Famous for its brave and strong willed people that constitute a greater part in Pakistan Army. The Niazis, a Pathan tribe (famous for bravery and vendettas) currently control the politics and other issues of governance of the area. 70% of the population is of Afghan origin.
The main highways connecting the city to the other parts of the country include the Sargodha-Lahore road, Multan road, Talagang-Rawalpindi road, and the Kalabagh- Bannu road. The Balkassar interchange connects Mianwali to the M2 motorway. The Thal canal traverses the city and makes the surroundings a picturesque place.
The city is famous for the shrine of Syed Mian Sultan Zakria Gilani whose father Syed Mian Ali founded Mianwali village, in the 16th century. The son is said to have exhibited supernatural powers from an early age and many miraculous deeds are ascribed to him. His name is frequently taken as an oath , and his shrine is not uncommonly the scene of settlement of civil disputes, in which one party has bound himself to abide by any statement made at shrine by the other party.The Mianas of Mianwali are descendants of this holy man.
There is a pre-partition central jail which is notorious for imprisoning many state rebels and politicians such as Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. one third area of Mianwali district is thal desert. the biggest towns of arraid thal are mari shah sakhira and noor pur thal.
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 population of Mianwali according to the 1901 census of India was 3,591.
In November 1901, 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 (Bannu became part of NWFP) and hence a new district was made with the headquarters in Mianwali city and placed in Punjab. The district became a part of Rawalpindi Division. There were four tehsils namely Mianwali, Isa Khel, Bhakkar, and Layyah. Layyah was included in the Muzaffargarh District in 1909. The district became a part of Sargodha Division in 1961. Bhakkar tehsil was carved out of Mianwali district and was made a separate district inside Sargodha division w.e.f. 01-07-1982.
The main castes and tribes listed in Mianwali are:
Niazis have a history of almost 250 years in this region.They came from the plains of Lakki Marwat, Tank and Bannu. However prior to their immigrations to this region they were concentrated in the Marwat plains shared by both Marwats and Niazis. Marwat and Niazis, both are Lodi Pathans and thus share common ancestry. There exist the accounts that Marwats and Niazis battled near the banks of Kurram River and Niazis had to leave the land and take refuge at "Tarna" (nowadays called Isakhel). However Niazis were able to establish themselves at trans-indus village of Isakhel which at that time was inhabited by the pastoral Jats and Awans. Then Niazi immigrations continued across the Indus into the Mianwali area where they established and became the main dominating tribe. Niazis are brave and strong-willed people and they prefer to serve in Police and Armed Forces.
Syeds trace their origin as the descendants of Prophet Muhammad from his daughter Fatimah. In Mianwali this tribe is represented by the Syed Mianas who are the descendants of Mian Ali (Father of Sultan Zakriya). Other Syed groups are identified as Bukharis, kazmis, Gillanis and Naqvis. The latter mainly adhere to the Shiite branch of Islam. A Syed in Mianwali is respected one, no matter whatever the sect he belongs to.
Awans living in Mianwali are believed to be the sole occupants of "Mianwali Salt Range" for about 600 years. Years before the Niazi immigrations into the plains some Awan tribes settled in the plains and became the nomads. They however established their strongholds at Kalabagh and Jalalpur across the Indus, but mainly they remained dormant in the plains and they were outnumbered when Niazis arrived in this region. However the claim that Niazis drove them to the mountains remains disputed because had that been the fact, many Awans would not have been there in the trans-indus towns of Kalabagh and Jalalpur as a dominant tribe even after the Niazi arrival in Mianwali and as a matter of fact there was no "Awan Rule" prior to Niazi immigrations. In fact Ghakkars controlled this entire region and they were defeated by the Ahmed Shah Abdali's forces which paved the way for the Niazi expansion. Awans claim themselves to be of Arab (as descendants of a son of fourth right guided caliph Ali) origin which is disputed by many British researchers and anthropologists. Awans are considered martial race since the days of British colonial rule and form a bulk of Pakistan Army.
Jats have been divided into many subcastes and very few identify themselves as jats. They along with Awans led a nomadic and pastoral life in the plains. Many Hindus and some Sikhs were of Jat origin, migrated to India after partition.
Imran Khan is from Mianwali. Mansoor Afaq,Dr sher Afgan,Inamullah Khan, Dr,Ajmal Niazi,are notable persnalities.