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Amb (princely state)

Princely state of Pakistan
19th century–28 July 1969

Flag of Amb


Location of Amb
Map of Pakistan with Amb highlighted
Capital Darband (now submerged under Tarbela Dam)
Shergarh (summer residence)
 •  Established 19th century
 •  Disestablished 28 July 1969
Area 585 km2 (226 sq mi)
Today part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
Coat of arms of Pakistan
This article is part of the series
Former administrative units of Pakistan

Amb was a princely state of the former British Indian Empire ruled over by the Tanoli tribe.[1] Following Pakistani independence in 1947, and for some months afterwards, Amb's Nawab remained unaligned. However, at the end of December 1947 he acceded to Pakistan, while retaining internal self-government. Amb continued as a Princely state of Pakistan until 1969, when it was incorporated into North West Frontier Province (now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa).

In 1972, recognition of the royal status of the Nawab was ended by the Government of Pakistan.[2]


  • History 1
  • Descent and ruling dynasty 2
  • Amb State Postal Service 3
  • Present geography 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Amb and its surrounding areas have a history dating to the invasion of the region by Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC. Alexander's historian, Arrian, did not indicate the exact location of Embolina, the progenitor of Amb, but it may have been in the vicinity of Aoronos, Alexander's supply depot on the right bank of the River Indus. The mention in Ptolemy's Geography of Embolina as a town of Indo-Scythia situated on the Indus River supports this theory.

In 1854 British frontier officer General James Abbott postulated that Aornos was located on the Mahaban range south of modern Buner District. He proposed, as had Ranjit Singh's mercenary General Claude Auguste Court in 1839, to recognise Embolina as the village of Amb situated on the right bank of the Indus eight miles east of Mahaban. This is the location from which the Nawabs of Amb took their title.[3]

Amb State, once known as Mulk e Tanawal (country/area of Tanawal), was the home of the Tanoli[4] 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 conquered it and settled here on the banks of the Indus River 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 remained free from the influence of the Mughals, 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 a long period.

This picture is from 1917 Darband. In this photo: Nawab Muhammad Khan Zaman Khan (seated second from left), Sir Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum (seated first from right).(sitting ground center) Nawabzada M .Farid Khan (son of Nawab of Amb)
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 .

Descent and ruling dynasty

The most plausible theories about the descent of the Hindwal Tanoli dynasty[5] assign them either Turkic or Pashtun descent. The theory that they descended from Turco-Mongol roots, the one from which Ameer Timur, the great Central Asian conqueror and the king, known to history as 'Timurlaine', also descended is supported by The Royal Asiatic Journal and the Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China, and Australia (1841) as well as numerous other sources, 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."[6]

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."[7]

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 descent 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.".[8]

The Pashtun descent theory suggests that they descended from Bibi Mato, the daughter of Sheikh Batan and the granddaughter of Qais Abdur Rashid. As such, according to this theory, Tanoli belongs to Batani Confederation of Pashtuns. These two theories are perhaps two sides of the same coin, as Bibi Mato was married to a Ghurid Prince, Shah Hussain, who happened to be of mixed Pakhtas-Turkic origin.[9]

Nawab Muhammad Saeed Khan

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 lifelong 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."

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 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,[10] Hari Singh's successor restored Agror to Ata Muhammad Khan, the chief of that area, a descendant of the Mullah Akhund Sad-ud-din.[11]

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.. He is still revered in Hazara today as a heroic warrior and freedom fighter.

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.[12]

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. 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 Sir John 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.[13] Jehandad Khan was able successfully to establish his innocence and consolidate his position.

Jahandad Khan's relationship with British India is summed in the following lines in a letter dated 8 January 1859 from R. Temple, Secretary to the Chief Commissioner of the Punjab, addressed to the Financial Commissioner of the Punjab: "'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."[14]

Jehandad's son, Nawab Bahadur Sir Muhammed Akram Khan, was given the title of Nawab in perpetuity by the British.[15]

Nawab Sir Muhammad Akram Khan: The next chief of the Tanolis, a son of Mir Jahandad Khan, was Nawab Sir Akram Khan KCSI 68–1907). 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 Muhammad Khan Zaman Khan: Nawab Khanizaman Khan (K.C.I.E) succeeded his father, 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 KBE had good relations with Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Nawabzada Liaqat Ali Khan. His contributions to the Pakistan movement have been acknowledged by letters from the Quaid e Azam.[16][17] In 1947 the Nawab of Amb, Mohammad Farid Khan, acceded his state to Pakistan by signing the Instrument of Accession in favour of Pakistan. In 1969, the State was incorporated into the North West Frontier Province (now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) and in 1971 the Government of Pakistan ceased to recognize the royal status of the Nawab .

Nawab Muhammad Saeed Khan: Nawab Muhammad Saeed Khan, son of Muhammad Farid Khan, the last Nawab of Amb, studied at the Burn Hall School in Abbottabad (now the Army Burn Hall College) and the Gordon College in Rawalpindi.[18] Nawab Saeed Khan ruled for a period of just three years. He gave the rights of ownership to more than three thousand(3000) households from Amb and Darband areas, from his own lands, as compensation for the land acquired by the Government of Pakistan to create the Tarbela Dam project.

Nawabzada Salahuddin Saeed Khan: Nawabzada Salahuddin is the present titular Chief of Tanolis and the present Nawab of Amb (titular/courtesy only)[19] 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.[20] 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)[21]
Unknown date – 1772 (Mir) Gul Muhammad Khan
1772 – 1803 (Mir) Haibat Khan
1803–1809 (Mir) Hashim Ali Khan (son of Amir Haibat Khan and brother to Amir 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.

Amb State Postal Service

Existing alongside British India were hundreds of Princely States, some 565[22] in all, but most of them did not issue postage stamps. Only around forty of the States issued their own postage stamps, and Amb State was one of them, having its own Postal Service. The rest used the stamps of the All India Postal Service.

Amb State postal stamps

Present geography

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

Mansehra District:

Haripur District:

See also


  1. ^ citation|last=Lethbridge|first=Roper|title=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|year=1893|location=London|publisher=Macmillan, page-328
  2. ^ Buyers, Christoper. "Pakistan: Brief History". The Royal Ark. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  3. ^  
  4. ^ History and pedigree
  5. ^ Pedigree
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ Maharaja Kharak Singh, 27 June 1839 – 5 November 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
  9. ^ M.J. Hanifi, in Encyclopædia Iranica|alt=Drawing of bearded man in medieval Arabic clothing.]]
  10. ^ Chiefs and families of note in the Delhi, Jalandhar, Peshawar and Derajat . By Charles Francis Massy, page 435
  11. ^ Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 5, p. 92. Also see Oghi.
  12. ^ Amb was only nominally attached to the then Hazara district of NWFP, with the Assistant Commissioner at Mansehra also holding additional charge as British Agent/Resident for Amb and Phulra
  13. ^ See The Hazara District Gazetteer 1883-8 (Lahore, 1884); and H. Lee, Brothers in the Raj: The Lives of John and Henry Lawrence (Karachi: Oxford UP, 2002)
  14. ^ A Collection of Papers Relating to the HISTORY, STATUS AND POWERS Of THE CHIEF OF AMB, 97 Pages (Punjab Secretariat, 1874)
  15. ^  
  16. ^ Quaid-I-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah Papers: First Series, Volume III: On the Threshold of Pakistan, 1–25 July 1947 By Mahomed Ali Jinnah, Z. H. Zaidi Contributor Z. H. Zaidi (Oxford University Press, 1997, ISBN 978-969-8156-07-7, ISBN 978-969-8156-07-7, 1120 pages, digitized 29 August 2008)
  17. ^ Sana Haroon, Frontier of faith: Islam in the Indo-Afghan Borderland (Columbia University Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-231-70013-9, ISBN 978-0-231-70013-9, 254 pages)
  18. ^  
  19. ^ Pakistan Princely States
  20. ^ Pakistan Election Commission – Unique Stats:
  21. ^ Ben Cahoon, "Pakistan Princely States". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  22. ^ Indian Princely States K-Z

External links

  • Government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
  • Genealogy of the ruling chiefs of Amb

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