Bajaur is an Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. Smallest of the agencies in FATA, it has a hilly terrain. To the south of Bajour is the wild mountain district of the Mohmands. To the east, beyond the Panjkora river, are the hills of Swat, dominated by another Pathan group. To the north is an intervening watershed between Bajour and the small state of Dir; and it is over this watershed and through the valley of Dir that the new road from Malakand and the Punjab runs to Chitral. Its population was 595,227. It borders Afghanistan's Kunar Province. Its border with Afghanistan's Kunar province makes it of strategic importance to Pakistan and the region. The headquarters of the Agency administration is located in the town of Khar.
The terrain of the agency is mountainous and hilly. In the northern part mountain ranges are 3,000 meter high. Towards the south the height gradually decreases and on the southern border, peaks are slightly over 2,500 meters high, in the central part, the height further decreases. In the north western half, the land slopes down to the south east direction while the central parts slopes to the north east through the Jandol Khwar and Panjkora river. The Panjkora River flows in southern direction till it joins the Swat River, which flows along the eastern boundary of Bajaur Agency.
An interesting feature in the topography is a mountain spur from the Kunar range, which curving eastwards culminates in the well-known peak of Koh-i-Mor, which is visible from the Peshawar valley. It was here, at the foot of the mountain, that Alexander the Great found the ancient city of Nysa and the Nysaean colony, traditionally said to have been founded by Dionysus.The Koh-i-Mor has been identified as the Meros of Arrian's historythe three-peaked mountain from which the god issued.
Administrative Set Up
Administratively, Bajaur Agency comprises of two sub-divisions, namely,
Khar sub-division has further been divided into three Tehsil, namely
Nawagai sub-division consists of four tehsils, namely
The Political Agent is the over all in charge for the agency administration, assisted by Assistant Political Agents. The agency headquarter is located at Khar. Administratively, Bajaur Agency comprises of two sub-divisions, namely, Khar sub-division and Nawagai sub-division under two Assistant Political Agents. Khar sub-division has further been divided into three Tehsil, namely Khar, Salazai, and Uthman khel, while Nawagai sub-division consists of four tehsils, namely Chamar kand, nawagai, Mamund and Barang. Thus, all the seven Tehsils in the agency are under the charge of three Political Tehsildars and Political Naib Tehsildars.
The early history of this part of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is marked by invasions of Alexander (fourth century B.C) and Mahmood of Ghazna (11 the century A.D). In the 16th century, Pakhtoon tribes, mostly around the present day city of Qandhar in Afghanistan entered the area and settled in the area. It has been said that the Tarkani tribe of Bajaur Agency (Mamund, Charmang and Salar zai) was ruled by the Mughuls with Sakhi Arab Khan as their governor whose graveyard exists at Nawi Dand near Khar till today. Alexander the great reportedly camped at Sikandaro, in Bajaur Agency and this place is known after his name. The present Jandool including maidan and Barawal areas were once parts of Bajaur when ruled by Umara Khan. Umara Khan was Mast Khel Tarkani. He was able to extend his rule up-to Dir by ousting Mohammad Aurang Zeb Khan alias Bad shah Khan, the then Khan of Dir. These areas were, however, wrested back from him by Nawab of Dir and are now in Lower Dir district. Prior to 1960, Bajaur Agency almost remained a semi-independent territory and was treated as an inaccessible area under political jurisdiction of Political Agency Malakand. It is the only agency in FATA, which had contained a number of mini-states or Khanates such as Khanate of Khar, Khanate of Nawagai and Khanate of pashat etc. These mini-states were internally ruled by three respective Khans who owned all the agricultural land in their jurisdiction and most of the people within their Khanates were their tenants. In 1960, Bajaur Agency was declared as a sub-division of Malakand Agency and an Assistant Political Agent was appointed with his headquarters at Munda in Lower Dir district to deal with its affairs. It was, however, declared as a full fledged agency in 1973 and a Political Agent was appointed with his headquarter at Khar. Nonetheless, since the establishment of the agency in 1973 and during the recent years, the government has managed to establish its rule and authority which gently go unchallenged. On the other side, the Uthman khel tribe of the agency is more egalitarian in nature and has historically always maintained a complete independence. Their area is mountainous, largely infertile and unproductive except some alluvial area on the southern bank of the Rud. The various clans of this tribe do not generally maintain much good relations inter-se. There is no big Khan or Malik in the Uthman khel area to subjugate his clans men.
Race and Tribes
The two major tribes inhabiting the agency are:
Tarkanai tribe is further sub-divided into six sections, namely,
Chamar kand &
Ex-state of Khar.
Uthman khel have seven sections i.e.
They are the off shoots of Yousaf zai tribe. Tarkanai out-number the Utman khel as regards their population. However, Utman khel on the other hand occupy a large area. The Utman Khel are at the southeast of Bajaur, while Mamund are at the southwest, and the Tarkani are at the north of Bajaur.
River and Streams
A number of springs and streams of sweet water flow through out the agency and serve as clean water sources for drinking and irrigation. Rud is the major stream which drains the main Khar Nawagai valley and flows from south west to north east and discharges into Munda Khwar at a village called Kulala (Bajaur).
Extensive deposits of marble are found at several places in Bajaur Agency. The marble is associated with the calcareous rocks in the malange zone. The marble is processed in different green and block colours. The marble is processed in different marble factories in NWFP, and in other parts of the country.
The agency has extreme climate. The winter season begins in November and lasts up to March. The winters are extremely chill and cold and sometimes temperature plunges below freezing point. December, January and February are the coldest months. The mean maximum and minimum temperatures in these months are in the range of 5 to 16 degree Celsius. The summer season lasts from May to October. June, July and August are the hottest months. The mean maximum and minimum temperatures in this period is in the range of 23 to 36 degree Celsius.
The people in the agency are not widely educated. They migrate to down districts in search of jobs or any other labour. Government services are a cherished source of livelihood for many. Agricultural farming, small scale business and working on daily wages basis are also major providers of job and sources employment in the agency.
Places of Interst
Simandaro is the area historically known for arrival of the Alexander the Great to this area in pursuance of his conquests. A few shrines in the agency are also historically known. These are Ghazi Baba, Sakhi Baba, Shiekh Baba and Mir Ali Baba. Besides, the tomb of sakhi Arab Khan, Governor of this area under Mughals at Naway Dhand on outskirts of Khar is also of some historical importance.
Major towns apart from Khar include Raghagan, HajilawanG and Jar.