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Miangul Jahanzeb Khan (Last King of SWAT)

Miangul Jahan Zeb (June 1908 – 14 September 1987), formally Miangul Abdul-Haqq Jahan Zeb, was the Wāli of Swat, a princely state that is now part of Pakistan, from 1949 to 1969. He succeeded his father, Wadud of Swat. He is remembered for building schools, hospitals and roads, but also for his absolute rule over the region, which ended when Pakistan took control of Swat after local unrest. Jahan Zeb also worked to protect the landmarks of previous cultures.

Early life and education

Jahan Zeb, born in Saidu Sharif on 5 June 1908, was the eldest son of Miangul Abdul Wadud. He was educated at the Islamia Collegiate School in Peshawar and at Islamia College, part of the University of Peshawar. He had four sons and one daughter: Miangul Aurang Zeb, Wāli Ahad of Swat, a former governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and governor of Balochistan; Miangul Shahzada Alam Zeb, father of Miangul Akbar Zeb, the Pakistani high commissioner to Canada; Miangul Shahzada Amir Zeb, a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan in 1977; and Miangul Shahzada Ahmed Zeb, the husband of Mussarat Ahmed Zeb, a Pakistani politician.

Political career

Jahan Zeb was appointed Wāli Ahad in 1933. His father, the Wāli of Swat, eventually abdicated in favour of him, his eldest son, whom he had carefully educated along modern lines and gradually trained to assume the full burdens of government. Jahan Zeb was enthroned as Wāli of Swat on 12 December 1949. In 1951, he was granted the title of Ghazi-e-Millat and a hereditary salute.

System of administration

The role of the Wāli was that of king and religious leader, chief minister and commander-in-chief, chief exchequer and head qazi. He ensured that his government provided good administration and productive revenue collection; a judicial system that dispensed quick and free justice; a system of qala (forts) that lent security and protection to the people; and jobs, welfare, education and health services. Rapid communication through roads, bridges, and telegraph and penal codes provided rule of law, and telephones and informers kept the Wāli apprised of developments. This was a unique system of administration.

Patronage of education

Jahan Zeb surpassed other contemporary rulers in the field of education. Before his era, Swat did not have a modern education system. His father laid the foundations of the system, which Jahan Zeb rapidly developed. He founded a girls’ high school in Saidu Sharif, the first female educational institution in Swat. Jahanzeb College for Men has the importance of Aligarh College in the entire Malakand division. He also established a missionary school for girls at Sangota.

Preservation efforts

Under Jahan Zeb, ruins were protected and preserved. He also signed an agreement with the Italian government to explore ruins. The Swat Museum was built under his rule in 1959; it contains some of the finest collections of Gandhara art, including Buddhist sculptures. Cultural dance shows and festivals on Eid were conducted under the government’s patronage. The architectural style unique to Swat was maintained and buildings provided with all basic facilities.

Honours and awards

  • Hon. Major General, Pakistan Army, 1955
  • Hon. LL.D. (University of Peshawar), 1965
  • Pakistan Independence medals, 1948
  • Hilal-i-Pakistan, 1961
  • Great Leader (Hilal-i-Quaid-i-Azam), 1959
  • Hilal-i-Humayun 1st class of Iran
  • GO of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy
  • Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE; 1946)
  • Silver Jubilee, 1935
  • 15-gun salute, 1958


Jahan Zeb died on 14 September 1987 in Saidu Sharif. His funeral was attended by Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo of Pakistan and other high officials. He was buried in his ancestral graveyard in Saidu Sharif.



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