Friday 3 November 2017


Besides building magnificent official and residential mansions in Rawalpindi, Lahore or Karachi, the British left their footprint in almost every town they went to — like Murree, Nathiagali, Multan, Sahiwal etc. They ensured their officials ‘Sahibs’ were properly cared for while on inspection visits touring the country. Hence, they started constructing ‘Dak’ bungalows for postal department, canal rest houses for Irrigation department especially in colony districts, and forest rest houses all over the places but especially in Northern Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Over time all of these rest houses would be known as ‘Dak bungalows’ as postal service was considered by the British as the most vital service to be maintained at all times. Depending upon the requirements of various departments, these Dak bungalows would be at fixed distances from each other, normally around eighteen miles, a distance coverable during a day’s pony ride.

These rest houses had various categories and were equipped with basic boarding and lodging facilities for the ‘Sahibs’, camp followers and their beasts of burden.

I was lucky to visit a number of these colonial forest rest houses set in dense pine forests deep in the hills. Most of these forest rest houses have a century-old visitors’ book available with the caretaker, which is usually a treat to read.

Interestingly, besides officers of Imperial Forest Service and Indian Civil Service, I found General Muhammad Ayub Khan, C-in-C and President of Pakistan, a frequent visitor to these forest rest houses in the 1950s. Later in the 1990s, both Sharifs and Imran Khan would occasionally turn up in one of these rest houses for a short visit.

There are some serene pieces of history which you should explore on your day trips out of Islamabad. Begin on the road to Lehtrar from Chak Shahzad. As you cross Nilore on your right, the road forks into two at Charah chowk. The left road goes to Patriata bypassing Simli Dam; take the right one to Lehtrar. As you cross river Soan, the road becomes hilly and after crossing a few villages on the way, you reach Lehtrar. Ask anyone and they shall guide you to the Lehtrar Forest Rest House just off the main road.

The rest house comprises two small bedrooms, constructed in late nineteenth century with picturesque valley views. With expanding villages all around, the views have been compromised but still worth a peaceful evening picnic. If you carry on the main Lehtrar road towards Kotli Sattian, another twenty minutes from Lehtrar, take a u-turn to your right on the road to Danoi village. You should reach the Danoi Forest Rest House in about ten minutes.
Over time all of these rest houses would be known as ‘Dak bungalows’ as postal service was considered by the British as the most vital service to be maintained at all times.

Danoi Forest Rest House

Constructed on a levelled piece of clear land surrounded by tall pine trees, the 1928 Danoi rest house is situated in a picture postcard setting. It is also the staging post to four hours trek to ‘Punj Peer’ shrine up in the mountains. There is also a 1908 Narar Forest Rest House near the shrine; however, that is currently occupied by security forces and not accessible being close to Kahuta. Danoi is not only connected to Narar rest house through a proper trek but also to Lehtrar rest house down the hills.These treks or bridal paths in forest lingo were used in the days long gone by Sahibs and their entourages while doing forest inspections and the practice continues by local foresters to this day. The name ‘bridal path’ apparently comes from brides being carried in palkis, similar to Gora sahibs.

From Lehtrar, come back to Nilore and turn right at Charah chowk towards Simli Dam and Patriata. In about thirty minutes, you would bypass Simli Dam and see the spill way to your left. Drive another thirty minutes in the mountains and you shall reach Karor.

Ask anyone about the Chawan Forest Rest House and they shall guide you to a nice 1888 two bedroom rest house on a small hill with clear valley views. The visitors’ book kept at the rest house is a treat to read with one Sultan Mohammad Khan complaining perennially about malfunctioning chimneys while the chowkidar complaining about ‘police methods and harassment’ by an unauthorised police officer who barged in with his camel men and other followers. Similarly, the chowkidar is being warned for allowing a naib tehsildar to stay and all this bickering is going on the page which also mentions ‘we were very well looked after’ by General Ayub Khan who was there from Dec 18-19, 1950.

Besides Ayub Khan, the rest house hosted Roedad Khan, General K.M Arif, General Rafaqat and a number of Imperial Forest Service and Indian Civil Service officers. Mrs Tahira Izhar in 1984 mentions listening to ‘ Ghungroo’ (ankle dancing bells) and firing sounds which made her fearful; however Tehmina Khan from Government College Sialkot takes the prize by giving vivid details in 1985 of deadly howling dogs throughout the night who were trying to enter the rest house.

You can always come back from Karor and after crossing the Simli Dam spill way, take a turn towards right to Simli Dam and lake. But to enjoy a cup of tea at the picturesque Simli rest house, you need prior permission from Capital Development Authority.

Since we are following forest rest houses, so don’t turn back from Karor and carry on to Patriata. In about another thirty minutes from Karor, you should reach the small town of Ban. Now Ban does mean jungle in Urdu and I have no idea if this is just a coincidence. Again, like almost all other forest rest houses, you shall find yourself driving to the top of a hill from the main road. Ban Forest Rest House was constructed at a cost of Rs 1875/ in 1905 and has around four decent bedrooms with limited supply of water.

And yes I was able to lay my hands on the visitors’ book starting in 1923 with one Mr Muhammad Khan who stayed here for a week in June 1923 along with his children. My eyes stopped at Mr and Mrs D.N. Wadia from Geological Survey of India, Calcutta who stayed at the rest house in 1924. A bit of google search revealed him to be one of the most eminent geologists of his time who later also became Advisor to Nehru in 1947.

The search of colonial forest rest houses in the hills of Punjab continues

                                                             Patriata Rest House

Our final stop last week was a small town called Ban, about 30 minutes from Karor, from where another 30-minute drive will take you to the vicinity of Patriata.

After some 15 minutes of the winding road and amazing views, you will reach the Patriata top, the other end of the famed cable car. Patriata top has a small bazaar, which operates as long as the cable car operates. Once the cable car closes around 8pm, it becomes a ghost town as all the shopkeepers either go down to Patriata town or to their homes in nearby villages. There is an exclusive fairytale Dak bungalow at the top of the hill. The whole hill is fenced and belongs to the Forest Department.

Patriata forest rest house was constructed in 1913 at the cost of Rs3,600. It was renovated a few years back and now has four bedrooms. This rest house is one of the most decent and well-maintained places to spend a night, where once the cable car stops, the only sounds you hear are from the winds hissing through the deodar forest and wolves howling in far off valleys. Mind you, it’s not a very pleasant experience in the dark of the night, especially if you are with children.

The rest house is known to have hosted the Sharifs a few times. The caretaker will show you a particular spot where Nawaz Sharif sat alone to enjoy the views.Our next stop is Charehan forest rest house near Gulehra gali. So drive down the winding road through the Patriata town to the Murree Expressway. In about 10 minutes, you will reach Jhika gali, where to your right is a hill covered with blue pines of the Charehan forest. Just before the hill, a trek leads to an ancient water point, traditionally known as baoli, from where another 30-minute trek will take you to the Charehan rest house. You will need a guide for this trek.

Alternatively, take a u-turn towards Islamabad and continue for about a couple of kilometres till the Charehan hill on your left starts receding. Just where the hill recedes to give way to the valley views, there is a jeep trek going up to the rest house. I have not driven on this trek but my guess is that it would take some 15 minutes to get to the rest house on foot from the Expressway.

The book confirmed the rather juicy story of Imran Khan staying at the rest house between July 8 and 12, 1992, after the 1992 cricket world cup with his foreign friends. “No water arrangement, no electricity, poor arrangement,” he commented in the book. He paid Rs320 and signed the book.
The Charehan forest rest house was built in 1913 at a cost of Rs3,190. It has three to four bedrooms, along with a sunroom and a dining area. The rest house crumbled during the 2005 earthquake. More than a decade later, the building still awaits reconstruction.

Another 10-minute trek will lead you to one of the last surviving colonial forest towers. This is a huge early 20th century steel structure on top of a hill meant to keep an eye on forest fires as well as any illegal tree-felling activities. Few people dare to go to the top of this tower — I was not one of those.

Chahrehan Rest House

But back at the Charehan forest office, I had the opportunity to lay my hands on the visitor’s book. The book confirmed the rather juicy story of Imran Khan staying at the rest house between July 8 and 12, 1992, after the 1992 cricket world cup with his foreign friends. “No water arrangement, no electricity, poor arrangement,” he commented in the book. He paid Rs320 and signed the book.

Perhaps, this was the time when Imran decided to fix the system by joining politics.

“Visitors are requested to see before they go that their servants leave crockery, house and surroundings clean,” wrote another visitor. Pratap Singh of Imperial Forest Service and Mr and Mrs K C Robinson were apparently frequent visitors. A very interesting entry is by Lord Emsworth from Blanding Castle, England, who stayed for almost a month in summer of 1928. The only mystery is that Lord Emsworth is a character in fiction by P G Wodehouse. Whoever was Lord Emsworth at Charehan in 1928, he wrote, “Some of the pleasure of staying at this beautiful lodge is mitigated by absence of necessities like water, bedding, etc”.

General Tasawar Hussain of the celebrated Guides Cavalry was the last visitor to the rest house in summer of 2005. But the most recent entry is by Naseerul Haq of the Forest Department, who inspected the rest house on October 9, 2005 – a day after the disastrous earthquake.

                                                              Ghora Gali Rest House

There is also a scenic Bhurban forest rest house at Aliot on the Jhika gali-Bhurban road. The beautiful rest house with a huge lush green lawn has since been designated as the Governor House, and out of bounds for all and sundry like yours truly.

Another forest rest house is on the Jhika gali road towards Lawrence College. Again set in dense pines, the rest house is reasonably well maintained and worth spending a night or two in.

On the way back to Islamabad, on the old Murree road through Jhika gali, Kuldana, Sunny Bank and Ghora gali, you will see a sign on your left indicating the Ghora gali forest rest house up on the hill. The rest house was constructed in 1890 for Rs1,875, and has four to five bedrooms with exquisite wooden work, bay windows and a wide terrace. There is a dwindling water spring close to the rest house, a well-kept nursery and the good old caretaker who takes care of the property like it’s his own, again a fast vanishing breed.The visitor’s book shows that General Ayub Khan, then Commander in Chief, visited the rest house on May 20, 1951, along with Brigadier Burki and party. Razia Ahmed and Rahima Ahmed had their first pony rides at this place while Governor Punjab and his family took up an entire page of the visitor’s book on June 1, 1958.

You can continue on the same road in dense pine jungle to reach the elegant and historic 1881 Punjab forest school with its academic and residential blocks. The same road further down will take you to the Murree Islamabad road on your way to Islamabad.

My friend and forester Rizwan Mehboob has advised me to cover Surba, Rajgarh, Ghoon and Panjar forest rest houses to complete the Kahuta circuit. These unexplored forest rest houses will remain a reason for me to go back to Murree-Kahuta forest division sometime soon.

These colonial rest houses all over Pakistan are the government’s assets, meant to promote tourism. While these rest houses are reasonably maintained, there is room for tremendous improvement in terms of furniture, fixtures and services. The government must consider outsourcing them to hoteliers or organisations that will promote sustainable ecotourism.

 Explored by : Omar Mukhtar Khan                 Click here for more details

Monday 30 October 2017


A pine cone is an organ of the pine tree containing its reproductive structures. Pine trees are only one of the conifer, or "cone-bearing," plants; others include cedars, firs, cypresses, and redwoods. Pine cones, like the reproductive organs of other conifers, come in male and female varieties.
Pine nuts (Chilghoza) are an edible seed, found inside pine cones.
In Pakistan, Chilgoza is found in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan Provinces, Murree and Kotli Sattian hills in the Punjab province, the Northern Areas (Gilgit Agency) and Kashmir. Chilgoza pine is a hardy tree and can endure excessive drought, high winds, and severe cold in the winter. Nearly 20 percent of the Pakistani forests comprise of Chilgoza trees.

Pakistan is among the world top pine nut producers. In season 2015/2016, Pakistan produced 3,000 MT(kernel basis) of pine nuts, equals to that in previous season, representing 15% of the global production. China remained the largest pine nut producer despite the sharp decrease, with a crop of 5,000 Mt, accounting for 26% of world production. The second largest producer is the Russian Federation (4,050 MT, 21% share), followed by North Korea, Afghanistan and Pakistan (3.000 MT, 15% share). Pakistani pine nuts were exported to China, US, UK, Scandinavian countries, Middle East and Europe.

Pine tree is very slow growing. In year 2013, it was assessed as Near Threatened (NT) species under IUCN red list (IUCN, 2015). The Chilgoza forests of Sulaiman Range are the world’s largest pure stand covering a total area about 260 km2. This forest provides habitat to the Markhor species which is also endangered under IUCN red list. The forest has provided an essential source of livelihoods for local communities and has the potential to reduce soil erosion.
However, the forests are under great threat due to uncontrolled cutting and extensive grazing on land. Communities cut down trees for space, for fuel and for livelihood. Middlemen make huge profits while locals earn little. Therefore they resort to cutting trees for timber rather than collecting nuts. As demand grows, pine nuts are increasingly collected unsustainably. Instead of leaving a few cones thus allowing natural regeneration, communities gather all the cones they find.
NaturePakistan (WWF) has set up a project to cut out the middlemen who buy chilgozas from villagers. Also the harvesters get 2000 rupees for each tree they fell currently, but there is now a 10,000 rupee fine for cutting down a young tree.

The Ethnobotanical Profile of Tehsil Kotli Sattian, Rawalpindi, Pakistan

Authors: Rahmatullah Qureshi and Humaira Shaheen (Department of Botany, Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan) 

Book Description: 

Kotli Sattian is an extension of the Indo-Himalayan ecological region that falls in the transitional zone of Irano-Saharan ecosystem which extends to the Southwest. This is a very beautiful subdivision of district Rawalpindi (Punjab), Pakistan which is bounded on the Northwest by the Murree Hills and touches the Kashmir territory on the East by bridging the river Jhelum on the Southwest. The evergreen hills with its gentle and steep slopes, the cool, fresh & health giving fountains, the dancing & singing streams, the winding roads & paths that wind through the lively pine woods and the bracing climate beckon the wanderer to this hilly area. The territorial name is derived from the mountain town of Kotli and the Satti tribe. This book is an amazing compilation of the plants used by the Satti tribe for medicine, food, forage, fuel, fiber and a multitude of other things. The authors have spent more than five years and documented more than 200 plant species valued by the inhabitants. This is undoubtedly the most substantial ethnobotanical survey ever undertaken, preserving indigenous knowledge of native flora for the future. This book is a valuable source for botanists, plant taxonomists, anthropologists, ethnobotanists, ethnopharmacologists, ecologists, foresters & range managers, nature lovers and tourists interested in the culture of Satti people and their way of use of native plants.

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants in Kotli Sattian, Rawalpindi district, Pakistan.

ZafeerSaqibaAdeelMahmoodbRiffatNaseem MalikcAqeelMahmooddJabirHussian SyedaTahiraAhmade
Department of Environmental Science, International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan
Environmental Biology and Ecotoxicology Laboratory, Department of Plant Sciences, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad, PO 45320, Pakistan
Environmental Biology and Ecotoxicology Laboratory, Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad, PO 45320, Pakistan
Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sargodha, Sargodha, Pakistan
Department of Plant Sciences, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad, PO 45320, Pakistan

Received 24 June 2013, Revised 5 November 2013, Accepted 17 November 2013, Available online 25 November 2013.


Aim of study

The present study aimed to report the ethnomedicinal information from Kotli Sattian, district Rawalpindi for detailed medicinal uses and to inform the community about conservation of medicinal plant diversity and ethnomedicinal knowledge of plants.

Material and methods

Ethnomedicinal data were collected via Rapid Appraisal Approach (RAA) along with interview, group meetings with local people having awareness about medicinal knowledge of plants and individual meetings with local healers.

Results and discussions

This study reported eighty seven (87) indigenous medicinal plants, distributed among fifty five (55) families and seventy nine (79) genera. Among these, herbs contributed 43%, trees 28%, shrubs 21% and climbing plants 8%. About 34% of herbal preparations were made from whole plants followed by the leaves (27%), fruits (08%), bark (06%), seeds (05%), root (05%), rhizome (04%), stem, flower, gum, pod and tubers (02%) and milky latex (01%). Justicia adhatoda showed the maximum use value (0.91) while Cuscuta reflexa showed the least use value (0.11).


Elder people in the study area still rely on herbal remedies although the modern heath care facilities are present in the study area; thus, the indigenous plants remain important medicines in solving health problems.

Monday 23 October 2017



There are no physical changes in the subdivision to record that have occurred in historical times. The rivers that form the east and west borders of the subdivision flow as they did in the past and are subject to very little change in course within measurable periods. The surface of the subdivision is much less covered with forests than it once was.


From the point where the traditions of antiquity give place to the more authentic records of the historian, the history of the mountainous region comprising the Murree, Kotli Sattian and Kahuta hills of the Rawalpindi District becomes that of a Ghakkar tribe, who ruled this region at the time of early Muslim invasions. Their submission to the Delhi and Lahore rulers were nominal. This tribe was actually quite independent and remained sovereign until the Sikh regime up to the 19th century.

In 1525 Sultan Saarong, along with his brother, made their submission to Babar. Pothwar territory was confirmed to them by Babar. During the reign of Akbar, the Ghakkar territory was divided between the rival chiefs. Pharwala Fort as the headquarters of the mountain region, was handed over to Jalal Khan, one of the chiefs. Sultan Muqarab Khan was the last chief of Pharwala. His successors were defeated by Sardar Gojar Singh. Up to 1826, this family was deprived of everything except some property rights in Pharwala.

The hills of Murree, Kahuta and Kotli Sattian retained their Independence for sometime longer. Milka Singh had tried at that time to grant 107 villages as a Jageer to the Ghakkar chief.
The mountaineers did not really submit to the Sikh rule. Hari Singh, the governor of Hazara, twice invaded the hills between 1820 and 1830. He finally succeeded in 1831. In that year, these hills were granted as Jageer to Gulab Singh of Kashmir, who ruled this hilly region with an iron rod.
In 1849, along with the remainder of the Sikh territory, the district passed to British rule.


Before the sikh rule, Murree and kahuta hills were altogether independent, acknowledging the supremacy of Ghakkars, and through them, the Mughal emperors only by occasional presents of Hawks and Mules. The present Subdivision the composed of Ilaqas: Kotli, Karore and Narrar. 
It was not until the renowned Hari Singh Nalwa's second campaign that these mountaineers were forced to submit to the Sikh power. However, control was nominal. Hari Singh built forts at different places, of which the principal were Kotli, Karore and Narrar.
After the annexation of these hills to the British dominions, this hill region was for the first time assessed by Major Abbott, then the deputy commissioner of Hazara, to whose district this tract belonged. The cruelties and ex actions of Gulab Singh, the dogra ruler, were then still fresh in memory.
Under the British rule, the first summary settlement was made by a Mr. Carnac. This was the Rawalpindi D.C in 1850. This settlement was revised in 1851 and remodeled in 1853 on the basis of a measurement without a field map. Lt Pearse, the assistant commissioner of Murree renewed it in 1854. They were super-ceded by those of the detailed settlement description of Col. Cracroft. These efforts raised the whole district from a great depression to prosperity.
The present land and fiscal structure is based on the second regular settlement. However some amendments and additions have been made in forthcoming settlements in 1905-06 and 1955-56. 


Kotli Sattian subdivision is geographically a part of Murree and Kahuta hills. It was declared a subdivision in 1990 by breaking up 40 villages out of both subdivisions. As per geographical position of this subdivision , its antiquarian interest and early history cannot be detached from the Rawalpindi district. 
The history of the District before the arrival of the Ghakkars is only a interest to antiquarian. We are concerned thereafter, from the time when the Ghakkars maintained their rule over the Pothwar territory of which this region is a part.
The hills of Rawalpindi district (northeastern) had been occupied by Ghakkars, from an unknown period up to the arrival of the sikh regime, when Annand Singh, the grandson of Sardar Milka Singh seized their whole estates in 1818.
In the period of Akbar, the Mughal emperor Pharwala was a Mahaal or Parganah of sind sagar district.
The present subdivision of Kotli Sattian, along with the hill region remained independent. Even the Ghakkar rule was purely indirect, during the sikh period, Hari Singh of Hazara, after several attempts, succeeded to effect their subjection in 1830. In 1831, this hilly region was granted as jageer to Gulab Singh, dogra of Jammu. He ruled this region with harsh cruelty. It is said that whenever the villagers were recusant, he used to let loose a Dogra regiment upon them. He rewarded the men by "Poll rate" for everyhill man slain. At first the reward was a rupee, then 50 paisas and finally of 25 paisas. By these means the population was decimated and the prosperity of the tract received a severe check. The Sikh system of rule was never completely introduced, even up to the day when British took over the country.
In 1849, the region passed to the British rule. A new setup in administration and revenue was introduced. lands were surveyed, maps and field books were prepared and proper records were maintained. Lawlessness in the region was controlled by a responsible governance, effective codification and a strong police system. Communication was vastly improved, many roads and bridges over the streams were constructed and a rapid DOC system was established in the area. Thus, the region for the first time stepped forward on the way to progress and development.
The system of government established by the British rulers still exists. All of the departments and institutions still follow the two centuries old system.


In the all important elections of 1945 Murree, Kahuta and present day Kotli Sattian had one Muslim reserved seat in the Punjab Assembly. The All India Muslim League fielded Raja Kala Khan of Rawat (Bhurban) against the seat while the pro Congress Unionist Party headed by Punjab Premier of the time Khizer Hayat Tiwana put up Raja Fatah Khan of Kahuta. In the election the people of all these areas including Murree gave overwhelming decision in support of establishment of Pakistan by voting in Raja Kala Khan whose tally was only surpassed by Sir Feroz Khan Noon in the whole of the Punjab.
Raja Kala Khan continued to represent the area in the Punjab and subsequently in West Pakistan Assembly till the imposition of Martial Law in 1958. 

Under this system elections for National and provincial assemblies were held in 1962. During these election Raja Ghulam Sarwar  was elected as member West Pakistan Assembly from Murree region . Raja Ghulam Sarwar was reelected in 1965. He was father of Raja Ashfaq Sarwar who is currently Punjab Minister and Secretary General of Punjab Chapter of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. His Cousin Raja Fiyyaz Sarwar was member of Punjab Assembly from the constituency during 2008-13 when Ashfaq due to some legal hitches could not contest himself.


In the National Assembly's elections Pakistan People's Party's Col Habib Ahmed was elected with an overwhelming majority. His main rivals were Brigadier Muhammad Saddique Satti and Taj Abbasi but they failed to make any mark. 

In the provincial Assembly Raja Ghulam Sarwar of Pakistan Muslim League- Council was considered a very strong candidate. As mentioned earlier he had served as West Pakistan Assembly throughout the Ayub regime. However PPP's Babu Muhammad Hanif won the election with a clear margin. Raja Ghulam Sarwar, however challenged the candidature of Babu Hanif on the ground that later had not completed the mandatory two years period after leaving the government service.
Babu Muhammad Hanif lost the case and was deseated. Babu Hanif, as he as popularly known was again fielded by PPP during the ensuing bye elections. Raja Ghulam Sarwar however decided not to contest and instead fielded Sardar Muhammad Ismael of Rawat in his place. Babu Hanif won the elections securing 29215 votes. His rival Sardar Ismeal Khan polled 9072 votes.


In 1977 general elections Pakistan National Alliance [PNA] consisting of nine opposition parties representing conflicting views, fielded current PML-N Chairman Raja Zaffar ul Haq for National Assembly while late Qari Asadullah Abbasi was awarded ticket for the Punjab Assembly. PPP bestowed its confidence on incumbent pair of Col (r) Habib and Babu Muhammad Hanif. The PPP candidates again won the elections. After the ensuing PNA movement, Martial Law was imposed in the country which remained in operation for eight long years.

Soon after the military coup Col Retired Habib was arrested and sent to prison. In 1980, he along with other PPP workers was sent to Libya in forced exile. He returned to Pakistan in 1988 but was not given party from this constituency. He was fielded from another seat consisting of Wah and Taxila and western outskirts of Rawalpindi where he lost the election to Ch Nisar Ali Khan.

After two defeats in 1988 and 1990 PPP fielded himfrom Murree and Kahuta seat in 1993 but lost to PML-N's Shahhid Khaqan Abbasi  . His daughter Fauzia Habib was elected MNA on seats reserved for women on PPP ticket in 2002-7 . She was again elected as MNA in 2008 and served as Secretary to President Zardari. Babu Muhammad Hanif died during the martial law period. His son Kashif Abbasi is renown journalist and popular TV anchor.

The military government decided to hold elections for parliament and Provincial assemblies in February 1985. Elections were to be held on non party  basis under special laws framed by Zia ul Haq in order to perpetuate his own rule.  PPP and other parties in Movement for Restoration of Democracy [MRD] decided to boycott the elections, a decision PPP rues till today. Jammat e Islami and politicians aligned with General Zia ul Haq and his regime decided to participate. In the absence of political parties, ideologies and programmes; bradari, clan, ethnic, sectarian and religion identities or whatever that can divide one group of people from another became war cry which had long lasting consequences for the nation as a whole.

After the military coup in 1977 Raja Zaffar ul Haq had aligned himself to the military government and was appointed as Federal Minister of Information and Broadcasting. He had the confidence and trust of General Zia ul Haq who often called him his 'opening batsman'. During the military rule, the Raja from village Mator in Kahuta, used government resources and position to to strengthen his vote bank in the area. He created a group of beneficiaries who had resources and social clout to provide big boost to his electoral position.

During the local government elections of 1979 and 1983 Raja Zaffar ul Haq got his supporters elected to important positions in municipal bodies further improving his electoral strength. The fact that Raja Zaffar ul Haq was serving as Information Minister in the military government at the time of elections and and general perception that he will have similar or even better position in future setup further improved his prospects . His main rival Pakistan People's Party was not contesting the elections. All these factors made him one of the most powerful candidates not only in the constituency but across the nation.

His opponents rightly judged his strength and decided to field a strong candidate in person of Air Commodore (r) Khaqan Abbasi, an affluent businessman from Dewal and himself having erstwhile association with General Zia and affinal ties with his military clique.  Khaqan Abbasi and General Zil ul Haq had served together in Jordanian armed forced as one star generals and enjoyed good family ties. However Khaqan Abbasi like an astute politician was able to direct all anti Zia sentiments against Raja Zaffar ul Haq and turned the tide against him. Khaqan Abbasi polled 61618 votes against 53233 polled by Raja Zaffar ul Haq. Other claimants namely Anis Khan Satti and Captain Muhammad Riaz could only poll paltry 2096 and 706 only.

Khaqan Abbasi's group was also able to win both the Punjab Assembly seats falling within the NA-36 constituency. In PP-8 consisting of Murree sub-division Lt Col (retired) Naseer Satti narrowly edged out Raja Fayyaz Sarwar of Zaffar Ul Haq group. Naseer Satti polled 12112 votes while Faiz Sarwar garnered 11039 only. Dr. Malik Mahmood Ahmed, Akabar Abbasi and Qari Asadullah polled 7681, 5493 and 5402 respectively.

Col (Retired) Muhammad Yameen won PP-9 consisting parts of present day Kotli Sattian and Kahuta Tehsils by polling 14951 votes. His close rival was Sardar Muhammad Aslam [later judge at Lahore High Court and chief justice Islamabad High Court and judge Supreme Courtof Pakistan]  and who polled 12442 while Muhammad Sattarullah Advocate received 9,253. Other important candidate was Muhammad Sattar Raja who polled 5,836.

In 1985, Khaqan Abbasi briefly served as Federal Minister for Production. He was killed during Ohjeri Camp military depot explosion on April 10, 1988. Bye election was announced to refill the seat and PML nominated Shahid Khaqan Abbbasi, son of Khaqan Abbasi as its candidate.  However, President General Zia ul Haq dissolved the National Assembly along with the provincial assemblies on May 29, 1988. Though he promised fresh elections but no date was announced till his death in air crash on August 17, 1988.


In the Provincial Assembly PPP nominated party loyalist Muharram Ali Abbasi as its candidate from Murree. Muharram Ali Abbasi had bravely lead the party during long years of Martial law and faced jail on many occasions . IJI nominated incumbent Col Naseer Satti, who had joined PML after 1985 elections.  Most important among long list of other candidates was Raja Ashfaq Sarwar whose father Raja Ghulam Sarwar had twice served the constituency as member West Pakistan Assembly in 1960s. PPP dissidents Ayaz Abbasi and Hafeez ur Rehman Abbasi played as spoilers for their party helping an Independent candidate Raja Ashfaq Sarwar win the elections. Ashfaq Sarwar polled 20,606 votes while PPP's Muharram Ali Abbasi was runner up with 15,246 votes.  IJI's Col (retired) Naseer Satti was a distant third with 6,676 votes.

In PP-9 IJI again refused ticket to 1985 winner Col (retired) Yamin Satti and instead fielded Muhammad Yasin. [late Col Yameen Satti's son Bilal Yamin Satti insists that his father was contesting as IJI candidate with bicycle as his symbol. He says that Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, then Punjab Chief Minister and head of IJI had personally given ticket to his father, col Yameen and allowed him to support Shahid Khaqan Abbasi against Raja Zaffar ul Haq who was official party candidate. However Election Commission record speaks otherwise.]

 PPP's candidate was Raja Muhammad Sattarullah who had contested and lost 1985 elections. Col Yamin ran as independent candidate and won the election by polling 24,505 votes. PPP's Sattarullah secured 17,117 votes. Yamin Satti joined PML after winning the elections. Both Ashfaq Sarwar and Yamin Satti served in the Punjab government lead by Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. 

PPP again fielded Raja Muhammad Anwar from NA-36 while IJI this time nominated Shahid Khaqan Abbasi without any hesitation. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi won the virtual two way race by securing 80305 votes. Raja Anwar polled polled 54753, In the provincial Assembly IJI fielded Raja Ashfaq Sarwar from PP-8 while Col (retired) Yamin was given the party ticket from PP 9. PPP retained Meharram Ali Abbasi and Raja Sattarullah respectively. However IJI's candidates won the contest with wide margins. In PP-8 Raja Ashfaq Sarwar polled 41,275 votes as compared to 12, 505 of Muharram Ali Abbasi. Traders leader Raj Muhammad Abbasi contesting for PML-(Qasim)polled 793 votes. In PP-9 Col (retired) Yamin polled 33,547 as compared to 18,450 polled by PPP' Starrullah Advocate.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz decided to contest the elections single handedly while the breakaway PML-Junejo joined PPP in People's Democratic Alliance. Jamaat e Islami created Pakistan Islamic Front with the help of Muhammad Ali Durrani's Pasban to contest the elections. PML-N retained Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for the National Assembly Raja Ashfaq Sarwar for Punjab Assembly from PP-8 consisting of Murree Tehsil. As already stated Col Yamin Satti had joined anti Nawaz Sharif group. PML-N feilded Shahid Riaz Satti  from PP-9. In the National Assembly PPP this time fielded senior party leader and once party MNA from the area Col Habib Khan.

In the Provincial Assembly Hafeez ur Rehan was fielded from PP-8 while PP decided to support Col Yamin contesting on PML-J's ticket for the PP-9. PIF put up Imtiaz Taj for National Assembly while Wing Commander (retired) Zarin Qureshi was the Jamaat's candidate for PP-9 and Raja Muhammad Asharf for PP-9. PPP dissident Zumarrad Iqbal was other important candidate for PP-8.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi again won the seats with 76,596 votes. PPP's Col (r) Habib could secure only 45193. Jamaat e Islami's Imtiaz Taj coul get only 9,451 votes. In provincial Assembly Raja Ashfaq Sarwar won the election by polling 26,983 votes. His close rival was PPP's Hafeez ur Rehman Abbasi who secured 17,069. Raja Zummard Iqbal was third with 4212 votes. Jamaat e Islami could not do much and finished sixth with 2515 votes. In PP-9 Col. Yamin, despite PPP's support lost with a clear margin of eleven thousand votes to PML-N's newcomer Shahid Riaz Satti. 

PPP retained Hafeez ur Rehman from PP-8 while it fielded Raja Pervez Akhtar Satti from PP-9 as Yamin Satti seeing the mood of the people decided to try luck as an independent candidate. Like elsewhere in the country particularly the Punjab dejected PPP voters failed to show up at the polling stations. In NA-36 Shahid Khaqan Abbasi again won by polling 65,195 votes. PML-J's Babar Awan supported by PPP could poll only 21,765 while an Independent candidate Javed Iqbal Satti received 21, 386. 

In PP-8 Raja Ashfaq Sarwar polled 22,468 while an Independent candidate Sardar Sajid stood second with 11211 votes. PPP's Hafeezur Rehman coul poll only 4,422 votes. After the elections Mian Nawaz Sharif once again assumed office of Prime Minister while contrary to all expectations his younger brother Mian Shahbaz Sharif was elected as Chief Minister Punjab. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was nominated as Adviser to Prime Minister on Aviation and Chairman PIA with status as Federal Minister. Raja Ashfaq Sarwar became a Minister in Punjab Assembly. 
Sardar Mehtab Khan Abbasi, elected from neighboring constituency in Abbottabad District was also elected as Chief Minister NWFP. Nawaz's years in office were tumultuous and he seemed to be in a hurry. Soon after taking over he reversed a twenty years old decision and restored Sunday as weekly off. In April 1997 he was able to get all parties support in the parliament to do away with presidential powers dissolve the parliament and make important appointments as chiefs of armed forces and provincial governors. In autumn the same year after a protected stand off with the president Leghari and Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah he was able to get rid of both and got his supporters elected/nominated at both the important positions. In April 1998 opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was sentenced to jail and disqualified from holding office in cooked up charges.


The military government decided to hold elections for the National and provincial assemblies in October 2002. Before the elections directly elected constituencies of National and provincial assemblies were increased and re-demarcated. The constituency representing Murree, Kolti Sattian, Kahuta and Kallar Saidan subdivisions of Rawalpindi district was renumbered as NA-50. There are two Punjab Assembly constituencies under the National Assembly seat. PP-1 represents the areas of Murree and Kotli Sattian subdivisions while PP-2 represent Kahuta. 

PML-N decided to retained Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for the National Assembly. However it fielded new candidates for the provincial assembly seats. Raja Ashfaq Sarwar did not contest the election for unknown reasons and Riaz Satti was fielded for PP-1. From PP-2 Raja Muhammad Ali, son of veteran politician and PML-N Chairman Raja Zaffar ul Haq was given party ticket.  This time his rival from PPP was Ghulam Murteza Satti, a young internee in the field of electoral politics.  For the provincial Assembly His partner for Punjab Assembly was Raja Shafqat Abbasi.     Shafqat Abbasi was also contesting elections for the first time but has long served PPP as a worker and was well known and respected among the local PPP workers and supporters. 

The pair was able to do what PPP had been dreaming from 1985 and won back both the constituencies for the party. Mutahida Majlis e Ammal, a conglomerate of six religo-political parties, including among others Jamaat e Islami  and two factions of JUI emerged as an important electoral force during the election. The alliance put up Muhammad Sufyan Abbasi of Jammat e Islami for the National Assembly and Qari Saifullah Saifi of JUI-F for the Punjab Assembly.  Murtaza Satti won by securing  74259 got 63797 while Sufyan Abbasi did remarkably well and secured  29331 votes. In PP-1 MMA did even better and its candidate Saif Ullah Saifi secured 26205 and lost to Raja Shafqat Mahmood Abbasi of PPP who secured 29066 votes. PML-N's  Col ®Muhammad Riaz Satti  secured third position by polling 24855.  Other contestants included Haji Muhammad Rashid of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (4369)  independent candidate Samira Satti Independent (1179) and PML-N dissident Major ® Raja Rabnawaz Khan Independent 437.

 Meanwhile Benazir Bhutto as assassinated on December 27, 2007 in Rawalpindi and elections were to postponed for forty days and were held on February 18, 2008. 

Both PPP and PML-N retained their candidates for both National Assembly and underlying Punjab Assembly constituency PP-2. For PP-1 Raja Faiz Sarwar, cousin of former MPA and Minister Raja Ashfaq Sarwar was given the party party ticket.   MMA which had emerged as a major factor after 2002 elections could not survive the monumental changes taking place in national politics in 2007 and fell apart on JI, JUI-F divide. Jamaat e Islami along with some small parties decided to boycott the elections. JUI-F on the other hand remained in the field. However it lacked support in the area where most of the religious vote has been clung with Jamaat e Islami. 

PML-Q fielded Javed Iqbal Satti for the National Assembly and former Naib Nazim Murree from PP-1 and Raja Nousherwan Akhtar from PP-2.  In NA-50 Shahid Khaqan Abbasi won the National Assembly seat by securing 99988 votes. Incumbent PPP's Ghulam Murteza Satti polled 77978 votes while  Javed Iqbal Satti of PML-Q received  28188 votes. In PP-1 consisting of Murree and Kotli SatianRaja Faiz Sarwar of PML-N won by securing  40517 while PPP's Shafqat Abbasi received  32965. PML-Qs' Sardar Sajid Khan did well by polling 25218. In PP-2 which includes Kahuta Tehsil and parts of Kallar Sayyadan PPP's Sahbir Awan won by securing 32816 votes while incumbent Raja Muhammad Ali of PML-N secured 30962 voted. An independent candidate Bilal Yamin Satti secured  23012 votes. PML-Q's Nosherwan Akhtar could secure only 12456.

In general elections 2013 the PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi received 133906 votes in NA-50, comfortably higher than the 46,810 garnered by PTI’s Sadaqat Abbasi, Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Ghulam Murtaza Satti, who had the full backing of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q)  trailed in third position, managing only 44,713 votes.

Source : "A Handbook of Kotli Sattian" by Sabeer Satti
              " blog by Wajih Abbasi"

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Thursday 19 October 2017


Khusrow I was the king of the Sasanian Empire and was also known as Anushiruwan or Nausherwan-i-Aadil (Nausherwan the Just). He was one of their most celebrated Kings and was responsible for many reforms in his time, the most important being the tax reforms which were emulated by many others after him. Such was his legacy that his name became synonymous with the title of a King like Caesar.

Not only was he a wise and just administrator and King, he was also a patron of the Arts and almost all great cultural milestones in Iran is attributed to his time including the epic Shahnameh by Firdowsi. Legend has it that once a man sold his house to another man and the latter found a treasure there which he wanted to return to the old owner but the old owner would have none of it. Facing a state of stalemate and indecision, they reached Nausherwan for a solution. Nausherwan got their children married and gifted them the invaluable treasure. He was an ambitious ruler who won many wars but he was not at all obsessed with the idea of expanding his empire; he was rather given to improving the quality of life even within the empire. He led his people into a golden age which sadly did not last long after his death.

Friday 13 October 2017


Prof. Karam Haideri has elaborated the story of Murree in his book, Dastan-e-Murree. It will be unfair to ignore the revolt that took place in nineteenth century in Murree. There are many version of this event. The local tribes in Murree planned to attack British residency at Kuldana and it was decided that Dhunds, Satti, Kethwal and Dhanial would participate in it. The plan was put together in a home where an old woman, named Sunnu, was also present and heard the plot. Her brother was working as a chef with the British resident commander. Ms. Sunnu was worried about the safety of her brother during this forthcoming attack. She immediately contacted her brother and asked him to take leave for few days as the resident would come under attack. Her brother asked for leave from job and he told his boss about the 'planned attack' as the reason for leave. The chef was arrested and put under military security. The British troops immediately called reinforcements from nearby cantonments such as Barrian. British established ambushes all along the gullies or passes. It is said that the warriors from the Dhund tribe launched the attacked before the set date. Some claim that Dhunds thought that Satti and other tribal participation would dilute the booty. Others claim it was not the greed for loot but sensing that British had already knew the plan it was tactically moved earlier to maintain the element of surprise. Whatever the case the revolt was crushed with an iron hand. It is told that when Satti warriors arrived under the command of Mr. Borra Khan the British forces were everywhere. When confronted by British commander, Mr. Borra Khan flipped the story and told that he came to help the British as a payback of their help against Sikhs. This saved him and his warriors from decimation. Some consider this as a cowardly act while other consider it as a great diplomatic move. Mr. Baz Khan, a Dhund chief, was hanged along with his sons and other fellows. The quest to liberate Murree was doomed forever. Tactically the revolt was defeated. Morally it succeeded as it showed the rebellious nature of mountain inhabitants against slavery.

Wednesday 11 October 2017


Sufi Abdul Aziz Satti, commonly known as "Mohsin-e-Arze Sattian" and "Sir Syed of Kotli Sattian", was a great Educationist, Reformist and Philanthropist of the area. He also served as the president of Punjab Teachers Union.

He was born in 4 August 1928, in Santh Anwali, Kotli Sattian. He completed his primary and middle standard education from Kotli Sattian School, and his matriculation from Government High School, Kahuta. He went to Gordon College Rawalpindi for his college education. 

He Joined Pakistan Air Force as a civilian employee after passing his intermediate education, then he was posted to Peshawar, where he completed his Bachelor's degree. There was huge demand of educated people at that time due to dearth of higher education. He could have get any job and live his life luxuriously, but he sacrificed that for his region and tribe.

After completion of his bachelor's degree, he offered his services for his region and Joined Middle School Kotli Sattian in 1951. He passed B.T in 1952 and appointed as a Head teacher at the same school. He started his great mission as a Head Teacher of the school and brought educational revolution in the region. In 1955, the school was upgraded to High school due to his efforts, and he became the first head teacher of the high school. After the very short period of time, High School Kotli Sattian started producing brilliant students, and those brilliant students became high ranking military officers, bureaucrats, doctors, scientists and great teachers. 

He passed away on 2 December 1982. May Allah grant him the highest rank in Jannah, Ameen.

Monday 2 October 2017


Major General (R) Muhammad Mushtaq Satti was the first Major General from Satti Tribe. He served as Directer General of Military Intelligence, and a Directer General of Rangers. He also Commanded "Operation Qiadat" in Siachen,  and an important military division.

He hailed from Durnoyan, Kotli Sattian.


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