The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are located along Pakistan’s north-western Hamalaya zone and south-western Sulaiman Mountains and runs as a narrow tract along the river Indus with the parallel lines almost north to south. It consists of seven semi-autonomous agencies or administrative units – Khyber, Mohmand, Bajaur, Kurram, Orakzai, North Waziristan and South Waziristan. Additionally, the FATA includes ‘frontier regions’ that adjoin the districts of Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan. This tangled mass constitutes an area of 27224 sq kilometres and is inhabited by around 3.17 million people belonging to different Pukhtoon or Pushtun tribes. The 1400 miles (2500 KM) long Durand Line, which was drawn in 1893 by the British colonial rulers of India, geographically divides the Pushtun tribes in the region between Afghanistan and the FATA of Pakistan. The FATA has remained strategically important since the times of “the Great Game” for imperial domination that took place in the 19th century.
The British rulers first established the Khyber Agency in 1879. Though initially there was to be a Political Officer acting as the Administrative Head of the Khyber Agency (Political Agent’s Officer, Khyber Agency), in actual fact in 1902 a full-fledged Political Agency was assigned here. It draws its name from historic Khyber Pass and covers an area of 2576 sq. km. The famous Torkham border links the Khyber agency with Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. It has an estimated population of 546730 and is comprised of people from Afridi, Shinwari, Mulagoori and Shalmani tribes.
This Agency was created in 1892, a year before the demarcation of the Durand Line. It covers an area of 2296 sq. km and has a population of 448,310. It is inhabited by several tribes, the major tribal composition being the Turi, Bangash, Parachinari and Masozai – both Sunni and Shia sects. The Kurram Agency borders Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province in the North West and Paktia province in the South West.
South Waziristan Agency
Two more agencies were created along the Pak-Afghan border in 1895 through the division of what became known as Waziristan. South Waziristan, the largest of all tribal agencies at 6,620 sq. km and is inhibited by a population of around 429,841 persons. The major tribal composition is derived from the Mehsud and Ahmadzai Wazir tribes. South Waziristan borders with Afghanistan’s Paktia and Khost provinces to the west, Pakistan’s Balochistan province to the South, Pakistan’s Dera Ismail Khan district to east and the FATA agency of North Waziristan to the north.
North Waziristan Agency
Created in 1895 along with South Waziristan, the North Waziristan Agency is the second largest agency in size, covering an area of 4,707 sq. km. It has a population of 361,246 people mainly from the Utmanzai Wazir, Dawar, Saidgai, Kharasin and Gurbaz tribes. The North Waziristan Agency borders the Paktia and Khost provinces of Afghanistan.
The Mohmand Agency was created in 1951, four years after creation of Pakistan as sovereign state in 1947. It covers an area of 2,296 sq. km. and its population is estimated to be around 334,453. The major tribes inhibiting the area are the Mohmand, Safi and Uthmankhel tribes. The Mohmand Agency shares a border with the Bajaur Agency to the north, the Dir district to its east, the district of Peshawar to its southeast and Afghanistan to the west.
Bajaur Agency, the smallest in size at 1290 sq. km, was created in 1973. It has a population of 595,227 persons with tribal composition drawing from the Uthmankhel and Tarkani tribes. Bajaur shares a border with Afghanistan’s Kunar province to the north west; Pakistan’s Dir district to its north east and the Mohmand agency to its west.
The Orakzai Agency is the only tribal agency that does not share a border with Afghanistan. Created in 1973, it covers an area of 1538 sq. km and has a population of 225,441 persons. It is bound in the north by the Khyber Agency; in the east by the Frontier Region (FR) Kohat; in the south by both FR Kohat and the Hangu districts; and in the west by the Kurram Agency. The major tribal groups are the Orakzai and the Bangash – both Shia and Sunni sects.
FR Peshawar (Tribal Area Adjoining Peshawar District)
FR Peshawar covers a total area of 261 sq. km, with a population of around 53,841. The Afridi tribe is the only major tribe inhibiting FR Peshawar. It is bounded on the north and west by the Peshawar District, on the south by Tribal Areas Adjoining the Kohat District, and on the east by the Nowshehra District.
FR Kohat (Tribal Area Adjoining Kohat District)
FR Kohat covers a total area of is 446 sq. km and has a population of around 88,456. The Afridi tribe is the only major tribe inhibiting FR Kohat. It is bounded on the north by FR Peshawar, on the east by the Noshehra District, on the south by the Kohat District and on the west by the Orakzai Agency.
FR Bannu (Tribal Area Adjoining Bannu District
FR Bannu covers a total area of 745 sq. km and has a population of around 19593. The Wazir tribe is the only major tribe inhibiting FR Bannu. It is bounded to the north by the Karak District, on the east by Bannu District, on the south by FR Lakki Marwat and on the west by the North Waziristan Agency.
FR Lakki Marwat (Tribal Area Adjoining Lakki Marwat District)
FR Lakki Marwat covers a total area of 132 sq. km and has a population of around 6987. The Bhittani tribe is the only major tribe inhibiting FR Lakki Marwat. It is bounded on the north by the Karak District, on the east by the Bannu District, and on the west by the North Waziristan Agency.
FR Tank (Tribal Area Adjoining Tank District
FR Tank coves an area of 1,221 square kilometres and has a population of around 27,212. The Bhittani tribe is the only major tribe inhibiting FR Tank. It is bounded on the north, south and west by the South Waziristan Agency, on the north-east by the Lakki Marwat District and on the south-east by the Tank District.
FR D.I. Khan (Tribal Area Adjoining Dera Ismail Khan District
FR D.I. Khan covers a total area of 2,008 sq. km and has a population of around 38,990. The Ustran and Sherani are the major tribes inhibiting FR D.I. Khan. It is bounded on the north by the South Waziristan Agency, on the east by the Kulachi Tehsil of D.I Khan District, on the south by D.G. Khan Districts and on the west by the Zhob District.