Ghazni Province

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Snow-covered mountains in Ghazni province
Snow-covered mountains in Ghazni province
Map of Afghanistan with Ghazni highlighted
Map of Afghanistan with Ghazni highlighted
Coordinates (Capital): 33°30′N 68°00′E / 33.5°N 68°E / 33.5; 68Coordinates: 33°30′N 68°00′E / 33.5°N 68°E / 33.5; 68
Country Afghanistan
 • GovernorWahidullah Kalimzai[1]
 • Total22,915 km2 (8,848 sq mi)
 • Total1,387,185
 • Density61/km2 (160/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+4:30
ISO 3166 codeAF-GHA
Main languagesMostly(Pashto)

Ghazni (Persian: غزنی‎; Pashto: غزني‎) is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in central Afghanistan, towards the east. The province contains 19 districts, encompassing over a thousand villages and roughly 1.3 million people.[2] The city of Ghazni serves as the capital, it lies on the important Kabul–Kandahar Highway, and has historically functioned as an important trade center. The Ghazni Airport is located next to the city of Ghazni and provides limited domestic flights to Afghanistan's capital, Kabul.


The province was known as Ghazna in the 10th century, during and after the Ghaznavid era .


Part of a series on the
History of Afghanistan
"Interior of the palace of Shauh Shujah Ool Moolk, Late King of Cabul"
Associated Historical Names for the Region

Ghazni was a thriving Buddhist center before and during the 7th century AD. Excavations have revealed religious artifacts of Buddhist traditions.

"The two other great Buddhist centers, Fondukistan and Tepe-e-sardar (Ghazni) in its later phase are a very different matter and display another phase of influences coming from India from the seventh to eighth century. The representations show themes from Mahayana iconography and even in the case of the latter site assume Tantric aspects which had already established themselves in the large Indian monasteries like Nalanda."[3]

In 644 AD, the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang visited the city of Jaguda (probably Ghazni), while returning from Varnu (modern Bannu, Pakistan)[4][5]


In 683 AD, armies from the Umayyad Caliphate brought Islam to the area and attempted to conquer the capital of Ghazni but the local tribes fiercely resisted, its resistance was so famed that Yaqub Saffari (840-879) from Zaranj made an example of Ghazni when he ranged the vast region conquering in the name of Islam. The city was completely destroyed by the Saffarids in 869.[6] A substantial portion of the local population including Hindus and Buddhists were converted to Islam by Mahmud of Ghazni[7][better source needed]

View of the Old Ghazni City
The minaret of Ghazni, built by Bahram Shah during the Ghaznavid Empire.

"There is no evidence that Ghazna had previously formed part of the Samanid kingdom. It had been previously overrun with the whole of Zabulistan and Kabul by the Saffaris by 260 (873) but it is doubtful how far their power was permanent and even when the Samanids became paramount there is no evidence that Kabul or Ghazna were under them; the ruler of Ghazna is described as Padshah and was allied to the Hindushahis of Kabul. These titles were not as yet used by the Muhammadan rulers; the Padshah Lavik was probably a Hindu chief even though some passages in the Tabakth i Nisiri give him the name of Abu Bakr or Abu Ali."[8]

After the rebuilding of the city by Yaqub's brother, it became the dazzling capital of the Ghaznavids from 994 to 1160, encompassing much of North India, Persia and Central Asia. Many iconoclastic campaigns were launched from Ghazni into India; the Ghaznavids took Islam to India and returned with fabulous riches taken from both prince and temple god. Contemporary visitors and residents at Ghazni write with wonder of the ornateness of the buildings, the great libraries, the sumptuousness of the court ceremonies and of the wealth of precious objects owned by Ghazni's citizens.

Ferishta records attacks by Muhammad of Ghor: "at the same time most of the infidels who inhabited the mountains between Ghazni and the Indus were also converted, some by force and others by persuasion."[9][non-primary source needed] Ghazni's eponymous capital was razed in 1151 by the Ghorid Alauddin, it again flourished but only to be permanently devastated, this time in 1221 by Genghis Khan and his Mongol armies after 6 years of Khwarezmid rule. Ghazni's strategic position, both economically and militarily, assured its revival initially under the Qarlughids, albeit without its dazzling former grandeur.

Ghazni is famous for its minarets built on a stellar plan, they date from the middle of the twelfth century and are the surviving element of the mosque of Bahramshah. Their sides are decorated with geometric patterns. Upper sections of the minarets have been damaged or destroyed; the most important mausoleum located in Ghazni is that of Sultan Mahmud's. Others include the tombs of poets and scientists, for example Al-Biruni and Sanai; the only ruins in Old Ghazni retaining a semblance of architectural form are two towers, about 43 m (140 ft) high and some 365 m (1,200 ft) apart. According to inscriptions, the towers were constructed by Mahmud of Ghazni and his son.

Ibn Battuta noted "The greater part of the town is in ruins, with nothing but a fraction of it still standing, although it was formerly a great city."[10]

Babur records in his memoirs that Ghazni was part of Zabulistan;[11] the area was controlled by the Mughals until Nader Shah and his Persian forces invaded it in 1738. Ahmad Shah Durrani conquered Ghazni in 1747 and made it part of the Durrani Empire. During the First Anglo-Afghan War, the capital of Ghazni province was destroyed by the British-led Indian forces in the Battle of Ghazni.

In the 1960s a 15-meter female Buddha was discovered lying on its back and surrounded by empty pillars that once held rows of smaller male Buddhas. Parts of the female Buddha have been stolen. In the 1980s a mud brick shelter was created to protect the sculpture, but the wood supports were stolen for firewood and the shelter partially collapsed.

Recent history[edit]

Polish forces in Rashidan district during "Operation Passage" in April 2009.
U.S. paratroopers and Afghan soldiers move into a village during a combined patrol in 2012.

Since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, there has been a Provincial reconstruction base and a NATO forces base; these western forces (mostly Polish Armed Forces) are hunting Taliban and al-Qaida militants, who are still active in the area.

Like many southern Afghan provinces, Ghazni has a precarious security situation; the Taliban insurgents are found in the rural areas outside of the capital, and are involved in attacks on provincial schools and government infrastructure. The province has avoided the outright warfare seen in other provinces of Afghanistan such as Helmand and Kandahar, but that is due more to political expediency and the tactical plans of the NATO-led ISAF force than the existence of a stable security situation in the province. Ex-Governor Taj Mohammad was killed by insurgents in 2006 after being appointed police chief of the province with a mandate to quell the power of the Taliban. On the same day there was an unsuccessful attempt on the life of the governor at the time, Sher Alam Ibrahimi.[12] There is a Polish and American Provincial Reconstruction Team base located in Ghazni.

  • In late April 2007, news agencies reported that Taliban fighters had taken control of Giro District in the province. The Taliban reportedly killed the district administrator, chief of police (who had been on the job for only one month) and three police officers; the Taliban withdrew from the district center one day later.
  • In July 2007, 23 South Korean volunteers were kidnapped in the province by the Taliban.
  • On September 28, 2010, the Deputy Governor of Ghazni and five others were killed after a suicide bomber on a motorized rickshaw attacked their vehicle. Deputy Governor Mohammad Kazim Allahyar and several men travelling with him were killed instantly when the attacker detonated his explosives at the back of their car near the airport in Ghazni City; the bodies were so badly burnt that there was some confusion about the identity of the other victims. Provincial police chief Delawar Zahid reported Allahyar's son, nephew and driver died, along with two civilians passing by on a bicycle.[13]
  • As of 26 September 2014, there is ongoing fighting in key districts between the Taliban and Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).[14][15]
  • After steady gains by the Taliban across the province in 2017 and early 2018 the Battle of Ghazni took place in August, 2018.

Politics and governance[edit]

Former governor Musa Khan Ahmadzai speaking in 2011

The current governor of the province is Wahidullah Kalimzai; the city of Ghazni serves as the capital of the province. All law enforcement activities throughout the province are controlled by the Afghan National Police (ANP) along with the Afghan Local Police (ALP); the provincial police chief represents the Ministry of the Interior in Kabul. The ANP is backed by other Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), including the NATO-led forces.


The percentage of households with clean drinking water fell from 35% in 2005 to 18% in 2011;[16] the percentage of births attended to by a skilled birth attendant increased from 7% in 2005 to 11% in 2011.[16]


The overall literacy rate (6+ years of age) fell from 35% in 2005 to 31% in 2011;[16] the overall net enrolment rate (6–13 years of age) increased from 39% in 2005 to 54% in 2011.[16]


Schoolgirls in Ghazni province
Districts of Ghazni Province

As of 2013, the total population of the province is about 1,368,800,[2] which is multi-ethnic and mostly a tribal society. According to the Institute for the Study of War, "Ghazni has nineteen districts and is one of the most ethnically diverse provinces in Afghanistan. Of the province’s one million residents, 90 percent are Hazara, Pashtun, Tajiks, Hindus and other ethnic minorities comprise the remaining ten percent of the population. While the Tajik population in Ghazni is small, it is concentrated in the provincial capital of Ghazni City, where 45 percent are Tajik, thirty percent are Pashtun, fifteen percent are Hazara, and a small percentage are Hindu."[17] According to the Naval Postgraduate School, the ethnic groups of the province are as follows: 502'965, 42% Hazara, 704,000 52% Pashtun,52,000 4.7% Tajik, and less than 1% Hindu.[18] The Pashtuns mostly belong to the Ghilji sub-group. Agriculture and animal husbandry are the primary occupation of the citizens of Ghazni. Wheat, alfalfa, melons, and almonds are among the largest crops produced.


Districts of Ghazni Province
District Capital Population (2013)[2] Ethnic group(s) (estimate, survey data is poor)[19]
Ab Band Haji Khel 26,700 Pashtun
Ajristan Sangar 28,000 Pashtun
Andar Miray 121,300 Pashtun
Deh Yak Ramak 47,500 Pashtun
Gelan Janda 56,200 Uzbek/Pashtun/Hazara
Ghazni Ghazni 157,600 Tajik/Hazara/Pashtun
Giro Pana 35,500 Pashtun
Jaghori Sang-e-Masha 172,000 Hazara
Jaghatū Gulbawri 32,265 Hazara/Pashtun
Khogyani (Wali Muhammadi Shahid) Khogyani 19,600 Pashtun
Khwaja Umari Kwaja Umari 18,400 Hazara/Tajik/Pashtun
Malestan Mir Adina 79,800 Hazara
Muqur Muqur 48,900 Pashtun
Nawa Nawa 28,900 Pashtun
Nawur Du Abi 91,900 Hazara
Qarabagh Qarabagh 150,000 Pashtun/Hazara
Rashidan Rashidan 17,500 Pashtun
Waghaz Waghaz 37,500 Pashtun
Zana Khan Dado 12,200 Pashtun


U.S. Army paratroopers and Afghan Army soldiers move along a riverbed during a foot patrol in Afghanistan's southern Ghazni province.

The Sardeh Band Dam is located in Andar District near the border with Paktika Province, it creates a large water reservoir that is critical to the irrigation of the Kahnjoor farming zone. The dam itself and the canal system it feeds both need repairs and maintenance.

Governor Musa Khan Akbarzada stated that key development projects would be launched in southern Ghazni in 2012 ahead of the Asian capital of the Islamic civilization for 2013; the projects include the construction of a proposed Islamic cultural centre, a mosque, a covered bazaar, a gymnasium, a guesthouse, an airport, a five-star hotel and two 27 storey-buildings and others. More than 2,000 people would find work opportunities on the $30 million projects; $10 million would be provided by the central government, $7 million by the Polish provincial reconstruction team (PRT) and $3 million by the US. A 40-kilometre road would be asphalted by the end of the 2012.

Ghazni province is to be connected to the national electrical distribution system via North-east Power System (NEPS); the construction of transmission line would begin from east Chimtala to Ghazni using high voltage transmission network (2 x 220kV transmission lines and power substations). The project is to be implemented by USFOR-A and USAID costing $101 million; however the Asian Development Bank agreed to complete the transmission line from Chimtala to Dast-i-Barchi; hence reducing Project scope to begin from Dast-i-Barchi instead of Chimtala. The implemention of this project was delayed due to USACE being unable to award a contract because bids received for the project were more than double estimated costs, due largely to security concerns resulting from the risks associated with implementing firm-fixed-price contracts in a kinetic environment, poor cost estimates, and unrealistic periods of performance. USACE is re-procuring both projects and plans to award contracts in June or July 2012, which will delay the project's execution schedules between 6 and 15 months. Furthermore, the delays in transferring funds contributed to delays in project execution; this line is a key part of a planned NEPS to SEPS connection to transport power to Kandaharto replace the expensive diesel-fueled power plants


The Kabul–Kandahar Highway runs through the province.

The Ghazni Airport began operations in April 2012 but does not have any commercial flights as of August, 2018. Residents in neighbouring provinces, such as Logar, Paktika, Maidan Shahr and Zabul, would also benefit from the airport.

Natural resources[edit]

Recent geologic surveys have indicated Ghazni may have one of the world's richest deposits of lithium. Gold and copper were also found in the Zarkashan Mine of Ghazni province with an estimated value of US$30 billion. Whilst lithium deposits valued at around US$60 billion, were discovered in four eastern and western provinces of Afghanistan, together with other newly (2010) discovered mineral deposits, the total value estimate of US$3 trillion is based on a survey of 30 percent of the country's land mass.[20]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Wahidullah Kalimzai". Retrieved 2018-10-24.
  2. ^ a b c d "Settled Population of Ghazni province by Civil Division, Urban, Rural and Sex-2012-13" (PDF). Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Central Statistics Organization. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
  3. ^ Simone Gaulier, Robert Jera-Bezard, Monique. Buddhism in Afghanistan and Central Asia. p. 2. Retrieved 2012-10-31.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ BA Litvinsky, Zhang Guand-Da, R. Shabani Samghabadi, History of civilizations of Central Asia, pg. 385
  5. ^ Hui-li, 1959, p. 188
  6. ^ Nancy Hatch Dupree - Chapter 9 (Ghazni), An Historical Guide to Afghanistan
  7. ^ The Wonder that was India II by S A Rizvi; published by Picador India; page 16
  8. ^ E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936, Volume 2 By Martijn Theodoor Houtsma; page 154
  9. ^ Ferishta translated by John Briggs; p. 104.
  10. ^ Battutah, Ibn (2002). The Travels of Ibn Battutah. London: Picador. pp. 146–147. ISBN 9780330418799.
  11. ^ Babur-Nama Translated from the original Turki Text of Zahirud'd-din Muhammad BABUR padshah Ghazi by Annette Susannah Beveridge Vol1 and 11 Published by Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, p. 217.
  12. ^ "Afghanistan militants kill former governor". Archived from the original on 2007-06-11. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
  13. ^ "Suicide bomb kills Afghan vice-governor". Reuters. September 28, 2010.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Taliban seize strategic Afghan district in Ghazni province
  16. ^ a b c d Archive, Civil Military Fusion Centre, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-05-31. Retrieved 2014-05-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Understanding War". Understanding War. Retrieved 2013-08-17.
  18. ^ "Ghazni Province" (PDF). Program for Culture & Conflict Studies. Naval Postgraduate School. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
  19. ^ Atlas of the Islamic World and Vicinity, (Afghanistan Ethno Maps and Statistics Collection| Dr. Michael Izady
  20. ^ Najafizada, Eltaf (January 29, 2011). "U.S., Afghan Study Finds Mineral Deposits Worth $3 Trillion". Bloomberg.

External links[edit]