District map of FATA and NWFP. Districts of FATA are shown in orange; Orakzai is located in the centre.
|Established||30 November 1973|
|• Political agent||Mr Khushal Khan|
|• Total||1,800 km2 (700 sq mi)|
|• Density||250/km2 (650/sq mi)|
|Time zone||PST (UTC+5)|
|Main language(s)||Pashto, English|
Orakzai Agency is one of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. It has a population of 450,000 and an area of 700 square miles (1,800 km2). The Orakzai tribe comprises 18 subsidiary tribes.
The Orakzai tribes take their name, which literally means the lost son (Wrak Dzoy), from a romantic legend about their ancestor, Sikandar Shah, who was a prince from Iran, was exiled or lost, and after many adventures married and ruled in Tirah. The tribal area now forming Orakzai Agency was previously included in Frontier Region Kohat district and remained as such until 30 November 1973.
The Biland Khel, a small pocket measuring about 6.5 square kilometres, is also part of this agency and lies a couple of kilometres off Thall, bordering North Waziristan and Kurram agencies. Responding to a long-standing demand of the Orakzais, the then President of Pakistan announced the creation of Orakzai Agency on 3 November 1973 and was formally inaugurated on 1 December 1973. Prior to its upgrading to agency status, this area was administered as a Frontier Region of the Kohat district by the Deputy Commissioner of Kohat.
The Orakzai Agency consists of two sub-divisions: Upper sub-division and Lower sub-division. The Upper sub-division comprises two Tehsils, Upper Tehsil and Ismailzai Tehsil, while the Lower sub-division also has two Tehsils, Lower Tehsil and Central Tehsil. The land of the Orakzai tribes is located between 33° -33' to 33° -54' north latitudes and 70° -36' to 71° -22' east longitudes. It is bounded in the north by Khyber Agency, in the east by FR Kohat, in the south by Kohat and Hangu districts, and in the west by Kurram Agency. The total area of the agency is 1,538 square kilometres
There are eighteen major Orakzai tribes:
- Ali Khel
- Mullah Khel
- Mishti 
- Shikhan
- Rabia khel
- Ber Muhammed khel
- Mani khel
- Feroz khel
- Massozai
- Akhel
- Sepoy
- Ali Sherzai
- Mirazi khel
- Bizot Khel
- Utman Khel
- Stori Khel
However, these tribes have been assimilated into the Orakzai culture and are considered[by whom?] to be Orakzai. Certain Orakzai tribes like the Masozai and half the Lashkarzai find themselves in Kurram Agency for historical and administrative reasons. An Ethnic Pashtun Bangash tribe, the Buland Khel, is attached to the Orakzai agency also for administrative and historical reasons, although they live at some distance from the agency between Thall and Bannu, North Waziristan.
Then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto announced the creation of the agency at a grand tribal jirga at Samana and it began functioning on 1 December 1973. Before this, the Orakzai tribes were part of the Kohat and Hangu Frontier region. The headquarters of the agency are at Hangu District, but tehsil-level headquarters are situated in Kalaya and Ghiljo.
The valley is flanked by mountain ranges 6,000 to 7,000 feet (2,100 m) high. Among the seven tribal agencies, Orakzai Agency is the second smallest in area after Bajaur Agency. It is bounded by Kurram Agency in the west, Khyber in the north, Kohat District on the south and Peshawar in the east. The whole of the territory of Orakzai agency is a mountainous tract dissected by numerous dry water courses, especially in the south-western part of the agency. The two major streams are the Mastura River and Khanki Toi River, both of which originate from the hills to west and run the east.
Orakzai Agency is a hilly region with a fertile valley. The elevation of the hills varies from over 10,000 feet (3,000 m) in the west and to less than 6,650 feet (2,030 m) in east. Generally the elevation of the plain varies from 5,200 to 5,500 feet (1,700 m) above sea level. Important peaks are Sangla (6325 ft) and chara Kandaco (5643 ft). The height of Kalaya and Sangla is nearly equal.
Orakzai Agency is characterized by intensely cold winters and mild summers. December, January and February are the coldest months and snowfall occurs in these months. Summers are mild and the maximum temperature does not go above 30 degrees Celsius. Surrounding mountains are covered by dense and thick forests, which produce a cooling effect in summer. Due to geographical position of Orakzai and its thick forest cover, it rains throughout the year. In winter, the precipitation is in the form of snowfall over the surrounding mountains as well as in valley itself. There is no rain gauge, but rainfall is estimated to be around 36 inches (910 mm) per year.
Some of main areas of Upper Orakzai include:
- (Sultan Zai) most of the land of Sultan Zai, which is about 10000 canals,is an inheritance of Khan Aminullah Khan of Orakzai and is distributed between his two sons Khan Nasrullah Khan and Khan Rafiullah Khan of Orakzai equally Khan Nasrullah Khan has three sons 1-Maj Habib ullah Khan 2- Ihsan Ullah Khan 3- Col Amanullah Khan and Khan Rafiullah Khan has four sons 1- Hashmatullah khan 2- Skindar Khan 3- Hashim Khan and 4 Alam Khan so this land is distributed accordingly among them as per dastoor riwaj.
At the time of Z A Bhutto being the premier of Pakistan it was needed to make agency headquarters of lower orakzai in Kalaya so then the IGFC NWFP Gen Naseer Ullah Babar communicated through Col Amanullah Khan then commanding shawal rifles Razmak with Khan Nasrullah Khan and Khan Rafiullah Khan and a land of 480 canal was demarcated and paid for by the government and Kalaya head quarters were made.
The Shia area includes Zira, Andkhel, Merazai, Dorankai,Darma, Kalaya,Panzary,Char Bagh,Sarobi Gari, Kadda,Hussainy Garhi,Mandai, Tharngai, Jabber, Kadola, Dappa (a small, very beautiful village on the top of mountain, many visitors come here in summer to enjoy this pleasant season), Sra Mela, Choryano Mela, Kharkai, Khamal, Maura, Abu dak, Handou, Laka seza, Dargee,Khinsar, Dobsana, Kurez, Pera, Star sam, Sepoy and Darwazeye etc. An astonishing feature of Mani Khel Darra (A town near Kalaya) is a natural tunnel, called Nanawar. Locals say that no one has been to the end of it so far. The people are more than 50% educated people,however they are more social. They still maintain the Hujra system, a symbol of their unity and community culture. Lower Orakzai has some very good landscapes and picnic spots, featuring lush green meadows and mountains covered by forests. There are some small hotels for tourists. The people are quite hospitable, and they provide guest accommodations in Hujra. Coal and wood are the area's major products. Crops are grown on a small level while others items for daily consumption are purchased from Kohat and Hangu.
Culture of the area is dominantly Pashtun, with people adhering strongly to the Pashtun code of conduct also known as "Pakhto or Pashtunwali". Religion is evident in their lifestyle. People are very much social and maintain Hujra culture. Hujra is a community centre, guest house, meeting place, court and shelter. People adhere strongly to the jirga system for peace and justice where saying of the respectable elders is observed.
Talibanization and Army offensive
Talibanization of the area started back in 2006 when sectarian violence was at an apex. In the beginning, the Taliban were welcome because no one knew their actual objectives, they intermingled with the locals in the start and when they were in sufficient numbers, they started to dictate the people. The local people found themselves helpless and were forced to obey. The Shia population resisted Talibanization in the first place. After a humiliating defeat in Waziristan, the Taliban fled to Orakzai Agency. Very soon the area witnessed intense violence and the Army started an unannounced offensive(Orakzai and Kurram offensive). The army cut them in the west from the Kurram Agency, in the south from Kohat and in the east from Bara and started a three pronged attack, locals supported the army to their capacity and soon they were forced to flee and evacuate the lower subdivision. Heavy damages were inflicted upon them in the upper subdivision also and their influence in the area reduced very much. This resulted in the mass evacuation of the IDPs towards Kohat and Hangu where they were given shelter in camps. The situation has defused greatly in Lower Orakzai division but an army operation against Taliban militants continues in Central and Upper sub-divisions.
Lower Orakzai Agency Village Jalaka Mela. It is a small village in the centre of Lower Orakzai Agency. People say it the Heart of Orakzai. Sohbat Khan the leader of Orakzai belong to this village.
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (January 2009)|
- Shaharyar M. Khan, (2000). The Begums of Bhopal: A History of the Princely State of Bhopal, Appendix 2: The Orakzai People
- "List of Returning Officers and Assistant Returning Officers of the National Assembly Constituencies". Election Commission of Pakistan. Retrieved 20 February 2008.
- Dawn. South Waziristan operation: Only Sararogha cleared in three years.