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The Karlal (Urdu کرڑال also known as Kard'al, Karaal, Karhral, or Kiraal) is a Hindko speaking tribe in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. The majority of the tribe is a Hindko speaking tribe, found mainly in Abbottabad District, inhabiting the hilly area of the Galyat and the Nara tract. A minority are also settled in the Haripur District. A small number are also found in neighbouring Azad Kashmir, in Kotli District. Many Karlal now prefer the self-designation Sardar, meaning Sultan Chief in Farsi.
The tribe trace their descent from a Sardar Kallar Shah son of Sultan Sujann Shah who is believed to have come from southern Afghanistan, and was a descendant of Alexander the Great. In Haripur and Abbottabad, they are known as Sultan Chief Sardars, a name they acquired during the time of the Delhi Sultanate (1206–1296), when the tribal members were made rulers of the galliyat region of Hazara. There is also some argument as to the religion of the Karlal, as whether they were Hindu or not. As some of the oldest inhabitants of Hazara, a region that was largely Hindu till the early 13th Century, it is likely that they were either Hindus, or strongly influenced by Hinduism.
It does seem that throughout the middles ages, the Karlal maintained their independence. During Mughal era (1550-1730), when the Gakkars were trying to extend their authority in the entire lower Hazara from their base in Khanpur in what is now Haripur District, the leader of Karlal tribe Morcha Kulli Khan at that time was able to murder the Ghakkar chief and retained his tribes independence. Similarly the Turks, whose territory lay to the north, were also never able to extend their authority over this tribe although enjoying suzerainty over large portion of Pakhal Sarkar (an old name for Hazara). In the Durrani period (1740-1800), no attempt was made by Afghan rulers to subdue their territory. However, when the Sikhs captured lower Hazara they tried to gain control over entire lower Hazara including Karlal territory.
In 1822, Ranjit Singh sent a large force under famous General Amar Singh Majitta which was defeated by Karlals with great slaughter. Amar Singh was also murdered by the Karlal. Lepel Griffin, author of a colonial history of Hazara, writes in his book about this battle of Sumandar Khata. From 1822 to 1845 Karlal tribe fought many battles with Sikhs and were able to retain their independence. In 1844 once again Lahore Darbar sent a large force under Diwan Mulraj and Hari Singh to subdue Karlal country. Taking advantage of the difficult geographical terrain of their country, the Karlals were able to defeat Sikh army at place called Nah and killed more than 150 Sikh soldiers.
During the British period at the time of mutiny in 1857, the Karlal tried to revolt against the rule of East India Company, however, British were able to imprison Karlal chief Sardar Hassan Ali Khan Karlal and many mutineers of this tribe were hanged along with some Dhund tribesmen (Mutiny Reports 1857 of Hazara District).
In 1946 Sardar Muhammad Zain Khan Karlal was elected for All India Muslim League and voted for creation of Pakistan
After independence this tribe is serving the country in every walk of life. Sardar Baba Haider Zaman Khan Karlal the founder of movement of Hazara province is one of the well known leader of Karlal Tribe . The Chief Election Commissioner Justice (R) Sardar Raza Ahmed Khan Karlal is also belongs to Karlal Tribe.
According to some sourdes, the Karlal make up 30% of the population of the district of Abbottabad, concentrated in the Galyat region bordering Murree and Azad Kashmir. The Karlal together with the Dhund, who are their neighbours to the south, speak a dialect of Hindko called Dhundi-Kariali, which is quite distinct from other Hindko dialects.