AFRIDI, a Pathan tribe inhabiting the mountains on the Peshawar border of the North-West Frontier province of India. The Afridis are the most powerful and independent tribe on the border, and the largest with the exception of the Waziris. Their special country is the lower and easternmost spurs of the Safed Koh range, to the west and south of the Peshawar district, including the Bazar and Bara valleys. On their east they are bounded by British districts, on the north by the Mohmands, on the west by the Shinwaris and on the south by the Orakzai and Bangash tribes. Their origin is obscure, but they are said to have Israelitish blood in their veins, and they have a decidedly Semitic cast of features. They are possibly the Aparytai of Herodotus, the names and positions being identical. If this theory is correct, they were then a powerful people, and held a large tract of country, but have been gradually driven back by the encroachments of other tribes. The tribe is divided into the following eight clans:-Kuki Khel, Malikdin Khel, Kambar Khel, Kamar Khel, Zakka Khel (the most numerous and the most turbulent), Sipah, Aka Khel and Adam Khel. The first seven clans live in the vicinity of the Khyber Pass, and migrate to Tirah in the summer months. The Adam Khel (5900 fighting men) live round the Kohat Pass, and are more settled and less migratory in their habits. In appearance the Afridi is a fine, tall, athletic highlander with a long, gaunt face, high nose and cheek-bones, and a fair complexion. On his own hillside he is one of the finest skirmishers in the world, and in the Indian army makes a first-rate soldier, but he is apt to be home-sick when removed from the air of his native mountains. In character the Afridi has obtained an evil name for ferocity, craft and treachery, but Colonel Sir Robert Warburton, who lived eighteen years in charge of the Khyber Pass and knew the Afridi better than any other Englishman, says:-"The Afridi lad from his earliest childhood is taught by the circumstances of his existence and life to distrust all mankind, and very often his near relations, heirs to his small plot of land by right of inheritance, are his deadliest enemies. Distrust of all mankind, and readiness to strike the first blow for the safety of his own life, have therefore become the maxims of the Afridi. If you can overcome this mistrust, and be kind in words to him, he will repay you by a great devotion, and he will put up with any treatment you like to give him except abuse." In short the Afridi has the vices and virtues of all Pathans in an enhanced degree. The fighting strength of the Afridis is said to be 27,000, but this estimate is excessive, judged by the number and size of their villages. They derive their importance from their geographical position, which gives them command of the Khyber and Kohat roads, and the history of the British connexion with them has been almost entirely with reference to these two passes.
There have been several British expeditions against the separate clans:-
(1) Expedition against the Kohat Pass Afridis under Sir Colin Campbell in 1850. The British connexion with the Adam Khel Afridis commenced immediately after the annexation of the Peshawar and Kohat districts. Following the example of all previous rulers of the country, the British agreed to pay the tribe a subsidy to protect the pass. But in 1850 a thousand Afridis attacked a body of sappers engaged in making the road, killing twelve and wounding six. It was supposed that they disliked the making of a road which would lay open their fastnesses to regular troops. An expedition of 3200 British troops was despatched, which traversed the country and punished them.
(2) Expedition against the Jowaki Afridis of the Bori villages in 1853. When the Afridis of the Kohat Pass misbehaved in 1850, the Jowaki Afridis offered the use of their route instead; but they turned out worse than the others, and in 1853 a force of 1700 British traversed their country and destroyed their stronghold at Bori. The Jowaki Afridis are a clan of the Adam Khel, who inhabit the country lying between the Kohat Pass and the river Indus.
(3) Expedition against the Aka Khel Afridis under Colonel Craigie in 1855. In 1854 the Aka Khels, not finding themselves admitted to a share of the allowances of the Kohat Pass, commenced a series of raids on the Peshawar border and attacked a British camp. An expedition of 1500 troops entered the country and inflicted severe punishment on the tribe, who made their submission and paid a fine.
(4) Expedition against the Jowaki Afridis under Colonel Mocatta in 1877. In that year the government proposed to reduce the Jowaki allowance for guarding the Kohat Pass, and the tribesmen resented this by cutting the telegraph wire and raiding into British territory. A force of 1500 troops penetrated their country in three columns, and did considerable damage by way of punishment.
(5) Expedition against the Jowaki Afridis under Brigadier-General Keyes in 1877-78. The punishment inflicted by the previous expedition did not prove sufficiently severe, the attitude of the Jowakis continued the same and their raids into British territory went on. A much stronger force, therefore, of 7400 British troops, divided into three columns, destroyed their principal villages and occupied their country for some time, until the tribe submitted and accepted government terms. The Kohat Pass was afterwards practically undisturbed.
(6) Expedition against the Zakka Khel Afridis of the Bazar Valley under Brigadier-General Tytler in 1878. At the time of the British advance into Afghanistan, during the second Afghan War, the Zakka Khel opposed the British advance and attacked their outposts. A force of 2500 British troops traversed their country, and the tribesmen made their submission.
(7) Expedition against the Zakka Khel Afridis of the Bazar Valley under Lieutenant-General Maude in 1879. After the previous expedition the Afridis of the Khyber Pass continued to give trouble during the progress of the second Afghan War, so another force of 3750 British troops traversed their country, and after suffering some loss the tribesmen made their submission. After this both the Khyber and Kohat Passes were put on a stable footing, and no further trouble of any consequence occurred in either down to the time of the frontier risings of 1897, when the Afridis attacked the Khyber Pass, which was defended by Afridi levies.
(8) For the Tirah Campaign of 1897 see TIRAH CAMPAIGN.
(9) In the February of 1908 the restlessness of the Zakka Khel again made a British expedition necessary, under Sir James Willcocks; but the campaign was speedily ended, though in the following April he had again to proceed against the Mohmands, the situation being complicated by an incursion from Afghanistan.
See also Paget and Mason's Frontier Expeditions (1884);
Warburton's Eighteen Years in the Khyber (1900). (C. L.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)