Paktia Province

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Coordinates: 33°36′N69°30′E / 33.6°N 69.5°E / 33.6; 69.5



Gardez paktya.jpg
Aerial view of a fort in Gardez, the capital of Paktia province
Paktia in Afghanistan.svg
Map of Afghanistan with Paktia highlighted
Capital Gardez
   Governor Mohammad Halim Fidai
  Total6,432 km2 (2,483 sq mi)
 (2021) [1]
  Density97/km2 (250/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+4:30 (Afghanistan Time)
ISO 3166 code AF-PIA
Main languages Pashto

Paktia (Pashto/Dari: پکتياPaktyā) is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the east of the country. Forming part of the larger Loya Paktia region, Paktia Province is divided into 15 districts and has a population of roughly 623,000, [1] which is mostly a tribal society living in rural areas. Pashtuns make up the majority of the population but smaller number of Tajiks are also found. [2] Gardez is the provincial capital.


Paktia used to be a unified province with Khost and Paktika, these three provinces are now referred to as Loya Paktia, meaning "Greater Paktia". Paktia came to prominence during the 1980s, when a significant portion of Afghanistan's leadership originated from the province. Some of the more notable leaders include: Najibullah Ahmadzai, a former President of Afghanistan, Mohammad Aslam Watanjar, Shahnawaz Tanai, and Sayed Muhammad Gulabzoi.

Soviet–Afghan War (1988)

Between 7 and 8 January 1988, in Paktia Province, near the Pakistani–Afghan border, the Battle for Hill 3234 took place, which was a successful defensive action fought by the 345th Independent Guards Airborne Regiment, 39 Soviet Airborne Troops, in Soviet occupied Afghanistan against a force of up to 200 to 250 Mujahideen rebels.

Soviet commanders wanted to secure the entire section of the road from Gardez to Khost.

One of the most important points was the nameless hill designated Hill 3234 by its height of 3234 meters, which was assigned to the 9th Company of the 345th Independent Guards Airborne Regiment led by Colonel Valery Vostrotin.

The 39-man company landed on the hilltop on January 7, 1988, tasked with creating and holding a hilltop strong point from which to observe and control a long section of the road beneath and thus secure it for the safe passage of convoys.

Shortly after landing, the airborne troopers, who were well trained and experienced in Afghan conditions, started to take up positions which covered both the road and the uphill passages. Just as they had dug in, the mujahideen began their attack at 1530 hrs. First they fired with all possible weapons including recoilless guns and RPGs. After a few salvos, Soviet artillery replied and silenced some of the mujahideen's guns, with the commander of the first platoon, Lt. Viktor Gagarin, directing fire via a radio. When rebel fire slackened, it was clear that this was the beginning of an infantry assault.

The airborne troopers were attacked by a coordinated and well-armed force of between 200 and 250 mujahideen. Attacks were made from two directions, indicating that the assailants may have been assisted by rebels trained in Pakistan by American agents. During the ensuing battle, the Soviet unit was in constant communication with headquarters and received everything the leadership of 40th Army had to offer in terms of artillery support, ammunition, reinforcements, and helicopter evacuation of the wounded. [3]

The exhausted and mostly wounded Soviets were nearly out of ammunition but continued to occupy the hill until the last convoy passed through the road below.

The Soviet forces sustained very low casualties, with six men killed and 28 injured out of 39. Two of the soldiers killed, Vyacheslav Alexandrovich Alexandrov and Andrey Alexandrovich Melnikov, were posthumously awarded the golden star of the Hero of the Soviet Union. All of the paratroopers in this battle were given the Order of the Red Banner and Order of the Red Star. [4]

According to the Soviet estimates, the mujahideen lost over 200 men.

The Mujahideen wore black uniforms with rectangular black-yellow-red stripes. [4] [5] [6] [7]

After 1991

U.S. military base next to Gardez in 2007 GardezFOB.jpg
U.S. military base next to Gardez in 2007

Immediately after the fall of the Taliban government, Paktia was one of the most chaotic regions in the country, as a small civil war broke out between rival militia commanders for control of the province, and Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters gave occupying U.S. troops some of their heaviest losses in the cave complexes south of Gardez. [8]

Paktia was the site of heavy fighting between Taliban insurgents and ISAF-backed Afghan National Security Forces. Paktia was one of the last redoubts of organized Taliban resistance; much of Operation Anaconda took place in Zurmat, Paktia's largest district. Pacha Khan Zadran was appointed provincial governor by Hamid Karzai in January 2002, but Zadran faced strong local opposition and was prevented from entering Gardez by Haji Saifullah, a local tribal elder who considered Zadran to be a "smuggler", "tyrant" and "killer". Forces loyal to Zadran attacked Gardez several times and were resisted by Saifullah's militia, leading to many people being killed. Zadran was sacked by Karzai after ordering a deadly rocket attack at Gardez in February 2002. [9]

February 2003, the 1st Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Gardez commenced with the objective of providing funding for local Afghan projects concurrent to a reinforce security presence in overwatch. The PRT Gardez composition includes a reinforced platoon from the 504th 82nd ABN along with US Army Civil Military Affairs contingent plus Special Forces. In March 2003, USAID and State Department representatives joined the 1st Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Gardez.

In September 2006, Governor Hakim Taniwal was killed by a Taliban suicide bomber as he left his office in Gardez. [10] At the time, Taniwal was the highest-ranking post-Taliban official to be killed by insurgent forces in the country.

On February 12, 2010, five civilians including two pregnant women and a teenage girl were killed by U.S. special forces during the Khataba raid. U.S. special forces were later accused of attempting to cover up the incident. [11] [12] [13] Head of Joint Special Operations Command, U.S. Vice Admiral William McRaven stated that the deaths were a "terrible mistake", [14] offered an apology, accepted responsibility for the deaths and made a traditional Afghan condolence offering of sheep. [15]

After some early unrest a long period of relative calm followed, despite the occasional high-profile incident such as the 2006 assassination of the governor, by a suicide bomber. There was a rise in violent incidents when the pullout of Americans troops neared in 2014.

Parts of Paktia are also believed to be a safe haven for militants from the Haqqani network, an anti-government combat organisation involved in the Taliban insurgency. [16] [17]

Politics and governance

Afghan National Army Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim, the commando commander of the 1st Special Operations Brigade, inspects a formation during the brigade's opening ceremony at Forward Operating Base Thunder (August 2013) Afghan National Army Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim, the commando commander of the 1st Special Operations Brigade, inspects a formation Aug. 20, 2013, during the brigade's opening ceremony at Forward Operating Base 130820-A-NQ567-016.jpg
Afghan National Army Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim, the commando commander of the 1st Special Operations Brigade, inspects a formation during the brigade's opening ceremony at Forward Operating Base Thunder (August 2013)

Mohammad Halim Fidai has been governor of the province since July 2020. [18] The city of Gardez serves as the capital of the province.

All law enforcement activities throughout the province are controlled by the Afghan National Police (ANP) along with the Afghan Local Police (ALP). The border with neighboring Pakistan is monitored by the Afghan Border Police (ABP). A provincial police chief is assigned to lead both the ANP and the ABP. The Police Chief represents the Ministry of the Interior in Kabul. The ANP and ABP are backed by the Afghan Armed Forces, including the NATO-led forces.

The first American Provincial Reconstruction Team base was established in Gardez to supply security and reconstruction, and has funded several successful projects.


The percentage of households with clean drinking water increased from 30% in 2005 to 36% in 2011. [19] The percentage of births attended to by a skilled birth attendant fell from 9% in 2005 to 3% in 2011. [19]


The overall literacy rate (6+ years of age) fell from 35% in 2005 to 27% in 2011. [19] The overall net enrolment rate (6–13 years of age) fell from 65% in 2005 to 24% in 2011. [19]


Snow-covered mountains in Paktia province Landscape in Paktia Province.jpg
Snow-covered mountains in Paktia province

Paktia borders the Pakistani-ruled tribal areas of Kurram Agency to the northeast. Within Afghanistan, it borders Logar Province, Ghazni Province, Paktika Province, and Khost Province, in counterclockwise order.

Paktia is a largely mountainous province, with most of the population living in the central valley stretching from Ahmadkhel in the east down through Zurmat and into neighboring Paktika province. The eastern part of the province, particularly Tsamkani and Dand Aw Patan, is a second valley leading into Pakistan.

Jaji (Zazi) and Jani Khel districts are largely mountainous with much smaller inhabited valleys.

The Khost-Gardez Pass area, to the south of Gardez, is mountainous with settlements limited to the main pass and smaller valleys.

As of 2005, Azra district is no longer a part of Paktya. It has been attached to Logar province to the north, to which it is much more closely connected by roadways and people.[ clarification needed ]


People of Paktia province photo essay 090215-D-1852B-008.jpg
People of Paktia province
Ethnolinguistic groups in Afghanistan US Army ethnolinguistic map of Afghanistan -- circa 2001-09.jpg
Ethnolinguistic groups in Afghanistan
Districts of Paktia province Paktia districts.png
Districts of Paktia province

As of 2020, the total population of the province is 950,000. [1] According to the Institute for the Study of War, "The province is predominantly Pashtun, with a small Tajik population." [2] According to the Naval Postgraduate School, the ethnic groups of the province are as follows: 95% Pashtun and 5% Tajik. [20]


Districts of Paktia Province
DistrictCapitalPopulation (2021) [1] Notes
Ahmad Aba 32,037Created in 2005 within Said Karam District; includes the unofficial district Mirzaka
Ahmadkhel 26,225
Dand Aw Patan 30,551
Gardez Gardez 97,523Includes the capital Gardez, which lies at the crossroads of the province's main north-south and east-west roads
Gerda Serai 12,864
Janikhel 40,149
Lazha Mangal 21,629
Mirzaka 9,868
Rohani Baba23,420
Said Karam Khandkhel 64,075Sub-divided in 2005
Shwak 6,353
Tsamkani Tsamkani 57,451Includes the city of Tsamkani, the largest in the eastern half of Paktia and a major gateway to Pakistan
Zadran 27,960Sub-divided in 2005 to create Gerda Serai
Zazi Aryob 72,456People fleeing sectarian strife between Shiites and Sunnis in Pakistan occasionally take refuge in Zazi
Zurmat Zurmat 100,270Populous, relatively prosperous agricultural district. Unlike most other districts, Zurmat includes more than one tribal group, making it somewhat more fractious than other districts

Gerda Serai, Ahmadkhel, and Mirzaka are unofficial districts.

Important geographical features

See also

Related Research Articles

Gardez City in Paktia Province, Afghanistan

Gardez is the capital of the Paktia Province of Afghanistan. The population of the city was estimated to be ca. 10,000 in the 1979 census and was estimated to be 70,000 in 2008. The majority of the city's native population is Tajik. But recently, with the migration of Pashtun tribes from different parts of Paktia to this city, Pashtuns have taken over the majority of the population of this city. The city of Gardez is located at the junction between two important roads that cut through a huge alpine valley. Surrounded by the mountains and deserts of the Hindu Kush, which boil up from the valley floor to the north, east and west, it is the axis of commerce for a huge area of eastern Afghanistan and has been a strategic location for armies throughout the country's long history of conflict. Observation posts built by Alexander the Great are still crumbling on the hilltops just outside the city limits. The city of Gardez has a population of 70,641. It has 13 districts and a total land area of 6,174 hectares (23.84 sq mi). The total number of dwellings in this city is 7,849.

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Paktika Province Province of Afghanistan

Paktika(Pashto/Dari: پکتیکا) is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the eastern part of the country. Forming part of the larger Loya Paktia region, Paktika has a population of about 789,000, mostly ethnic Pashtuns. The town of Sharana serves as the provincial capital, while the most populous city is Urgun.

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Jalaluddin Haqqani Mujahideen leader

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Pacha Khan Zadran is a militia leader and a politician in the southeast of Afghanistan. He was an ex anti-Soviet-fighter militia leader who played a role in driving the Taliban from Paktia Province in the 2001 invasion, with American backing, and he subsequently assumed the governorship of the province. In 2002, he engaged in a violent conflict with rival tribal leaders in the province over the Governorship of the province, shelling Gardez City and obstructing two separate appointed governors sent by Hamid Karzai.

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The Zadran, also spelled Dzadran or Jadran, is a Pashtun tribe that inhabits the Loya Paktia region in southeastern Afghanistan and parts of Waziristan in neighboring Pakistan. "Zadran: Pashtun tribe mainly residing in the “Zadran Arc” a 9-district area encompassing portions of the Khost, Paktya, and Paktika provinces."

Khost-Gardez Pass

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Loya Paktia

Lōya Paktiā is a historical and cultural region of Afghanistan, comprising the modern Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, and Paktika, as well as parts of Logar and parts of Kurram and Waziristan in Pakistan. Loya Paktia is vaguely defined by a common culture and history that is connected to the local indigenous tribes that reside in the region. Particular styles of clothing, articles of clothing, turban styles, turban cloth colors, dialects of Pashto language, etc. may sometimes be associated with specific tribes indigenous to Loya Paktia and thus integrate themselves into regional culture. For instance, a Pashtun tribesman from Loy Kandahar may quickly recognize a Pashtun from Loya Paktia based upon his turban style and color. Likewise, a Pashtun from Loya Paktia may recognize someone from Loy Kandahar based upon his unique style of collarless kameez (shirt) with specific embroidered patterns on the front. There are many subtle and intricate cultural indicators of this type that are not recorded in any known written history but simply known and observed by the tribesmen of the various Pashtun regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Sulaimankhel, or Suleiman Khel, are a Pashtun sub-tribe of the Ghilji tribe of Bettani confederation of Pashtuns. In the early 20th century, the tribe was recognised as generally pastoral.

Janikhel offensive

The Janikhel offensive was launched by the Taliban and the Haqqani network in early August 2016 to conquer the Janikhel District within the contested Paktia Province from government forces. Due to the district's geographic location, it is of great strategic and tactical value to any force that controls it. After being besieged by insurgents for weeks and not receiving any outside help, the local government forces retreated from the district on 27 August. Even though the district was retaken by the government on 5 September, the fact that the district had been captured by the Taliban in the first place was widely considered a heavy blow for the government, which faced increasing insecurity and loss of territory since the ISAF retreat in 2014.


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