Khost Province

Khost (Pashto/Dari: خوست) is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the southeastern part of the country. Khost consists of thirteen districts and the city of Khost serves as the capital of the province. To the east, Khost Province is bordered by North Waziristan and Kurram, which are districts in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Historically, Khost used to be a part of Paktia, and the larger region surrounding Khost is still referred to as Loya Paktia.

The Khost Mosque in Khost, the capital of Khost Province.
The Khost Mosque in Khost, the capital of Khost Province.
Map of Afghanistan with Khost highlighted
Map of Afghanistan with Khost highlighted
Coordinates (Capital): 33°24′N 69°54′E / 33.4°N 69.9°E / 33.4; 69.9Coordinates: 33°24′N 69°54′E / 33.4°N 69.9°E / 33.4; 69.9
Country Afghanistan
Established1986[1] (de facto)
 • GovernorMohammad Nabi Omari[2]
 • Deputy GovernorMohammad Din Shah Mohabat[3]
 • Police ChiefMaulvi Mehboob Shah Qanat[4]
 • Total4,151.5 km2 (1,602.9 sq mi)
 • Total647,730
 • Rank16th
 • Density160/km2 (400/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+4:30 (Afghanistan Time)
Area code(s)AF-KHO
Main languagesPashto
HDI (2019)0.506[6]
low · 3rd

Throughout history, the province has been the site of numerous rebellions, leading to the local Pashtun populace to consider themselves the “traditional king-makers in Kabul”.[7] The province was previously known as the Southern Province, and was united with neighbouring Paktia. Khost is also home to numerous Universities, including Shaikh Zayed University, which is the only University in Afghanistan with a faculty in computer science.[8]

As of 2021, it was estimated that the population of the province stood at 647,730, which makes it the 16th most populated province in Afghanistan.[5]

Khost International Airport began providing the province with international flights after it was inaugurated by former President Ashraf Ghani on July 10th, 2021.[9]


Districts of Khost province
District Capital Population (2015) Area[10] Notes
Bak 50,000
Gurbuz 45,000
Zazi Maidan
Khost Matun Khost 140,642
Mandozayi Dadwal 89,602
Musakhel 41,882
Nadir Shah Kot 47,000
Qalandar 20,000
Sabari Yakubi 72,364
Shamal 34,000 Shifted from Paktia Province in 2005
Spera 45,000
Tani Tani 60,842
Tirazayi Aliser 45,602


Second Anglo-Afghan WarEdit

Military engagement near Khost.

During the Second Anglo-Afghan War, a unit of the British Army entered Khost with the intent of incorporating it into the British Raj. However, the Mangal tribe assembled a force of 8,000 men to repel the invasion. The British, after defeating the Mangals, perpetrated the "Massacre in Khost," which saw the plundering of 11 villages. The incident was later investigated by the British Parliament. Nevertheless, the Mangals eventually returned and ousted the British-installed governor, thus preventing Khost from being annexed into the British Raj.[11]

Khost rebellion (1924-1925)Edit

Map of the Southern Province.

In 1924, the province of Khost, then known as the Southern Province, was the site of a rebellion against Emir Amanullah Khan by the Mangal tribe. The rebellion began in March 1924 when Mulla Abd Allah accused a local official of violating Sharia by forbidding a marriage in accordance with a new family law as the father of the bride in question had pledged her to another man whilst she was an infant. As a result, Mulla Abd Allah issued a fatwa against Amanullah Khan, condemning him as a kafir and launching Jihad after a failed attempt was made by mediators to justify the new laws. The rebels were soon joined by the son of former King Yaqub Khan, Abd-al Karim, who managed to escape British surveillance and move to Khost, where he was crowned King by the rebels. Rebel forces then conquered the city of Gardez, which is adjacent to Khost. By late July, the rebels had captured Hisarak, which was 12 kilometres from the capital, Kabul. However, the rebels didn’t try to seize the capital and instead returned to Khost, taking the spoils of war with them.[12]

The Deobandi-trained council of ’ulama’ issued a fatwa denouncing Mulla Abd Allah as a rebel and began to provide Amanullah Khan with levies after he allowed them to alter the constitution so that it would align with their interpretation of Sharia. In August, Shah Wali Khan attacked the rebels in Logar whilst the Afghan Air Force were simultaneously bombing rebel positions. By early October, government forces had regained possession of the city of Gardez. Two months later, tribal leaders from Khost travelled to Kabul with the aim of initiating a peace process, only to be thrown in jail. Mulla Abd Allah, along with his three sons, were eventually captured and executed, and the rebellion was quelled in January 1925. Shah Wali Khan burned and looted more than 300 homes in Khost and brought 600 female captives back with him to Kabul, where they were distributed amongst the Mohammadzais as war booty.[13] In the aftermath of the Government’s victory, Amanullah Khan decided to construct a victory pillar in Kabul to commemorate his vanquishing of the rebels. The new pillar was meant to demonstrate the “triumph of knowledge over ignorance”.[14]

Soviet–Afghan WarEdit

Map of the Mujahideen in 1985.

In April 1978, the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan staged a coup d'état agaisnt President Mohammed Daoud Khan, thus ending the Republic of Afghanistan and establishing the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan under the rule of Nur Muhammad Taraki who would later be overthrown and killed by Hafizullah Amin in 1979. The coup is also known as the Saur Revolution. In late 1978, a rebellion occurred in the remote region of Nuristan, but it didn't spread to other parts of the country due to its isolation.[15] The new Communist government strived to eliminate illiteracy and implement agrarian reforms by sending literacy campaigners and agraian reformers to various provinces, including Khost.[16] Following a rebellion by the Zadran tribe, a Pashtun tribe native to Loya Paktia, President Hafizullah Amin decided to launch a full scale military operation in Paktia. The operation was a "crushing defeat" and it, alongside the ousting of former President Taraki, was one of the reasons why the Soviets decided to intervene in December 1979, thus starting the Soviet–Afghan War.[17]

At the end of July 1983, the forces of Jalaluddin Haqqani layed siege to two towns in Khost and the Tani, Mangal, Zazai and Waziri tribes began taking an active part in the fighting, despite being passive up until then. All of the aforementioned events coincided with the appeal of former King Mohammed Zahir Shah for a united front, which caused rumours about the Royalists intending to establish a provisional government in a liberated Khost. However, Khost wasn't captured and by October, the Tani tribe had withdrawn from coalition due to a tribal rivalry with the Zadran. Many rebels also returned home as winter came on. By the end of December, government forces arriving from Gardez ended the siege of the two towns and recaputered Zazi Maidan.[18]

Khost was considered a "bastion of the regime" during the Soviet–Afghan War and its loyalty to the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan allowed it to be granted a de facto provincial status in 1986. This provided the province with a force of paid provincial staff and an annual budget that was separate from the neighbouring provinces.[19]


Khost Province saw the Battles of Zhawar and part of Operation Infinite Reach. Khost Province was captured by the Taliban during the 2021 Taliban offensive on August 15th, 2021.[20]

On 16 April 2022, Pakistani airstrikes targeted several villages in Spera District, including Afghan-Dubai, Pasa Mela, Mir Sapar, Mandata, and Kanai, and struck refugee camps belonging to internally displaced persons from Waziristan, killing at least 41 people, mainly women and children, and wounding 22 others.[21][22][23][24][25]

On 22 June 2022, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck the province. In Spera District, approximately 500 homes were destroyed, and 40 people were killed, with 95 others injured.[26][27] Many houses constructed primarily of mud and wood were razed to the ground.[26] Heavy rain and the earthquake contributed to landslides that destroyed entire hamlets.[28]


The percentage of households with clean drinking water increased from 34% in 2005 to 35% in 2011.[29] The percentage of births attended to by a skilled birth attendant increased from 18% in 2005 to 32% in 2011.[29]


The overall literacy rate (6+ years of age) fell from 28% in 2005 to 15% in 2011.[29] The overall net enrolment rate (6–13 years of age) fell from 38% in 2005 to 37% in 2011.[29]


There are multiple universities in Khost, the following list consists of all of the universities that can be found in the province:


Districts of Khost and surrounding areas.

As of 2021, the population of the province is around 950,000 people.[5][30] Other sources put the number at over a million.[31]

The Pashtun people make up 99% of the population, with the remaining 1% being Tajiks and others.[32]


Khost Province is traversed by the Kurram River, which rises from the Rokian Defile, passes through the district, and then enters the "country of the Turis or the Kurram Valley".[33]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Ghost of Khost: What History Might Tell Us about the Future of Afghanistan > Air University (AU) > Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs Article Display". Retrieved 2022-03-25.
  2. ^ "Taliban appoints former Guantanamo Bay detainee released under Obama to leadership post in Afghanistan". Retrieved 2021-09-19.
  3. ^ "له پاکستانه د خوراکي توکو او درملو مرسته خوست ته ورسېده". مشال راډيو.
  4. ^ "خوست کې د بېلابېلو جرمونو په تور ۲۴ کسان نيول شوي". December 6, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c "Estimated Population of Afghanistan 2021-22" (PDF). National Statistic and Information Authority (NSIA). April 2021. Retrieved June 30, 2021.
  6. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Subnational HDI - Global Data Lab".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ Giustozzi, Antonio (2009). Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field. p. 76. ISBN 9780231701129.
  8. ^ "History of Computer science Faculty | SZU University". Retrieved 2022-04-13.
  9. ^ Kakar, Javed Hamim (2021-07-10). "Ghani inaugurates Khost International Airport". Retrieved 2022-04-13.
  10. ^ "FAO in Afghanistan | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations".
  11. ^ "The Ghost of Khost: What History Might Tell Us about the Future of Afghanistan > Air University (AU) > Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs Article Display". Retrieved 2022-03-25.
  12. ^ Lee, L. Jonathan (2018). Afghanistan: A History from 1260 to the Present. pp. 476–477. ISBN 9781789140101.
  13. ^ Lee, L. Jonathan (2018). Afghanistan: A History from 1260 to the Present. pp. 478–479. ISBN 9781789140101.
  14. ^ Tomsen, Peter (2011). The Wars of Afghanistan: Messianic Terrorism, Tribal Conflicts, and the Failures of Great Powers. p. 73. ISBN 9781610394123.
  15. ^ Roy, Oliver (November 30, 1990). Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan. Cambridge University Press; 2nd edition. pp. 84 and 101. ISBN 978-0521397001.
  16. ^ Roy, Oliver (November 30, 1990). Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan. Cambridge University Press; 2nd edition. pp. 84 and 101. ISBN 978-0521397001.
  17. ^ Roy, Oliver (November 30, 1990). Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan. Cambridge University Press; 2nd edition. p. 102. ISBN 978-0521397001.
  18. ^ Roy, Oliver (November 30, 1990). Islam and resistance in Afghanistan. Cambridge University Press; 2nd edition. p. 198. ISBN 978-0521397001.
  19. ^ "The Ghost of Khost: What History Might Tell Us about the Future of Afghanistan > Air University (AU) > Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs Article Display". Retrieved 2022-03-28.
  20. ^ "The Latest: Militants take provincial capital of Khost". The Independent. 2021-08-15. Retrieved 2022-04-13.
  21. ^ "At least 47 dead in Afghanistan after Pakistan attacks: Officials". Al Jazeera. April 17, 2022.
  22. ^ Mal, Qazafi (April 16, 2022). "Casualties as Pakistan pounds civilian homes in Khost, Kunar" – via
  23. ^ "Pakistani rocket fire kills 45 Afghans, say Taliban". Daily Sabah. April 16, 2022.
  24. ^ "په خوست کې د پاکستاني الوتکو بمبارۍ درنه مرګ ژوبله اړولې". Deutsche Welle (in Pashto). April 16, 2022.
  25. ^ "Witnesses Say Dozens Killed In Pakistani Air Strikes On Eastern Afghanistan Region". RFE/RL. April 16, 2022.
  26. ^ a b Padshah, Safiullah; Ives, Mike (22 June 2022). "Afghanistan Live Updates: At Least 1,000 Killed in Earthquake, Official Media Says: The quake struck 28 miles southwest of the provincial capital of Khost". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 22 June 2022. Retrieved 22 June 2022.
  27. ^ Mangal, Farooq Jan (23 June 2022). "Afghanistan earthquake survivors dig by hand as aid is delayed". Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 23 June 2022. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
  28. ^ "Thousands of Afghanistan earthquake survivors remain without food and shelter despite aid coming in". The New Arab. 25 June 2022. Archived from the original on 25 June 2022. Retrieved 25 June 2022.
  29. ^ a b c d Archive, Civil Military Fusion Centre, Archived 2014-05-31 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ "Settled Population of Khost province by Civil Division, Urban, Rural and Sex-2012-13" (PDF). Islamic Republic of Afghanistan: Central Statistics Organization. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
  31. ^ On the Road - Khost Province Season 1 (Pashto) on YouTube, Feb 13, 2012, TOLO/USAIDAfghanistan.
  32. ^ "Khost Province" (PDF). Program for Culture & Conflict Studies. Naval Postgraduate School. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
  33. ^ Imperial gazetteer of India: provincial series, Volume 20. Publisher Supt. of Govt. Print., 1908

External linksEdit