The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is one of the most legendary
places on earth. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as it is
and was popularly known, of all Pakistan's Provinces,
is arguably the most diverse ethnically, the most
varied in terrain and sports a vigorous cultural spectrum.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa conjures up a world of valour and
war, of rugged men and mountains, of tribesmen shaped
in a heroic, hos¬pitable mould. Gateway to the
Subcontinent, since times immemorial, it has witnessed
migration-waves of peoples,campaigns of conquerors,
flow of innumerable caravans of commerce, influx of
intellectuals, artists, poets and saints from the
north into its fertile valleys and onwards to the
plains of the Punjab, Sindh and beyond the Indus to
The routes which figured as corridors of invasion
and arteries of international traffic brought not
only men and material but also ideas which fertilized
all of India. Over the centuries this area was
instrumental in the spread of many concepts and intellectual
thought. Buddhism found its finest expression here
in the Gandhara civilization. And from here it spread
northwards to pollinate Central Asia, north-east to
China, Japan and the Far East. Then came Islam with
its unique transforming sweep.
Throughout the ages, Pukhtun tribes, the Afridi, the
Bangash, the Durrani, the Khattak, the Mahsud, the
Orakzai, the Toori, the Wazir and the Yusufzai, have
left their indelible imprints on the pages of history.
Other tribes are the Marwat, Mohmand, Gandapur, Swati,
Tareen, Tanoli, Jadoon and Mashwani. The Afghan, the
Pukhtun and the Pathan are three names of the same
people despite shifting political bound¬ aries.
In this terrain many civilizations have mixed and
min¬gled, risen and were razed. Its inhabitants
have excelled in countless fields of endeavour.
this area has seen more invasions during the course
of history than any other region in the world. In
the more recent past Sikh and British invaders from
the south met their toughest adversaries in the Frontier.
The unsure hold of Sikha Shahi "Sikh Rule",
and the uneasy control of the British Raj speak volumes
for these intrepid and freedom¬loving people.
It was a contentious extension of the Kingdom of Lahore
under Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Then for almost five
decades it remained a part of the Punjab Province
during the Raj. In 1902 it was finally accorded separate
status. This was the one Province in which the imperial
enter¬prise seemed to falter and fray. The Pathans
have been con¬quered by many an imperial authority
but never truly vanquished.
And yet these valiant men and women of the Frontier
gave their all to the Independence Movement and a
Apart from the Pathan tribes, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
is home to diverse ethnic groups and languages. In
the northern highlands such languages as Khowar, Hindko,
Kohistani, Shina, Torwali,Kashmiri, Kalasha and Kaghani
are spoken. The influx of Afghan refugees has brought
Ghilzai and Durrani tribes and hundreds and thousands
of Farsi speaking Tajiks and Hazaras who have settled
here. Nearly all the inhabitants of the Province are
Muslim with a Sunni majority, a minority of Shias
and Ismailis and a sprinkling of Animists or Shamanists.
Today Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, spread over 74,521 sq km,
has a population of over 22 million. It comprises
of three major administrative parts. One part, composed
of settled areas, consists of the districts of Abbottabad,
Bannu, Battagram, Charsadda, Dera Ismail Khan, Hangu,
Haripur, Kohistan, Kohat, Karak, Lakki Marwat, Mansehra,
Mardan, Nowshera, Swabi, Peshawar and Tank. The second
known as PATA (Provincially Administered Tribal Areas)
has a population of 831 ,000 and consists of Malakand
Agency and the districts of Upper Dir, Lower Dir,
Chitral, Swat, Buner, Shangla, and the pocket of Kala
Dhaka / "Black Mountains", Kohistan (previously
part of Swat State) and the State of Amb, now submerged
in the Tarbela Dam reservoir.
The third part, FATA (Federally Administered Tribal
Areas), is spread over 27,220 sq km and has a population
of 3,764,000. It comprises of seven Tribal Agencies
and six Frontier Regions. The Tribal Agencies are
Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram, North Waziristan
and South Waziristan. The Frontier Regions include
F.R. Bannu, Central Kurram, F.R. Dera Ismail Khan,
F.R. Kohat, F.R. Lakki, F.R. Peshawar and F.R. Tank.
These are directly controlled by the Governor Khyber