Town & Places

Town & Places

The most northerly of Frontier districts, Chitral figures in Alexander's campaigns and was, during the course of history, subdued by the Chinese and Timurid armies also. An early inscription in Sanskrit, carved on a rock, records that around 900 A.D. the inhabitants were Buddhist and the area was under jaipal. Muslim sources also mention a king of this name who was defeated by Sabuktagin, the father of Mahmud of Ghazni. Subsequent historical evidence shows that one Rais ruled Chitral in the sixteenth century. The Rais was ousted some time after 1570 and the new ruler styled himself as "Mehtar". This dynasty continued to rule till the State, on the initiative of Mehtar Muzaffar ul-Mulk, was incorporated in Pakistan during 1948.

Under the British,Chitral existed as a princely State. The Mehtar,Aman ul-Mulk(d. 1892) received an annual subsidy from them. As the Great Game was afoot and it necessitat¬ed defending this remote part of the Frontier, the Mehtar accepted the advice of the British Government in matters pertaining to foreign policy and defence. In-fighting between contenders for Chitral persisted. The Gilgit Political Agent, Major George Scott Robertson (author of The Kafirs of the Hindu Kush) with 400 soliders arrived in Chitral to resolve the matter. They occupied the Fort but were badly beaten by the people who joined Sher Afzal, a contender. Besieged in the Fort for 46 days, reinforcements from Gilgit - hauling, heaving cannons over the Shandoor Pass in deep snow ¬relieved them. The heroic crossing of the Pass in winter is one of the more celebrated exploits of the British Indian army. The. relief of Chitral in 1895 resulted in the award of one V.c. to Surgeon-Captain Whitechurch, a knighthood for Robertson and three D.S.O.s. Chitral was administered as a Political Agency, like Gilgit in the northern areas, and Shuja ul-Mulk (d. 1936) was confirmed Mehtar. To strengthen internal and border security, Chitral Scouts were raised in 1903. They were also deputed to defend the Passes into Chitral in the event of invasion. They continue to form an important part of the Pakistan army.

 

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