Dera Ismail Khan District
ضلع ڈیره اسماعیل خان
دېره اسماعيل خان ولسوالۍ
Top: Hindu-Buddhist ruins at Kafir Kot
Bottom: Lal Marah Tombs
Dera Ismail Khan District (red) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Dera Ismail Khan District (red) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Country Pakistan
Province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
DivisionDera Ismail Khan
HeadquartersDera Ismail Khan
 • TypeDistrict Administration
 • Deputy CommissionerNasrullah Khan
 • Total9,334 km2 (3,604 sq mi)
 • Total1,627,132
 • Density170/km2 (450/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+5 (PST)
Main language(s)Saraiki, Pashto
Number of Tehsils5

Dera Ismail Khan District (Urdu and Saraiki: ضلع ڈیره اسماعیل خان, Pashto: دېره اسماعيل خان ولسوالۍ), often abbreviated as D.I. Khan is a district in the Dera Ismail Khan division of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The capital of the district is the town of Dera Ismail Khan. The district has an area of 9,334 km2 (3,604 sq mi) and a population of 1,627,132 as of the 2017 Census.[1]


The district of Dera Ismail Khan is bounded on the North east by the Bhakkar (Central Punjab) and Dera Ghazi Khan (South Punjab) districts of Punjab. Eastern portions of the district along the Indus river are characterized by fertile alluvial plains, while lands farther from the river consist of clay soil cut by ravines from rainfall. The district is bounded on the southwest by a thin strip of the South Waziristan district, which separates D.I Khan from the Koh-e-Sulaiman mountain in the neighboring Baluchistan province. In the northwest is the Tank District.[2]

D.I Khan is separated from the Marwat plains of the Lakki Marwat district by a spur of clay and sandstone hills that stretch east from the Sulaiman mountains to the Indus river known as the Sheikh Badin Hills.[citation needed]

The highest peak in the range is the limestone Sheik Badin mountain, which is protected by the Sheikh Badin National Park. Near the Indus River is a spur of limestone hills known as the Kafir Kot hills, where the ancient Hindu complex of Kafir Kot is located.[2] DI Khan is also considered the center of Pakistan because of its location between Bhakkar, Mianwali of North Punjab, Zhob of Balochistan and South Waziristan of Pakistan's tribal belt.[citation needed]


It is named after Dodai mercenary Ismail Khan, son of Malik Sohrab Dodai of the Langah Sultanate, who laid the foundation of the area.[3]

Ancient history

The Dera Ismail Khan District is littered with ruins from ancient civilizations. Dera Ismail Khan is home to the collection of Hindu ruins from two separate sites 20 miles apart,[2] jointly known as Kafir Kot.

The region came under the influence of the Nanda empire of the ancient India from 300 BCE. With the rise of Chandragupta Maurya, the region came under the complete control of the Mauryan empire. Afterward, the region was briefly and nominally controlled by the Shunga empire. However, with the decline of the Shungas, the region passed to local Hindu and Buddhist rulers and was interrupted by foreign rulers. Many of these foreign rulers, like the Indo-Parthians, Sakas, and Kushans converted to Hinduism and Buddhism and promoted these Indian religions throughout central and south Asia. The region reached its height under the Buddhist ruler Kanishka. After the fall of the Kushans, the region came under the control of the Gupta empire of the ancient India. During this period, Hindu and Buddhist art and architecture flourished in the area.[4]

With the decline of the imperial Guptas, the Hindu Shahis came to rule the area. The Hindu Shahis built two massive forts in the northern edges of Dera Ismail Khan. The forts were later renamed as "Kafir kots" (forts of the Kuffar (Infidels)). These Hindu Shahi forts were known for high towers and steep defensive walls. The Hindus also built many Hindu temples around the area. However, many of them are now in rubble. The Hindu Shahis remained in control of the area until their defeat by the Turkic Muslim army of Ghaznavids.[4]

The district is part of what was historically territory inhabited by the Baloch people during the medieval India, who were invited to settle in the region by Shah Husseyn of the Langah Sultanate of Multan. These Baloch settlers were displaced by or assimilated into later waves of the Pashtun settlement.[2]

British Era

Dera Ismail Khan was created as an administrative unit of the British India, part of the Derajat Division of the North-West Frontier Province (Now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). It was formerly divided into almost two equal portions by the Indus river which intersected it from north to south. To the west of the Indus, the characteristics of the country resembled those of Dera Ghazi Khan. To the east of the present bed of the river, there is a wide track known as the Kachi, exposed to river action. Beyond this, the country rises abruptly, and a barren, almost desert plain stretches eastwards, sparsely cultivated, and inhabited by nomadic tribes.

In 1901, the trans-Indus tract was allotted to the newly formed North-West Frontier Province, the cis-Indus tract remaining in the Punjab jurisdiction. The cis-Indus portions of the Dera Ismail Khan and the Bannu districts now comprise the new Punjab district of Mianwali. Wheat and wool were exported. In 1901, it contained an area of 8,814 km2 (3,403 sq mi) and a population of 252,379. In 1947, it became part of the newly independent State of Pakistan.[5]

In 2016, 191,000 acres in the district were brought under cultivation with completion of the Gomal Zam dam, and a series of irrigation canals partially funded by the United States Government.[6]


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1972 430,051—    
1981 550,256+2.78%
1998 891,985+2.88%
2017 1,693,594+3.43%

At the time of the 2017 census. the district had 204,722 households and a population of 1,693,594. It had a sex ratio of 940 females per 1000 males and a literacy rate of 43.34% - 56.55% for males and 29.39% for females. 360,218 (21.27%) lived in urban areas. 32.41% of the population was under 10 years of age.


Languages of Dera Ismail Khan District (2017)

  Saraiki (64.23%)
  Pashto (32.97%)
  Urdu (2.08%)
  Others (0.72%)

At the time of the 2017 census, 64.23% of the population spoke Saraiki, 32.97% Pashto and 2.08% Urdu as their first language.[1]


Religion in Dera Ismail Khan District
Religion Population (1941)[8]: 22  Percentage (1941) Population (2017)[1] Percentage (2017)
Islam 255,757 85.79% 1,690,436 99.81%
Hinduism 39,167 13.14% 642 0.04%
Sikhism 2,390 2.05% -- --
Christianity 810 0.27% 2,278 0.13%
Buddhism 5 0% -- --
Jainism 1 0% -- --
Judaism 1 0% -- --
Total Population 298,131 100% 1,693,594 100%


The Dera Ismail Khan district has many schools and colleges, predominantly in the capital of Dera Ismail Khan.

Beaconhouse School System


The district is represented in the National Assembly by two elected MNAs who represent the following constituencies:

Constituency MNA Party
NA-24 Fazal-ur-Rehman[10] Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam (F)
NA-39 Muhammad Yaqoob Shiekh PTI

Provincial Assembly

Member of Provincial Assembly Party Affiliation Constituency Year Area
Ehtisham Javed Independent PK-95 Dera Ismail Khan-I 2018 Paharpur/Paniyala
Ahmad Kundi Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians PK-96 Dera Ismail Khan-II 2018 D.I.Khan North
Faisal Amin Khan Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf PK-97 Dera Ismail Khan-III 2018 D.I.Khan city
Lutf ur Rahman Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal PK-98 Dera Ismail Khan-IV 2018 Paroa Tehsil
Aghaz Ikram Ullah Gandapur Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf PK-99 Dera Ismail Khan-V 2018 Kulachi, Draban, FR DIK

Cuisine and food

Sobat is a traditional dish predominantly prepared in the capital of Dera Ismail Khan.[citation needed] It consists of chicken, onions, garlic, tomatoes, khusk dhania, garam masala, turmeric, and other spices. It is usually eaten as dinner. Sobat is known all over Pakistan, and brings a lot of attention to the district and the city.[citation needed]


Football is a very popular game in Dera Ismail Khan. Other games including cricket, hockey, badminton, and many more are played as well. Ali Amin Khan has also provided a platform for more involvement in sports in this region. In 2017, he introduced a tennis ball cricket league, named Dera Premier League, and the teams from different geographical regions of Pakistan competed. Season two was held in 2018. DPL became Pakistan's biggest tape ball cricket tournament.[11]

Dera Ismail Khan has a cricket team as well: Dera Ismail Khan cricket team. Some cultural games (kabaddi, mailay and kodi, which is played by three sportsmen called pehlwaan where one runs while two other have to catch him in a big circular ground encircled by spectators) are still popular among native Saraiki people and have been for decades.


The district is subdivided into six Tehsils which contain a total of 47 Union Councils:[12]


  1. D.I. Khan (Urdu: تحصیل ڈیره اسماعیل خان)(Pashto: دېره اسماعيل خان تحصیل)
  2. Kulachi (Urdu: تحصیل کلاچی)(Pashto: کلاچي تحصیل)[12]
  3. Paharpur (Urdu: تحصیل پہاڑ پور)(Pashto: پهاړ پور تحصیل)[12]
  4. Paroa (Urdu: تحصیل پاروا)(Pashto: پاروا تحصیل)
  5. Daraban (Urdu: تحصیل دارابان)(Pashto: دارابان تحصیل)
  6. Drazanda (Urdu: تحصیل درازندہ)(Pashto: درازنده تحصیل)

After the merger of Tribal areas, Darazinda is now also a tehsil of D.I.Khan.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "District and Tehsil Level Population Summary" (PDF). Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Government of Pakistan website. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 November 2020. Retrieved 27 October 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d Tolbort, T (1871). The District of Dera Ismail Khan, Trans-Indus. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  3. ^ Farooq Miana (20 April 2010). "Baloch tribes of the Saraiki Waseb". website. Retrieved 27 October 2023.
  4. ^ a b Ancient Pakistan. Chairman, Department of Archaeology, University of Peshawar. 1971.
  5. ^ "Dera Ismail Khan | Pakistan". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  6. ^ "US Government Helping to Bring Water to 191,000 acres in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank". U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Pakistan website. 9 December 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2023.
  7. ^ "Population by administrative units 1951-1998" (PDF). Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Government of Pakistan website.
  8. ^ "CENSUS OF INDIA, 1941 VOLUME X NORTH-WEST FRONTIER PROVINCE". Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  9. ^ Yousaf Ali (19 September 2022). "Gomal varsity reopens today as students call off protest". The News International newspaper. Retrieved 27 October 2023.
  10. ^ "2013 election result (Dera Ismail Khan District winner Molana Fazal-ur-Rehman on page 21 of 511)" (PDF). Election Commission of Pakistan website. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 February 2018. Retrieved 27 October 2023.
  11. ^ "Factors Affecting Sports Activities: A Case Study of Gomal University, Dera Ismail Khan (DIK)". 8 October 2020.
  12. ^ a b c "Tehsils & Unions in the District of Dera Ismail Khan". National Reconstruction Bureau – Government of Pakistan website. Archived from the original on 9 February 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2023.

32°00′N 70°30′E / 32.000°N 70.500°E / 32.000; 70.500