The Yusufzais of Swat retained their independent position during Babur’s, Kamran’s and Humayun’s reign. Swat remained un-penetrated by the Mughals till Akbar’s time. Akbar ascended the throne in 1556, but he did not succeed to rule over Swat. In December 1585 Akbar sent an army to conquer Kashmir and another army was sent under the command of Zain Khan Koka in to Bajawar and Swat.
Akbar’s imperialism led to fighting. The Mughal forces sent under the command of Zain Khan faced stiff resistance and suffered great hardships. Zain Khan asked for reinforcements. The reinforcements, sent under the command of Raja Birbil and Hakim Abul Fateh, enter Swat in 1556 with great difficulty. Chakdara was made the base and foundation of a fort was laid there. From there the combined forces made their bed for Buner. But they were taken to task at Karakar defile. The Mughal forces met disaster. Raja Birbil lost his life along with eight thousand Mughal soldiers. They, however, made another bid under the command of Zain Khan and fought in Bajawar and Swat from 1587 to 1592 but without any real or lasting success.
Jahangir and Shah Jahan did not make bid for Swat. In Aurangzeb’s reign the Swat’s Yusufzais came to the help of their brethren in the plains, in 1667, who were fighting against the Mughals. In reprisal, the Mughals Commander-in-Chief entered the Swat valley and destroyed a village but returned in haste. The Swatis retained freedom throughout the Mughal period and also during the reign of the Durranis and the Sikhs.
With the annexation of the Punjab and occupation of Peshawar by the English, a new phase in the history of Swat began. Swat remained independent. It became a harbour of refuge for out laws and for refugees. And opponents of the colonial rulers from the British occupied territory; and a centre of inti-British sentiments. The Pukhtun under the English control constantly got inspiration from Swat to rise against the English.
The landmark was the formation of a government in Swat in 1849. Anxious for their independence, the Swati chiefs got alarmed with the British power at their doorstep. They held jigas and at last installed Sayyad Akbar Shah as the king of Swat. He died on 11 May 1857.
The year 1857, year of the War of Independence in India, passed off without disturbance in Swat because the king of the Swat State died on 11May 1857. Swat itself plunged in to civil war and remained entirely preoccupied with its own affairs. The attitude taken up by the Akhund of Swat, at this time, also favoured the British Government.
After 1857, the Swatis had no had no significant collision with the British until the Ambela campaign in 1863 when the British forces made their advance through the Ambela pass, in October 1863, in order to pass through Buner territory and crush the followers of Sayyed Ahmad Brailwi, in their colony, at Malka. Their advance was blocked and the tribes of Buner and Swat rose en mass.
The Imperial Government ordered that 15 Novembere 1863 should complete the operation, but it received telegram after telegram from the frontier, begging for more and more troops. Combination of the tribes firmly resisted the mighty British forces and gave them tough time for about two months. The Imperial power failed but its diplomacy worked. A truce was concluded and tribes dispersed.
The Swatis remained peaceful, after the Ambela war. They made no attempt, on the whole, against the Imperial Government till the Akhund of Swat, on January 1877, because the Akhund prevailed over the situation, despite great pressure upon him. In 1895, the internal developments once more resulted in a collision and stiff fighting between the Swatis and the British forces when the Swatis resolved to block the passage of the British forces, through their country, to Chitral and Umara khan of Jandol. When Umara Khan ignored the warnings and advice of the British officials at Chitral, Gilgit, Peshawar, or those with the Asmar boundary mission, the authorities ordered mobilization at Peshawar, of the First Division of the field army under Major-General Sir Robert Low as the Chitral Relief Force of some 15,000 men to implement orders.
A proclamation informed the tribes about the causes for the passage of the forces through their territory. They were assured that if they remained neutral and did not try to molest the passage of troops no harm would be done to them or to their property, and that government had no intention of annexing their country. Disregarding the Britishers proclamation, the Swatis held all the three passes from which the troops could enter Swat en route Chitral.