Yūsufzai (Hindi:युसुफजई, Pashto: يوسفزی Yūsufzay, plur. يوسفزي Yūsufzī; Urdu/Persian: یوسف زئی), also called Yousafzai, Esapzay or Yūsufī, is one of the major Pashtun tribes.
According to Akhund Darweza, the Yusufzai originated in Kandahar, Afghanistan. In their migration eastward, they arrived in the Kabul area when it was ruled by the Turkic governor Ulugh Beg, who had succeeded his father Shahrukh Mirza in 1446.
When the Yusufzai spread into the area as far as Swat, their relationship with the local Dilazaks deteriorated and a long war ensued. After 20 years, under their leader Malik Ahmed Khan, the Yusufzai and allied clans (jadoon and uthmankhale) were able to push the Dilazaks eastwards towards the Hazara mountains east of the Indus River, at the battle of Katlang.
The tribe is mentioned as "Isapzais" by Alexander the Great in 330 BC. They are later mentioned by Babur in the 16th century. It is claimed that by the 1580s the Yusufzai numbered about 100,000 households. In general, they were uncooperative with the rule of Akbar who sent military forces under Zain Khan Koka and Raja Bir Bar to subdue them. In 1585 Raja Bir Bar was killed in fighting with the Yusufzai. It was not until about 1690 that they were fully brought within the realm of the Mughal Empire. Pir Baba, as the first emir. After Akbar Shah's death in 1857, Akhund Ghaffur assumed control of the state himself. The state lasted until the early 20th century under its religious leaders known as Akhunds of Swat, and later passed on to the last dynasty of Gujar/Safis, who ruled over the area now encompassing the present day Swat , District Buner ,(right side of Indus) district Kohistan and Sangla till 1969.
The Yusufzai are the predominant population in the districts of Swat, Buner, Shangla, Mardan, Malakand, Tor Ghar, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Swabi in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. They are also living in Battagram and the Maloga village of the Oghi Tehsil of Mansehra.
In Afghanistan, they inhabit parts of the Kunar and Nangarhar provinces. In Balochistan, there is also a Yusufzai clan of the Dehwar tribe in the Mastung District which speak Brahui, and Persian with some mixture of Brahui words.
Most Yusufzai speak the northern variant of Pashto (Pukhto) with the hard "kh" replacing the softer "sh" of the southern Pashto dialects.
Yusufzai in India
Some Yusufzai lineages are settled in India, especially in Andhra Pradesh's capital Hyderabad city, in the Rohilkhand region of northwestern Uttar Pradesh, in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh, in Gaya and the nearby Bihar, in Channapatna, Kadi, Ahmedabad, Baroda and the nearby Gujarat, in Maharashtra's Pune, Akola and Mumbai, and in Karnataka's Mysore and Bangalore. Many of the Yusufzai of Uttar Pradesh form a part of the larger Rohilla community.
In Jat History
H. W. Bellew writes thar The Yusufzai, after six years of constant warfare, drove the Dalazak across the Indus into Chach and Pakli, and thus acquired full possession of the plain country which now bears their name, and lies between the Swat cum Kabul rivers. During another succeeding period of fourteen years of constant warfare with their "infidel" kindred (called Gandhari and Hindki) and the Gujar settlers, the Yusufzai pushed their conquest into the hills on the north and north-west as far as the sources of the Panjkora and Swat rivers, and the country drained by the Barandu, which is a direct tributary of the Indus.
In this twenty years' war the Yusufzais exterminated some small sections of the natives, drove others across the Indus into Chach and Pakli in one direction, and across the Kunar river into Chitral and Katar (the present Kafiristan) in the other, and subjugating the greater number to serfdom, converted them to the Muhammadan creed, and called them Hindki in distinction to the idolatrous Hindu. These Hindki were in all probability the representatives of the remnant of the native Gandhari, who were subjugated by their Jat and other Scythic invaders in the fifth century, and the real kindred of their Afghan conquerors; a supposition which is strongly supported by language and family likeness, as well as by identity of manners and customs, and quick amalgamation.
यूसुफजई: ठाकुर देशराज
ठाकुर देशराज ने लिखा है .... अफगानों के कई जिरगे जाटों में से हैं यूसुफजई जिरगा को कुछ लोगों ने गुर्जरों में से लिखा है। हम भी मानते हैं कि वह गुर्जरों में से हैं किंतु पंजाब के गुजरात नाम के इलाके के जाटों का जो गुर्जर गोत्र है वह उसमे से हैं।
- Khaled Ahmed in Daily Times
- Haroon, Sana (2011). Frontier of Faith: Islam, in the Indo-Afghan Borderland. Hurst Publishers. p. 40. ISBN 1849041830.
- The Races of Afghanistan/Chapter VII,p. 67
- Thakur Deshraj: Jat Itihas (Utpatti Aur Gaurav Khand)/Navam Parichhed,p.153