Dera Ismail Khan (Urdu, Saraiki: ڈیرہ اسماعیل خان, Pashto: ډېره اسماعيل خان), often abbreviated to D. I. Khan, is a city in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan. It is situated on the west bank of the Indus River, 200 miles (320 km) west of Lahore and 120 miles (190 km) northwest of Multan. The city is the capital of the district and tehsil of the same name.
The word "Dera" is derived from the Saraiki word ḍerā which means "encampment". This word is commonly used for residential towns in the Indus valley such as Dera Ghazi Khan, Dera Bugti, Dera Murad Jamali, Dera Allah Yar, Dera Ismail Khan, etc. Dera Ismail Khan thus means the residential town of Sardar Ismail Khan Baloch. People of Dera Ismail Khan as well as Dera Ghazi Khan are also known as Derawal or sometimes as Dervi while the latter is used as Pen name or Takhallus. Historically the Derajat were established at the time when in 15th century, Baloch tribal immigration took place from Makran, Qalat and Sibi Balochistan, to Indus Valley. Sultan Husain, the Langah Dynasty's Sultans of Multan, being unable to hold his trans-Indus possessions; called the Baloch tribal warriors, for help and assigned these territories to Sardar Malik Sohrab Khan Dodai Baloch as "Jagir". Sohrab's sons, Ghazi Khan, Ismail khan and Fateh Khan, founded the three Deras or villages' named after them.
Foundation of the city
Dera Ismail Khan was founded toward the end of the fifteenth century by Sardar Ismail Khan Baloch, a son of Sardar Malik Sohrab Khan Dodai Baloch, who named the town after himself. The original town was swept away by a flood in 1823, and the existing buildings are all of relatively modern construction. The present town stands four miles (6 km) back from the permanent channel of the river.
Foundation of the new city
However, later research does not support this theory. Firstly, Malik Sohrab was not an Arab adventurer but a Hooth Baloch who was appointed Soobadar of this area by the Langha rulers of Multan. Similarly the city could not have been founded towards the end of fifteenth century; because when Babar came here in 1506 he passed through this plain which is now called Dama'an and referred to it as Dasht and went up to Tank but did not mention any city around here in his Tuzk (Memoirs, originally published in Turkish). Later we are told that when in 1540 Sher Shah came to Khushab, Ismail Khan of Dera Ismail Khan went to Khushab to meet him there. So the city must have been founded in the first quarter of the sixteenth century. After the flood destruction of 1823, the present city was founded by Sardar Ellahi Bakhsh Siyyal in 1825 but he prefer not to change the name.
Dera Ismail Khan has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh) with hot summers and mild winters. Precipitation mainly falls in two distinct periods: in the late winter and early spring from February to April, and in the monsoon in June and July.
Saraiki is the main language spoken in D.I.Khan which is also spoken in neighbouring Tank district. The local residents of D.I.Khan are called "Dera Waal". D.I Khan has a mixed population of Pashto and Saraiki speakers. Also the vast majority of people are conversant in Urdu. English is understood by the educated.
Dera Ismail Khan is represented in the National Assembly of Pakistan through two seats which are NA-24 (D I Khan) and NA-25 (D I Khan cum Tank). The incumbent on these seats are Faisal Karim Kundi of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) from NA-24 and Maulana Atta ur Rehman of Jamiat Ullema Islam- Fazal ur Rehman (JUI-F) from NA-25. Traditionally Dera politics has been dominated by Jamiat Ullema Islam because of the charismatic and dynamic personality of Maulana Mufti Mahmood. After his death his son Fazlur Rehman became the Chairman of JUI-F. Maulana Fazl ur Rehman lost last elections to PPP candidate with a wide margin which shows that they have lost connection with voters. Many people have raised concern about the politics of Maulana Fazl ur Rehman after the wikileaks reports showed his negotiations with US Ambassador Anne Paterson. People raise questions about the financial dealings of Maulana as besides his father's madrassah he does not have any other source of income but lives a luxurious life.
Pakistan Tehrike Insaf (PTI) is fast becoming the third force in D I Khan politics.
2008–09 suicide bombings
This town has seen a bloody surge in sectarian schism, which has caused the loss of hundreds of innocent lives, especially those belonging to the Shia community. Being somewhat neglected by the electronic media coverage, only incidents involving bomb blasts are usually reported, whereas target killings on a day-to-day basis are not usually reported by the local newspapers and TV channels. The main benefit gained from these bombing were Tribal people. Due to series of operations by Pak-Army in Tribal Areas, most of the tribal people left their houses and came to D.I.Khan. The kind hearted and innocent people of D.I.Khan provided them food and shelter. But due to series of bombing in Mosques and other religious places, the local people left and sold their houses and all what they have willingly or by force to these refuges and shifted to other cities. Pak-Army also carried out certain search operations in the city but all in vain. The people who were once living as a refuge are now the owner of that city, and the people who were once the owner are now begging from place to place.
On August 19, 2008 a suicide bomber targeting Shias blew himself up in a hospital waiting room, killing 32 people, including seven police officers. It is believed that the attack is one of several by the Taliban, who have taken responsibility for it, intending to demonstrate their reach and pressure the government to call off its offensive in Swat and the Bajaur Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which had begun less than two weeks previously.
On November 21, 2008, Shiite religious leader Allama Nazir Hussain Shah was shot dead in sectarian killing along with Shah Iqbal Hussain. During his funeral prayers, a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing 9 people and injuring 39.
Once again, on February 20, 2009 a suicide bomber blew himself during a funeral procession of a Shia local, killing more than 32 while injuring 157.
According to the 1901 census the population of Dera Ismail Khan was 31,737, of whom 18,662 were Muslims, 11,486 Hindus, and 1,420 Sikhs. Of the total, 3,450 lived in the cantonment. After the partition of India, many of the city's Hindu residents settled in India, primarily in Model Town, Vijay Nagar and Derawal Nagar colony in Delhi.
In 1999 it had a population of 31,737, down from its 1981 census tally of 64,358. The population is a mix of ethnic Jats, Baloch and Pashtun segments, with a significant minority of Urdu-speaking immigrants. Urdu, the national language, is understood and spoken by the majority of residents, while Saraiki is the major language of the district. Pashto is also spoken, primarily within the Pashtun community. Natives of Dera Ismail Khan, just Dera Ghazi Khan, are known as Derawals.
The city is connected to Bannu via the highway, which further connects it to the provincial capital of Peshawar via Kohat and Darra Adam Khel. Another road connects D. I. Khan to Mianwali through Chashma Barrage. The third major road connects it to Bhakkar in Punjab, situated on the eastern bank of the Indus River. A bridge on the Indus River was constructed in the early 1980s, before which the approach to Bhakkar was made through a boat bridge.
The city has telephone, telegraph, and internet facilities — although the telegraph has recently been abandoned, in line with the government policy of transitioning away from telegraph communications throughout the country.
Although the city is relatively new, rebuilt following the 1823 flood, many of its original structures remain — the original wall is still visible around the old city. A popular tourist destination is a pre-Islamic fort called Bilot, 30 miles (48 km) from the Dera Ismail Khan on Dera Ismail Khan – Chashma highway. These ruins are situated on a hill.
A sacred Sikh shrine is located in the Chota Bazaar of Dera Ismail Khan; Guru Nanak visited this place during his fourth itinerary. At the site where he stayed a dharamsala was built by his devotees. It is a large building, its main gate opens in the Chota Bazaar. Inside this door there is a double-storey square building, where Prakash used to take place. There are residential rooms around this building for pilgrims. Inside the darbar there is a thara sahib (pious seat) where Guru Nanak Dev Ji once sat. The Government Higher Secondary School No. 3 is currently housed in this building. This dharamsala was maintained by SGPC before 1947 and presently it is in the hands of the Waqf department. The banks of the Indus River are an attractive place for tourists. On the right side of Rehmania Street, the house of an Hindu Zamindar – Bagai Mahal is a very old building of D. I. Khan, as is the Satures Building in Shieve Shah Muhalla.
Economic production in the district
One of the most famous products of this district is the "Dhakki date", which is exported to the Middle East, United States, and Europe. This date or khajoor is grown in the nearby village of Dhakki, 49 km away on Chashma Road. This district also produces wheat, sugar cane, rice, and a famous variety of mango called the langra. The most desirable langras are grown in the village of Panyala. Nowadays D I Khan is increasingly exporting another type of dried date called chooara. The majority of chooara are produced in Dhakki, Mitrah Abad and Saidu Wali. Saidu Wali is a village situated in Tehsil Pahar Pur, about 58 km from D I Khan near Dhakki and Pahar Pur. There are also coal mines in the village of Saidu Wali, on the edge of CRBC Canal.
The bazaars of the city all converge in one area, called Chowgalla (literally "intersection"). Major bazaars include Topanwala Bazaar, Bhatiya Bazaar, Muslim Bazaar, Commissioneri Bazaar, Kalan Bazaar and Bakhiri Bazaar.
Like other cities and towns of the Saraiki-speaking belt, Dera Ismail Khan is famous for a dessert delicacy called sohan (halwa). Shops selling this sweet are primarily situated in Topawaala Bazaar. The city is also known for a dish called sobat.
Dera Ismail Khan is famous for its lacquered woodwork, glass and ivory ware, mats, and sarongs. Newer industries within the city include sugar, soap, textile and oil milling. Radio Pakistan is situated in D. I. Khan., telecasting Saraiki and Pashto programmes. CRBC Canal is the major canal that provides water for irrigation.
The nearest railway station is 20 km away at Darya Khan, on the eastern and opposite bank of the Indus River.
Air link via Pakistan International Airlines to all major cities of Pakistan
Daewoo Bus Service to all major cities of Pakistan
Karachi Bus Terminal
Main Lari Adda D. I. Khan
Niazi Bus Stand
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