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Faqir of Ipi
Transcript of Faqir of Ipi
Mirza Ali Khan (born 1897, died 1960), known as the Faqir of Ipi, was a Pashtun from today's North-Waziristan Pakistan, Federally Administrated Tribal Areas.
The village of Ipi is located near Mirali Camp in North Waziristan Agency, Waziristan, from where the Faqir of Ipi started his guerrilla warfare against the British Empire throughout the 1930s and 1940s until the British departure in 1947.
Mirza Ali Khan was born in 1901 at Kurta, a village near Tochi Valley in North Waziristan to Sheikh Arsala Khan. He belonged to the Tori Khel branch of the Utmanzai Wazir tribe. His father died when he was twelve. Mirza studied till fourth grade at a government school and later pursued religious studies at Bannu. He built a mosque and a house at Spalga, further South in North Waziristan agency in 1922. He moved to Ipi in mid 1920s and later went to perform Hajj at Mecca.
Battle against the Bannu Brigade
In 1936, a British Indian court ruled against the marriage of a Hindu-converted Muslim girl at Bannu, after the girl's family filed case of abduction and forced conversion.The enraged tribesmen mustered two large lashkars 10,000 strong and battled the Bannu Brigade, with heavy casualties on both sides. Widespread lawlessness erupted as tribesmen blocked roads, overran outposts and ambushed convoys. The British retaliated by sending two columns converging in the Khaisora river valley.
Soon after the Khaisora campaign a general uprising broke out throughout Waziristan campaign, realising the futility of confronting the British Army directly especially with their advantage of air power, tribesmen switched to guerrilla warfare. Squadrons of the two air forces (RAF and RIAF) tried many tactics including scorched earth retaliation involving the burning of standing crops with jerry can petrol bombs and the killing of cattle with strafing attacks. This situation continued till Indian independence and the creation of Pakistan in 1947.
The creation of Pakistan in 1947 significantly dulled the Faqir's insurgency. As the government was Muslim led, the religious grounds for the insurgency had been lost. This did not stop the Faqir from causing problems for the Pakistani government until his death. On 4 November 1954 his Commander-in-Chief, Mehar Dil, surrendered himself personally to the Deputy Commissioner Bannu, and this, in effect, brought the Waziristan insurrection to an end.
The Faqir of Ipi died at night on April 16, 1960. A long term sufferer of asthma during his last days, he became so sick that it was not possible for him to walk for a few steps. People from far away often used to come and see him and ask for his blessing. His funeral prayers or Namaz-I-Janaza was held at Gurwaikht led by Maulavi Pir Rehman. Thousands of people came for his Namaz-I-Janaza. He was buried at Gurwaikht.
One man against an Empire!
Faqeer of Ipi