The ruling family of Chitral traces its decent from Baba Ayub, a disciple of the saint, Kamal Shah Shams ud-din Tabrizi, who settled in the village of Lon and Gokher. According to family tradition, Ayub was a son of Fareidun Hussein, tenth son of Shah Abu’l Ghazi Sultan Husain Baiqara Bahadur Khan, Padshah of Khorasan. However, Persian, Central Asian or Mughal sources are silent on such a connection.
Baba Ayub, is said to have arrived in Herat from Khorasan, married the daughter of the ruler, a supposed descendant of Alexander the Great. The grandson of this marriage founded the present dynasty. Accordingly, the family actually owes their fortunes to Sangan Ali, sometime Minister to Shah Rais, ruler of Chitral during the sixteenth century. His sons seized power following his death in 1570, establishing a new ruling dynasty over the state. The present ruling dynasty descends from the second of these two sons.
The period between Sangan ‘Ali’s accession to power and modern times is clouded by fratricidal warfare, contests for power with the former Raisiya dynasty, the Kushwaqte family and endless disputes with neighbouring rulers. So much so that it is nearly impossible to date the reigns or lives of many of the rulers. Only during the middle of the nineteenth century, when permanent Dogra rule was established in Kashmir. European travellers, administrators and scholars began to enter the area and take an interest in its history, and gradually the history of the country, its people, languages and culture, began to emerge from the mists of time. However, this task is far from complete and it will be many years before Chitral yields up all its mysteries and secrets.
Shah Afzal II, who ruled from the middle of the nineteenth century until its end, fought against the Afghans in support of his allies the rulers of Badakshan. He also fought against the Dogras and against his Kushwaqte kinsmen, but later switched sides and concluded treaty relations with the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. Thereafter becoming a vassal or protectorate of Kashmir, in return for an annual subsidy to pay for troops and the supervision of the Afghan border.
Aman ul-Mulk, Afzal’s younger son, succeeded his brother in 1857. After a brief dispute with Kashmir, in which he laid siege to the garrison at Gilgit and briefly held the Puniyal valley, he accepted a new treaty with the Maharaja in 1877. After a relatively long reign, he died peacefully in 1892.
Aman’s younger son, Afzal ul-Mulk, proclaimed himself ruler during the absence of his elder brother. He then proceeded to eliminate several of his brothers, potential contenders to his throne. This initiated a war of succession, which lasted three years. Afzal ul-Mulk was killed by his uncle, Sher Afzal, the stormy petrel of Chitral and a long-time thorn in his father’s side. He held Chitral for under a month, then fled into Afghan territory.
Nizam ul-Mulk, Afzal ul-Mulk’s eldest brother and the rightful heir, then succeeded in December of the same year. At about that time, Chitral came under the British sphere of influence following the Durand Agreement, which delineated the border between Afghanistan and the Indian Empire. Nizam ul-Mulk’s possession in Kafiristan and the Kunar Valley were recognised as Afghan territory and ceded to the Amir. Within a year, Nizam was himself murdered by yet another ambitious younger brother, Amir ul-Mulk.
The approach of a strong military force composed of British and Kashmiri troops prompted Amir to flee with to his patron, the Khan of Jandul. The British and Kashmiris had decided to support the interests of Shuja ul-Mulk, the youngest legitimate son of Aman ul-Mulk, and the only one untainted by the recent spate of murder and intrigue. After entering Chitral and installing the young Mehtar, British and Kashmiri forces endured the famous defence against a seven-week siege by Sher Afzal and the Khan of Jandul. The British then captured Sher Afzal and Amir ul-Mulk, deporting them both to Madras.
Although Shuja ul-Mulk was now firmly established as ruler, the Kashmiris annexed Yasin, Kush, Ghizr and Ishkoman. Kashmiri suzerainty over Chitral ended in 1911, Chitral became a salute state in direct relations with the British. Mastuj, also removed from the Mehtar’s jurisdiction in 1895, was restored to him within two years. Shuja reigned for forty-one years, during which Chitral enjoyed an unprecedented period of internal peace. He was probably the first ruler to journey outside Chitral, visiting various parts of India and meeting a number of fellow rulers. He supported the British during the Third Afghan War in 1919, during which four of his sons served in several actions guarding the border against invasion.
Nasir ul-Mulk, succeeded his father in 1936. He was the first ruler of his line to receive a modern education, becoming a noted poet and scholar in his own right. He took a deep interest in military, political and diplomatic affairs, and spent much of his time on improving the administration. Dying without a surviving male heir in 1943, his successor was his younger brother, Muzaffar ul-Mulk. Also a man with a military disposition, his reign witnessed the tumultuous events surrounding the transfer of power in 1947. His prompt action in sending in his own Body Guard to Gilgit was instrumental in securing the territory for Pakistan.
The unexpected early death of Muzaffar ul-Mulk saw the succession pass to his relatively inexperienced eldest son, Saif ur-Rahman, in 1948. During a time of considerable tension, his secret marriage to the daughter of the Nawab of Dir, inflamed passions and threatened armed conflict between the various interested parties. The government of Pakistan intervened, persuading him to move to Peshawar, where he remained in exile for six years. They appointed a board of administration composed of Chitrali and Pakistani officials to govern the state in his absence. He died tragically in a plane crash while returning to resume charge of Chitral in 1954.
Saif ul-Mulk succeeded his father at the tender age of four. He reigned under a Council of Regency for the next twelve years, during which Pakistani authority gradually increased over the state. Although installed as a constitutional ruler when he came of age in 1966, he did not enjoy his new status very long. Chitral was absorbed and fully integrated into the Republic of Pakistan by Prime Minister Bhutto in 1971. In order to reduce the popular Mehtar’s influence, he, like so many other princes in neighbouring India, was "invited" to represent his country abroad. He served in various diplomatic posts and retired from the service as Consul-General in Hong Kong in 1989.
Fateh ul-Mulk, was formally installed as Mehtar at Chitral Fort, following the sudden death of his father from heart failure in October 2011.
RULES OF SUCCESSION:
Male legitimate primogeniture, qualified by nomination by the ruling prince.
STYLES & TITLES:
The ruling prince: Faiz Gangvur Huzur-i-Walashan Ala Hazrat Mehtar Chitral, i.e. The Abundance of Treasure, the Presence, of Exalted Rank and Dignity, His Highness the Mehtar of Chitral.
The consort of the ruling prince: (personal title and name) Khonza, with the style of Her Highness.
The Heir Apparent: Shahzada (personal title and name), Wali-Akht Sahib.
The Heir Presumptive: Shahzada (personal title and name), Tsik Mehtar.
The sons of the ruling prince, and male descendants in the male line of Mehtars Shuja ul-Mulk and Amir ul-Mulk: Shahzada (personal title and name)*.
The male descendants in the male line, of previous rulers: Mehtarjao (personal title and name).
The daughters of the ruling prince: Shahzadi (personal name).
The female descendants of the ruling prince, in the male line: (personal name) Khonza.
The wives of male members of the ruling family, and other female relatives: (personal name) Bibi.
* until the reign of Shuja ul-Mulk, this title was only borne by the Heir Apparent, all other sons being styled Mehtarjao. That prince extended the title to his male line descendants, and to those of his brother, Amir ul-Mulk.
ORDERS & DECORATIONS:
SELECT GLOSSARY: Ala Hazrat: ‘all highest’, or His Highness. Asaqal: official responsible to the Ataliq for the administrations of storehouses. Ataliq: the senior minister after the Wazir-i-Azam, in charge of the royal demesne, land records, warehouses, etc. Also the principal official or governor of a large valley or sub-district. Baramosh: official in charge of state property, controlling of labour, and responsible to the Hakim. Birmoghlasht: the summer capital, since the reign of Mehtar Shuja ul-Mulk. Charvelu: the principal official controlling a large village or small district of hamlets. Chitraro Noghor: Chitral (Royal) Fort. Diwanbegi: Lord Treasurer. Faiz-i-Ganjur: ‘abundance of treasure’. Hakim: a term also used for minor governors or deputising governors. Hakim Ala: ‘exalted governor’, a title conferred on the highest ranking hakim. Huzur: ‘the presence’, a term used to describe a ruler of the highest rank and also offices and appointments close to him.
Khonsal: Judicial Council, the highest court in the state.
Khonza: the consort of the ruler. Mahram: Chamberlain. Malakandi: local term for the government Commissioner of Peshawar, superior of the ‘mulki’. Mehtar: the title of the ruler. Mehtarbak: the ancient title of the Heir Apparent, long disused.
Mehtari Bungala: ‘Mehtar’s Bungalow’, rest house occupied by the Mehtar during his progress through the state. Mehtari Imam: Chief Priest of the Royal Mosque. Mehtari Khatib: Chief Speaker of the Royal Mosque. Mehtaridori: ‘Mehtar’s House’, a term used to describe any state building or property.
Mehtarjao: title enjoyed by the sons of former rulers and their male descendants in the male line. Mir Shikar: Master of the Hunt.
Mizan-i-Shariat Sharia: Islamic Sharia Court, which usually pronounced or verified that decisions were in accordance with the tenets of Islam. Mulki: the local term for the government Political Agent. Noghor-i-Masjid: the Royal Mosque. Noghor Shahi Qilla-i-Chitral: the modern designation for Chitral Fort.
Qazi: Judge of the Islamic Sharia Court, usually twenty-five in number.
Qazi Quzat: Chief Judge of the Islamic Sharia Court. Sardar: title enjoyed by the Nizam ul-Mulk as Heir Apparent to his father.
Sadr-i-Khonsal: Presiding Judge, or President of the Judicial Council.
Sekartri: Secretary. Sekartri Khazana: Treasury Secretary.
Sekartri Malia: official responsible to the Ataliq for the collection of tithes and taxes.
Sekartri Muhasiba: Accountant-General and Revenue Secretary. Sekartri Talim: Education Secretary.
Shadar: nobleman or member of royal family who resides in the fort and acts as adviser to the ruler. Shahzada: title enjoyed by the sons of the ruling prince. Shahzadi: title enjoyed by the daughters of the ruling prince.
Shan: rank, power, authority; respect, or regard. Sikatar: Secretary to the Mehtar, one of the most powerful offices of government.
Tsik Mehtar: title enjoyed by the Heir Presumptive to the Mehtar. Wala: exalted, eminent, or respectable. Walashan: ‘exalted in rank and dignity’. Wali-Akht: a local corruption of Wali-Ahad, ‘successor by virtue of a covenant’ or Heir Apparent. Wazir: minister of state
Wazir-i-Azam: ‘the great bearer of burdens (of the state)’, i.e. Supreme or Chief Minister, the principal official in charge of the government. Wazir-i-Tijarat: Minister for Trade. Yasowal: Principal Chamberlain.
Professor Emeritus Dr. Ahmad Hasan Dani. History of the Northern Areas of Pakistan*. Historical Studies (Pakistan) Series: 5. National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research Publication No. 64. Islamabad, 1991.
G. W. Leitner. Dardistan in 1866, 1886 and 1893, being An Account of the History, Religions, Customs, Legends, Fables and Songs of Gilgit, Chilás, Kandia (Gabrial), Yasin, Chitral, Hunza, Nagyr and other parts of the Hindukush. Oriental University Institute, Woking, Surrey, 1893.
Lt-Col. Mohammad Afzal Khan. Chitral and Kafirstan - A Personal Study. Ferozsons (Peshawar) Ltd., 1973.
Revised List of Ruling Princes, Chiefs and Leading Personages of the Jammu and Kashmir State and the Gilgit Agency. The Manager of Publications, Delhi, 1939. India Office Records, British Library, St Pancras, London.
Who’s Who in the Dir, Swat and Chitral Agency, corrected up to 1st June 1937 (including correction slips to 1944). Confidential Print. Government of India Press, New Delhi, 1937. IOR (L/P&S/20/B296/14). India Office Records, British Library, St Pancras, London.
*the historical dates in this publication are highly suspect and frequently fanciful, particularly with regard to reign dates and dates of birth or death. The same is true of most sources dealing with Chitral and the neighbouring states for the whole period of the middle of the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. The chronology works only if one accepts fanciful life spans of 125 years or more, for several rulers.
H.H. Mehtar Fateh ul-Mulk ‘Ali Nasir, Mehtar of Chitral.
Shahzada Aman Ur Rahman.
Father Lawrence Ober, SJ.
Mehtarjao Fahad Qayum.
Mehtarjao Mushahid Hussain Moughol.
Rubina Ali Badsha.
Shahzada Safdar Hayat.
Shahzada Siraj Ulmulk, Hindukush Heights Hotel & Travel Co. Chitral, Pakistan. www.hindukush.com.pk