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Povindah

POVINDAH, a class of warrior nomadic traders in Afghanistan, who belong chiefly to the Nasir and Suliman Kuel tribes of Ghilzais. Their name, which designates their occupation, is derived from the same root as the Pushtu word for " to graze." They are almost wholly engaged in the carrying trade between India and Afghanistan and Central Asia. They assemble every autumn in the plains east of Ghazni, with their families, flocks, herds and long strings of camels and horses, laden with the goods of Bokhara and Kandahar; and forming caravans march through the Kakar and Waziri countries by the Zhob and Gomal passes of the Suliman hills. Entering Dera Ismail Khan district about October they leave their families and flocks, their arms and some two-thirds of their fighting men in the great grazing grounds which lie on either side of the Indus, and while some wander in search of employment, others pass on with their merchandise to the great cities of India, and even by rail as far as Calcutta, Karachi and Bombay. In the spring they again assemble, and return by the same route to their homes in the hills about Ghazni and Kalat-i-Ghilzai. When the hot season begins, the men, leaving their belongings behind them, move off again to Kandahar, Herat and Bokhara, with the Indian and European merchandise which they have brought from Hindustan. For generations the Waziris have carried on war to the knife with these merchant traders. To meet the opposition that awaited them on the road the Povindahs used to move heavily armed, in bodies of from 5000 to 10,000, and regular marches and encampments were observed under an elected khan or leader. But since the Gomal Pass was taken over by the British and opened up in 1889 there has been comparative security on the border. During the Second Afghan War the tribes on the Tank border were stirred up by emissaries from Kabul, and the Suliman Khel joined the Mahsud Waziris in their daring raid on the town of Tank in January 1879. Colonel Boisragon, who commanded at Dera Ismail Khan, moved out against the Povindah settlements in the mouth of the Gomal Pass and severely punished them. The Povindahs paid a fine of nearly Rs. 60,000 (6000), and agreed that in future their migratory bands should be disarmed on their entry into British territory, their weapons to be deposited in a military arsenal, and returned to their owners when they again crossed the border.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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