The Bala Hesar fortress in the center of Gardez City
|Elevation||2,300 m (7,500 ft)|
|Time zone||Afghanistan Standard Time (UTC+4:30)|
Gardēz (Pashto: ګردېز, Persian: گردیز) 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, but was estimated to be 70,000 in 2008. The population is overwhelmingly Pashtun. 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.
Location and infrastructure
Gardez is located at 2,300 m above sea level, being the third highest capital of an Afghan province, and is not far from the Tora Bora region of caves and tunnels. The city is watered by the upper course of the Gardez River, which ends in the Ab-e Istada lake. Gardez is located at a junction between two important roads, one linking Ghazni with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the other connecting Kabul and Khost. The city is west of Khost and 100 kilometres (62 mi) south of Kabul.
- Bāzār-e Kohna (old Bazaar)
- Qaraye Āhangarān (district of the blacksmiths)
- Qaraye Arjākhēl (Arjākhēl district)
- Nawābād (new town; extending into a new residential area, a new bazaar, and administrative center)
|Climate data for Gardez|
|Record high °C (°F)||14.6
|Average high °C (°F)||1.0
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−6.1
|Average low °C (°F)||−11.7
|Record low °C (°F)||−31
|Precipitation mm (inches)||35.8
|Avg. rainy days||1||1||6||9||6||2||3||2||0||2||3||1||36|
|Avg. snowy days||8||8||5||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||6||29|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||171.5||166.8||214.2||242.9||316.2||357.5||343.0||335.8||329.8||302.4||253.9||200.4||3,234.4|
|Source: NOAA (1970-1983) |
|History of Afghanistan|
Gardez is an ancient settlement, located in the Highlands of the Hindu Kush. Unfortunately, its history is only very poorly documented. Archaeological discoveries, including Greek, Sassanid, Hephthalite, and Turki-Shāhī coins give a small insight into the rich history of Gardez.
Gardez under the Mauryan Empire
The Gardez territory fell to the Maurya Empire, which was led by Chandragupta Maurya. The Mauryas introduced Hinduism and Buddhism to region, and were planning to capture more territory of Central Asia until they faced local Greco-Bactrian forces. Seleucus is said to have reach a peace treaty with Chandragupta by given control of the territory south of the Hindu Kush to the Mauryas upon intermarriage and 500 elephants.
Alexander took these away from the Indo-Aryans and established settlements of his own, but Seleucus Nicator gave them to Sandrocottus (Chandragupta), upon terms of intermarriage and of receiving in exchange 500 elephants.—Strabo, 64 BCE–24 CE
Some time after, as he was going to war with the generals of Alexander, a wild elephant of great bulk presented itself before him of its own accord, and, as if tamed down to gentleness, took him on its back, and became his guide in the war, and conspicuous in fields of battle. Sandrocottus, having thus acquired a throne, was in possession of India, when Seleucus was laying the foundations of his future greatness; who, after making a league with him, and settling his affairs in the east, proceeded to join in the war against Antigonus. As soon as the forces, therefore, of all the confederates were united, a battle was fought, in which Antigonus was slain, and his son Demetrius put to flight.
Having consolidated power in the northwest, Chandragupta pushed east towards the Nanda Empire. Afghanistan's significant ancient tangible and intangible Buddhist heritage is recorded through wide-ranging archeological finds, including religious and artistic remnants. Buddhist doctrines are reported to have reached as far as Balkh even during the life of the Buddha (563 BCE to 483 BCE), as recorded by Husang Tsang.
In this context a legend recorded by Husang Tsang refers to the first two lay disciples of Buddha, Trapusa and Bhallika responsible for introducing Buddhism in that country. Originally these two were merchants of the kingdom of Balhika, as the name Bhalluka or Bhallika probably suggests the association of one with that country. They had gone to India for trade and had happened to be at Bodhgaya when the Buddha had just attained enlightenment.
According to the medieval Tārīkh-i Sīstān, the city was founded by the Kharijite warlord Hamza bin Abdullāh Shārī, although scholars agree that this is probably only a reference to the Islamic conquest of the city. In any case, Gardez became a center of Kharijite belief for more than a century under the local dynasty of the Aflahids in the distant eastern parts of the Abbasid caliphate.. In 870, the city was conquered by the Saffarid ruler Yaqub ibn Layth. In 975, the Ghaznavids took over the city, while the converted Aflahids entered the Ghaznavid nobility. In 1162, the city fell to the Sultāns of Ghōr.
Renowned for its multi-storied houses—as mentioned by the Central Asian conqueror Babur—the city was part of the Mughal Empire in the 16th century. However, nothing is known of the town during the subsequent centuries and no building remains.
Today, Gardez is the administrative center of a district of the Paktiā province, which covers 650 km2 and had a total population of 44,000 inhabitants in 1979, but was almost totally depopulated during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.
In 1960 the German government had their biggest rural development project with a budget of 2.5 million Deutsch Marks for the development of Paktiā ("Paktiā Development Authority", see above). The project was unsuccessful as the communist regime came to power in the 1979. The communists lost control of most of Paktiā during the 80s as the country plunged into war with only Gardez remaining in government control.
Today Paktiā remains one of the most stable provinces in the southeast compared to Khost and Paktikā.
As of 2008, the population of Gardez was estimated to be around 73,131. Pashtun make up ca. 70% of the population while the autochthonous Tajik community accounts for ca. 30%. As explained in the Encyclopaedia Iranica, Gardez is a city "belonging to a network of old isolated Tājīk settlements in southern Afghanistan that are remnants of a time when Pashto had not yet reached the area."
Economy and administration
The city of Gardez is also a major fuel wood market for Kabul. Many of its natural forests are being cut down to provide fuel wood especially during winter. Gardez is also the regional center for the southeastern Afghanistan that includes Paktikā, Khost and Ghaznī provinces.
During the 1970s, Gardez experienced an economic boom as a result of the German-funded "Paktiā Development Authority", established in 1965, and of the asphalting of the road to Kabul. Social services included three schools for boys, one school for girls, a hospital, one teacher training institute, the Madrasaye Roshānī, two hotels, and forty mosques. Most of these buildings were destroyed during the civil war in the 1980s.
After the fall of the Taliban, the first Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Afghanistan was established in Paktiā near Gardez in early March 2003, headed by the US Army along with a U.S. Agency for International Development representative. There are now over 30 PRTs in Afghanistan. The continuing challenge to bring electricity, medical clinics, schools and water to the more remote villages in Paktia are a result of ongoing security issues.
Security and politics
Gardez was the former home of the 3rd Corps of the Afghan Army. By the Afghan Militia Forces period (c.2002), the corps 'theoretically incorporated 14th Division, 30th Division, 822nd Brigade, Border Brigades, and approximately 800.. in the Governor's Force in Paktya, Ghazni, Paktika, and Khost Provinces. The corps was disbanded around 2003-2005 and replaced in the new Afghan National Army by the 203rd Corps.
According to local Police Chief Brigadier General Aziz Ahmad Wardak, on 19 August 2009 six people were arrested for distributing night letters threatening people with attacks if they participated in the election.
Famous people from Gardez
- Abu Saʿīd Gardēzī, an 11th-century geographer and historian. He is the author of the general history book, Zayn al-Akhbār or "Tarikh-i Gardezi". Gardezi's work is of great importance to the history of medieval Afghanistan, Persia, and Central Asia.
- Shah Gardez, an 11th-century Syed saint from Gardez, established himself in Multan, Pakistan.
- Mohammad Najibullah, the last president of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. After his overthrow, he was killed by the Taliban on September 27, 1996. He is buried in Gardez.
- Abdullah Mujahid, a militia leader who is held in extrajudicial detention in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps in Cuba by the U.S government.
References and notes
- Global Security: Gardez
- "Gardiz Climate Normals 1961-1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved December 26, 2012.
- Nancy Hatch Dupree / Aḥmad ʻAlī Kuhzād (1972). "An Historical Guide to Kabul - The Name". American International School of Kabul. Retrieved 2010-09-18.
- Historiarum Philippicarum libri XLIV, XV.4.19
- Puri, Baij Nath (1987). Buddhism in central Asia. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. p. 352. ISBN 81-208-0372-8. Retrieved 2010-11-03.
- For photograph of statue and details of inscription, see: Dhavalikar, M. K., "Gaņeśa: Myth and Reality", in: Brown 1991, pp. 50,63.
- Daniel Balland, "Gardez", in Encyclopaedia Iranica (in regard of the population of Gardez: with reference to Wiebe, "Strukturwandlungen afghanischer Mittelpunktsiedlungen unter dem Einfluss ausländischer Infrastrukturprojekte", Germany, 1982, p. 76), Online Edition, (LINK)
- "Hodūd al-Ālam", ed. Sotūda, p. 71, tr. Minorsky, p. 91; Bivar & Bosworth, 1965, pp. 17 ff.
- "Baburnama", section "qal'a", tr. Beveridge, p. 220
- "Ā'in-e Akbari", tr. Heinrich Blochmann, II, p. 411
- Michael Bhatia, Mark Sedra, Michael Vinay Bhatia, Mark Sedra, 'Afghanistan, Arms and Conflict: Post-9/11 Security and Insurgency, Routledge, 2008, ISBN 113405422X, 209.
- Niazai, Lemar. "10 detained for distributing night letters". 19 August 2009. PAJHWOK ELECTIONS. Accessed at: http://www.aliveinafghanistan.org/aiablog/p=630?
- Farah Stockman (August 12, 2007). "US behind Afghan warlord's rise, fall: At Guantanamo, unruly chieftains join combatants". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-09-18. mirror