"....true Pathans living in the Gandghar mountain between the Indus and the Hazara Valley." 

Sir Olaf Caroe (The Pathans 550 B.C - 1957 A.D)

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Mashwanis are also known in hishtory as Mishwanis, Maswanis, Miswanis.

Sir Olaf Caroe writes about Mashwanis in his book The Pathans 550 B.C - 1957 A.D "The people of central and lower Hazara are some of them Pathans, but most of these, including the Yusufzais, Jaduns, and Tarins, have adopted the ways and language of the northern Panjab. The so-called `Swatis' of Mansehra in the north are descendants of the older inhabitants of Swat driven across the Indus when the Pathans conquered Swat just before Babur's time. The Hazara Yusufzais of Kalabhat and Torbela are true Pathans in blood, but their proximity to Panjabi tribes has caused them to lose their language and something of their Pakhtunwali. There remains, however, the client tribe of Mashwanis who had so much troubled Hari Singh, true Pathans living in the Gandghar mountain between the Indus and the Hazara Valley. Their centre is at a group of villages named Srikot, tucked away in the recesses of this range of hills. Here these Mashwanis have preserved a picaresque Pathan life of their own, changing little over the decades and even the centuries. To visit Srikot is to reverse the process undergone by Rip Van Winkle, and to live again in the Pathan world of Babur's time. The traveller, struggling up one of the glens on a stumbling horse — there are no carriage-ways into Gandghar — will find himself greeted by a fusillade, and surrounded by groups of tribesmen who look like marauders, but are in fact pensioner subadars of the army. They are a lovable and a loyal folk.

In this fastness James Abbott took refuge when Chattar Singh and the Dost occupied Peshawar and Lower Hazara in the first year of the Second Sikh War (1848). From this sanctuary Abbott, with Nicholson's aid from the direction of Hasan Abdal, strove to prevent the Sikh troops from Pakhli (the Mansehra district) from uniting with Chattar Singh, but the Jaduns of Dhamtaur played him false and deserted in the field. Abbott was driven back to the Mashwani country, and with the help of his friends among that tribe was able to maintain his position until the battle of Gujrat had been won, and the remnant of the Sikh armies finally surrendered on the green sunlit plain of Rawalpindi on 14th March, 1849. On that occasion James Abbott, leading his proud Mashwani levies, held the Margalla Pass on the road leading north from Rawalpindi, and acted as a roadblock which compelled the Sikh capitulation. His Mashwanis had sustained him unflinchingly in weather foul and fair. They did it because they loved him, and they have never forgotten.

James Abbott was a tiny, dapper man, wiry and slight-built, very different from the gigantic, imperious, bearded figures of Nicholson and Edwardes. His moustache bristled, and a pair of keen eyes looked out from between a hint of whiskers, rather a prototype of the Roberts we once knew so well, inspiring the same sort of affection. After 1849 Abbott became Hazara's first Deputy Commissioner until, four years later, the best thing the government could think of for this leader of Frontiersmen was to send him off on transfer to — the Gun Foundry at Ishapur near Calcutta.

Abbott's diaries are extant and give the picture of the man. 'I was most anxious to start myself for the pass, but my people assure me it would be mistaken for flight.' ‘I fancy I might per­suade the corps to return to its duty could I be personally present.' ‘At Nara, if anywhere, I may hope to be supported by the mountaineers in a stand against the Sikh army.' (Nara is at the foot of the Gandghar Mountain, close to Haripur, where the main glen leading to Srikot opens out.) ‘Chuttar Singh's camp is still halted at Hurripoor within sight of my position, which is at the foot of the Gundgurh mountain. I trust my people will fulfil their solemn promise of standing manfully.... Had I a single regiment here to lead the way, my people would follow. But they have no confidence in the plain against guns and cavalry.' ‘I assembled my people of the Gundgurh mountain and after reminding them that my presence in Huzaura was solely for their protec­tion, and assuring them that I would not remain an hour longer than they desired, put it to them whether I should make my seat here or retire to some other place. One and all implored me to remain. I replied that I would not remain to be dishonoured by the cowardice of my followers (as had happened at Dhamtaur), that if I staid and exposed my life for them, I expected them to stand by me to the death. They all solemnly vowed that they would do so, and I consented to remain. This mountain is a haunted spot: it has been carried but once and then by treachery. If I fall, the loss to my country is one individual, the least worthy of her sons.' He and his Mashwanis successfully held the Gandghar against all alarms and assaults. 

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