Mian Ali Sahib who was a great spiritual saint laid the foundations of Mianwali. In those days it was called "Mian Ali Wali", which later was converted to Mianwali.
Mughal era, rule of Ghakkars and invasion of Nadir Shah
Historically, all major rulers of South Asia governed this area in their turn. Mughal emperor Babur mentioned Isa Khel while he was fighting against the Pakhtuns as part of his campaign to conquer the Punjab during the 1520s (ref. Baburnama). Prior to the invasion of Nadir Shah in 1738, there is little to relate concerning the history of the northern part of the district. The upper half of the district was ruled by the Ghakkars, who became feudatories of the Mughal Empire, of which the district continued to form a part until the invasion of Nadir Shah. In 1738 a portion of his army entered Bannu, and by its atrocities so cowed the Bannuchis and Marwats that a heavy tribute was raised from them. Another portion of the army crossed the Pezu pass and worked its way down to Dera Ismail Khan. Contingents raised from the neighbourhoods of Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan marched under Nadir Shah's banner to the sack of Delhi. In 1739 the area west of the Indus was surrendered by the Emperor of Delhi to Nadir Shah, and passed after his death to Ahmad Shah Abdali.
In 1748 a Durrani army under one of Ahmad Shah's generals crossed the Indus at Kalabagh, and drove out the Ghakkars, who still ruled in the cis-Indus tracts of the district, owing nominal allegiance to the Emperor at Delhi. Their stronghold, Muazzam Nagar, was razed to the ground, and with their expulsion was swept away the last vestige of authority of the Mughal Emperor in these parts. The armies of Ahmad Shah marched repeatedly through the district, the cis-Indus portion of which was, with the rest of the Punjab, incorporated in the Durrani Kingdom in 1756, and for the next sixty years a precarious hold was maintained on their eastern provinces, including this district, by Ahmad Shah and his successors to the throne of the newly created Kingdom of Kabul. Source:
Sikh era and British Raj
Sikhs ruled until the annexation of Punjab in 1849 by the British. During British rule, the Indian empire was subdivided into province, divisions and districts (after the independence of Pakistan, divisions remained the third tier of government until 2000). The British had made the towns of Mianwali and Isa Khel tehsil headquarters of Bannu District then part of Dera Ismail Khan Division of Punjab province.
The current district of Mianwali was created in November 1901, when the North West Frontier Province was carved out of Punjab and the towns of Mianwali, Isa Khel, Kalabagh, and Kundian were separated from Bannu District. A new district, named Mianwali district, was created with its headquarters in Mianwali city and placed in Punjab, and it became a part of Multan Division. Mianwali originally contained four tehsils: Mianwali, Isa Khel, Bhakkar, and Layyah. In 1909 Layyah was transferred to Muzaffargarh District. The district became a part of Sargodha Division in 1961. In 1982 Bhakkar Tehsil was removed from Mianwali and became a separate district of Sargodha Division.
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