DERA ISMAIL KHAN, a town and district in the Derajat division of the North-West Frontier Province of India. The town is situated near the right bank of the Indus, which is here crossed by a bridge of boats during half the year. In 1901 it had a population of 31,737. It takes its name from Ismail Khan, a Baluch chief who settled here towards the end of the 15th century, and whose descendants ruled for 300 years. The old town was swept away by a flood in 1823, and the present town stands 4 m. back from the permanent channel of the river. The native quarters are well laid out, with a large bazaar for Afghan traders. It is the residence of many Mahommedan gentry. The cantonment accommodates about a brigade of troops. There is considerable through trade with Afghanistan by the Gomal Pass, and there are local manufactures of cotton cloth scarves and inlaid wood-work.
The District Of Dera Ismail Khan contains an area of 3403 sq. m. It was formerly divided into two almost equal portions by the Indus, which intersected it from north to south. To the west of the Indus the characteristics of the country resemble those of Dera Ghazi Khan. To the east of the present bed of the river there is a wide tract 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 only by nomadic tribes of herdsmen. 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 Bannu districts now comprise the new Punjab district of Mianiwali. In 1901 the population was 252,379. chiefly Pathan and Baluch Mahommedans. Wheat and wool are exported.
The Indus is navigable by native boats throughout its course Of 120 M. within the district, which is the borderland of Pathan and Baluch tribes, the Pathan element predominating. The chief frontier tribes are the Sheranis and Ustaranas.
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