Amb (princely state)

Amb (princely state)

Coat of arms of Pakistan

This article is part of the series
Former administrative units of Pakistan

Flag of Amb
Map of Pakistan with Amb highlighted
Capital Darband(Submerged under Tarbela Dam)
Shergarh (summer residence)
Area 585 km²
Languages Hindko, Pashto
Established  19th century
Abolished 28 July 1969

Amb was a princely state of the former British Indian Empire. In 1947, by the Indian Independence Act 1947, the British abandoned their supremacy, and following the Partition of India Amb's Nawab decided to give up his state's independence by acceding to the new country of Pakistan. However, Amb continued as a distinct state within Pakistan until 1969, when it was incorporated into the North West Frontier Province (now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa). In 1972, the royal status of the Nawab was abolished by the Government of Pakistan.



Amb and surrounding areas have a long history which can be traced to the time of the invasion of the region by Alexander the Great. Arrian, Alexander's historian, did not indicate the exact location of Embolina, but since it is known that Aoronos was on the right bank of the River Indus, the town chosen to serve as Alexander's base of supplies may with good reason be also looked for there. The mention in Ptolemy's Geography of Embolina as a town of Indo-Scythia situated on the Indus supports this theory.

In 1854 General James Abbott, the British frontier officer from whom Abbottabad, administrative centre of Hazara, takes its name, discussed the location of Aornos on the Mahaban range south of Buner. He proposed, as M. Court, one of Ranjit Singh's French generals had done before him in 1839, to recognize Embolina in the village of Amb situated on the right bank of the Indus.This is the place from which the Nawabs of Amb took their title.[1]

Amb State was once known as Mulk e Tanawal (Country/area of Tanawal). The word 'Tanawal' is derived from Taniwal, with Amb as its capital, and was the tribal homeland of the Tanoli people. The early history of the region goes back to the centuries before the Mughal Empire, when in the early fourteenth century the Tanoli tribe under its chieftains arrived here from Central Asia, via Afghanistan, and conquered it and settled here on the banks of the river Indus and a wide area around it, which thus came to be known as Tanawal.

Left: Field Marshal William Birdwood, 1st Baron Birdwood, Commander-in-Chief of the British Indian Army, Right: Nawab Sir Muhammad Khan Zaman Khan of Amb. At Darband, Amb State, 1925
Nawab Mohammad Khan Zaman Khan,Nawab of Amb. At Darband, Amb State, 1923

From early on, the Tanawal area by and large managed to remain free from the influence of the Mughals, Afghans, Sikhs and British; and beyond paying occasional simple taxes to central authorities, the people of Tanawal had little or no contact with the outside world for long. At most times, they would resist such authority, preferring to be ruled by their own chiefs at a local level. Initially, uptil the late-18th or early-19th centuries, Tanawal itself was not one consolidated state but an area where several important Tanoli chiefs each exterted his powers within a zone of influence, although the Hindwal section chiefs remained comparatively stronger and one of them, Mir Painda Khan, was finally able to bring the whole area under his sway.

Standing L_R: Doctor Masdar Ali (Physician of the Nawab of Amb),Servants of the Nawab of Amb) Sitting: Nawabzada Mohammad Ismail Khan of Chanser and brother of Nawab Khan Zaman Khan nawab MOHammad ALi Ashgar khan Shergarh 1930 .
Shergarh Fort

Descent and Ruling Dynasty of Amb

The Hindwal Tanoli dynasty, rulers of Amb, are descendants of the Barlas Turkic tribe, related to the Mughals.[2]This has been mentioned in many historical books, for instance The Royal Asiatic Journal and the Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China, and Australia (1841), in the following words; "There is one chief who, though not a Eusofzye, yet from his position in the midst of, and intimate connection with, the Eusofzyes, and his singular history and character, must not be omitted in a description of the Eusofzye country. Paieendah Khan, of Tanawul, is a Mogul of the Birlas tribe, the same from which the Ameer Timoor was descended. All record of the first settlement in Tanawul of his family is lost, and it has long ago broken off all connection with the other branches of the Birlas, which are still to be found in Turkestan."[3]

In this picture seated (left to right): Sahibzada Mohammad Khurshid (first Pakistani Governor of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan), Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan (Liāqat Alī Khān) (Urdu: لیاقت علی خان) listen (help·info) (2 October 1896 – 16 October 1951) the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawab Sir Muhammad Farid Khan (Nawab of Amb) and Begum Ra'ana Liaquat Ali Khan (wife of Liaquat Ali Khan. Darband, Amb State, 1949.

The Imperial Gazetteer of India also confirms this line of descent; it states, "Its (Tanawul's) real rulers, however, were the Tanawalis, a tribe of Mughal descent divided into two septs, the Pul-al and Hando-al or Hind-wal."[4]

This picture is from 1917 Darband. In this photo: Nawab Muhammad Khan Zaman Khan (seated second from left), Sir George Roos-Keppel (seated third from left), Sir Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum (seated first from right).(sitting_ground L-R) Nawabzada M. Omer Khan (brother of Nawab Of Amb, Nawabzada M .Farid Khan (son of Nawab of Amb), Nawabzada M. Ismail Khan.Nawabzada M .Ali Asgar khan (brother of Nawab of Amb).
Nawabzada Mohammad Ismail Khan, Son of Nawab Sir Mohammad Akram Khan,at Delhi Durbaar,Delhi 1911.

The Sikh records of the region also confirm this line of decent of the Tanolis. They state, "The family of Paeendah Khan is a branch of the Birlas, a Mogul House, well known in history. All record of its first settlement in Tanawul is lost. It may perhaps have been left there by the Emperor Baber. Among the list of whose nobles, the name Birlas is found."[5]

Nawab Muhammad Saeed Khan

Mir Painda Khan: Mir Painda Khan is famed for his staunch rebellion against Maharaja Ranjit Singh's governors of Hazara. He was the son of Mir Nawab Khan, who had earlier resisted the Durranis and met his death at their hands, in ensuring that Tanawal remained free from their overlordship.

From about 1813, Painda Khan spent a life long rebellion against the Sikhs, who, realising the potential dangers of his rebellion, set up forts at strategic locations to keep him in check. Hari Singh Nalwa took this initiative during his governorship. In order to consolidate his hold on Tanawal and to unite the Tanoli people, Painda Khan had to first contend with his major rivals within the tribe itself, i.e. the chiefs of the Suba Khani/Pallal section, whom he subdued after a bitter struggle. Thereafter, he was able to effectively organise resistance against the Sikhs.

Painda Khan's relentless rebellion against the Sikh empire, cost him a major portion of his fiefdom, leaving only his twin capitals Amb and Darband. However, this only served to increase his resistance against the Sikh government.

The District Gazetteer of the North West Frontier Province (now Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa) (p138) confirms, "Painda Khan, played a considerable part in the history of his time and vigorously opposed the Sikhs."

Mir Painda Khan set the tone for the regional resistance in Upper Hazara against Sikh rule. In 1828 he created and gifted the smaller neighbouring state of Phulera to his younger brother Mir Madad Khan.

Painda Khan also briefly took over the valley of Agror in 1834. The Swatis inhabiting it appealed to Sardar Hari Singh, who was unable to help them but in 1841,[6] Hari Singh's successor restored Agror to Ata Muhammad Khan, the chief of that area, a descendant of Akhund Sad-ud-din.[7]

Eventually, realising that the Tanoli chief would not be subdued by force, General Dhaurikal Singh, commanding officer of the Sikh troops in Hazara, had Painda Khan poisoned to death in September 1844[citation needed]. He is still revered in Hazara today as a heroic warrior and freedom fighter.

Mir Jehandad Khan: Was the son of Mir Painda Khan. It is mentioned in 'Men who made the North-West Frontier' (Charles Allen, Abacus 2001, p139) that "Of all the tribal chiefs of Hazara, the most powerful is said to be Jehandad Khan of the Tanoli, whose land straddled both banks of the Indus and whose fellow-tribesmen were 'brave and hardy and accounted for the best swordsmen in Hazara'. There was a long history of conflict between Jehandad Khan's family and the Sikhs, and the name of his father Painda Khan, was said to be 'magic to the ears of the people of Hazara' because of the struggles he fought on behalf of his 'poor circumscribed and rugged principality' against the Sikhs. Abbot was aware that before his death Painda Khan had made his son (Jehandad Khan) swear never to trust his safety to any ruler", and thus, he gave guarantees to Jehandad Khan that the semi-independent status of his hill principality would be respected formally within the writ of the larger Hazara district, following the annexation of the region by the British.[8]

Mir Jehandad Khan is further mentioned in the same source as, "Jehandad Khan - a good looking young man of 26 years, tall and slender, with remarkably large and fine eyes - rode into Abbott's encampment surrounded by an escort of horsemen clad in shirts of mail and steel skull caps, handsomely mounted and equipped, who made a most picturesque display....the bystanders, who regarded the Chief with great awe, were thunderstruck.."

In 1852, Jehandad Khan was summoned by the President of the Board of Administration in relation to a murder enquiry of two British officers, supposedly on his lands,[9] but was able to successfully defend his innocence and consolidate his position.

Jahandad Khan's position in British India is summed in the following lines in a letter by R. Temple, Esq., Secretary to the Chief Commissioner Punjab, the letter is addressed to The Financial Commissioner Punjab.(dated 8 January 1859) "'5. The term "Jagir" has never appeared to me applicable in any sense to this (Jehandad Khan's) hereditary domain (Upper Tannowul), for it was never granted as such by the Sikhs or by our Government; we upheld the Khan as we found him in his position as a feudal lord and large proprietor.'

"Jehandad's position is, and probably always must be, an anomalous one....the Chief Commissioner considers that Upper Tannowul is a chiefship held under the British Government, but in which, as a rule, we possess no internal jurisdiction. The Chief manages his own people in his own way without regard to our laws, rules or system. This tenure resembles that on which the Chiefs of Patiala, Jhind, Nabha, Kapurthala and others hold their lands."[10]

His son, Nawab Bahadur Sir Muhammed Akram Khan was conferred the title 'Nawab' in perpetuity by the British Raj.

Nawab Sir Mir Muhammad Akram Khan: The next chief of the Tanolis and son of Mir Jahandad Khan was Nawab Sir Akram Khan (K.C.S.I)(1868–1907). He was a popular chief and it was during his tenure that the fort at Shergarh was constructed, along with Dogah and Shahkot Forts. His rule was a peaceful time for Tanawal with no major conflicts.

Nawab Sir Mir Muhammad Khan Zaman Khan: Nawab Khanizaman Khan (K.C.I.E) succeeded his father in taking over the reins of power in Tanawal in Amb. He helped the British in carrying out the later Black Mountain (Kala Dhaka/Tor Ghar) expeditions.

Nawab Sir Muhammad Farid Khan: Nawab Sir Muhammad Farid Khan (K.B.E) had very good relations with the Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Nawabzada Liaqat Ali Khan. His contributions to the Pakistan movement have been acknowledged by letters from the Quaid e Azam.[11][12] In 1947 the Nawab of Amb, Mohammad Farid Khan, acceded to Pakistan by signing the Instrument of Accession of his State, in favour of Pakistan. In 1969, the State was incorporated into the NWFP/Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and in 1971 the royal status of the Nawab was abolished by the Government of Pakistan.

Nawab Muhammad Saeed Khan:

Nawab Muhammad Saeed Khan, son of Muhammad Farid Khan, the last Nawab of Amb, studied at Burn Hall Missionary School and College in Abbottabad and the Gordon College in Rawalpindi.[13]

Nawabzada Salahuddin Saeed Khan:

Nawabzada Salahuddin is the present Chief of Tanawalis and the present Nawab of Amb (titular/courtesy only)[14] He is the son of Nawab Muhammad Saeed Khan. He holds the record of being the youngest parliamentarian ever to be elected to the National Assembly of Pakistan and then went on to be elected five times to the National Assembly of Pakistan (from 1985 to 1997), a feat only achieved by seven other Pakistani parliamentarians, including the former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.[15] He held portfolios in the federal government, such as, parliamentary secretary and standing committee chairman during his tenure. He has also stayed as care taker provincial minister in the Kyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly. He has twice led a delegation of Pakistan to the United Nations General Assembly and also at several other international forums, such as a Common Wealth election observer in Kenya, delegation to SAARC and the Cancun Summit on Natural Habitat.

Tenure Rulers of Amb (Tanawal)[16]
unknown date - 1803 (Mir) Haibat Khan
1803–1809 (Mir) Hashim Ali Khan (son of Mir Haibat Khan and brother to Mir Nawab Khan, following)
1809–1818 (Mir) Nawab Khan
1818–1844 (Mir) Painda Khan
1844–1868 (Nawab) Jahandad Khan
1868–1907 (Nawab) Muhammad Akram Khan
1907 - 26 February 1936 (Nawab) Khanizaman Khan
26 February 1936 - 1971 (Nawab) Muhammad Farid Khan
1971–1973 (Nawab) Muhammad Saeed Khan (Amb state formally incorporated into Pakistan in 1972)
1973 (Nawabzada) Salahuddin Saeed Khan, (titular head of the Tanoli tribe and elder son of the last Nawab), remained a Member to the National Assembly of Pakistan from the former Tanawal/Amb state area.

Kashmir Conflict

Nawab Muhammad Farid Khan sent an army of 1500 Amb State soldiers under the leadership of Subedar Major Shah Zaman Khan to take part in the Kashmir Liberation Movement from 1947 to 1948 (Kashmir Conflict). The Amb State force carried its own artillery to the battle. They fought bravely alongside other frontier tribesmen and came under fire by the Indian airforce just three kilometers from Baramulla sector. Around 200 Amb State soldiers lost their lives in the battle.

Amb State Postal Service

British India had hundreds of Princely States, some 565[17] in all, but most of them did not issue postage stamps. Only around 40 such States issued their own postage stamps and Amb State was one of them, having its own Postal Service. The rest used All India Postal Service postage stamps.

Amb State postal stamps

See also

Present Geography

Amb State consisted of the following present day Union Councils of Mansehra and Haripur Districts:

Mansehra District:

  • Shungli Bandi
  • Shergarh
  • Karori
  • Nika Pani
  • Darband
  • Dara Shanaya
  • Sawan Miara
  • Lassan Nawab Sahib
  • Parhena
  • Phulra (later granted by Mir Painda Khan to his brother Maddad Khan; and considered a separate Khanate)

Haripur District:

  • Bait Gali
  • Narra Amazai
  • Lalogali Darya Doga from Union Council Ladarmang


  1. ^ On Alexander's Track to the Indus By Aurel Stein, Published by B. Blom, 1972, Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized 2 September 2008, 182 pages
  2. ^ Emir Timur, the great Central Asian conqueror and king, known to history as 'Timurlaine', was a Barlas Turk, and his family were the maternal ancestors of Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire in India. See Beveridge's Introduction to the 'Tuzk i Baburi'
  3. ^ The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China, and Australia Published by Parbury, Allen, and Co., 1841, Item notes: v. 39, Original from the New York Public Library, Digitized 1 April 2008, pg 220-224
  4. ^ Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 23, Singhbhum to Trashi-Chod-Zong, p. 219. 1908, by India Office of Great Britain, Sir William Wilson Hunter, edited by Henry Frowde, publisher to the University of Oxford
  5. ^ Maharaja Kharak Singh, June 27, 1839-November 5, 1840: select records preserved in the National Archives of India, New Delhi By Fauja Singh, National Archives of India Published by Dept. of Punjab Historical Studies, Punjabi University, 1977 Original from the University of California Digitized 12 February 2009 458 pages
  6. ^ Chiefs and families of note in the Delhi, Jalandhar, Peshawar and Derajat . By Charles Francis Massy, page 435
  7. ^ Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 5, p. 92. Also see Oghi.
  8. ^ Amb was only nominally attached to the then Hazara district of NWFP, with the Assistant Commissioner at Mansehra also holding aditional charge as British Agent/Resident for Amb
  9. ^ In fact, this related to the murder of two British Salt Tax collectors by some tribesmen in the neighbouring Kala Dhaka or Black Mountain area, which eventually led to the punitive First Black Mountain campaign/expedition of 1852. The 'President of the Board of Administration' was in fact Sir John Lawrence, 1st Baron Lawrence, later to be the Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab, and he visited Haripur, in Hazara, where he invited many Hazara chiefs to see him, on various matters, at a general 'Durbar'. See "The Hazara District Gazetteer 1883-8", Pub Lahore, 1884; and also H. Lee "Brothers in the Raj: The Lives of John and Henry Lawrence", Karachi: Oxford UP, 2002
  10. ^ 'A Collection of Papers Relating To The HISTORY, STATUS AND POWERS Of THE CHIEF OF AMB', 97 Pages, Published 1874, Punjab Secretariat
  11. ^ Quaid-I-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah Papers: First Series, Volume III: On the Threshold of Pakistan, July 1–25, 1947 By Mahomed Ali Jinnah, Z. H. Zaidi Contributor Z. H. Zaidi Edition: illustrated Published by Oxford University Press, 1997 Original from the University of Michigan Digitized 29 August 2008 ISBN 978-969-8156-07-7, 9789698156077 1120 pages
  12. ^ Frontier of faith: Islam in the Indo-Afghan borderland By Sana Haroon Edition: illustrated Published by Columbia University Press, 2008 ISBN 978-0-231-70013-9, 9780231700139 254 pages
  13. ^ Sack, John (1959). Report from Practically Nowhere. New York: Curtis Publishing Company. p. 199. 
  14. ^ Pakistan Princely States
  15. ^ Pakistan Election Commission - Unique Stats:[dead link]
  16. ^ Ben Cahoon, "Pakistan Princely States". Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  17. ^ Indian Princely States K-Z

Further reading

  • Sack, John (2000). Report from Practically Nowhere. ISBN 978-0-595-08918-5. 
  • Muhammad Aslam, Masters thesis, titled 'The Rulers of Amb State', University of Peshawar, Session 1992-94. .... [A/No.295]
  • A Collection of Papers Relating To The History, Status and Powers of the Chief of Amb, 97 Pages, Published 1874, Punjab Secretariat
  • Gazetteer of the Hazara District, 1883-4 (p38).
  • Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North West Frontier Province H.A. Rose, p255 & p256
  • Chiefs and Families of Note in Punjab by Lepel H. Griffin (1910, ii, p254)
  • Gazetteer of the North-Western Frontier Province p138.
  • Gazeteer of Hazara District (1883/4). (p. 61)
  • History of the Sikhs by J.D. Cunningham, (1849).
  • Accession List of Quaid-i-Azam Papers By Pakistan Education Division. Quaid-i-Azam Papers Cell, Quaid-i-Azam Papers Cell, Education Division, Pakistan, Published 1971, pg 1.
  • A British Tale of Indian and Foreign Service: The Memoirs of Sir Ian Scott By Ian Scott, Denis Judd pg68-69.
  • Sir George Cunningham: A Memoir By Norval Mitchell Published 1968 Blackwood pg 32, 88, 111.
  • The Statesman's year-book By Frederick Martin, John Scott Keltie, Brian Hunter, Isaac Parker Anderson Renwick, Mortimer Epstein, Sigfrid Henry Steinberg, John Paxton (1935–1936), pg 211.
  • Panjab Castes by Denzil Ibbetson, Delhi, p93.
  • The Pathan Borderland By James William Spain, Published 1963 Mouton, pg 154, 222.
  • General Hari Singh Nalwa: Builder of the Sikh Empire By Autar Singh Sandhu, p14, p34-36.
  • Studies in Islam: Quarterly Journal of the Indian Institute of Islamic Studies By Indian Institute of Islamic Studies, 1982 the Institute, pg215.
  • Journal of Central Asia Vol XII, (July 1990), Prof. Ahmed Hasan Dani, July, 1990 p79.
  • Soldier Sahibs: The Men who made the North-Western Frontier by Charles Allen, Abacus 2001.
  • The Golden Book of India: A Genealogical and Biographical Dictionary of the ruling princes, chiefs, nobles, and other personages, titled or decorated, of the Indian empire, with an appendix for Ceylon by Sir Roper Lethbridge, Elibron Classics, p328.
  • A Handbook of Fighting Races of India by P D Bonarjee, p37.
  • Afghan and Pathan: A Sketch by George Batley Scott (1928), p71.
  • Sir Jadunath Sarkar Commemoration: Volume S By Jadunath Sarkar, p150.
  • The Illustrated Who's Who in Reigning Royalty: A History of Contemporary Monarchical Systems by William G. Valko, Philadelphia, Community Press, 1969. p253.
  • Encyclopaedic Asiatic, Comprising Indian Subcontinent, Eastern and Southern Asia by Edward Balfour (1976 Cosmo Publications)(First Published in 1858)
  • Across the Border: Or Pathan and Biloch by Edward Emmerson Oliver, London: Chapman and Hall, 1890. p313.
  • Yearbook By North-west Frontier Province (Pakistan). Information Dept. p247.
  • The Jaduns by Sultan Khan Jadun (2001).
  • Tarikh-ul-Afghan ka Tehqiqi Jahiza by Sultan Khan Jadun (1979).
  • History of Afghanistan, from the Earliest Period to the Outbreak of the War of 1878 By George Bruce Malleson, p46.
  • Tairikh-e-Hazara by Dr Sher Bahadur Khan Panni.

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