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Map of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with Bannu District highlighted
|• Total||1,227 km2 (474 sq mi)|
|• Density||552/km2 (1,430/sq mi)|
|Time zone||PST (UTC+5)|
Bannu District (Pashto: بنو, Urdu: ضلع بنوں) is one of 24 districts that make up the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. It borders North Waziristan to the northwest, Karak to the northeast, Lakki Marwat to the southeast, and South Waziristan to the southwest. It is represented in the provincial assembly by four MPAs. The district's main city is Bannu, near Waziristan.
The major industries of Bannu are cloth weaving and the manufacturing of cotton fabrics, machinery, and equipment. It is famous for its weekly Jumma fair. Although Bannu is surrounded by rugged and dry mountains, it is a very fertile place, and early English visitors had been known to refer to it as a "paradise".
Inhabitants of Bannu are known as Bannuchi and many speak specific dialects of Pashto Language. Saraiki dialect of Punjabi Language is also spoken in parts of the district. Urdu being National Language is also spoken and understood.
The district forms a basin drained by the Kurram and Gambila (or Tochi) rivers, which originate in the hills of Waziristan. The Bannu Valley proper stretches to the foot of the frontier hills, forming an irregular oval, measuring 60 miles (100 km) from north to south and 40 miles (60 km) from east to west.
The Kurram River, the larger of the two rivers, enters the district from the northwest, near the town of Bannu. From there, it runs first south-east, then south into Lakki Marwat. The Gambila River enters the district about 6 miles (9.7 km) south of the Kurram and flows in the same direction into Lakki Marwat, where the rivers eventually merge. Between these rivers and on the left bank of the Kurram in the upper portion of its course, lie the only tracts which are perennially irrigated. For the first 10 miles (16 km) of its passage through the district the Kurram runs between banks of stiff clay which rise abruptly to a height of 10 feet (3.0 m) to 30 feet (9.1 m), and its bed is full of stones and boulders; but downstream it spreads over long stretches of marshland. Its flow is rapid, but it is highly charged with a rich silt, which renders it valuable for irrigation
Bannu was noted by the Sanskrit grammarian Pāṇini as the historical country of Varnu. The Chinese pilgrim Hsüan-tsang visited Bannu and Jaguda, Ghazni, while crossing the lands of O-po-kien (Afghans i.e. Pashtuns).
The history of Bannu goes back many ages, due to its strategic location. Sheri Khan Tarakai is an ancient settlement site located in the Bannu District with ruins of the oldest known village settlement in the Bannu region, which was occupied from the late fifth until the early third millennium BC.
After the annexation of Punjab (then including the NWFP), the valley was administered by Herbert Edwardes. As a result of his administration, the region became a source of strong support during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Although the valley itself was peaceful, it was subject to incursions from the Waziri tribes of the Tochi Valley and the neighbouring hills. The primary export of the region was wheat. Salt and alum were also quarried at Kalabagh.
The modern district of Bannu was originally a tehsil of the old Bannu district of British India, in the Derajat Division of the North-West Frontier Province. The capital Bannu in the north-western corner of the district was the British base for expeditions to the Tochi Valley and the Waziristan frontier. A military road led from Bannu town toward Dera Ismail Khan.
Upon the creation of the North-West Frontier Province in 1901, the district of Bannu (equivalent to the now defunct Bannu Division), contained an area of 1,680 sq mi (4,351 km2) lying north of the Indus; the cis-Indus portions of Bannu were ceded to the Mianwali District of the Punjab.
In 1901 the District's population was 231,485, of whom the majority was Muslim. The principal tribes inhabiting the district are:
- Banizi, a Pashtun people who have always been very independent and stubbornly resisted the Sikh predecessors of the British.
- Wazir, comparatively recent immigrants from the hills, who are for the most part peaceable and good cultivators.
In 1947 during the Partition of India majority of the Lehnda speaking urban dwellers of Bannu town and district left for India as they were mostly Hindu and Sikh. The restriction of in migration of the refugees coming form the other side by the NWFP government of the time prompted the hill pushtuns who drove them out, to occupy the evacuated properties. The remaining minority urban seraiki or lehnda speaking Muslim inhabitants remained behind.
In 1990 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced Bannu becoming a Divisional Headquarters. The Bannu District was divided in two, with the Lakki Marwat separating and becoming its own district.
Bannu District is approximately 192 km (119 mi) south of Peshawar and lies within a sedimentary basin. It is flanked on all sides by the hard and dried mountain ranges of Koh-e-Safed and Koh-e-Suleiman. The Kurram River and its tributaries make it a scenic part of the southern region, with meadows, crops and orchards. Every kind of crop and fruit can be grown here, but its banana, date, fig and rice crops are especially unique in taste, smell and shape.
Bannu is of national economic importance, as it is the central market for the whole southern region. It also provides a safe and short route to the Central Asian markets.
Baran Dam, valuable for irrigation and the only dam in Pakistan, is situated in a natural low basin area and has never needed reconstruction since its initiation. Bannu has pure drinking water provided to all segments of society. The major industries of Bannu are cloth weaving and the manufacturing of cotton fabrics, machinery, and equipment.
Since 1974 the people of Bannu had been continuously requesting that the federal and provincial governments establish a university. In 2005 the University of Science and Technology, Bannu was founded, after an announcement by Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and an ordinance from the Governor. Other educational institutions include the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa University of Engineering and Technology (Bannu Campus), Bannu Medical College, VU (Islamic Institute of Education & Research) and the Danesh Kadda Bannu. There are six degree colleges for girls and more than 500 primary, middle and higher secondary schools.
Bannu has recently been blessed with a top school of Bannu named International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) School Bannu working under the umbrella of International Islamic University Islamabad having its own purpose-built building of approximately 8 Kanal land in Adil Colony at Kohat Chungi Bannu.
The main tribes are  the Bannuchi, Wazir, Bettani, Mehsud, Dawar, Marwat, Khattak and some Bangash and Hindus. The district has a population of 677,346 spread over an area of 1,227 square kilometres (474 sq mi).
- Constituencies and MPAs - Website of the Provincial Assembly of the NWFP
- Bannu District - Gazetteer of India, v. 6, p. 392
- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bannu". Encyclopædia Britannica 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Michael Witzel, "The Home of the Aryans"
- Petrie, C.A., Thomas, K.D. & Morris, J.C. 2010. Chronology of Sheri Khan Tarakai, in Petrie, C.A. (ed.). Sheri Khan Tarakai and early village life in the borderlands of north-west Pakistan, Bannu Archaeological Project Monographs - Volume 1, Oxbow Books, Oxford: 343-352.