Bajaur Agency


The origin of the word Bajaur is uncertain and nothing is exactly known as to when and how this name was given to this area. However, according to one version it was derived from the Persian word Baj (tribute) and awardan (to bring). Legend is that the area of Bajaur once belonged to a tribe called Arab upto the time of the Pathan conquest and was ruled by the Chief of Arab tribe, therefore, it denotes the area which paid tribute to the Chief, or which paid tribute to the Hindu dynasty of the day. According to the version of the common man of the area the word Bajaur denotes an area which has been ruled by powerful tribal chiefs with force Bajaur in the annals of history. However, the empirical facts and historical data support the first version about the origin of the word Bajaur. It’s administrative headquarters is at Khar town, at a distance of about 140 kilometers north of Peshawar connected through a metalled road via Mohmand Agency and Malakand Agency. The land mass of the agency lies between 34° 30′ and 34° 58′ north latitudes and 71′ 11° and 71′ 48° east longitudes. The green valleys of Bajaur Agency are situated in the north – west of NWFP. The agency is surrounded by Dir district on the north – east, Afghanistan on the north – east, Mohmand Agency on the south – west and Malakand Agency on the south – east. The total area of the agency is 1,290 square kilometers.


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.


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 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 clan’s men.


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).


People wear the traditional Pakhtoon dress of Shalwar Kameez and head-wear. Generally, the people wear hand made Dir caps while notables wear Pugri and Kula, but this tradition is gradually fading out. Women folk wear Shalwar Kameez and Chadder/veil and for Purdah they use Burkas (veil).


Simplicity is the haul-mark of the food of the people of Bajaur. Rice is a staple dish especially for dinners. Maize bread with local vegetable Saag and Lassi is offered to guest as a seasonal specialty in summer.


Mostly the houses are made of mud through out the agency. The houses are called Qila that is fortresses, which encompasses a number of houses inside. A house generally consists of two or three rooms with a verandah in the rear and front. Joint family system is in vogue in the agency. Every cluster of houses has a common sitting place called Hujra where the male members daily meet, discuss and share views on variety of local, national and inter-national issues with each others. It is a common place and is also used as a guest room. The young spend winter nights in Hujra and arrange for themselves music programmes or dishes as a pass time activity. It is an important part of Pakhtoon culture which is unfortunately changing with the modern times as people have begun to prefer using personal gust-room.


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.

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