The Karlugh Turks (Urdu: ترکوں قارلوق‎) are a prominent Karluk Turkic tribe that resides mainly in the Hazara region of current Pakistan. These Karlugh Turks formed a Turki Shahi dynasty and ruled the state of Pakhli Sarkar for over 200 years from 1472 to 1703.

Turkan e Taimur comparison with Ottoman Turks by Allama Iqbal.png


Karlugh is a Persian variation of the word Qarluk, which is originally from Turkic "snow piles".


Establishment of Pakhli Sarkar

The Karlugh Turks, having a central Asian origin, became the ruling class of Hazara and maintain this status until the early 18th century (1703). They formed a Turki Shahi state with the arrival of Sultan Shahab-ud-Din from Kabul who established his rule in the entire Pakhli (Hazara) region. This state came to be known as Pakhli Sarkar with Guli Bagh as its capital. Locals always called them Rajas, but they continued to use the title of Sultan till end of their rule in Hazara. However, later on, when their rule came to an end they assumed the title of Raja, a name given to their ancestors by the locals. However, a small population of Turks also retained "Khan" with their names.

Karlugh Turks and Mughal Empire

The Mughals began establishing their control in India with Babur's victory in the First battle of Panipat in 1526. During the entire period of Mughal ascendancy in Indian sub-continent, Mughals acknowledged Karlughs as the rulers of Pakhli sarkar. In addition, probably due to their common Central Asian origin, Mughals never levied taxes on the state of Pakhli Sarkar.

The relations between Pakhli Sarkar and Mughal Empire took a tumble during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. The then Karlugh Turk ruler Sultan Hussain Khan revolted against the Mughals citing increased interference on the part of Mughal Empire. This revolt was successfully put down by Akbar who eventually pardoned and restored Sultan Hussain Khan as the ruler of Pakhli Sarkar.

Decline and fall of Karlugh Turks

The last Karlugh Turk ruler of Pakhli Sarkar was Sultan Mehmud Khurd. His brother Sultan Muqarrab was Wali-e-Dhamtor, i.e. Rush areas of present Abbottabad. Pakhli Sarkar had two other important governorships. One in the areas between Battagram, Banna Thakot ruled by Shamsher Khan and other of Kashmir governed by Sultan Kamal. Both of these governors were close relatives of Turk rulers of Pakhli Sarkar and were of Bamba Kagha Rajput origin.

The introduction of Sikh rule into Hazara, commenced after 1818. In this year Kamal Khan, Turk, of Manakrai, murdered his fellow-chieftain, Hashim Khan (Karlugh)who was also known as Hashim Khan lakhay the reason for this grudge was that the Tareen Chief Muhammad Khan kept regularly interfering Hashim Khan through Kamal Khan. Hashim Khan was the son of the ruler Malook khan and grandson of Sultan Mehmood Khurd. Hashim Khan was ruler of appx. 84 villages which were later snatched by the Britishers. The latter's cause was espoused by the Tareen chief, Muhammad Khan. Mohammed Khan Tareen helped Kamal Khan to over threw Hashim khan. Then Hashim Khan called the Sikhs. At his invitation Makhan Singh, the Sikh Governor of Rawalpindi, invaded Hazara with 500 sowars, built a fort at Serai Saleh, and levied tribute from the Haripur plain. Note that Hashim Khan later died in British custody, all of his jahgeer was snatched and his son Hayat Khan was given 1000 rupees at that time as expense by the British.

Revolt of Sultan Maqarrab

Sultan Maqarrab revolted against his own brother Sultan Mehmud Khurd, but was defeated by the Sultan due to intervention from the Delhi Sultanate. But this incident weakened the Turks permanently and they could never restore their previous strength. Karlal tribe gained strength and Jadoon tribe came from across the river Indus to hasten the overthrow of the Turks. Ultimately, Jadoons from Swabi subjugated the Rush areas.

Loss of Rush

Around 1713 Sultan Mehmud Khurd went to Delhi never to return and his whereabouts from them unknown. His sons were too young to run the affairs of Pakhli Sarkar. The Karlugh Turk rule of Pakhli Sarkar came to an end when, in Sultan's absence, his son-in-law, Syed Jalal Baba hatched a conspiracy and invited Swatis and Syeds to attack Pakhli Sarkar.

Shamsher Khan, a loyal general of Sultan Mehmud Khurd, fought with great valour and put up a very strong resistance at Jhanjal fort of Thakot. After a siege of several months Swatis finally defeated Shamsher Khan, who was martyred in battle. However, after the fall of Jhanjer Fort, there was no one to put up resistance in the Rush areas. Swatis entered the Rush area of Hazara without any notable resistance.

After the Karlugh Turks were overthrown, the tribes Swatis and Syeds established their rule in the plains of Pakhli and mountains of Kaghan valley. These areas were then divided between the above-mentioned tribes. The Karlugh Turks were then made to settle in various parts of Hazara and Kashmir. However, the Turks retained small jageers everywhere, like Manakrai (Haripur), Mohar (abbottabad), Behali (Mansehra), Barakot (Mansehra), (Girwal) (Mansehra), Bayan (Abbottabad), Richbehn (Abbottabad), border of existing Pakistan and AJK up to Neelum Valley in Patika and some other villages and were never fully eliminated.[1] [2]

Turks Resistance

Turks continued their rule in the areas between Sherwan and Mangal till the arrival of the Sikhs in 1817–18. They were deprived of further areas during the 1872 settlement. Under the settlement, they continued to possess about 30,000 kanals, equivalent to 7,500 acres (30 km2) of lands between Richhbehn (Abbottabad) and Bahali (Mansehra).

Sultan Qyas-ud-din, son of Raja Habib Khan, continued to live in Sherwan, struggling against successive Tanolis attacks and controlling areas between Sherwan to Mangal including Behali. This was an era of turmoil for the Turks and they continuously struggled against Tanolis and then Sikhs till 1817.

Raja Anayat Khan, son of Raja Habib Khan, also continued the struggle. He could not sustain Tanolis attacks and left Sherwan. He had been shuttling between Behali(Mansehra) Allai (Banna) (Bateela) (Bar Tandol) Battagram (Thakot) & Richhbehn(Abbottabad), keeping his permanent centre at Kakul(Abbottabad). The grave of Raja Anayat Khan is in Kakot. During his rule, the Turks re-constructed a fort between Kakot and Mochikot, called the Mochikot fort. This fort proved to be a very strong place of resistance for Turks because of its brilliant location. It was on a hilltop which was surrounded by water (Mangal) on three sides. To the south was a narrow path which barely allowed passage of only one horse at a time. Presently, only one wall of the Mochikot fort still exists. The Turks kept shifting from Kakot to Fort of Mochikot off and on, during attacks from adversaries.


Raja Asalat Khan was the first person who settled in Behali in around 1795. However, the Turks were dislodged from Behali by Sikhs in 1817. These Turks migrated to northern regions and stayed with their relatives in Thangar, Lambian Pattian, Shawai, Turkan and Neelum Valley. After General Hari Singh Nalwa invited them back to resettle in Behali, they finally (lastly) returned around one and a half years later. Disputes developed again with the Sikhs and the Behali Turks took asylum in the Mochikot fort. Raja Asalat Khan passed his last days in Richhbehn. He is buried in Sohlan Bala(Abbottabad) near Kot-reen graveyard.

Raja Asalat Khan had seven sons. Raja Ikhtiar Khan, Raja Zulfiqar Khan, Raja Mahal Khan, Raja Paras Khan, Raja Malak Khan, Raja Maazullah Khan and Raja Muttawalli Khan.Raja Ikhtiar Khan migrated to Hassanabdal a trade hub during Sikh’s rule and a gateway to Kashmir. His son Raja Mehmood Khan owned a considerable portion of land in Hassanabdal and its surroundings. Raja Zulfiqar Khan was settled in Richbehn. It may be clarified that in Richhbehn two branches of Turks reside. Later on Raja Sher Khan, the grand son of Raja Paras Khan, settled in Richhbehn. The descendants of Raja Sher Khan played a pivotal role in the area. Due to unknown reasons, the descendants of Raja Zulfiqar Khan were deprived of their possessions and did not influence the events in the area.

Raja Paras Khan, with the help of his brother Raja Maazullah Khan (both sons of Raja Asalat Khan), established control over the jageer on strong footing and started residing permanently in Behali. Sikh rule was generally miserable for the Turks of Behali. Turks of Behali joined British forces to overthrow Sikhs like all tribes of Hazara. Their valour and bravery was acknowledged by General Abbott—then Major Abbott and deputy commissioner of Hazara—in his letters addressed to Raja Mohibullah Khan, son of Raja Paras Khan, and to Raja Ghulam Khan, son of Raja Mohibbullah Khan.

Raja Maazulla Khan was murdered under mysterious conditions. His dead body, tied to the horse, was brought back to Behali by his horse. Raja Paras Khan was now alone to fight against adversaries. He rose to prominence and succeeded in regaining his lost authority and finally the Turks got permanent control in a sizable area between Behali and Richhbehn (about 24 villages, or 45 thousand kanals). Areas between Richhbehn and Behali remained in the control of these Turks till the creation of Pakistan.

Khaksar Movement and Turks

In the 1930s, all Turks of Behali joined Allama Inayatullah Khan Mashraqi's Khaksar movement. They actively participated in the Khaksar movement until the creation of Pakistan, and even after that for quite a long time.Among others Police Inspector Raja Jahandad Khan, the grandson of Raja Mehmood Khan played a significant role in introducing Khaksar movement in Hasanabdal and its surrounding areas.

Establishment of Modern Schooling

The Turks of Bahali helped the British in the establishment of a school at Behali in 1872. This was the era when Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was trying to convince Indian Muslims to get a western education. The Primary School in Bahali was amongst a first few schools established by Britishers in Hazara. Among all these schools, Bahali was the only one which was established on the request of the Rajas of Bahali. The other schools were established due to government initiatives.

Current status

From 1947 onward, either due to land reforms introduced by Khan Abdul Qayum Khan, then-Chief Minister NWFP, or due to selling out of lands on large scale, they lost a major portion of Jageer between Richhbehn and Bahali. Particularly, Rajas of Richhbehn ruthlessly plundered the hard-earned ancestral land in a very short span of time and sold out their property, so much so that they did not spare their houses even. The same was done by Raja Dilawer Bahadur Jang Shahzada Khan, of Behali, who lived a prince life, but sold out all his property within a few years. However, the Turks of Behali are still in possession of about thirteen thousand kanals of land.

The other sons of Raja Asalat were less influentials. Raja Paras Khan had four sons. Raja Nadir Khan, Raja Saadullah Khan, Raja Mohibbullah Khan and Raja Mir Ahmad Khan. Raja Nadir's son Raja Sher khan shifted to Richhbehn and others stayed at Behali. A comfortable period started for Turks. They held a sizable land and their influence in the area grew with the passage of time.

Karlugh Turk Settlements

The descendants of the Karlugh Turks continue to live in the Hazara area of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, mostly in the mountainous regions. They had continued to maintain a very secluded and exclusive lifestyle until the late 19th and early 20th century. According to the Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 13, p. 79, published in 1909, some 2000 persons returned themselves as Turks, who came with Timur in 1391.[3] It is more probable, given the fact that most Turk villages were in the inaccessible mountainous regions at the time of 1901 census, that the actual number could be as high as around 10,000.

Currently, some of the main Karlugh Turkish villages in Hazara Division are Manakrai and Bayan Ahmed ali Khan, Pharhari, Nartopa and Shingeri in Haripur District, Behali in Mansehra District, Mohar Kalan and RichhBehn in Abbottabad District and on the mountains between Pakistan and AJK from Shaheed Gali, Shawai, Kahori, Patthika, Bheri, Doba up to Neelum Valley.

Haji Raja Qalander khan migrated to a nearby village known as Rehar. A small family of Turks resides in this village. They also enjoy respect and influence in local politics.

Karlugh Turk in Hazara

After the loss of Pakhli state in 1703 and after 1872 settlement, most of the Turks disappeared in different areas of Hazara. The Turks are living in the villages near by Abbottabad Mansehra, Batagram and Haripur like Moharkalan (Abbottabad). Raja Hayat Mohammad was among the first settlers in Banda Phagwarian (Abbottabad) and owned major property of the area.[citation needed] Behali (Mansehra), Balakot (Mansehra), Batagram (Thakot) Girwal (Mansehra), Bayan (Abbottabad), Richbehn (Abbottabad) and Mankrai (Haripur)etc. In Hazara the Turks had made their non-political organization named as TURKWA "Turk Welfare Association" (Hazara) presided by "Ata Turk" Raja Mohammad Zaman (2012).[citation needed] Mughal in Doba Bheri Muhammad Musa khan Mankrai in Haripur is another prompt Turk settlement who are directly Descendants of Sultan e Pakhal Sultan Mehmood Khurd. Among the prominent personalities of Mankrai Turks are Raja Amanullah Khan Late (Ex-Speaker NWFP) his son col. Raja Kamal Khan, Raja Pir Muhammad Khan (Late) awarded with the Tiltle of "Khan Saab" by Viceroy India in Dec 1945, Raja Sarwar Khan (Late), Raja Noor Muhammad Khan Ex member Public Service Commission and Raja Mohammad Aurangzeb Khan (Late) Ex-Director General Health NWFP. Turks of Nartopa are dominant political force in the area, Raja Hassrat Khan twice, Niab-Nazim UC Pind Hashim Khan and member district council Haripur, Turks of neighboring village Pharhari, and Bayan Ahmed Ali Khan are also very active and are a political force of the area. Raja Aslam Khan (Late) great zamindar, Raja Ali Asghar Khan (number-dar)and Raja Ansar Khan, a social worker are known political figures of Pharhari, while Son of senior Bank officer Raja Shahzada Khan of Bayan Ahmed Ali Khan, Raja Muhammad Abid Khan Senior Superintendent of Police serving in Lahore. Raja Shahzada Khan's eldest son Raja Muhammad Tariq Khan Director NAB Peshawar, Raja is vice chairman of village council.

Karlugh Turk in Kashmir

After the loss of Pakhli state in 1703 and after 1872 settlement, nearly half of the Turk population migrated into different areas of Hazara region while some also moved to Azad Kashmir region of Pakistan. These migrated Turk clans are living in different villages like in Girwal (majority of Turks still are living in Girwal from the time of pakhli sarkar. They are also present in Bararkot, Bheri, Lambian Pattian, Shawai, Chanjal (Pathika), Madar, Kahori, Gari Dupatta, Sanweyari, Chinari, Karnah(leepa valley), Kohala and in Muzaffarabad town. They speak the local Pahari/Pothohari languages. In Azad Kashmir Turks had made a non-political organisation namely "Turk Welfare Association (Reg: Azad Kashmir on May 2, 1984)".[citation needed]

Raja Ali Khan Turk (رءيس اعظم)

Raja Ali Khan (1900–1963) is one of the most famous of the Turks who live in Kashmir. Direct descendant of Sultan Abdul Bashir [Wali-e-Pakhli], he was born and lived most of his life in Uri in IHK, but later migrated in 1947 to Abbotabad initially and then settled in Muzaffarabad. He was the first Muslim Raees-e-Azam of Kashmir and owned vast areas of land, in 1947, his was the first house in the town of Uri where Pakistani flag was hoisted. He also helped the Mujahideen with money and arms, who were busy in fighting the Dogras. As a result, he was arrested and his property was bunred down by Dogras. Due to his influential personality, he managed to get released but migrated with his family and three younger brothers to Azad Kashmir. He died in December 1963. He had three sons namely Raja M. Ashraf, Raja M. Younis and Raja Ashfaq Ahmed. ---Khan Aziz Sultan Khan Turk—Family Of Khan Aziz Sultan Khan Turk Is living in Pindora (RWP).He Belong From Karlugh Turk Clain.Two son Of Khan Aziz Sultan Khan Turk Alhaj Abdul Hmeed Khan Turk And Waheed Akhter Khan Turk.He was Chairman of Turk Federation of Islamabad Rawalpindi. His grandson Zaffar Hameed Khan Turk and Bilal Hameed Khan Turk are now active members of Turk Federation. Bilal Hameed khan Turk is Vice President of (PSF) Rawalpindi City. They are living respectful life and are famous Turks in Potohar region.

Raja Mohammad Yusaf Khan Turk (ریٹائرڈ ڈی ایس پی / بانی اور سرپرست اعلی ترک ویلفیئر ایسوسی ایشن آزاد جموں و کشمیر))

Raja Mohammad Yusaf Khan was son in law of late Raja Ali Khan who migrated in 1947 from occupied Kashmir. He joined Azad Kashmir Police as an ASI. He was very hardworking, professional, devoted and upright Police Officer. He retired as DSP in 1986 and took keen interest in social work. He had strong feelings for the TURK nation. He did great job for welfare of TURKS of Azad Kashmir and organized "Turk Welfare Organization AJK". He is author of the book Tareekh Turkan-e-Kashmir. He has h 3 sons. His elder son Raja Shaukat is Supdtt. Police Azad Kashmir. His 2nd son Raja Khalid is an Advocate practicing law at AJK High Court and Supreme Court and the 3rd one Javid Yusaf is also Supdtt. Police AJK. Raja Mohammad Yousaf Khan Turk died in January 2012. A number of dignitaries from all over Azad Kashmir and Pakistan attended his funeral and recorded their messages and hearty feelings for Raja Mohammad Yousaf Khan. Officials termed his death as a great social loss for the people of Azad Kashmir.


Currently, the Karlugh Turks speak local languages such as Hindko Pashtu and Urdu rather than Turki. Accounts of original descendants speaking Turki are abundant but considering the presence of Karlugh Turks in sub-continent since 1400 AD, the loss of Turki language could be potentially reasoned due to similar causes as those associated with the eventual replacement of Turki with Persian and eventually with other local languages as the prominent language in Mughal court and empire.

See also


Further reading

  • The Turks in India: Critical Chapters on the Administration of That Country, by Henry George Keene
  • Commencement of Sikh Rule: The Hazara District
  • Imperial Gazetteer of India, volume 13
  • Ain-e-Akbari
  • Tareekh e Farishta
  • Tareekh e Hazara by Raja Irshad
  • Turkan-e-Bahali, by Raja Muhammed Khursheed
  • Turkan-e-Kashmir by DSP® Raja Muhammad Yousaf Khan Turk (President/Turk Welfare Association AJK)
  • A glossary of the tribes and castes of the Punjab and North-West provinces, compiled by H A Rose, vol II.
  • Punjabi Musalmans by Lt. Col. J.M. Wikeley
  • Tareekh-e-Thakot
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