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Your Kingdom for my Chaddar


Once upon a time, when the Yusufzai tribe took over the kingdom of Mardan and Hashtnagar, a grand jirga was held to decide upon how to split up the land among the tribes.

Legendary names including Malak Ahmad Khan, Malak Shah Mansoor, Malak Bahaku Khan, Malak Gajju Khan, Malak Sheikh Mali and Malak Kalo Khan, were amongst the attendees.

Closeby, in the village of Shahbazgarri, which came under the jurisdiction of the said Jirga, some Yusufzai women were doing laundry by the riverside. On the opposite side of the river bank was Dilazak territory. A young Dilazak man, excited to see so many women and girls, aroused by youthfulness, mounted his horse and galloped towards one of the very pretty girls, who had caught his eye.

As fate would have it, her chador got wound up around the edge of his spear, and her veil was ripped off from her head. Enraged at a man bearing her hair, she yelled after him, “You shall answer to Malak Ahmad Khan for my veil!”

The news did not take long to reach the jirga. Malak Ahmad Khan swore to avenge the dishonoured daughter of his tribe. The jirga was dissolved, and another jirga, led by Malak Gajju Khan was sent to the Muhammadzai tribe to put up a request for an alliance. The Muhammadzai tribe lived in the areas surrounding Jalalabad, in Nangarhar. They agreed to support the Yusufzai tribe.

Together, the two tribes launched an offensive against the Dilazak, and pushed the tribe out of their lands all the way across the Indus river.

The Dilazak paid the price of a Yusufzai girl’s veil with their kingdom. Malak Ahmad Khan was relieved from the duty of exacting vengeance placed upon his shoulders by his tribeswomen. The Muhammadzai tribe were given the lands of Hashtnagar in return for their aid.

Malak Ahmad Khan gave to that young girl a blessing that day, “Sartora mashay!” One which still echoes among Yusufzai girls and women: “May you never be bareheaded.”


 

Commentary: Mardan is half an hour from Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Jalalabad today, lies across the border, in Afghanistan, and is around three hours away from Peshawar.

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