Paktia Province

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Not to be confused with Paktika Province.
Paktia
پکتیا
Province
Aerial view of a fort in Gardez, the capital of Paktia province
Aerial view of a fort in Gardez, the capital of Paktia 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
Government
 • Governor Juma Khan Hamdard
Area
 • Total 6,432 km2 (2,483 sq mi)
Population (2002)[1]
 • Total 525,000
 • Density 82/km2 (210/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+4:30
ISO 3166 code AF-PIA
Main languages Pashto

Paktia (Pashto: پکتيا‎ - Paktyā) is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the east of the country. The province is divided into eleven districts and has a population of roughly 525,000,[1] which is mostly a tribal society living in rural areas. Pashtun tribes make up the majority of the population but smaller number of Tajiks are also found.[2] Gardēz is the provincial capital.

History[edit]

Further information: History of Afghanistan

Paktia province under Maurya Empire rule[edit]

Main article: Maurya Empire
Bilingual edict (Greek and Aramaic) by Emperor Ashoka, from Kandahar - Afghan National Museum. (Click image for translation).

While the Diadochi were warring amongst themselves, the Mauryan Empire was developing in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. The founder of the empire, Chandragupta Maurya, confronted a Macedonian invasion force led by Seleucus I in 305 BC and following a brief conflict, an agreement was reached as Seleucus ceded Gandhara and Arachosia (centered around ancient Kandahar) and areas south of Bagram (corresponding to the extreme south-east of modern Afghanistan) to the Mauryans. During the 120 years of the Mauryans in southern Afghanistan, Buddhism was introduced and eventually become a major religion alongside Zoroastrianism and local pagan beliefs. The ancient Grand Trunk Road was built linking what is now Kabul to various cities in the Punjab and the Gangetic Plain. Commerce, art, and architecture (seen especially in the construction of stupas) developed during this period. It reached its high point under Emperor Ashoka whose edicts, roads, and rest stops were found throughout the subcontinent. Although the vast majority of them throughout the subcontinent were written in Brāhmī, Afghanistan is notable for the inclusion of 2 Greek and Aramaic ones alongside the court language of the Mauryans, (Brāhmī).

Inscriptions made by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, a fragment of Edict 13 in Greek, as well as a full Edict, written in both Greek and Aramaic has been discovered in Kandahar. It is said to be written in excellent Classical Greek, using sophisticated philosophical terms. In this Edict, Ashoka uses the word Eusebeia ("Piety") as the Greek translation for the ubiquitous "Dharma" of his other Edicts written in Prakrit and were written in the script Brāhmī:

"Ten years (of reign) having been completed, King Piodasses (Ashoka) made known (the doctrine of) Piety (εὐσέβεια, Eusebeia) to men; and from this moment he has made men more pious, and everything thrives throughout the whole world. And the king abstains from (killing) living beings, and other men and those who (are) huntsmen and fishermen of the king have desisted from hunting. And if some (were) intemperate, they have ceased from their intemperance as was in their power; and obedient to their father and mother and to the elders, in opposition to the past also in the future, by so acting on every occasion, they will live better and more happily." (Trans. by G.P. Carratelli[3])

The last ruler in the region was probably Subhagasena (Sophagasenus of Polybius), who, in all probability, belonged to the Ashvaka (q.v.) background.

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.

Recent history[edit]

U.S. military base next to Gardez in 2007

Immediately after the fall of the Taliban government, 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.[4]

Paktia was the site of heavy fighting between Taliban insurgents and ISAF-backed Afghan National Security Forces. 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.

In September 2006, Governor Hakim Taniwal was killed by a Taliban suicide bomber as he left his office in Gardez.[5] At the time, Taniwal was the highest-ranking post-Taliban official to be killed by insurgent forces in the country.

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.[6][7][8] Head of Joint Special Operations Command, U.S. Vice Admiral William McRaven stated that the deaths were a "terrible mistake",[9] offered an apology, accepted responsibility for the deaths and made a traditional Afghan condolence offering of sheep.[10]

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.

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.[11][12]

Politics and governance[edit]

Further information: List of governors of Paktia
Afghan National Army Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim, the commando commander of the 1st Special Operations Brigade, inspects a formation during the brigade's opening ceremony at Forward Operating Base Thunder (August 2013)

The current governor of the province is Juma Khan Hamdard. His predecessor was Rahmatullah Rahmat. The city of Gardez serves as the capital of the province.

All law enforcement activities throughout the province are controlled by the Afghan National Police (ANP) along with the Afghan Local Police (ALP). The border with neighboring Pakistan is monitored by the Afghan Border Police (ABP). A provincial police chief is assigned to lead both the ANP and the ABP. The Police Chief represents the Ministry of the Interior in Kabul. The ANP and ABP are backed by the Afghan Armed Forces, including the NATO-led forces.

The first American Provincial Reconstruction Team base was established in Gardez to supply security and reconstruction, and has funded several successful projects.

Healthcare[edit]

Further information: Health in Afghanistan

The percentage of households with clean drinking water increased from 30% in 2005 to 36% in 2011.[13] The percentage of births attended to by a skilled birth attendant fell from 9% in 2005 to 3% in 2011.[13]

Education[edit]

Further information: Education in Afghanistan

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

Geography[edit]

Further information: Geography of Afghanistan
Snow-covered mountains in Paktia province

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 (Zazi) 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].

Demographics[edit]

Further information: Demographics of Afghanistan
People of Paktia province
Districts of Paktia province

As of 2013, the total population of the province is about 525,000,[1] which is mostly a tribal society. According to the Institute for the Study of War, "The province is predominantly Pashtun, with a small Tajik population."[2] According to the Naval Postgraduate School, the ethnic groups of the province are as follows: 91% Pashtun and 9% Tajik.[14]

Districts[edit]

Districts of Paktia Province
District Capital Population Area[15] 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
Janikhel
Lazha Ahmadkhel
Lazha Mangal
Mirzaka
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
Shwak
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]

  • Shah-i-Kot Valley
  • Tera Pass, the mountain pass linking Paktia with Logar province to the north
  • Khost-Gardez Pass (K-G Pass), the mountain pass linking Paktia with Khost province to the south
  • Gardez, the geographic and cultural center of the province

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]