Category: History

This Category includes all information about History of Pakistan.

Qila Bala Hissar

Bala Hissar is one of the most historic places of Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. The word Bala Hissar is from Dari Persian, meaning, “elevated or high fort”. The name was given by the Afghan Pashtun King Timur Shah Durrani (1773–1793), who used the fort as the winter capital of the Afghan Durrani Empire, with the summer capital being in Kabul. The Sikh empire who conquered Peshawar in the early 19th century named it Samir Garh in 1834 but the name did not become popular.

Qila Balahisar

The Fort has been the headquarters of the Frontier Corps since 1949. One wall of Fort Bala Hissar collapsed during the 27 October 2015 earthquake, but the wall has been reconstructed.

The fort stands on a high mound in the northwestern corner of Peshawar City. Not long ago, the fort used to be conspicuously away from the old city of Peshawar, but now the construction of new buildings has covered space between the old city and the fort. However, the fort’s position on a high mound gives a commanding and panoramic view of Peshawar and the entire Peshawar valley. On a clear day, one can see the mountains encircling Peshawar valley and beyond. The area covered by the inner wall of the fort is about 10 acres (40,000 m2) and the outer wall is about 15 acres (61,000 m2). The height of the fort is about 90 feet (27 m) above ground level.

Renowned historian Dr A.H. Dani in his book Peshawar-Historic City of Frontier writes that when Hiuen Tsang, a Chinese traveller, visited Peshawar in 630 AD, he spoke of a “royal residence”.

Balahissar

He says that Chinese word “Kung Shing” used for its significance and is explained as fortified or walled portion of the town in which the royal palace stood.

Hiuen Tsang then makes a separate mention of the city, which was not fortified. This shows that the royal residence formed the nucleus of a Citadel, which must have been further protected by a moat.

Dr Dani further says that a channel of old Bara River surrounded by a high spot, which includes the Bala Hissar and Inder Shahr. The higher area could have been the citadel, which is the present Bala Hissar.

Peshawar has always been a strategic city and its capturing and ruling over it was of great importance for the invaders and kings.

“In the 11th century AD, the Hindu ruler, Raja Jaipal of the Hindushahi dynasty was defeated in the vicinity of Peshawar and Mehmud Ghaznavi garrisoned the fort with his army,” says Dr Taj Ali. The British officers who visited Peshawar in the 19th century mentioned that the fort used to be a royal residence of Afghan rulers, he added.

The Bala Hissar has seen its construction and destruction by conquerors, warriors, invaders and kings on several occasions. After the overthrow of emperor Humayun by the Afghan King Sher Shah Suri, the Afghans destroyed the fort.

When Hamayun was staying in it he decided to rebuild it before proceeding to Kabul. He wanted to use the fort for his conquest of India at a later stage. As his officers did not want to stay back, Hamayun himself supervised the rebuilding of the fort, which was soon completed.

“The Afghan rulers named it “Bala Hissar” a Persian name meaning high fort while the Sikhs renamed and rebuilt it calling their fort “Sumergarh” in 1834 but the name did not become popular, says Dr Taj.

The fort was constructed on a mound with commanding view of the surrounding area including Shalimar gardens presently known as Jinnah Park towards its north. This gave more prominence and grandeur to the fort, he said.

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Qawwali

Qawwali  is a form of Sufi devotional music in South Asia. It is popular in the Punjab and Sindh regions of Pakistan, in many parts of North India including Hyderabad and Delhi, and many parts of Bangladesh. It is part of a musical tradition that stretches back for more than 700 years.

ustaz Nusrat Ali Khan performing live qawwali

Originally performed mainly at Sufi shrines or dargahs throughout South Asia, it has also gained mainstream popularity. Qawwali music received international exposure through the work of the late Pakistani singers Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Sabri Brothers, largely due to several releases on the Real World label, followed by live appearances at WOMAD festivals. Other famous Qawwali singers include Pakistan’s Amjad Farid Sabri, Bahauddin Qutbuddin and Aziz Mian.

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Zamburak

zamburak

Probably developed by Egyptian warriors who originally mounted large crossbows on camels, the zumbooruck was rapidly adopted by Arab, Afghan, Mughal and especially Persian Safavid armies up until the 19th and 20th century India. Zumboorucks were one of the royal guard units in the 19th-century Persian army. A Persian zumbooruck regiment would be accompanied by musicians with huge camel-mounted drums, in order to create even more noise and impress the enemy. Zumboorucks were used against the invading British in the Anglo-Afghan Wars.

A zumbooruck consisted of a soldier on a camel with a mounted swivel gun (a small falconet), which was hinged on a metal fork-rest protruding from the saddle of the animal. In order to fire the cannon, the camel would be put on its knees. The name may be derived from Arabic zambūr, hornet (possibly in reference to the sound earlier camel-mounted crossbows made). The mobility of the camel combined with the flexibility and heavy firepower of the swivel gun made for an intimidating military unit, although the accuracy and range of the cannon was rather low. The light cannon was also not particularly useful against heavy fortifications

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Sepoy

Mughal Sipahi or sepoy

A Sipahi or a sepoy was an infantryman in both the Mughal Empire and the Kingdom of Mysore. The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (reigned 1658–1707) raised battalions of sepoys variously armed with matchlocks, rockets, and grenades. These troops were successfully employed in siege warfare, particularly during the Siege of Bidar, the Siege of Bijapur and the Siege of Golconda. this term is in use till now in Pakistan and other sub-continent countries, where Mughals ruled.

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Kashmir border-crossing boys handed back to Pakistan

Faisal Hussain Awan (R) and Ahsan Khurshid (L)
Image captionAhsan Khurshid (L) and Faisal Awan (R) had been held in India since September

India has returned to Pakistan two boys who strayed across the de facto border in disputed Kashmir and were then accused of links to a militant attack.

The boys were handed over at the Wagha border near Lahore and met their families, a Pakistani official said.

Indian officials detained them days after 19 soldiers were killed in the assault on a military base in Uri, in Indian-administered Kashmir.

But investigators subsequently cleared them of any involvement.

The Uri base assault on 18 September, involving gunmen armed with grenades, was the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in years. It led to a spike in tensions between India and Pakistan.

kashmir map

Indian officials initially suspected Ahsan Khurshid and Faisal Awan had acted as guides for militants belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammad Pakistan-based militant group, Indian media reports said.

But a spokesman for India’s National Investigation Agency announced last week that their probe “did not reveal any linkage of the suspects with the Uri attackers”.

The teenagers had crossed over to the Indian side after a fight with their parents over their studies, he said.

Speaking to the BBC’s Aurangzeb Jarral ahead of her son’s release, Ahsan’s mother Raqeeba Bibi said she was very happy. “I always said that my son was innocent. It has been proved now,” she said.

She said her son had told her he was planning to go for a picnic at a Sufi shrine called Pir Kanthi, which is close to the Line of Control (the de facto border), before he was detained.

Ahsan’s uncle Chaudhry Qasim told the BBC he wanted both countries to “please make sure to find the truth before declaring each other’s nationals ‘terrorists’, because it causes a lot of pain and misery to the concerned families”.

Reports suggest Indian officials now believe a different Pakistan-based militant group was behind the attack. Pakistan has denied any link to it.

The territorial dispute between India and Pakistan over Muslim-majority Kashmir has been running for decades. Both claim the territory in its entirety but control only parts of it. There has been an armed insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir since 1989.

India has long accused Pakistan of supporting the militant groups. Pakistan rejects this and says India has not shown evidence to support its claims.

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