Orakzai Agency was previously included in Frontier Region Kohat district and remained as such till 30-11-1973. The Biland Khel, a small pocket measuring about 6.5 square kilometers is also part of this agency and lies couple of kilometres off Thall, bordering North Waziristan and Kurram agencies. Responding to long standing demand of the Orakzais the then President of Pakistan announced the creation of Orakzai Agency on 3-11-1973 and was formally inaugurated on 1st December, 1973. Prior to its upgradation as an agency this area was administered as Frontier Region of Kohat district by the Deputy Commissioner, Kohat.
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. Orakzai Agency is one of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. It has a population of 450,000.
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.
Physical Features/ Geography
There are two valleys Khanki and Mastura bounded by parallel ranges in the same directions. The ranges are densely covered with low brush wood. Occasional groves of pines are also found along these ranges which may have been thickly populated in the past. The valleys are in general 12 kilometers apart at the maximum. These are interpassed by important passes having heights of 1500 to 2400 meters. Physiographically, Orakzai Agency is a mountainous area, dominated by the mountains of Karagh Ghar range dissected by numerous water courses. The height of the hills varies from 3000 meters in the west to less than 2000 meters in the east. Area near Bara River is fertile and yield rich harvest.
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 southwestern 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.
The Orakzai Agency consists of two sub-divisions
The Upper sub-division comprises two Tehsils i.e.
Upper Tehsil and
The Lower sub-division has two Tehsils i.e.
Lower Tehsil and
Some of main areas of Upper Orakzai include:
The administrative set up in the agency consists of Political Agent who is overall incharge of the agency. The agency has two sub-divisions looked after by Assistant Political Agents. The four Tehsils of the agency are headed by Political Tehsildars and Political Niab Tehsildars. The Malik system introduced by the British government is the same in Orakzai Agency as functioning in other FATA. Maliks used to work like a medium between administration and the (Qaum) or tribe. In Orakzai Agency there are 8,639 Maliks and lungi holders.
Although most of all Pakistan Laws including Pakistan Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code have been extended to the tribal areas, the predominant procedure applied in Judiciary is the Frontier Crimes Regulation 1901. More than 90 per cent of the area is inaccessible or tribal, in which the cases are decided by the tribesmen through a Counsel of Elders or Jirga, where it determines the guilt of the accused under the customary law and sentence is passed accordingly by Political Agent/Assistant Political Agent. The conviction under certain acts mentioned in the FCR may consist of imprisonment as well, while in other cases only fine can be imposed.
The origin of Orakzai tribes is shrouded in mystery although they have many resemblances with Afghans. So many legends have appeared about their origin. One of them says that around 10th century AD a Persian prince namely Sikandar Shah was banished by his father for his mischievous deeds who later on used to be regarded as 'Wrakzai' i.e. lost son. He traveled to the sub continent and ultimately reached Kohat and became a courtier of the king there. The king sent him on an expedition to punish the inhabitants of Tirah who indulged in acts of plunder of travelers. The prince ultimately settled in the area and his descendents were known as Orakzais.
Race And Tribes
Presently the Orakzai tribes consist of original Orakzai tribes and historical 'Hamsaya' tribes. The 'Hamsaya' presently claim that they can not be considered as 'Hamsaya' and has independent tribal status in their own right. In total there are about 24 major sections. The largest tribe is Ali Khel.
Original Orakzai tribes
Original Orakzai tribes i.e.,
Muhammad Khel and
Historical 'Hamsaya' tribes i.e.
Orakzai Agency has two tribal groups based on religious sect: Shia and Sunni. The Shias comprise 8.8% of the total population. The Shias and Sunnis are separated by a natural border. The Shias live along the southern portion of the Mastura River from And Khel to Kada. The Sunnis are found over almost the entire region.
Rivers and Streams
The agency consist of two rivers i.e. Mastura and Khanki Toi running from west to east and draining into river Bara and Khanki. There are two valleys of the corresponding names bounded by parallel ranges in the same directions. The main river and the valley system are further divided by many tributaries and spurs.
In the recent past proven reserves of coal have been found in various areas of the agency including Sheikhan, Mishti and Feroz Khel areas. Presently ill-qualified private contractors are exploiting the coal quarries. Small scale mining, through primitive methods is carried out by local parties. About 10,000 tons of coal is excavated per month. Development potential for proper mining exists in a region covering more than 1,600 square kilometers area. Quality wise, the coal on the average contains about 56 per cent fixed carbon, 25 per cent ash and 20 per cent volatile matter.
The agency can be ranked as cold temperate region with mild rains. The climate of the agency is pleasant in summer and extremely cold in winter. Summer season starts from May and lasts till October. June, July and August are the hot months. The mean maximum and minimum temperature during the month of June is about 40° and 27° Celsius respectively. Winter starts from November and continuous till April. December, January and February are the cold months. January is the coldest month with mean maximum and minimum temperature of about 18° and 6° Celsius respectively. The annual rainfall ranges between 250 to 500 millimeters. The relative humidity ranges from 25 to 85 per cent. 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.
In common with other tribal agencies the literacy rate is low. Most of the tribes accordingly engage themselves in agriculture and raising of livestock. In the recent past most have traveled to the Middle East to work there. Many of them are in government services also.
Places of Interest
The important towns of the agency are Ghiljo, Daboori, Kalaya, Mishti Mela and Kurez.