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Ashraf Khan Khattak

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Ashraf Khan eldest son of Khushhal Khan Khattak, was born in the year H. 1044 (A.D. 1634); and when the war, which had been carried on by his father and other Afghan chieftains, against the Moghul Emperor; died out, Khushhal, wholly disgusted with the world, resigned the chieftainship of the Khattak tribe in favour of Ashraf, A.H. 1093 (AD. 1681.) The circumstances, which brought these matters about, having been related at length in the notice preceding Khushhal’s poems, need not be repeated here.

Ashraf endeavoured for some time to carry on the government of his clan, and also to perform his duties towards the Moghul Government, by aiding the Peshawar authorities in the administration of the affairs of that province; but he was opposed and thwarted in all his endeavours by his brother Bahram, the same who endeavoured to take the life of his father; who styles him "Bahram the Degenerate", and “The Malignant"; and by whose machinations Ashraf was, at last, betrayed into the hands of Aurangzeb, in the year H. 109 (A.D. 1683). The affairs of the Dakhan having called for the presence of that monarch, who continued in that part of India for several years the Khattak chief was taken along with him, as a state prisoner; and was subsequently sent to the strong fortress of Bijapur, situated in what is, at present, termed the Southern Maharata country, where he continued to languish in exile for the remainder of his life. He died in the year H. 1105 (A.D. 1693), and in the 60th year of his age.

Ashraf used, occasionally, to devote some of his leisure tinie to poetry, before he assumed the government of his clan, incited, doubtless, by the example of his brave old father, and his brothers Abdul Qadir Khan Khattak and Sadr Khan Khattak, who were also gifted with the "cacoëthes scribendi". During his exile he wrote a great number of poems, and collected the whole, as they now stand, in the form of a Diwan, or Alphabetical Collection. According to the usual custom among Eastern poets, Ashraf assumed the name of “The Severed” or "Exiled"; and many of his poems, written in the most pathetic style, plainly tell where, and under what circumstances, they were composed. The original Diwan, or Collection, arranged and written by himself, at Bijapür, is still in the possession of his descendants, and from it the following poems were extracted; indeed, I am not aware that any other copy of his poems exists. Ashraf is regarded by the Afghans as a good poet; but his effusions are, without reason apparently, considered difficult and abstruse.

When Afzal Khan Khattak, his son, became firmly established in the chieftainship, he caused the remains of his father to be removed from Bijapur to Sara'e where the Khattak chiefs have been usually interred-a distance of some fifteen hundred miles.