Paktia Province

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Not to be confused with Paktika Province.
Map of Afghanistan with Paktia highlighted
Map of Afghanistan with Paktia highlighted
Coordinates (Capital): 33°36′N 69°30′E / 33.6°N 69.5°E / 33.6; 69.5Coordinates: 33°36′N 69°30′E / 33.6°N 69.5°E / 33.6; 69.5
Country Afghanistan
Capital Gardez
 • Total 6,432 km2 (2,483 sq mi)
Population (2002)[1]
 • Total 415,000
 • Density 65/km2 (170/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+4:30
ISO 3166 code AF-PIA
Main languages Pashto

Paktia (Pashto: پکتيا‎ - Paktyā), is one of the thirty-four Provinces of Afghanistan, in the east of the country. Its capital is Gardēz. The population is predominantly Pashtun.


Paktia is basically Pashtia (پښتیا). Some Pashtun scholars are claiming that the word Pashtu has been stemmed from Pashtia (پښتو = پښتیا). Paktia used to be a unified province with Khost and Paktika, these three provinces are now referred to as Loya Paktia, meaning "Greater Paktia". Paktia came to prominence during the 1980s, when a significant portion of Afghanistan's leadership originated from the province. Some of the more notable leaders include: Najibullah Ahmadzai, a former President of Afghanistan, Mohammad Aslam Watanjar, Shahnawaz Tanai, and Sayed Muhammad Gulabzoi.

More recently, Paktia was the site of heavy fighting between Taliban and NATO forces following the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. Paktia was one of the last redoubts of organized Taliban resistance; much of Operation Anaconda took place in Zurmat, one of Paktia's larger districts.

The province fell from the Islamist regime’s grasp with ease in November 2001, as tribal councils initially took control locally after the US-led invasion Operation Enduring Freedom.

After some early unrest a long period of relative calm followed, despite the occasional high-profile incident such as the 2006 assassination of the governor, by a suicide bomber. There was a rise in violent incidents when the pullout of Americans troops neared in 2014.


The uncertain security situation and remoteness of the province has led to many provincial Governors being appointed in the short time since the fall of the Taliban. After the assassination of Hakim Taniwal in September 2006, Rahmatullah Rahmat was appointed as provincial Governor. Rahmat was replaced by Juma Khan Hamdard in January 2008.

Despite the many problems facing the province, it is one of the more stable in the southeast of the country and there has been a concerted effort to improve the civic infrastructure, giving Paktia a reasonable rate of reconstruction.[2] The first American Provincial Reconstruction Team base was established in Gardez to supply security and reconstruction, and has funded several successful projects.


The percentage of households with clean drinking water increased from 30% in 2005 to 36% in 2011.[3] The percentage of births attended to by a skilled birth attendant fell from 9% in 2005 to 3% in 2011.[3]


The overall literacy rate (6+ years of age) fell from 35% in 2005 to 27% in 2011.[3] The overall net enrolment rate (6–13 years of age) fell from 65% in 2005 to 24% in 2011.[3]

Security situation[edit]

In September 2006, Governor Hakim Taniwal was killed by a Taliban suicide bomber as he left his office in Gardez.[4] At the time, Taniwal was the highest-ranking post-Taliban official to be killed by insurgent forces in the country.

Paktia is one of the most politically complicated provinces in the country.[according to whom?] Militia commanders are a strong presence in the province, and their shifting allegiances and violent tendencies make governance of the region problematic.[according to whom?] The province also has the difficult mountainous and cavernous terrain typical of the Hindu Kush range, providing armed groups ample cover from which to conduct guerilla operations.[according to whom?]

Immediately after the fall of the Taliban, Paktia was one of the most chaotic regions in the country, as a small civil war broke out between rival militia commanders for control of the province, and Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters gave occupying U.S. troops some of their heaviest losses in the cave complexes south of Gardez.[5]

The security situation in Paktia has improved significantly in recent years,[when?] though isolated fighting by Taliban militants and persistent tribal conflicts in the eastern part of the province continue to challenge the government.[citation needed] The provincial capital, Gardez, is among the most secure in the southeastern part of the country, owing in part to a large presence by coalition and Afghan security forces.[citation needed]

Parts of Paktia are also believed to be a safe haven for militants from the Haqqani network, an anti-government combat organisation involved in the Taliban insurgency.[6][7]

On February 12, 2010, five civilians including two pregnant women and a teenage girl were killed by U.S. special forces during the Khataba raid. U.S. special forces were later accused of attempting to cover up the incident.[8][9][10] Head of Joint Special Operations Command, U.S. Vice Admiral William McRaven stated that the deaths were a "terrible mistake",[11] offered an apology, accepted responsibility for the deaths and made a traditional Afghan condolence offering of sheep.[12]


Paktia borders the Pakistani-ruled tribal areas of North Waziristan, Bannu and Kurram Agency. Like most of the traditional Pashtun areas of Afghanistan, the Durand Line that marks the border with Pakistan is "drawn on water", and residents move freely between the two countries. Within Afghanistan, it borders Logar Province, Ghazni Province, Paktika Province, and Khost Province, in counterclockwise order.

Paktia is a largely mountainous province, with most of the population living in the central valley stretching from Ahmad Khel in the east down through Zormat and into neighboring Paktika province. The eastern part of the province, particularly Chamkani and Dand wa Patan, is a second valley leading into Pakistan.

Jaji and Jani Khel districts are largely mountainous with much smaller inhabited valleys.

The Khost-Gardez Pass area, to the south of Gardez, is mountainous with settlements limited to the main pass and smaller valleys.

As of 2005, Azra district is no longer a part of Paktya. It has been attached to Logar Province to the north, to which it is much more closely connected by roadways and people[clarification needed].


Districts of Paktia.

Paktia is made up of 14 districts

Districts of Paktia Province
District Capital Population Area[13] Notes
Ahmadabad Created in 2005 within Sayid Karam District; includes the unofficial district Mirzaka
Dand Aw Patan
Gardez Includes the capital Gardez, which lies at the crossroads of the province's main north-south and east-west roads
Gerda Serai
Lazha Ahmadkhel
Lazha Mangal
Tsamkani Includes the city of Tsamkani, the largest in the eastern half of Paktia and a major gateway to Pakistan
Sayid Karam Sub-divided in 2005
Wuza Zadran Sub-divided in 2005 to create Gerda Serai
Zazi People fleeing sectarian strife between Shiites and Sunnis in Pakistan occasionally take refuge in zazi
Zurmat Populous, relatively prosperous agricultural district. Unlike most other districts, Zurmat includes more than one tribal group, making it somewhat more fractious than other districts

Gerda Serai, Lazha Ahmadkhel and Mirzaka are unofficial districts.

Important geographical features[edit]


The population is 90% Pashtun, who are the majority in the province, and around 10% people are Tajiks.[14]


The main Pashtun groups are:[15]

Young school boys in the Bamozai village of Paktia province


See also[edit]


External links[edit]