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Khyber Pukhtunkhwa

For other uses, see North West Frontier.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
خیبر پختونخوا

Counter-clockwise from top left: Peshawar Museum, Malam Jabba Ski Resort, Khyber Pass, Swat Valley, Islamia College, Peshawar,

Lake Saiful Muluk, Naran
Official logo of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Coordinates: 34°00′N 71°19′E / 34.00°N 71.32°E / 34.00; 71.32Coordinates: 34°00′N 71°19′E / 34.00°N 71.32°E / 34.00; 71.32

Country  Pakistan
Established July 1, 1970
Capital Peshawar
Largest city Peshawar
 • Type Province
 • Body Provincial Assembly
 • Governor Shaukatullah Khan
 • Chief Minister Pervez Khattak
 • High Court Peshawar High Court
 • Total 74,521 km2 (28,773 sq mi)
Population (2012)
 • Total 22,000,000
 • Density 300/km2 (760/sq mi)
  Time zone PST (UTC+5)
Regional languages:
Pashto, Hindko, Khowar, Kalami, Torwali, Shina, Saraiki, Gujari, Maiya, Bateri, Kalkoti, Chilisso, Gowro, Kalasha-mondr, Palula, Dameli, Gawar-Bati, Yidgha, Burushaski, Kyrgyz, Wakhi
Assembly seats 124
Districts 25
Union Councils 986

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Pashto: خیبر پښتونخوا [pəxtunˈxwɑ]; Urdu: خیبر پختونخوا [ˈpəxˈtuːnxwaː]), also known as Pukhtunkhwa, Pashtunkhwa (literally "area of the Pashtuns") and by various other names, and formerly called North-West Frontier Province, is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, located in the north-west of the country. It borders the Federally Administered Tribal Areas to the west and south, Gilgit–Baltistan to the north-east, Azad Kashmir to the east, Punjab and the Islamabad Capital Territory to the south-east, and Afghanistan to the north-west. The province of Balochistan is located southwards. The main ethnic group in the province are Pashtuns. Smaller ethnic groups most notably include Hindkowans, Chitralis (who include the Kalasha), Kohistanis and Gujjars.

The provincial language is Pashto, spoken by the majority as first language; Urdu, the national language, is widely spoken as a second language. English is mainly used for official and literary purposes. The provincial capital and largest city is Peshawar.


Prior to independence, the North-West Frontier Province voted to join Pakistan in a referendum on July 2, 1947 with 50.1% of the votes for Pakistan. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his Khudai Khidmatgars chose to boycott the polls along with other nationalistic and pro-India Pashtuns. Some have argued that a segment of the population was barred from voting.[1]

Afghanistan claims Pashtun-dominated western areas of the territory as its own. After Pakistan's independence, Afghanistan was the only country to vote against Pakistan’s accession to the United Nations because of Kabul’s claim on the Pashtun territories located on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line.[2]

The population of this region as per 1901 Census of the North West Frontier Province was 2,125,480, out of which Muslims were 1,957,777, Hindus were 134,252 and Sikhs were 28,091.[3]


Khyber Pakhtunkhwa sits primarily on the Iranian plateau and comprises the junction where the slopes of the Hindu Kush mountains on the Eurasian plate give way to the Indus-watered hills approaching South Asia. This situation has led to seismic activity in the past.[4] The famous Khyber Pass links the province to Afghanistan, while the Kohalla Bridge in Circle Bakote Abbottabad is a major crossing point over the Jhelum River in the east.

The province has an area of 28,773 mi² or (74,521 km²).[5] The province's main districts are Peshawar, Mardan,SWABI Charsadda Dera Ismail Khan, Lakki Marwat, Kohistan, Kohat, Abbottabad, Haripur and Mansehra, Swat, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Chitral, Buner D, Bannu and Karak. Peshawar, Mardan, Kohat, Abbottabad, Dera Ismail Khan and Hangu are the main cities.

According to the 1998 census, the population of the province was approximately 17 million,[6] of whom 52% are males and 48% are females. The density of population is 187 per km² and the intercensal change of population is of about 30%.

Geographically the province could be divided into two zones: the northern one extending from the ranges of the Hindu Kush 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 arid with hot summers and relatively cold winters and scanty rainfall.[7]

The major rivers that criss-cross the province are the Kabul, Swat, Chitral, Kunar, Siran, Panjkora, Bara, Kurram, Dor, Haroo, Gomal and Zhob.

Its snow-capped peaks and lush green valleys of unusual beauty have enormous potential for tourism.[8]


The climate of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa varies immensely for a region of its size, encompassing most of the many climate types found in Pakistan. The province stretching southwards from the Baroghil Pass in the Hindu Kush covers almost six degrees of latitude; it is mainly a mountainous region. Dera Ismail Khan is one of the hottest places in the South Asia while in the mountains to the north the weather is temperate in the summer and intensely cold in the winter. The air is generally very dry and consequently the daily and annual range of temperature is quite large.[9]

Rainfall also varies widely. Although large parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are typically dry, the province also contains the wettest parts of Pakistan in its eastern fringe.

Chitral District

Chitral District lies completely sheltered from the monsoon that controls the weather in eastern Pakistan, owing to its relatively westerly location and the shielding effect of the Nanga Parbat massif. In many ways Chitral District has more in common regarding climate with Central Asia than South Asia.[10] The winters are generally cold even in the valleys, and heavy snow during the winter blocks passes and isolates the region from the world. In the valleys, however, summers can be hotter than on the windward side of the mountains due to lower cloud cover: Chitral can reach 40 °C (104 °F) frequently during this period.[11] However, the humidity is extremely low during these hot spells and as a result the summer climate is less torrid than in the rest of the Indian subcontinent.

Most precipitation falls as thunderstorms or snow during winter and spring, so that the climate at the lowest elevations is classed as Mediterranean (Csa), continental Mediterranean (Dsa) or semi-arid (BSk). Summers are extremely dry in the north of Chitral district and receive only a little rain in the south around Drosh. However, at elevations above 5,000 metres (16,400 ft), it is known that as much as a third of the snow which feeds the large Karakoram and Hindukush glaciers comes from the monsoon since these elevations are too high to be shielded from its moisture.[10]

Central Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: World Climate Data[12]
On the southern flanks of Nanga Parbat and in Upper and Lower Dir Districts, rainfall is much heavier than further north because moist winds from the Arabian Sea are able to penetrate the region and when they collide with the mountain slopes winter depressions provide heavy precipitation. The monsoon, although short, is generally powerful and as a result the southern slopes of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are the wettest part of Pakistan. Annual rainfall ranges from around 500 millimetres (20 in) in the most sheltered areas to as much as 1,750 millimetres (69 in) in parts of Abbottabad and Mansehra Districts.

This region’s climate is classed at lower elevations as humid subtropical (Cfa in the west; Cwa in the east); whilst at higher elevations with a southerly aspect it becomes classed as humid continental (Dfb). However, accurate data for altitudes above 2,000 metres (6,560 ft) are practically nonexistent either here, in Chitral, or in the south of the province.

The seasonality of rainfall in central Khyber Pakhtunkhwa shows very marked gradients from east to west. At Dir, March remains the wettest month due to frequent frontal cloud-bands, whereas in Hazara more than half the rainfall comes from the monsoon.[13] This creates a unique situation characterized by a bimodal rainfall regime, which extends into the southern part of the province described below.[13]

Since cold air from the Siberian High loses its chilling capacity upon crossing the vast Karakoram and Himalaya ranges, winters in central Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are somewhat milder than in Chitral. Snow remains very frequent at high altitudes but rarely lasts long on the ground in the major towns and agricultural valleys. Outside of winter, temperatures in central Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are not so hot as in Chitral, but significantly higher humidity when the monsoon is active means that heat discomfort can be greater. However, even during the most humid periods the high altitudes typically allow for some relief from the heat overnight.

Southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Dera Ismail Khan
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: World Climate Data[14]

As one moves further away from the foothills of the Himalaya and Karakoram ranges, the climate changes from the humid subtropical climate of the foothills to the typically arid climate of Sindh, Balochistan and southern Punjab. As in central Pakhtunkhwa, the seasonality of precipitation shows a very sharp gradient from west to east, but the whole region very rarely receives significant monsoonal rainfall. Even at high elevations annual rainfall is less than 400 millimetres (16 in) and in some places as little as 200 millimetres (8 in).

Temperatures in southern Pakhtunkhwa are extremely hot: Dera Ismail Khan in the southernmost district of the province is known as one of the hottest places in the world with temperatures known to have reached 50 °C (122 °F). In the cooler months, however, nights can be cold and frosts remain frequent, though snow is very rare and daytime temperatures remain comfortably warm with abundant sunshine.


Historical populations
Census Population Urban

1951 4,556,545 11.07%
1961 5,730,991 13.23%
1972 8,388,551 14.25%
1981 11,061,328 15.05%
1998 17,743,645 16.87%

The province has an estimated population of about 21 million. The largest ethnic group is the Pashtun, who historically have been living in the areas for centuries.[15] Around 1.5 million Afghan refugees also remain in the province,[16] majority of which are Pashtuns followed by Tajiks, Hazaras, and other smaller groups. Despite having lived in the province for over two decades, they are registered as citizens of Afghanistan.[17]

  • Urdu, the lingua franca being National language is spoken and understood between different communities in the province.
  • Pakhto, is the major language, spoken in most districts of the province.
  • Hindko is Second Major Language.It is in Majority in Hazara Division but also in Peshawer, Kohat and Noshera City centrals.
  • Saraiki spoken by people in the south specially in the district of DI Khan
  • Khowar, by people in the north specially in district Chitral
  • Standard Punjabi, minority living in the major cities and cantonment areas

Minor regional languages include Kalami, Torwali, Gujari, Maiya, Bateri, Kalkoti, Chilisso, Gowro, Shina, Kalasha-mondr, Palula, Dameli, Gawar-Bati, Yidgha, Burushaski, Kyrgyz, Wakhi, most of them being native to the remote Chitral, upper Swat and Kohistan Districts.

Only Urdu and English are found as written languages in the city, with Pashto and Persian to a much smaller extent.The provincial language is Pashto, spoken by the majority as first language; Urdu, the national language, is widely spoken as a second language. English, the official language of Pakistan, is mainly used for official and literary purposes. The provincial capital and largest city is Peshawar.

he main ethnic group in the province are the Pashtun people; other major ethnic groups include most notably Dards, Chitralis (who include the Kalasha) and Gujjars.

In most rural areas of the centre and south, Pashtun tribes can be found including the Yusufzai, Bangash, Bhittani, Daavi, Khattak, Qazi khail also known as Qaziye Babar, Gandapur, Gharghasht, Marwat, Afridi, Shinwari, Orakzai, Mahsud, Mohmand, Wazir and Bannuchi as well as other tribes of Hazara division•, Swati, Kakar, Tareen, Jadoon,Tanoli, Gujar, and Mashwani.

There are non-Pashtun tribes including Jat, Mughal, Turks, Karlal, Rajpoot, Dhund Abbasi, Syed, Awan, Kashmiri, Qureshi and Sarrara. The mountainous extreme north includes the Chitral and Kohistan districts that are home to diverse Dardic ethnic groups such as the Khowar, Kohistani, Shina, Torwali, Kalasha and Kalami.

However in the southernmost district such as Dera Ismail Khan live some of the Baloch tribe: Kori, Buzdar, Kanera, Leghari, Rind and some other sub tribes of Lashari tribe. These Baloch tribes speak Saraiki as their first language. In this southern district, most of its population speaks Saraiki.


Most of the inhabitants of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa profess Islam, with a Sunni majority and significant minorities of Shias, Ismailis, and Ahmadis.[18][19] Many of the Kalasha of Southern Chitral still retain their ancient Animist/Shamanist religion.

There are very small communities of Hindus and Sikhs.[20][21]

Provincial Government

Provincial symbols of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (unofficial)
Provincial animal Kabul Markhor
Provincial bird White-crested Kalij Pheasant
Provincial tree Juniperus squamata
Provincial flower Morina

The unicameral Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly consists of 124 seats: 3 (2%) of them reserved for non-Muslims and 22 (17%) for women.

The President of Pakistan appoints a Governor as head of the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. There is a directly elected Provincial Assembly, which has 124 elected members (including 22 seats reserved for women and 3 seats for non-Muslims). The Provincial Assembly elects a Chief Minister to act as the chief executive of the province, assisted by a cabinet of ministers.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa consists of 25 districts, comprising 20 Settled Area Districts and 5 Provincially Administered Tribal Area (PATA) Districts. The administration of the PATA districts is vested in the President of Pakistan and the Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, by Articles 246 and 247 of the Constitution of Pakistan. Peshawar is the most populated and Abbottabad is second-most populated city in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.[22]

The 25 districts are:

Important cities

where Peshawar and Abbottabad are class A city.


Main article: Economy of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has the third largest provincial economy in Pakistan. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's share of Pakistan's GDP has historically comprised 10.5%, although the province accounts for 11.9% of Pakistan's total population. The part of the economy that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa dominates is forestry, where its share has historically ranged from a low of 34.9% to a high of 81%, giving an average of 61.56%.[23] Currently, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa accounts for 10% of Pakistan's GDP,[24] 20% of Pakistan's mining output[25] and, since 1972, it has seen its economy grow in size by 3.6 times.[26] It has the second poorest economy after Balochistan.

After suffering for decades due to the fallout of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, today they are again being targeted for a different situation of terrorism.

Agriculture remains important and the main cash crops include wheat, maize, tobacco (in Swabi), rice, sugar beets, as well as fruits are grown in the province.

Some manufacturing and high tech investments in Peshawar has helped improve job prospects for many locals, while trade in the province involves nearly every product. The bazaars in the province are renowned throughout Pakistan. Unemployment has been reduced due to establishment of industrial zones.

Workshops throughout the province support the manufacture of small arms and weapons. The province accounts for at least 78% of the marble production in Pakistan.[27]

Social issues

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has the second-lowest Human Development Index out of all of Pakistan's provinces, at 0.607.[28] Furthermore, it also continues to have an image problem.

The Awami National Party sought to rename the province "Pakhtunkhwa", which translates to "Land of Pakhtuns" in the Pashto language. This was opposed by some of the non-Pashtuns, and especially by parties such as the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). The PML-N derives its support in the province from primarily non-Pashtun Hazara regions.

In 2010 the announcement that the province would have a new name led to a wave of protests in the Hazara region.[29] On April 15, 2010 Pakistan's senate officially named the province "Khyber Pakhtunkhwa" with 80 senators in favor and 12 opposed.[30] The MMA, who until the elections of 2008 had a majority in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, had proposed "Afghania" as a compromise name.[31]

After the 2008 general election, the Awami National Party formed a coalition provincial government with the Pakistan Peoples Party.[32] The Awami National Party has its strongholds in the Pashtun areas of Pakistan, particularly in the Peshawar valley, while Karachi in Sindh has one of the largest Pashtun populations in the world — around 7 million by some estimates.[33] In the 2008 election the ANP won two Sindh assembly seats in Karachi. The Awami National Party has been instrumental in fighting the Taliban. In 2013 General Elections Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf won a majority in the provincial assembly and has now formed their government with alliance of two more parties.[34]

Folk music

Hindko and Pashto folk music are popular in Pakhtunkhwa and has a rich tradition going back hundreds of years. The main instruments are the rubab, mangey and harmonium. Khowar folk music is popular in Chitral and northern Swat. The tunes of Khowar music are very different from those of Pashto and the main instrument is the Chitrali sitar. A form of band music composed of clarinets (surnai) and drums is popular in Chitral. It is played at polo matches and dances. The same form of band music is played in the neighbouring Northern Areas.[35]


Abbottabad is the only city in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with higher literacy rate in province and also in Pakistan, The trend towards higher education is rapidly increasing in the province and the Pakhtunkhwa is home to Pakistan's foremost engineering university (Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology), which is in Topi, a town in Swabi district. The University of Peshawar is also a notable institution of higher learning.

The Frontier Post is perhaps the province's best-known newspaper and addresses many of the issues facing the population.

Year Literacy Rate
1972 15.5%
1981 16.7%
1998 35.41%
2008 49.9%


This is a chart of the education market of Pakhtunkhwa

Qualification Urban Rural Total Enrolment Ratio(%)
2,994,084 14,749,561 17,743,645
Below Primary 413,782 3,252,278 3,666,060 100.00
Primary 741,035 4,646,111 5,387,146 79.33
Middle 613,188 2,911,563 3,524,751 48.97
Matriculation 647,919 2,573,798 3,221,717 29.11
Intermediate 272,761 728,628 1,001,389 10.95
BA, BSc... degrees 20,359 42,773 63,132 5.31
MA, MSc... degrees 18,237 35,989 53,226 4.95
Diploma, Certificate... 82,037 165,195 247,232 1.92
Other qualifications 19,766 75,226 94,992 0.53

Major educational establishments


Cricket is the main sport played in Pakhtunkhwa. It has created world-class sportsmen like Shahid Khan Afridi,Younus Khan. Besides producing cricket players, Pakhtunkhwa has the honour of being the birthplace of many world-class squash players, including greats like Jansher Khan and Jahangir Khan.

See also

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa portal
Pakistan portal
South Asia portal


External links

  • Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
  • DMOZ
  • Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Guide.

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