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Orakzai Agency

INTRODUCTION:

The tribal area now forming 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 Orakzai Agency consists of two sub-divisions i.e., Upper sub-division and Lower sub-division. The Upper sub-division comprises two Tehsils i.e. Upper Tehsil and Ismailzai Tehsil, while the Lower sub-division also has two Tehsils i.e. Lower Tehsil and Central Tehsil. 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

PHYSICAL FEATURES:

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. 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. 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.

CLIMATE:

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. There is no meteorological observatory in the area. However, climatic data recorded at Kohat as close proxy is given in the following table. The annual rainfall ranges between 250 to 500 millimeters. The relative humidity ranges from 25 to 85 per cent.

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.

DRESS AND ORNAMENTS:

Presently there are hardly any differences or special characteristics about food, dress and dwellings which could distinguish them from their brethren of the settled area. Men usually clad in Shalwar-Kameez, put Kula Lungi (turban) over their heads and carry Chaddar on their shoulders. Women folk wear Shalwar Kameez with Dupata and when going out of homes wear Surka (veil). Gold and silver ornaments are worn by females on special occasions.

DWELLING:

The Orakzais are in the habit of constructing double storey houses which are made of stones and mud. The lower storey used for cattle and storage of grain and the upper storey is used for sleeping cooking purposes and also as 'Morchas (bunkers) for defense purpose. The houses are not generally walled. They are often built on commanding positions with well placed towers for their protection. The Orakzais furniture consists of Charpais (beds) which are decorated for guests by spreading mattresses and beautiful bed sheets over them.

PLACES OF INTEREST:

The important towns of the agency are Ghiljo, Daboori, Kalaya, Mishti Mela and Kurez. The original headquarter was built in Kalaya in 1975 but could not be occupied due to some reasons and the present headquarter was built on Kohat-Thall road short of Hangu in 1989.

Darra Adam Khel:

Darra is the gun factory of the Tribal Areas, located 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of Peshawar on the road to Kohat, a drive of about 40 minutes. To visit the gun factories, foreigners need a permit from the Home Secretary of NWFP whose office is in the civil Secretariat on Police Road, but you can drive by bus or car through Darra without a permit provided you do not stop. The permit is free and issued while you wait, but you should get it the day before you plan your factory visit.
The Darra arms 'factory' fired up in 1897. In return for turning a blind eye to this illegal Pathan enterprise, the British were guaranteed safe passage along the main roads. In any case, the British believed it better that the Pathans have inferior weapons of their own making than stolen British-made guns.
Darra's main street is lined on either side with small forges at which guns are made by hand. the tool are astonishingly primitive, yet the forges turn out accurate reproduction of every conceivable sort of weapon, from pen pistols and hand-grenades to automatic rifles and anti-aircraft guns. The copies are so painstakingly reproduced that even the serial number of the original is carried over. Much of the craftsmanship is very fine, but the reinforcing rods diverted from the building trade. The main street constantly erupts with the roar of gunfire, as tribesmen step out to test prospective purchases.

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