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Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province
North West Frontier Province

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province, formerly known as Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), was renamed by the 18th Amendement to the Constitution in 2010. In Pakistan, there are four letters that stir the blood of any romantic: NWFP. The North West Frontier Province is one of the planet's more exotic corners, a wild, mountainous region peopled by troublesome tribes who've refused to buckle under any authority other than their own. North West Frontier Province is a province of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, located on both banks of the river Indus and stretches from the Himalayas in the north to the deserts in the south where it is bordered by the Baluchistan and Punjab provinces. On its western flank is the rugged terrain of neighboring country Afghanistan, which is accessed via the historic Khyber Pass through the mountains of the Suleiman Range. Its borders touch or are close to those of China, the Tajikistan and the disputed territory of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the north. The capital of the province is the city of Peshawar.

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Afghan border, and certain areas within the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), are designated as tribal areas and are not subject to normal government jurisdiction. The Government of Pakistan requires all citizens of countries other than Pakistan and Afghanistan to obtain permission from the Home and Tribal Affairs Department prior to visiting these locations. The permit may stipulate that an armed escort must accompany the visitor. Even in the settled areas of the NWFP there is occasional ethnic, sectarian, and political violence. There have been dozens of bombings in Peshawar of varying sophistication since September 2006. Members of the Taliban and Al-Qaida are known to be in the FATA, and may also be in the settled areas.

Besides the seven FATA agencies there are some small tribal pockets called the Frontier Regions. These are administered by the district administration of the contiguous district. These include Frontier Region Peshawar, Frontier Region Kohat, Frontier Region Bannu, and Frontier Region Dera Ismail Kahn. Some tribal pockets are kept under the provincial administration as well. These are called the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas. For example Malakand Agency, which now is under the provincial administration.

North West Frontier Province covers an area of 74,521 sq. km. According to the 1998 census, the total population of NWFP was approximately 14 million out of whom 52% are males and 48% females. The density of population is 187 per sq. km and the intercensal change of population is of about 30 percent. Geographically the province could be divided into two zones: the northern one extending from the ranges of the Hindukush to the borders of Peshawar basin; and the southern one extending from Peshawar to the Derajat basin. The northern zone is cold and snowy in winters with heavy rainfall and pleasant summers with the exception of Peshawar basin which is hot in summer and cold in winter. It has moderate rainfall. The southern zone is raid with hot summers and relatively cold winters and scantly rainfall. Its climate varies from very cold (Chitral in the north) to very hot in places like D.I. Khan.

Its snow-capped peaks and lush green valleys of unusual beauty attract tourists and mountaineers from far and wide while its art and architecture no less known than the historic Khyber Pass. Once the cradle of Gandhara civilization, the area is now known for its devout Muslims who jealously guard their religion and culture and the way of life which they have been following for centuries.

The North-West Frontier Province, or NWFP, runs for over 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) along the border with Afghanistan. A historic gateway to South Asia and once heart of ancient Gandhara Kingdom - maintain a unique heritage. The legendry route from Peshawar to Kabul in Afghanistan is the feature of the province's most widely known (and infused with romance) in the world beyond. In the days of Kushan kings the land was called Lotus Land. The classical Gandhara territory was the Peshawar valley including hilly areas of Swat, Dir extending to the east and beyond the Indus to Taxila. Rudyard Kipling had set his books in this land and one of his glamorous character is Murad Ali, "who came from that mysterious land beyond the passes of the north."

The warlike Pukhtoons, who live in NWFP and the adjoining areas of Afghanistan, making them a race apart, a chosen people, and no one, has ever managed to subdue them. The Mughals, Afghans, Sikhs, British and Russians have suffered defeat at their hands. The Pukhtoons are divided into numerous sub-tribes and clans, each defending its territory and honor. In addition, the Pukhtoons serve as Pakistan's first line of defense along the Durand Line, the border drawn in 1893 by Sir Mortimer Durand, then foreign secretary of British India.

Nearly one-third of the population of NWFP is non-Pakhtoon. In the tribal areas, they are called Hamsaya or Kadwal. In the border areas of Hazara and Derajat, social norms more closely resembling those in Punjab and Kashmir may be discerned. Clan groups remain important, but mainly as social networks, particularly for marriages. Chitral has a separate language and culture of its own; a visible difference crossing over from Dir is that the carrying of arms is uncommon. Most distinct are the indigenous Kalash, people now confined to three small valleys in Chitral. Their way of life is rooted in the worship of ancestral spirits and trees. Their unique customs attract a lot of attention from visitors. However, due to the conversions of the Kalash to Islam, their age-old traditions are rapidly becoming extinct.

Around 68 per cent of the households in NWFP are Pukhtu speaking, eighteen per cent are Hindko speaking while Seraiki is the mother tongue of four per cent. Around eight per cent of households speak local languages, such as Kohwar in Chitral district, while Urdu and Punjabi speaking migrants account for only two per cent of the households

The region has been historically and strategically important due to passes leading into India (before partition), through which the invaders came from central Asia. Alexander the Great conquered the region 326 B.C., but his garrisons were unable to hold the region. In the early centuries A.D., Kanishka and his Kushan dynasty ruled the area. The Pukhtoons arrived in the 7th century, and by 10th century the conquerors from Afghanistan had made Islam the dominant religion of the region. In 12th century, Babar annexed it to his Mughal Empire, the region paid nominal allegiance to the Mughals in the 16th and 17th century. After Nadir Shah's invasion in 1738, it became a feudatory of the Afghan Durrani's kingdom. The Sikhs later on held the area, which passed over to Great Britain in 1849. The British maintained large military forces and paid heavy subsidies to pacify the Pukhtoon resistance.

British policy toward the tribal peoples on the northwest frontier vacillated between caution and adventurism during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Some viceroys opposed extending direct administration or defense beyond the Indus River. Others favored a more assertive posture, or "forward policy." The latter view prevailed, partly because Russian advances in Central Asia gave their arguments credence. In 1874 Sir Robert Sandeman was sent to improve British relations with the Baloch tribes and the khan of Kalat. In 1876 Sandeman concluded a treaty with the khan that brought his territories -- including Kharan, Makran, and Las Bela -- under British suzerainty.

Britain separated the region from the Punjab of India in 1901 and constituted the North-West Frontier Province. From annexation till 1901 the Pathan frontier was under the control of the Punjab Government. Various schemes had been propounded for an alteration of this arrangement, with the double object of securing closer and more immediate control and supervision of the frontier by the Supreme Government, and of making such alterations in the personnel and duties of frontier officials as would tend to the establishment of improved relations between the local British representatives and the independent tribesmen. Of these schemes the most notable was that formulated by Lord Lytton in 1877, which was laid aside on the outbreak of the second Afghan War in the following year. The question was raised again, in consequence of the experiences of 1897; and after mature discussion and deliberation a scheme was formulated by which the Districts of Hazara, Peshawar, and Kohat, together with the Trans-Indus portions of Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan, and the Political Agencies in the Khyber, the Kurram, the Tochi, and Wana were removed from the control of the Punjab Administration. To these areas was added the political charge of Dir, Swat, and Chitral, the Political Agent of which had never been subordinate to the Punjab. The new Province was constituted in 1901, under a Chief Commissioner and Agent to the Governor- General, with head-quarters at Peshawar, in direct communication with the Government of India in the Foreign Department.

The North-West Frontier Province differed from the older provinces of India in having been artificially built up out of part of a previous province together with new districts for a definite administrative purpose. The proposal to make the frontier districts into a separate province, administered by an officer of special experience, dates back to the viceroyalty of Lord Lytton, who, in a famous minute of the 22nd of April 1877, said: "I believe that our North-West Frontier presents at this moment a spectacle unique in the world; at least I know of no other spot where, after 25 years of peaceful occupation, a great civilized power has obtained so little influence over its semi-savage neighbours, and acquired so little knowledge of them, that the country within a day's ride of its most important garrison is an absolute terra incognita, and that there is absolutely no security for British life a mile or two beyond our border."

These people voted to join newly independent Pakistan in 1947. From 1955 to 1970 the North-West Frontier Province was a section of the consolidated province of West Pakistan. In 1970, the region was once again granted provincial status.

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Page last modified: 13-09-2012 19:16:02 ZULU