so much by reason of the number of their fighting men which total some 6000 (old estimate) as by their position in the Afridi country, the most troublesome of all the tribes of the Khyber Range. According to the 1981 census, their population is 40,781. They own that part of the Jamrud – Landi Kotal road which begins at the ravine near Garhi Lala Beg where commences the Lwargi Shinwaris’ responsibility. On the left hand side of this road lie the cultivated lands, fortified ‘garhis’. Towers and enclosures of the Niki Khel, Sheikhwal and Sado Khel sections, whilst facing them on the other side, live the Sultan Khel and Wali Khel. From the examination of this range one can guess the hold the Zakha Khel have over it. From the Southern point of the Lakka Sar Peak, a line drawn due south to within 300 yards east of Gurgurra, then taken up the hill in a south-east direction above Fort Ali Masjid round the Aspo Ghar range, continued south-west just round Ghora, taking the crest of the Sur Ghar mountains to the Lakhi Pass, and then still going along the crest of the hills round to the Bazar Pass, then dipping north to the Khyber road to Lakhi Sar, will give a rough idea of their hold in the Khyber. This tract includes the strongest portion of the Khyber, the whole of the Bazar valley, with the command of the ranges north, south, west and of every pass towards Afghanistan, represents a country about 32 Km by 20 Km. They own about a third of the Maidan of Tirah to the east of the Qambar Khel and Malik Din Khel, whilst in the Bara valley they possess 60 forts lying between the Aka Khel and Sepah. From the Lakka Sar Peak to their furthest holdings in Tirah, north east, south and west, they can traverse from one quarter to another, without being compelled to press a foot on the lands of any other tribe and as such this is the privilege alone which gives them such as enormous advantage over all the Afridi tribes of the Khyber Hills. And it is this power, which forces other Afridis to keep on good terms with the Zakha Khel. In other respects whether in bravery or other soldier like qualities, they are far behind the Kambar Khel, Kuki Khel and M.D. Khel Afridis.

The Late Major Jammes, who was one of the most competent officers of the Peshawar Division, in 1864 in his settlement Report (Paragraph 228) described the Zakha Khel as under:

“In no instance are the wild and lawless habits of the Afridi race so fully illustrated as in the Zakha Khel. Their upper settlements are in the Maidan and Bara Districts, and their winter quarters adjoin those of the Malik Din Khel. They occupy the hills at the south entrance of the Khyber, and their principal villages that of Bazar, where the greater portion of their cattle is kept. Cultivating but little, despising the trade in firewood which is the chief means of subsistence in the winter to the most of the other tribes, they depend wholly upon plunder. Expertness in thieving is the sole characteristic, which leads to distinction amongst them, and is virtue maidens seek in their future husbands, and mothers fondly look for in their newborn babies. Every male child is given as it were, at his birth to crime. A whole is dug in the wall similar to those made by burglars, and the infant is passed backwards and forwards through it with the words “ Ghal Shah, Ghal Shah, Ghal Shah” i.e. –Be a thief, be a thief, be a thief. Their early training in such homes and with such associations may be imagined, leading, as it does, to notoriety amongst a nation of robbers. They are the principal enactors of the daring crimes formerly perpetrated in the Peshawar Cantt. But by no means confine themselves to those. They rob the Bangash of Kohat and the Khalil of Peshawar on the Attock road and in the districts on the Kabul river, and no other Afridi tribe is safe from their depredations. Their want of faith is so notorious that their oaths are not considered sufficient security even in Afridi Jirgas, which require from them hostages or some substantial pledge when it is necessary to enter into engagement with them. It was at the hands of the men of this tribe that a Kaka Khel (disciple of Kaka Sahib) met his death in the Khyber as above narrated. It is said that being without a “Ziarat” or place of pilgrimage within their own borders, and being thus necessitated to resort to the territories of their more fortunate neighbours, they seized and killed the first worshipful subject who came in their way. The unlucky Khattak answered all their requirements. He was slain, the stones were heaped on him, and a few days after the Zakha Khel were proudly paying their devotions at the grave “for their own” Pir. Other tribes when migrating, are obliged to pass through a portion of their neighbor’s lands, and are thus exposed to retaliation from them when at feud”.

Col. R. Warburton who was the Political Agent of the Khyber for more than 18 years (1879-1898) also termed the Zakha Khel to be thieves and robbers. According to him “ During the First Afghan War of 1978-79, after the first resistance was over, nearly every raid on Khyber road or towards Dakka or Peshawar was planned and carried out by the Annai and Khuysrogi sections of the Zakha Khel. Although the whole Afridi tribes gained the credit of this, yet in reality the true offenders were these two clans”. Although Afridi raids kept the British on tiptoe all the time yet, with the nice dealings to them by the British, they in later years greatly reformed. Referring to Pakhai section of Zakha Khel Afridis, Mr. Warburton remarks.

“ It is evident from the nearest glance here that the Pakkai could bar the Khyber road whenever it pleases them to do so and to force a passage would require a strong force well supplied with artillery. No other tribe in the Khyber holds such a commanding position. In-spite of their feud with rare exceptions, the road has been ever held sacred. Treasures ranging in value from 3 to 10 Lakhs sent up for his Highness the Amir, most valuable conveys, thousands of travelers with all their cattle, goods, property, have safely used this highway during the last 15 years and with all these temptations, not a single case of theft or robbery has ever been reported.

The Pakhai section of the Zakha Khel, being owners of fairly good lands and having some trade with Peshawar, has been described by the same writher as the best specimen of this thieving race, but Annai, Khusrogi, Painai and Shah Khel rob their maliks, rob each other and no one can be considered safe from their depredations. “The Ziaud Din Zakha Khel of Spin Kamar and Tseri Kandao are one and all thieves, raiders and robbers. The sections of Zakha Khel living in Bara valley, are fairly well off and better behaved than their relations in Tirah and Bazar valley”, further adds Warburton.

Zakha Khel draws Maliki allowance of Rs. 1,13,500 having 6 Maliks in all. Similarly an amount of Rs. 94, 208 is drawn by them as lungi allowance, the number of Lungi holders being 814.

Qambar Khel

They are “Garh” in politics and have permanent settlements in the Miadan of Tirah, in the Bara valley, small hamlets at Tangi below Choora, and their hold in Kajouri Valley lies from Sarki Kamarkai south of Malik din Khel Afridi to Shingai Mela, distance about half a mile to the south, where they again touch Malikdin Khel. Of late they have increased in numbers. During the winter season when the snow falls heavily in their winter homes, they migrate in considerable number to the Kohat District, while only a small portion journeys to the Kajuri plain, returning on the approach of the hot season to their permanent homes. They are divided into many smaller sections, as reflected in the genealogical table annexed at the end. Those residing in Shalobar are tribally known as Shalobar Qambar Khel and those in Kao as the Kao Qambar Khel.

Qambar Khel and Malikdin Khel are descended from one ancestor, Mir Ahmad. In case they both unite, either for good or evil, they would form a powerful combination but as observed this is impossible.

In the Khyber, Qambar Khel’s share of the road extends from Sutan Tirah to the mosque below Fort Ali Masjid and in 1882 they had a bitter feud with the Kuki Khel, touching their right to a small plot of land known as “ Shaddal”, which Col. R. Warburton, the then P.A., Khyber was able to stop with the aid of Zakha Khel maliks just when they were about to appeal to arms and which was not allowed to be re-opened again.

This section is getting Rs. 27,000/- as Maliki allowance, having 3 Maliks in all. Besides, it is in receipt of a Lungi allowance of Rs. 49,901/- having 368 elders.

Malik Din Khel

The Malikdin Khel live in the Maidan of Tirah, and in Choura at the eastern entrance of the Bazar Valley, and during the winter months a large party of them come down to the Kajuri about a mile to the South of Qadam in Shinkai Mela in Kajuri, and from this point to Sarki Kamar about half a mile belongs to Malikdin Khel. They also own the cave villages from Shagai mela to Chirgai Dagarai, 2.5 Km and from Alladand to Ucha Gara, about 2 km. On the Khyber road their share of the pass responsibility commences from the mosque below Ali Masjid to the ravine just due east of Gurgura, and takes in Kattak Kushta, a hamlet of a few houses with a tower. In politics they belong to the ‘Samil’ faction.

This clan receives Maliki allowance of Rs. 72,000/- having 2 Maliks and Lungi allowance of Rs. 58,120/- having 365 elders i.e. Lungi holders. Malikdin Khel have been numbered by the British as 6000 fighting men and are Samil in politics. Their number might be much more today.

The famous Maidan area is in their possession where the historic place “ Bagh” is situated. It has been noticed that despite all the differences Afridi tribes have amongst themselves, once they reach “Bagh”, they bury the hatchet and forget all their ill will. In this respect this has in a sense become a scared place. In 1930 the historic decision to attack the British and Peshawar, was taken by the Afridis at this place. The area from Ali Masjid to Gurgura in Khyber Pass is in the possession of this tribe.

Among sub-branches Malik Din Khel, Gulab Khel, Umar Khel and Kala Khel are divided into Daulat Khel, Natlu Khel, Janda Khel, Mot Khel and Nusrat Khel; Umar Khel into Kutti Khel, Rawara Khel, and Shahi Khel; and Kala Karmana into Darray Khel, Alkai Khel, Behram Khel, or Muhammad Khel and Kala Khel. To the British they supplied excellent soldiers to the Native Army, and Militia Corps, which holds still true. According to the 1981 census, their number is 31,598 souls. In the former ages this clan was considered to be the “premier” tribe amongst the Afridis of the Khyber Range and by far the best behaved, which was chiefly due to a succession of Maliks, who were careful to think of the common interests in preference to their own, and this way won over the majority of the graybeards to follow their lead. Consequently whichever party the Malikdin Khel joined, the rest of the Afridis were almost certain to follow. When Nadir Shah, King of Persia, after conquering Kabul advanced by the way of Jalalabad to force the Khyber Pass, he found his road above Landi Khana, barred by a united force of Afridis and Orakzais, who had combined to resist his advance. For six weeks his army of 90,000 men tried in vain to force a passage through the road from Landi Khana to Landi Kotal until they were compelled to desist. But Nadir Shah, after his conquest of Kandhar, had enlisted a very strong detachment of Abdalis and Ghilzais on his side, and amongst them was one sultan Sarwar, Abdul Aziz Khel Orakzai, who having intimate knowledge of the ins and outs of the Afridi country secretly led Nadir Shah through the Sassobi Pass into the Bazar valley and thus he and his army had passed on to the plains of the Peshawar District by the time the Afridi and Orakzais were aware of the move. After this Nadir Shah, returned to the Bazar valley, intending to move into Tirah and punish the Afridi for their hostile attitude but he was intercepted by Darya Khan, the Malakdin Khel Chief, who had brought with him for his food a bundle of ‘Pamanai’ (a wild edible plant) and a quantity of the root of the dwarf palm, and, seeing these, Nadir Shah felt assured that no good cold be gained by fighting with a people who could exist on such diet.

Aka Khel

This clan lives in the Bara Tehsil with a population of 32,290 (According to 1981 census).

It consists of seven sections namely Maruf Khel, Mirgat Khel, Sher Khel, Sanjal Khel, Sultan Khel, Madha Khel and Miri Khel. They are in receipt of Maliki allowance of Rs. 5,500 per annum having 2 Maliks and Lungi allowance of Rs. 27,025 per annum having 194 Lungi holders.