This article has been extracted from
THE IMPERIAL GAZETTEER OF INDIA , 1908.
OXFORD, AT THE CLARENDON PRESS.
Note: National, provincial and district boundaries have changed considerably since 1908. Typically, old states, ‘divisions’ and districts have been broken into smaller units, and many tahsils upgraded to districts. Some units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value.
The (or Hazaristan). — A mountainous region in the heart of Afghanistan, lying about midway between Kabul, Herat, and Kan- dahar. Very little is known about this region, which forms one of the districts of the Kabul province. It is intersected by high mountains, of which the Koh-i-Baba is the most prominent. On the southern slopes of this range are the sources of the Helmand and of numerous tributaries which eventually join it. Their upper streams are said to flow through precipitous and gloomy gorges, and their channels only open out as they approach Zamindawar. On the west this region is bounded by the Taimani highlands ; on the south by the Kandahar districts of Zamindawar, Dehrawat, and Tirin ; on the south-east by (ihazni ; and on the north by the Band-i-Baba.
The Hazarajat includes the districts of Besud, Deh Zangi, and Deh Kundi, and is peopled almost entirely by the Hazaras, who number about half a mil- lion. The Hazaras, who are Shiahs, are descended from fragments of Mongol tribes that came from the east with the armies of Chingiz Khan and his family, though other races may be represented among them. Their language is in the main a purely Persian dialect. The difficult nature of their country enabled the Hazaras to preserve a prac- tical independence until, between 1890 and 1893, they were subjugated by the late Amir Abdur Rahman. A sturdy race of mountaineers, they long continued to cause trouble to the Afghan administration, but all their leading men have now been removed and they are entirely subdued. The present Amir is trying gradually to contract their limits, and to populate the Hazarajat with Ghilzais and other Afghan tribesmen. A few Hazaras enlist in the Indian army and give satisfac- ti<jn. In 1904 the enlistment of a British Hazara battalion of pioneers was sanctioned ; and about the same period the Amir, for the first time, ordered the recruitment of a few regiments to be exclusively formed of men of this race. In the towns of Afghanistan, and through- out most of the Punjab during the cold season, Hazaras are to be found employed in menial labour, but seldom in any other capacity. Formerly they were sold as slaves, but this practice was put down by the late Amir with a stern hand.