Parachinar is the administrative headquarter of Kurram district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Kurram district was an agency of Federally Administered Tribal areas (FATA) until the year 2018, when it became a district after the merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Parachinar is situated on the western border of Pakistan that juts into Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. The main Thall-parachinar road, connects Parachinar with Peshawar and the same follow up towards Afghanistan from Gawaj. The other major road is Board-Road, which connects Parachinar City with the airport and then with Burgi.

The name Parachinar comes from ‘para’ (Paara), one of the tribes of valley and “chinar” is the maple trees which are found in abundance in the Parachinar region. Its name is derived as a result of social meetings conducted under a large chinar tree.

The debris of that tree are still present at a place now encompassed by the headquarters of Kurram district where the elders residing in para area used to conclude meetings under a chinar tree to resolve their social meetings.

According to the recent estimates, the total population of Kurram has crossed 6 million. Around 6% of the population lives in urban centres of Sadda and Parachinar, while the remaining 94% in rural areas. The population consists largely Pashto speaking Syed, Turi, Bangash, Orakazai, Mangal, Para, Malakhel, Hazara, Khoshi Christian and as well as a Sikh community.

Kurram agency population is ahead of all agencies in the field of education. However, due to governments lack of attention, the whole agency, including Parachinar, is deprived of quality education facilities. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto approved a medical college at Parachinar during 70s, which General Ziaul Haq later moved to Abbottabad. The area has generally remained ignored in the subsequent governments. After merger, FATA university has plans to open a sub campus at Parachinar, however, the same is yet to be announced.

The climate conditions in the whole agency are generally favourable during the summer; however, in winters the minimum temperature is usually underneath freezing point and occasionally, can drop below – 10 degree Celsius. Northern and western heights of the valley receive snowfalls in winters and snow can be seen even in the month of June on the peak of mountains making Parachinar one of the coldest cities across Pakistan.

The Sufaid Koh mountain forms the territorial boundary between Kurram Agency and Afghanistan. The other famous mountains are Sur-Ghar and Spin-Ghar mountains, which used to be surrounded by forests but now has limited forests cover due to deforestation. Notable valleys and streams in Kurram District include: Peiwar, Shalozan, Shian, Zeran, and Daradar.

Parachinar is surrounded by dozens of tourist points, some of the natural wonders among these points includes Mast Baba located in Zeran, Shalozan Garden, Malana Dam, Maikay and a Chapri Bangla located 16000 feet above sea level. These beautiful places have not received any attention from government. The matters are made worst for tourist due to perception of the valley and poor road infrastructure. The government needs to provide variety of facilities to improve tourism infrastructure in the areas and attract national and international tourists. This will not only help KP government to earn more revenue but also project the softer image of the valley to the entire world.

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Hudaibia Iftikhar

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