Paktika Province

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Paktika
پکتیکا
110904-A-AR883-007.jpg
The Afghan national flag overlooks a valley from an observation post at Paktika province in Afghanistan
Paktika in Afghanistan.svg
Map of Afghanistan with Paktika highlighted
Coordinates(Capital): 32°30′N68°48′E / 32.5°N 68.8°E / 32.5; 68.8 Coordinates: 32°30′N68°48′E / 32.5°N 68.8°E / 32.5; 68.8
Country Flag of Taliban.svg Afghanistan
Capital Sharana
Largest city Urgun
Government
  Governor M.yasin
Area
  Total19,482 km2 (7,522 sq mi)
Population
 (2021) [1]
  Total789,079
  Density41/km2 (100/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+4:30 (Afghanistan Time)
ISO 3166 code AF-PKA
Main languages Pashto

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, [1] mostly ethnic Pashtuns. The town of Sharana serves as the provincial capital, while the most populous city is Urgun.

Contents

In 2021, the Taliban gained control of the province during the 2021 Taliban offensive.

Geography

Paktika sits adjacent to the Durand Line border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is bordered by the Khost and Paktia provinces to the north. The western border is shared with the provinces of Ghazni and Zabul. The South Waziristan and North Waziristan agencies are to the east of Paktika, while Zhob District of the Balochistan province of Pakistan borders it the southeast.

Paktika, like many other areas of Afghanistan, has been severely deforested. This has been a cause of devastating floods in recent years. The province is mainly hilly and interspersed with seasonal river valleys. In the north, the terrain gains elevation and becomes more rugged. In the west, the Rowd-e Lurah River originates in the mountainous Omna District and flows southwest to the Ghazni Province, forming a shallow river valley that dominates the topography in the Khairkot, Jani Khel, and Dila Districts. The terrain in Omna becomes more hilly further east in proximity to Pakistan. The sparsely populated southern districts are also hilly, with descending elevation towards the south and west.

The Gomal River, which has a varied flow depending on season, runs from its origin in the mountains of the Sar Hawza District and flows south, before turning southeast to the Pakistani border, forming the broad river valley that defines the topography of the Gomal District, before flowing east through Pakistan and eventually running to the powerful Indus River.

History

Paktika is the southernmost part of a historical region known as Greater Paktia (Pashto: لویه پکتیا, Loya Paktia), that was once a unified province including Paktia, Khost and parts of Ghazni and Logar. The tribes that reside in this area were mentioned by the Greek historian Herodotus, who called them the "Pactyans" as early as the 1st millennium BCE.

In the 1970s, the provincial capital of the largely undeveloped and remote province of Paktika was moved from the town of Urgun to Sharana due to its proximity with the main highway, connecting it to the larger cities and commercial centres of Kabul, Ghazni and Kandahar.

Paktika was the site of many battles during the Soviet occupation of the country and the lawless years that followed.

The Siege of Urgun took place between 1983 and 1984.

Recent history

As one of the most remote provinces in Afghanistan and an area that saw much devastation in previous years, Paktika suffers from a severe lack of critical infrastructure. Reconstruction in the province after the fall of the Taliban has been slow compared to that in nearby provinces such as Khost and Zabul. This is primarily due to the remoteness of the region and repeated attacks on aid workers and NATO forces.

In June 2004, members of the Utah and Iowa National Guard helped Army Reserve Civil Affairs Soldiers from Oregon establish a Provincial Reconstruction Team base in Sharana, the provincial capital, to lead the development effort. The first full contingent of eight Civil Affairs Soldiers from the U.S. Army Reserve's 450th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), based in Riverdale Park, Maryland, arrived in September 2004.

The Shkin firebase was composed of special operations forces. In an article from Time , the U.S. base was described as:

"The U.S. firebase looks like a Wild West cavalry fort, ringed with coils of razor wire. A U.S. flag ripples above the 3-ft.-thick mud walls, and in the watchtower a guard scans the expanse of forested ridges, rising to 9,000 ft., that mark the border. When there's trouble, it usually comes from that direction." [2]

While the province hasn't witnessed the outright fighting in the last few years that has affected provinces like Helmand, there is a constant low level of tribal violence, accompanied by criminal and Taliban activity. The last serious fighting in the province took place in 2004, amid reports that then-Governor Muhammad Ali Jalali was collaborating with Taliban forces, and that the Taliban had effectively annexed eastern portions of the province. Jalali and many of his allied officials, were replaced and U.S. Special Forces were dispatched to fight the Taliban while the Pakistani forces fought with the Taliban's allies in neighbouring South Waziristan.

A convoy with members of Task Force 2-28, 172nd Infantry Brigade and the Afghan National Army winds its way through a small valley on its way back to Forward Operating Base Orgun-E from Combat Outpost Zerok 110917-A-ZU930-006.jpg
A convoy with members of Task Force 2-28, 172nd Infantry Brigade and the Afghan National Army winds its way through a small valley on its way back to Forward Operating Base Orgun-E from Combat Outpost Zerok

On 1 November 2004, a civil affairs convoy was ambushed near Surobi, between the Shkin firebase and Orgun-E. U.S. Army Spc. James Kearney, a turret gunner, died of a head shot from a sniper, which initiated the ambush. Two vehicles were destroyed in the engagement and three other Soldiers were wounded. [3] The Provincial Reconstruction Team base was named Camp Kearney on 21 November 2004 to honor the sacrifice of Spc. James Kearney. [4]

Forward Operating Base Super FOB commander explaining the paving process for one of the streets of Camp Super FOB, which will be the largest training and operations base for the Afghan National Army when completed. 120316-A-ZU930-001.jpg
Forward Operating Base Super FOB commander explaining the paving process for one of the streets of Camp Super FOB, which will be the largest training and operations base for the Afghan National Army when completed.

On Jun 18, 2008 in the Ziruk District Governor's compound, two members of the Provincial Reconstruction Team, HMN Mark Retmier and CM1 Ross Toles, were killed due to rocket attacks. The mess hall on Forward Operating Base Sharana was named after CM1 Toles and the hospital was named after HMN Retmier.

Kearney Base became the nucleus of what is now Forward Operating Base Sharana.

On July 4, 2009, combat outpost Zerok in East Paktika Province was attacked. The Haqqani network insurgents attacked the COP using mortars, accurate heavy machine gun fire, RPG fire, recoils rifles, and a 5000 lbs Jingle Truck VBIED that destroyed the outposts radio communication. The accurate enemy indirect fire from their mortars set the US mortar pit on fire, and killed two Able Company, 3rd Battalion 509th parachute Infantry regiment mortarmen, PFC Casillas and PFC Fairbairn. They were both returning fire on the 120mm mortar. After the VBIED went off, multiple insurgents began maneuvering towards the outpost, some getting within 100 meters of the cop. Because the enemy was advancing so close to the outpost, the request for CAS was called in, but because of the DUSTWUN (large scale search) for PFC Bergdahl, (who went AWOL after abandoning his post only 100 km away from COP Zerok), air support was delayed. After intense fighting the US Paratroopers suppressed and killed most of the enemy, eventually gunships arrived and JDAMs were dropped on enemy targets.

In 2010 the 101st Rakkasan air assault took over COP Zerok. 60 minutes produced a TV special documenting the unit's takeover of the COP, entitled COP Zerok.

In late July 2011, foreign troops and Afghan special forces killed more than 50 insurgents during an operation in eastern Paktika to clear a training camp the Haqqani network used for foreign fighters, NATO said. Disenfranchised insurgents told security forces where the camp was located, the coalition said. [5]

In November 2011, an estimated 60 to 70 Taliban insurgents were killed in an abortive attack on a joint Afghan-ISAF base in the Margha area of Barmal. No international troops were killed or injured in the incident. It is believed the insurgents crossed over from neighboring FATA and Balochistan of Pakistan. In a separate incident the governor of Sar Hawza district died in the same month after his vehicle struck a roadside bomb. [6]

Afghan Local Police and ANSF moving up a mountain pass 140112-A-ZR634-011 (11996880983).jpg
Afghan Local Police and ANSF moving up a mountain pass

In the spring of 2012 the 172nd Infantry Brigade opened the first Afghan National Army/ US Joint Artillery Fire Base in the Orgun District.

In early 2013 10th Mountain Division, 2-14th Infantry, Golden Dragons, took over FOB Zerok.

Eight civilians including a pregnant woman and a baby died when Polish soldiers shelled the village of Nangar Khel, where a wedding celebration was taking place. Seven Polish soldiers have been charged with war crimes for allegedly opening fire in revenge.

U.S. Army PFC Bowe Bergdahl turned himself in to the Taliban on July 4, 2009, somewhere between OP Mest, near the town of Yahya Khel, and FOB Sharana. As a result of the soldier going AWOL from his unit and venturing into the local area resources were taken away from troops on the ground causing the death of many Americans who were ordered to search for him. He was freed in a prisoner trade on May 31, 2014. [7]

Transportation

As of May 2014, Paktika Province had regularly scheduled passenger flights to Kabul from Sharana Airstrip. The province's development is considered "backwards" compared to the rest of the country but Engineer Hafizullah, head of provincial public works department claimed in 2013 that in the past few years, 154-kilometers roads had been constructed with 70 km having been constructed in 2013 alone. [8]

Demographics

As of 2021, the total population of the province is about 789,000, [1] which is a multi-ethnic tribal society. According to the Naval Postgraduate School, the ethnic groups of the province are as follows: Pashtun, Tajik, Arab, Pashai, and other various minority groups. [9] Other sources mention that ethnic Pashtuns make up around 96% of Paktika's population. [10] Around 15,000 people (1.8%) are ethnic Uzbeks; and about 5,000 people speak some other languages. [10] These are most probably Hazaras or Baloch. There is also a small Tajik community in Urgun. [11] [12] [13]

Local Afghan children observe U.S. Army Special Forces and Afghan National Police as they patrol the area to improve security and increase stability in the village of Rabat. 100919-A-0667M-110.jpg
Local Afghan children observe U.S. Army Special Forces and Afghan National Police as they patrol the area to improve security and increase stability in the village of Rabat.
Local Afghans leaving the village of Rabat, hauling firewood in their pickup 100919-A-0667M-099.jpg
Local Afghans leaving the village of Rabat, hauling firewood in their pickup
Ethnolinguistic groups of Afghanistan US Army ethnolinguistic map of Afghanistan -- circa 2001-09.jpg
Ethnolinguistic groups of Afghanistan

The overwhelming majority of Paktika's population (around 99%) live in rural districts. The capital city, Sharana, has around 54,400 inhabitants. The majority of Pakikta's Districts have between 25,000 and 55,000 inhabitants. Only two districts, Nika and Turwo have less than 20,000 inhabitants, with a little more than 15,000 apiece. Two of the least mountainous districts, Urgun and neighboring Barmal have nearly 90,000 inhabitants each. There are around 115,000 households, with eight members apiece, in the Province.

Most of the Population is Sunni Muslim, and belongs to the Hanafi School.

Some tribes in Paktika may be pastoral.

Tribes

In Afghanistan the Ghilji are scattered all over the country but mainly settled around the regions between Zabul and Kabul provinces. The Afghan province of Paktika is considered to be a heartland of the Ghilji tribe. Ghilji sub-tribes in Paktika include the Kharoti, especially in the Sar Hawza and Urgon districts, the Andar and the largest single Ghilji sub-tribe, the Sulaimankhel, who are the majority in northern and western areas of Paktika such as; Katawaz. After the great Ghilji rebellion in 1885–1886, led by Alam Khan Nasher, many members of the Ghilji tribe, such as; the Kharoti sub-tribe and particularly the Nasher clan were exiled from Loya Paktia (Paktia, Paktika and Khost) to Kunduz in the north by Amir Abdur Rahman Khan due to political reasons. They are predominantly a nomadic group unlike the Durranis who are usually found in permanent settlements. The Ghilji mostly work as herdsmen as well as construction workers and in other jobs that allow them to travel. Often possessing great mechanical aptitude, the Ghilji nonetheless have an extremely low literacy rate hovering below 10% in Afghanistan. The Ghilji regularly cross over between Afghanistan and Pakistan often being exempted from customs due to the acceptance of their nomadic traditions by officials from both countries. Population estimates vary, but they are most likely around 20% to 25% of the population of Afghanistan and probably number over 9 million in Afghanistan alone with 4 million or more found in The main Pashtun tribes that live in Paktika are:

The Sulaimankhel are one of the largest sub-tribes of the Ghilji Pashtuns. The Sulaimankhel tribe is mainly located in the southern and eastern portions of Afghanistan; however, they also have a strong presence in the northern and western portions of Afghanistan. The second largest Sulaimankhel population is located in Pakistan. Not only are they located in the province of Baluchistan and the North-West Frontier Province, but also located in Karachi and other parts of Pakistan.

The Kharoti and Sulaimankhel tribes are traditional rivals, although they co-exist together in several districts. The larger, influential and more powerful Sulaimankhel have historically had the upper hand in this rivalry. The Wazir and Kharoti are sometimes involved in a land dispute in Barmal District.

Districts

Districts of Paktika. Paktika districts.png
Districts of Paktika.
DistrictCapitalPopulation [1] Area [14] Notes
Barmal Angur Ada 78,351Incloudes Barmal, Shkin & Margha Cities.
Dila 48,684
Gayan 48,635
Gomal Shkin 47,400
Janikhel 37,516Created in 2004 within Khairkot District
Khairkot (Zarghun Shar or Katawaz) Khairkot 42,779Sub-divided in 2004
Mata Khan 27,664
Nika 17,340
Omna 24,227
Sar Hawza 37,701
Surobi 39,533
Sharana Sharana 65,939
Terwa 11,463Created in 2004 within Waza Khwa District
Urgun Urgun 92,132
Wazakhwa Wazakhwa 47,461Sub-divided in 2004
Wor Mamay 22,157
Yahyakhel 30,291Created in 2004 within Khairkot District
Yusufkhel 29,703Created in 2004 within Khairkot District
Zerok Zerok 40,103

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.

Khost City in Khost Province, Afghanistan

Khōst is the capital city of Khost Province, Afghanistan. It is the largest city in the southeastern part of the country, and also the largest in the region of Loya Paktia. To the south and east of Khost lie Waziristan and Kurram in Pakistan. Khost is the home of Shaikh Zayed University. Khost Airport serves the city as well as the larger region surrounding the city.

Khost Province Province of Afghanistan

Khost is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the eastern part of the country. To the east, Khost Province is bordered by North Waziristan and Kurram in Pakistan. Khost Province used to be part of Paktia Province in the past, and the larger region surrounding Khost is still called Loya Paktia.

Paktia Province Province of Afghanistan

Paktia 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, 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. Gardez is the provincial capital.

The Kharoti are a Pashtun tribe of Ghilji origin, originating in the central part of Paktika Province, Afghanistan, but can be also found in other parts of the country. The Kharoti settled in Kharotabad in Quetta, British India around 1945.

The Zazi, also spelled Zazai, or Jaji, is a Karlani Pashtun tribe. They are found in Paktia and Khost provinces in the Loya Paktia region of southeastern Afghanistan, as well as Kurram Valley of Pakistan, but also have an effective presence in Kabul, Logar, Ghazni, Nangharhar, Kunduz, and Baghlan in Afghanistan.

Sharana City in Paktika Province, Afghanistan

Sharana, is the capital of Paktika Province, Afghanistan. It is located at an altitude of 2,200 meters. Its population was estimated to be 2,200 in 2006. The city of Sharana has a population of 15,651 and is located within the heartland of the Sulaimankhel tribe of Ghilji Pashtuns. It has 6 districts and a total land area of 5,893 hectares. The total number of dwellings in this city are 1,739.

Andar District District in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan

Andar is one of the eastern districts of Ghazni Province in Afghanistan. The population has been estimated at 88,300, all Pashtun. The district center is Miray while the other main town is Andar. The district is named after the Andar Ghilji tribe of the Pashtuns. The district also contains the town of Sardeh Band on its edge near the border with Paktika Province.

Sharana District District in Paktika, Afghanistan

Sharana District is home to the city of Sharana, which is the capital of Paktika Province, Afghanistan. The Paktika Governor's compound is in Sharana, attached to the police headquarters for the province. The district is within the heartland of the Sulaimankhel tribe of Ghilji Pashtuns. The estimated population in 2019 was 63,626.

Barmal District or Barmal County is a county of Paktika Province, Afghanistan, bordering and South and North Waziristan.

Dila District, Afghanistan District in Paktika, Afghanistan

Dila District is a district of Paktika Province, Afghanistan. The district is within the heartland of the Sulaimankhel tribe of Ghilji Pashtuns.

Sar Hawza District District in Paktika, Afghanistan

Sari-roza or Sar Hawza is a district of Paktika Province, Afghanistan.

Urgun District District in Paktika, Afghanistan

Urgun is a district of the remote Paktika Province in Afghanistan.

Khairkot District

Khairkot District, also known as Katawaz or Zarghun Shar District, is a district of Paktika Province, Afghanistan. The district is within the heartland of the Sulaimankhel tribe of Ghilji Pashtuns. The district capital is Khairkot town.

Alikhel or Alikhil is a Pashtun tribe in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. Alikhel belongs to the tribe of the Panni confederation of Pashtuns. It is considered a "brother tribe" of the Sulaimankhel and Tanoli tribes.

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."

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.

Urgun Place in Paktika Province, Afghanistan

Urgun is the main town of the Urgun District of Paktika Province, Afghanistan. With an estimated population of 10,665, Urgun is the largest city of Paktika, while Urgun District, with a population of 89,718, is also the most populous district of the province. Urgun historically used to be the capital of Paktika, but in the 1970s, the capital was shifted from Urgun to Sharana in the west because Urgun was not easily accessible from the main Kabul–Kandahar Highway.

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  11. The population is 88% Pashtun, with a Tajik minority living mainly in the district center and controlling a large proportion of the district's economy and service provision
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