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Zeruk is a remote district of Paktika province bordered to the East by Spera District of Khost province, to the South-West by Nika District, to the West by Urgon District and to the North by Waziristan. The district has a population of roughly 43,190.
The elders (مشران) of Zerok are Abdul Manan, Gharanai, Haj and Saib Gul. The former top elder Abdu Rehman, was also valued by tribes outside Zerok for his ability to resolve complicated issues. Mathiullah (famous with Gul Baz) was a former Jihadi commander. Noorullah Zadran was a former vice representative for the Taliban at the United Nations. Mawlawi Sangin was a Taliban Commander. Assistant Professor Saminullah Sameem Zadran teaches at Shaikh Zayed University (Pashto: شیخ زاید پوهنتون).
Tribally, the people of Zerok are Ghanikhan Khail, but there are some sub tribes including:
- Soorai (سوری)
- Schawzai (شوزی)
- Madakai (مدکی)
- Alamai (عالمی)
- Khudkai (خودکی)
- Inbikai (انبکی)
Dabb is the capital (district center) of Zerok district. It hosts the District Governor's office, the police headquarters, and a US Forward Operating Base (FOB). Some people live outside the villages near the corner of Zerok's basin. These dwellings are called Kasski (Pashto: کهاڅکی). 'Soorgul Kaskai' is located in the west of Zerok and belongs to the Schawzi tribe. The people are united and lesson to their elder. Generosity and hospitality are the other characteristics that are found in Zerok's society.
Zerok is known for its interest in modern education. Zerok also has a high number of graduates. The level of education and the percentage of educated people is not higher to compare to other districts such as Urgon. There is only one higher school in the whole district. The teachers teach in the school are not professional nor highly qualified. Students are gathered in gardens for learning. The school has its own building but is near with US base. Students and teachers left their school building because of the possible Taliban Mortar missile.
The economy of Zerok is mainly based on mountains and cultivation. Zerok's mountains contain Pine fruit which is comparatively expensive dry fruit. The area of Zerok's mountains is large and enough part is received to each family. When the pine crop ripe, the elders prepare to divide it according to the male persons. In this area mountains belong to common people not to government. Each year the pine crops are divided among people. Each person is received a Dadai. Dadai is a certain area or certain amount of Pine trees. Dadai is calculated according to male persons. Women are not calculated for achieving any dadai. Once divided, people go to mountains group by group for harvesting or collecting the pine fruit. It's a hard work. It takes 15–30 days to collect the fruit. During this time people live in tents. After harvesting, the cones of pine trees are then put to sun shines in order to prepare for releasing the seeds(fruit). The fruit are then put to sacks and then sold in markets. Other types of crops such as Wheat, Beans, Maize, Peas and vegetables such as Spinach, Carrots, Tomatoes, Potatoes etc. are also grown. Other sources for economy without agriculture are Trucks driving, Trade and Cattle keeping.
Village life د کلي ژوند
The life of people is very simple. People wake up early in the morning and usually at least one person per family go to mountains to bring wood for burning and oak branches for cattle. Zerok's tall mountains are covered with trees and birds. In winter, the mountains are completely covered by snow. Homes are made of mud and stone and due to lack of land, they are built in two and three stories. The villagers sit on the wray(Piles of small stones) (وړۍ) near shops and have green tea with sweets in their free time. They wear traditional clothes, waist-coats, turbans (لونګۍ) and boots. Wedding and marriage ceremonies are also performed according to tradition. Women sing songs, while men dance with local Attan (Pashto: اتڼ).
Wedding واده: According to the local elder Sahib Gul, the ceremony performed in weddings are of very old traditions. A boy and girl are not allowed to have any type of relations before wedding. Neither boys nor girls are allowed to perform any kind of action for their engagement. The engagement decision is in their parents hands. Usually the mother of a boy goes any home to ask for relation of any girl to her son. Once the girl engaged to a boy, after sometime marriage ceremony is performed. On the day of marriage, women sing songs while men perform their local Attan. Guns are also fired into air in some weddings. The bride is decorated by her girl friends in her home. After her decoration, she is wake up by her brother-in-law usually. The dowry is loaded in trucks and brought to the bridegroom's home along with the people singing on the way. The bridegroom is decorated with confetti and well suited as well. As in European and other countries, there is no honeymoon in Zerok and in all zadran tribe. Once the bride reached the bridegroom's home, women sing different songs and the men dance to drum with local Attan. The people (Pashto: وریڅي) are served with food(Dinner or lunch).
Akhtar or Eid اختر: As in other pashtun tribes, people in Ziruk also celebrate Akhtar or Eid (Pashto: اختر ) with great preparations. Children are mostly involved in this regard. There are two Eids in a year; Eidul Adha (Pashto: لوی اختر) and Eidul Fitar (Pashto: کوچنی اختر ). Children make early preparations for celebrating Akhtar. They collect wood, used tires etc. (Pashto: اورګن) for burning fire on the Akhtar night. Women and children decorate hands with henna (Pashto: نکریزې). They collect money from neighbors on the Akhtar night. In the morning(on the first day of Akhtar) they collect sweats (Pashto: خوانی) and money from their relatives. Adults pray Akhtar prayer on the first day of Akhtar. People walk home by home for eating lunch. Zerok's famous dish 'rice with peas' (Pashto: کونډېل) is mostly welcomed on this day. Youths play by hitting eggs with each other. Akhtar is celebrated for three days.
Funeral Ceremony د جنازې مراسم: The people are very supportive during death ceremony. If someone dies, the owner announces the villagers through the Mosques' loudspeakers. For three days the owner of dead are not allowed to cook any thing in their home. Dinner, lunch and breakfast is given by the neighbors. Government does not support. The relatives of the dead are noticed and as soon as they reach and see their dead relative, start cry. They feel a great grief. The dead is buried after it is seen by almost all it's relatives and friends. After burying, a suitable amount of money is divided among people as charity for the dead.
Pagara پګړه یا اشر:
When someone needs to do any hard task and he can't do it alone or want to do it in short time, or if there is a public work such as constructing Mosque, road, water canal etc. then people are collected in a group shape called Pagara (Pashto: پګړه یا اشر ). With the help of Pagara a very hard task is completed in a short time.
Narkh نرخ: Narkh is the local law made by the elders of the whole Zadran region. When there is dispute between two persons or tribes then the issue or dispute is solved according to Narkh. If the Narkhchyan(The people who solves issues and know about Narkh) blame some one or any side, they have two option to accept or reject. In case of acceptance the issue is solved while in case of rejection the opponents find other Narkhchyan and wants to challenge the former Narkhchi.
Narkhchi نرخ ویونکی:
The people who know more about Narkh and can solve issues. An amount of money called Bedona is given to them. The plural for Narkhchi is Narkhchyan.
The amount of money given to Narkhchi is called Bedona. Amount of Bedona is selected by Narkhchyan.
If any conflict occurs between two persons or tribes e.g. one person or tribe kills any body from another, then a ram or bull is brought and slaughtered by murderer to the murdered relatives' home for rehabilitation. If it is accepted by the relatives of the murdered then the dispute is peacefully solved otherwise Badi is caused between them.
Badi is the enmity between two opponents.
Chigha چیغه: When something dangerous or illegal happened to one of the villagers, e.g. other villagers come and beat or kill some one. In such case the people are collective come out of home and try to catch the criminals. Chigha is formed in very emergency situations.
The people of Zerok are religious. They accept those as saints who seem sinless in the society. They believe saints are near to Allah and when they pray, Allah accept it soon. When such people die, their graves are made as tomb and people go their and alongside pray to Allah when they want something special. They believe Allah accepts demands of those better who beg in shrines. There are many shrines in Zerok but the famous one is Kari shrine (Pashto: قاري زیارت).
The people of zerok have some amazing and interesting beliefs, music, oral poetry, jokes and stories.
Eye blinking: Eye blinking are supposed as remembering of someone's by others. When someone's eye start to blink he/she says someone remember me. People think they are praised somewhere.
Crow's caw: When the Crow caw on the top of someone's home or on tree near home, they think someone come home. The caw is supposed as a message of any guest coming.
Dog's whimper: When a dog whimpers, the people near it think something special happen. They think a type of oppression is coming from sky or God side.
Sport and Hobby سپورټ او ساتیری
There are different plays played by residents according to season. The most famous hobby are Volleyball, Football, Cricket, Hunting, Wrestling (Pashto: غېږ نیونه), Andai (Pashto: انډۍ), Marbles (Pashto: مړدکۍ ), Checker (Pashto: خطکی) etc. Those who don't play pass their time in tea shops. They order for black and green tea along with sweets and sit down in circles. They share the daily news and joke with each other.