Bajaur Agency

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Bajaur
Agency
Urdu transcription(s)
 • Perso-Arabic script باجوړ
Bajaur is located in Pakistan
Bajaur
Bajaur
Coordinates: 34°41′N 71°30′E / 34.683°N 71.500°E / 34.683; 71.500Coordinates: 34°41′N 71°30′E / 34.683°N 71.500°E / 34.683; 71.500
Country Pakistan
Province Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)
Administration HQ Khaar
Tehsils
Government[1]
 • The Political Agent Syed Jabbar Shah
 • Assistant Political Agent (Khaar) Asad Sarwar
 • Assistant Political Agent (Nawagai) Sohail Ahmad Khan
Area[2]
 • Total 1,290 km2 (500 sq mi)
Population (1998)[3]
 • Total 595,227
Demonym Bajauri
Time zone PST (UTC+5)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC+6)

Bajaur or Bajur or Bajour (Pashto: باجوړ‎) is an Agency (country subdivision) of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. Smallest of the agencies in FATA, it has a hilly terrain. According to the 1998 census, the population was 595,227[3] but other more recent estimates it has grown to 757,000. It borders Afghanistan's Kunar Province with a 52 km border.. The headquarters of the Agency administration is located in the town of Khaar.

Bajour is inhabited almost exclusively by Tarkani (Tarkalani) Pashtuns, and there are their main sub-tribes in Bajaur: Utman Khel, Tarkalanri, Mamund (Kakazai, Wur and Salarzai) as well as a small population of Safis. The Utman Khel are at the southeast of Bajaur, while Mamund are at the southwest, and the Tarkani are at the north of Bajaur. Its border with Afghanistan's Kunar province makes it of strategic importance to Pakistan and the region.

Geography[edit]

District map of FATA and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa- Districts of FATA are shown in blue, Bajaur is located in the north

Bajour is about 45 miles (72 km) long by 20 miles (32 km) broad, and lies at a high level to the east of the Kunar Valley, from which it is separated by a continuous line of rugged frontier hills, forming a barrier easily passable at one or two points. Across this barrier, the old road from Kabul to Pakistan ran before the Khyber Pass was adopted as the main route.

To the south of Bajour is the wild mountain district of the Mohmands. To the east, beyond the Panjkora river, are the hills of Swat, dominated by another Pashtun group. To the north is an intervening watershed between Bajour and the small tehsil of Dir. It is over this watershed and through the valley of Dir, that the new road from Malakand and the Punjab runs to Chitral. The drainage of Bajour flows eastwards, starting from the eastern slopes of the dividing ridge, which overlooks the Kunar and terminating in the Panjkora river, so that the district lies on a slope tilting gradually downwards from the Kunar ridge to the Panjkora. Nawagai is the chief town of Bajour, and the Khan of Nawagai was previously under British protection for the purpose of safeguarding of the Chitral road.[4]

Jandol, one of the northern valleys of Bajour, has ceased to be of political importance since the 19th century, when a previous chief, Umra Khan, failed to appropriate himself Bajour, Dir, and a great part of the Kunar valley. It was the active hostility between the amir of Kabul (who claimed sovereignty of the same districts) and Umra Khan that led, firstly to the demarcation agreement of 1893 which fixed the boundary of Afghanistan in Kunar; and, secondly, to the invasion of Chitral by Umra Khan (who was no party to the boundary settlement), and the siege of the Chitral fort in 1895.[4]

Major towns are Khaar and Inayat Killi.[citation needed]

An interesting feature in the topography is a mountain spur from the Kunar range, which, curving eastwards, culminates in the well-known peak of Koh-i-Mor, which is visible from the Peshawar valley. It was here, at the foot of the mountain, that Alexander the Great founded the ancient city of Nysa and the Nysaean colony, traditionally said to have been founded by Dionysus. The Koh-i-Mor has been identified as the Meros of Arrian's history—the three-peaked mountain from which the god issued.[4]

History and events[edit]

Main article: Apraca

The area was the site of the ancient Scythian kingdom of Apraca from the 1st century BCE to the 1st century CE, and a stronghold of the Aspasioi, a western branch of the Ashvakas (q.v) of the Sanskrit texts who had earlier offered stubborn resistance to the Macedonian invader Alexander the Great in 326 BCE.

Babur's attack on Bajaur[edit]

In 1518, Babur had invested and conquered the fortress of Bajaur, The Gabar-Kot from Sultan Mir Haider Ali Gabari the Jahangirian Sultan and gone on to conquer Bhera on the river Jhelum,a little beyond the salt ranges.The Jahangiri Dynasty well had known chain of Royal-Tajik family who were the descendants of Cyrus the Great Sultan Skandar Zulqarnain of the Akhamanche Royal class of ancient Persia.the River Indus, these formed the traditional defensive frontier of India. Babur claimed these areas as his own, because they had been part of Taimur's empire. Hence, "picturing as our own the countries once occupied by the Turks",[5] he ordered that "there was to be no overrunning or plundering [of the countryside]".[5] It may be noted that this applied to areas which did not offer resistance, because earlier, at Bajaur, where the Afghan tribesmen had resisted, he had ordered a general massacare, with their women and children being made captive.[5]

Babur justifies this massacre by saying, "the Bajauris were rebels and at enmity with the people of Islam, and as, by heathenish and hostile customs prevailing in their midst, the very name of Islam was rooted out...".[6]

As the Bajauris were rebels and inimical to the people of Islam, the men were subjected to a general massacre and their wives and children were made captive. At a guess, more than 3,000 men met their death. We entered the fort and inspected it. On the walls, in houses, streets and alleys, the dead lay, in what numbers! Those walking around had to jump over the corpses.[7][a]

Recent decades[edit]

During the Soviet invasion in the 1980s, the area was a critical staging ground for Afghan and local mujahideen to organise and conduct raids. It still hosts a large population of Afghan refugees sympathetic to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a mujahideen leader ideologically close to the Arab militants. Today,[when?] the United States believes militants based in Bajaur launch frequent attacks on American and Afghan troops in Afghanistan. There have been some unconfirmed media reports about the possibility of Osama bin Laden finding refuge in the area.[citation needed] An aerial attack, executed by the United States targeting Ayman al-Zawahiri, took place in a village in Bajaur Agency on January 13, 2006, killing 18 people.[8] Al-Zawahiri was not found among the dead and the incident led to severe outrage in the area.[citation needed] On October 30, 2006, 80 people were killed in Bajaur when Pakistani forces attacked a religious school they said was being used as a militant training camp.[9] There are many unconfirmed reports that the October attack was also carried out by the United States or NATO forces, but was claimed by Islamabad over fears of widespread protest similar to those after the US bombing in January 2006.[10] Maulana Liaqat, the head of the seminary, was killed in the attack.[citation needed] Liaqat was a senior leader of the pro-Taliban movement Tanzim Nifaz Shariat Mohammadi (TNSM), that spearheaded a violent Islamic movement in Bajaur and the neighbouring Malakand areas in 1994. The TNSM had led some 5,000 men from the Pakistani areas of Dir, Swat and Bajaur across the Mamond border into Afghanistan in October 2001, to fight US-led troops.[citation needed] In what is thought to be a reprisal for the October strike in Bajaur, in November, a suicide bomber killed dozens in an attack on an army training school in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.[11]

A military offensive by the military of Pakistan was launched in early August 2008 to retake the border crossing near the town of Loyesam, 12 km from Khaar[12] from militants loyal to Tehrik-e-Taliban, the so-called Pakistani Taliban.[13] In the two weeks following the initial battle, government forces pulled back to Khaar and initiated aerial bombing and artillery barrages on presumed militant positions, which reportedly has all but depopulated Bajaur and parts of neighbouring Mohmand Agency, with an estimated 300,000 fleeing their homes.[13] The estimate of casualties ran into the hundreds.[13] The offensive was launched in the wake of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's visit to Washington in late July, and is believed by some to be in response to U.S. demands that Pakistan prevent the FATA being used as a safe haven by insurgents fighting American and NATO troops in Afghanistan.[13] However, the offensive was decided by the military, not the civilian government.[14] The bloody bombing of Pakistan Ordnance Factories in Wah on August 21, 2008, came according to Maulvi Omar, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, as a response to the Bajaur offensive.[15][16] After nine months of vigorous clashes between government security forces and Taliban, military forces have finally claimed to have forced militants out of Bajaur Agency, and advanced towards strongholds of Taliban in the region. According to figures provided by the Government of Pakistan, 1,600 militants were killed and more than 2,000 injured, while some 150 civilians also died and about 2,000 were injured in the fighting. The military operation forced more than 300,000 people to flee their homes and take shelter in IDP camps in settled districts of the province. To date, more than 180,000 IDPs have returned to their homes in Bajaur Agency, facing widespread destruction to their lives, livelihoods and massive unemployment.

Sahamsul Wahab Khan, son of Anbaul Subhan Kahan, was killed by the Taliban in 2007. Chief of Mamond, Malik Shah Jihan, was killed by some unknown persons in 2008. He was not only the chief of Mamond tribals, but also one of the powerful personalities of FATA.[citation needed]

In August, 2012, the Pakistani Army de-notified Bajaur as conflict zone.[17]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Thomas Holdich writing in 1911 in Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.) stated that "The Gazetteers and Reports of the Indian government contain nearly all the modern information available about Bajour. The autobiography of Baber (by Leyden and Erskine) gives interesting details about the country in the 16th century. For the connexion between the Kafirs and the ancient Nysaeans of Swat, see R. G. S. Journal, vol. vii., 1896" (Holdich 1911).

References[edit]

Attribution