Faqir of Ippi


Mirzali Khan, commonly known as Faqir of Ippi, was born in a small village Kurta near Khajuri post on the main Bannu Miranshah road in 1901. Both his father, Arsala Khan and his grandfather Ayaz Khan were deeply religious and thus young Mirzali Khan also bore an evident religious stamp on his personality. The family belonged to the famous Bangal Khel clan of the Maddi Khel Haibati section of Turi Khel Wazir of North Waziristan Agency. Following the culture of the area Mirzali Khan got his early education in Arabic, Persian and Pushtu from his father and village Mullah. At the age of 8, he was asked to leave home for Bannu to get further education. He was also educated at Karbogha, Kohat, Swat and Charbagh during the next couple of years. Besides religion he also got basic knowledge in medicine and psychology.

In 1926, he settled in the village of Ippi where he became Imam of the village mosque. In 1928, immediately after his marriage he went to perform Hajj. From then onwards, his reputation as a religious scholar and pious man spread all over the area. Students from various places started visiting him for education. He met Sayyid Hassan Algilani alias Naqib Sahib Jalalabadi in Jalalabad and became his disciple. Till 1936 he was only involved in the religious affairs and never interfered in the matters of Political interests. However, by that time he became a popular personality of his area and people started knowing him as Faqir of Ippi.

In 1936 he developed differences with the British Government on religious and cultural issues and he prepared himself militarily. He organized a tribal lashkar, a group of death squads and selected leading personalities from different tribes as his Khalifa and Generals. To stop his insurgency the British send two Brigades to crush him and his followers. However, the British had to suffer a heavy loss at the hands of Faqir of Ippi. When the British Government failed to defeat him by force they won over local Maliks and with their help decided to launch a war against Faqir of Ippi.

Knowing the latest development, Faqir of Ippi flew first to Shaktu Valley of South Waziristan and then to Arsal Kot in North Waziristan. From there he started harassing British troops by using guerilla warfare tactics. He kept on opposing the British and kept them engaged in his guerilla activities till their withdrawal from South Asia in August 1947. In total he fought more than hundred battles against the British forces.

Faqir of Ippi had no direct links with Congress or Muslim League during the freedom movement. He opposed the creation of Pakistan. Inspite of Pardon announced for him by the Government of Pakistan in October 1947, Faqir of Ippi launched a campaign against the newly established country. On May 12, 1948 he published an anti Pakistan poster in which he claimed that Pakistan was the creation of British and that Quaid-i-Azam was a British Agent. He asked India for monetary and military help for fulfilling his ambition of annexing the Pakistan territory upto Indus River. His idea was to attack Pakistan simultaneously by his men from one side and Indian Army from the other side. He was also said to have close contacts with the Red Shirts leaders. In June 1948 he announced his struggle against Pakistan but most of the tribesmen, who were already involved in war in Kashmir, opposed his idea, and he had to disband his army.

On January 19, 1950 Faqir of Ippi convened a big Jirga composed of leaders and Ulema of the Wazirs, Mahsuds and Daurs. He announced the creation of Provisional Government of Pakhtunistan and hoisted Pakhtunistan flag. Faqir of Ippi was selected as the head of cabinet. However, later on he discarded the Pukhtunistan flag and hosted his own flag commonly known as ‘Faqir Flag’. His idea was to establish independent government in Waziristan with Shariah as the law of the land. Faqir of Ippi’s idea could not last for long because majority of the people of tribal areas had sympathies for Pakistan. Differences were also created between him and the Afghanistan Government as the Afghan Government wanted to annex Pukhtun belt of Pakistan while Faqir of Ippi himself wanted to become the King of Waziristan.

With the failure of his campaign he stopped criticizing Pakistan in public, yet he never turned pro-Pakistan till his death. He died of asthma on April 16, 1960.

This article was last updated on Monday, Jan 01, 2007