Jowaki Expedition

The Jowaki Expedition was a British punitive expedition in India, occurring between 1877 and 1878. It started when the British government in India proposed to reduce the payment of the Jowaki Afridi tribe in the Northwest Frontier. The Jowaki were paid to guard in the Kohat Pass and in retaliation for a reduction in payment they raided British territory. The expedition ended in January 1878 when tensions died down.

Jowaki Expedition
The Jowaki Campaign, North-West Frontier of India - ILN 1877.jpg
Illustration for The Illustrated London News
Date30 August 1877 – 30 January 1878
Result British victory
 British Empire Jowaki Afridi tribesmen
Commanders and leaders
Brig. Gen. Charles Patton Keyes
Brig. Gen. Campbell Claye Grant Ross
Units involved
Punjab Irregular Force None
7,400[1] Unknown
Casualties and losses
11 killed[1]
51 wounded[1]


In the 1870s, the British colonial government in India paid the Jowaki Afridi tribe a tribute payment to guard the Kohat Pass. At the time the Jowaki Afridi were the most powerful Pathan tribe in the northwest frontier. In 1875, local tribes in the area of the Kohat Pass including the Jowaki objected against a road running though the pass. The final straw was in 1877 when the Jowaki had their payment reduced by the colonial government.[2]


In 1877 the British government in India proposed reducing the allowance to the Jowaki Afridi tribe for guarding the Kohat Pass. In response the tribe cut the telegraph wire and raided into British territory, leading to two British sorties into its territory.[3] The first sortie of three columns in 1877 was led by Colonel Frederic David Mocatta, 3rd Sikh Infantry and the second of two columns in 1877-1878 by two brigadier generals, Charles Patton Keyes and Campbell Claye Grant Ross.[2]

In response the Jowaki entered the village of Shakkote and murdered almost all of the Sepoy guard of 18 men and stole British rifles. The same day the colonial government issued a war proclamation against the Jowaki, stating that if they don't give away the Shakkote murders, return the stolen British rifles, and indemnity pay 30,000 rupees as a guarantee of their future good behaviour, the British will advance into their territory. The Jowaki said they weren't going to agree to any terms and were ready to fight.[4]

In response, a British Punjab Frontier Force of 1,500 troops, under the command of Frederic David Mocatta, was dispatched to the area. Shortly afterwards they were joined by a larger of 5,900 troops under the command of Brig. Gens. Keyes and Ross.[2]

On 9 November 1877, the 3rd Sikh Infantry advanced on the Paiya Valley where they met little resistance from the Jowaki Afridi. After some skirmishes in the area, they moved onto the Shindai Valley, pushing back a Jowaki force stationed there. By 1 December they had pushed the Jowaki out of their stronghold in Jummu and chased them through the Naru Khula gorge. In January 1878 the 3rd Sikh Infantry returned to Jummu.[2]

At the end of that same month, 50 men of Jowaki tribe met with British commanders in the Paiah Valley for peace talks. In the end, they refused the British conditions and continued guerrilla assaults. Guerrilla assaults included the burning of the disputed road in Kohat pass. Even though peace was never made, that was the end of the Jowaki Expedition.[2]


  1. ^ a b c "Expeditions Against the Frontier Tribes of the Northwest Frontier Province". Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  2. ^ a b c d e Sothebys - Album of watercolours, pen-and-ink sketches and a manuscript account by Radford recording the Jowaki Expedition in the Kohat Pass
  3. ^ FIBIS - Jowaki Expedition
  4. ^ Commons, Great Britain Parliament House of (1879). Parliamentary Papers. H.M. Stationery Office.