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Waziristan (Pashto, Urdu: وزیرستان, lit.'land of the Wazir') is a mountainous region covering the North Waziristan and South Waziristan districts of the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.[1][2] Waziristan covers around 11,585 square kilometres (4,500 sq mi) and is mainly populated by the Wazir Pashtun tribe,[3] who speak the Waziri dialect of the Pashto language.


The name "Waziristan" is associated with the ancestor of the Pashtun tribes, Wazir and Mehsud, named Wazir. Both tribes descended from him and are predominantly settled in the Waziristan region.

Overview and history[edit]

North (purple) and South (blue) Waziristan and surrounding Federally Administered Tribal Areas and provinces

Waziristan lies between the Kurram River and the Gomal River. It borders the Kurram Agency in the north, Bannu in the northeast, Tank in the east, Dera Ismail Khan in the southeast, Sherani and Musakhel districts of Balochistan in the south and Khost, Paktia, and Paktika provinces of Afghanistan in the west.

Waziristan is divided into two districts: North Waziristan and South Waziristan. According to the 2017 census report, the population of North Waziristan was 543,254[4] while that of South Waziristan was 674,065.[5] The two parts have quite distinct characteristics, though both are inhabited by the Wazir and Mahsud (or Maseed) tribes. They have a reputation as formidable warriors.[6]

British Era[edit]

The British entered Waziristan in 1894, when the boundary with Afghanistan, known as the Durand Line was determined.[7] They divided Waziristan into two agencies, North Waziristan and South Waziristan; they also introduced a regular system of land record and revenue administration for the most fertile part of the Tochi valley. After the British military operations, a Political Agent for South Waziristan was permanently appointed with its headquarters at Wanna; another was appointed for North Waziristan with headquarters at Miranshah.

Waziristan Revolt (1919–1920)[edit]

A flag used by a resistance movement in Waziristan against the British during the 1930s, with the Takbir written on it
Souvenir presented by British Officers who took part in Waziristan operation 1937 depicting Tribal Marksman in an ambush against British Indian Forces.

In the rugged and remote region of Waziristan on British India's northwest border with Afghanistan, mountain tribes of Muslim fighters rebelled against the British Indian Army in numerous operations. The Waziristan Revolt of 1919–1920 was sparked by the Afghan invasion of British India in 1919. Though the British made peace with the Afghans, the Waziri and Mahsud tribesmen gave the imperial (almost entirely Indian) forces a very difficult fight. Some of the tribesmen were veterans of the British-organised local militias that were irregular elements of the British Indian Army, and used some modern Lee–Enfield rifles against the British Indian forces sent into Waziristan. One aspect of this conflict was the effective use of air power against the Waziris and Mahsuds. This is similar to Royal Air Force tactics in suppressing the Arab Revolt in Iraq in 1920 and 1921.

Faqir of Ipi[edit]

In 1935–36, a Hindu-Muslim clash occurred over a Hindu girl of Bannu, who was abducted and forced to convert to Islam.[8] The tribesmen rallied around Mirzali Khan, a Tori Khel Wazir, who was later given the title of "the Faqir of Ipi" by the British. Jihad was declared against the British. Mirzali Khan, with his huge lashkar (force), started a guerrilla warfare against the British forces in Waziristan.

In 1938, Mirzali Khan shifted from Ipi to Gurwek, a remote village on the Durand Line, where he declared an independent state and continued the raids against the British forces. In June 1947, Mirzali Khan, along with his allies, including the Khudai Khidmatgars and members of the Provincial Assembly, declared the Bannu Resolution. The resolution demanded that the Pashtuns be given a choice to have an independent state of Pashtunistan, composing all Pashtun majority territories of British India, instead of being made to join Pakistan. However, the British Raj refused to comply with the demand of this resolution.[9][10] After the creation of Pakistan in August 1947, Mirzali Khan and his followers refused to recognise Pakistan, and launched a campaign against Pakistan. They continued their guerilla warfare against the new nation's government.[11] He didn't surrender to the government of Pakistan throughout his life but his movement diminished after 1954 when his Commander-in-chief Mehar Dil Khan Khattak surrendered to the Pakistani authorities.[12] Towards the end of his life, he expressed regret and said that Afghanistan deceived and used him for its political gains in the name of Islam. He also instructed his supporters that they should never help Afghanistan against Pakistan with any plots made against Pakistan.[13]

U.S. War on Terror[edit]

In the early stage of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, when the Taliban started fleeing into Pakistan, the local leaders, or Maliks, began a campaign among their locals to host the foreigners. Since then, around 200 Maliks have been assassinated by the local Taliban through targeted killings.[citation needed]

To end the Waziristan war, Pakistan signed the Waziristan Accord with chieftains from the self-styled Islamic Emirate of Waziristan on 5 September 2006. The Islamic militants in Waziristan are said to have close affiliations with the Taliban.[14] Waziristan is often mentioned as a haven for al-Qaeda fighters. There is speculation that some al-Qaeda leaders have found refuge in the area controlled by the Emirate, which is a staging ground for militant operations in Afghanistan.[15]

On 4 June 2007, the National Security Council of Pakistan met to decide the fate of Waziristan and take up a number of political and administrative issues to control the "Talibanization" of the area. The meeting was chaired by President Pervez Musharraf and attended by the Chief Ministers and Governors of all four provinces. They discussed the deteriorating law and order situation and the threat posed to state security. The government decided to take a number of actions to stop the "Talibanization" and to crush the armed militancy in the Tribal regions and the NWFP.

Due to the ongoing military operations against the Taliban, nearly 100,000 people have already fled to Afghanistan's Khost province to seek shelter. The UN and other aid agencies are helping more than 470,000 people who have been displaced from Pakistan's North Waziristan region due to the ongoing military operations.[16]

The Ministry of the Interior has played a large part in the information gathering for the operations against the militants and their institutions. The Ministry of the Interior has prepared a list of militant commanders operating in the region and they have also prepared a list of seminaries for monitoring. (Waziristan is a tribal area, and in any tribal area of Pakistan, nobody can deploy police. There are other options like frontier corps (militia) and Khasadar (local tribesmen force).) The government is also trying to strengthen law enforcement in the area by providing the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police with weapons, bullet-proof jackets, and night-vision devices. The paramilitary Frontier Corps is to be provided with artillery and APCs. State agencies are actively exploring methods to disrupt unauthorized FM radio channels through jamming techniques.[17]

The US drone strikes programme has been responsible for numerous bombings in Waziristan, carried out with the approval of the Pakistani government.[18]

The Wazir tribes are divided into clans governed by male village elders who meet in a tribal jirga. Socially and religiously, Waziristan is an extremely conservative area. Women are carefully guarded, and every household must be headed by a male figure. Tribal cohesiveness is also kept strong by means of the so-called Collective Responsibility Acts in the Frontier Crimes Regulations, which has since been repealed following the merger of FATA to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in May, 2018.[19][2]

Taliban presence in the area has been an issue of international concern in the War on Terrorism particularly since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.[20] In 2014, about 929,859 people were reported to be internally displaced from Waziristan as a result of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, a military offensive conducted by the Pakistan Armed Forces along the Pakistan - Afghanistan border.[21][22]

North Waziristan[edit]

North Waziristan's capital is Miranshah. The area is mostly inhabited by the Dawar Tribe and the Utmanzai branch of the Darwesh Khel Waziris, who are related to Ahmedzai Waziris of South Waziristan, who live in fortified mountain villages, including Razmak, Datta Khel, Spin wam, Dosali, Shawa and Shawal. The Dawars (also known as Daurr or Daur), who live in the main Tochi Valley, farm in the valleys below in villages including Miranshah, Hamzoni, Darpakhel, Muhammadkhel, Boya, Degan, Banda, Ngharkali, Palangzai, Mirali, Edak, Hurmaz, Mussaki, Hassukhel, Ziraki, Tapi, Issori, Haiderkhel and Khaddi irrigated by the river Tochi. They are related to the Banuchis who live in the neighboring Bannu District.

South Waziristan[edit]

The South Waziristan has its district headquarters at Wanna. South Waziristan, comprising about 6,500 square kilometres (2,500 sq mi), previously was the most volatile agency of Pakistan. Up until 2021 it was not under the direct administration of the government of Pakistan, South Waziristan was previously and indirectly governed by a political agent, who has been either an outsider or a Waziri—a system inherited from the British Raj. Since, January 2021, South Waziristan has been incorporated as a district of the adjacent KPK province. In south Waziristan Agency, there are three tribes, Wazir, Maseed and Burki. Burki and Urmarh are the same tribe.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "President signs constitutional amendment to merge FATA with KP". www.pakistantoday.com.pk. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  2. ^ a b Yusufzai, Ashfaq (28 June 2018). "KP plans to take control of Fata health directorate". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  3. ^ "Tribe: Ahmadzai Wazir" (PDF). Naval Postgraduate School. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "DISTRICT AND TEHSIL LEVEL POPULATION SUMMARY WITH REGION BREAKUP - North Waziristan" (PDF). www.pbscensus.gov.pk. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 March 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  5. ^ "DISTRICT AND TEHSIL LEVEL POPULATION SUMMARY WITH REGION BREAKUP - South Waziristan" (PDF). www.pbscensus.gov.pk. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 March 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  6. ^ "A powerful tribal chief has warned militants linked with al-Qaeda to leave a Pakistani border district after the death of eight members of his clan supporting peace efforts in the troubled region. Maulavi Nazir, who drove out hundreds of Uzbek fighters in a bloody battle last year, said his armed followers would attack those loyal to an al-Qaeda linchpin in South Waziristan. Mr Nazir, who represents the influential Wazir tribe, blamed Baitullah Mehsud..." (Australian News Network), 8 January 2008 (on-line)
  7. ^ Chisholm 1911, p. 435.
  8. ^ Yousef Aboul-Enein; Basil Aboul-Enein (2013). The Secret War for the Middle East. Naval Institute Press. p. 153. ISBN 978-1612513096.
  9. ^ Ali Shah, Sayyid Vaqar (1993). Marwat, Fazal-ur-Rahim Khan (ed.). Afghanistan and the Frontier. University of Michigan: Emjay Books International. p. 256.
  10. ^ H Johnson, Thomas; Zellen, Barry (2014). Culture, Conflict, and Counterinsurgency. Stanford University Press. p. 154. ISBN 9780804789219.
  11. ^ The Faqir of Ipi of North Waziristan. The Express Tribune. 15 November 2010.
  12. ^ "Past in Perspective". The Nation. 24 August 2019. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  13. ^ Cite error: The named reference bbcnews was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  14. ^ South Asia Defence and Strategic Year Book. Panchsheel. 2009. p. 260. ISBN 9788182743991.
  15. ^ Rohde, David (10 September 2006). "Al Qaeda Finds Its Center of Gravity". New York Times. Retrieved 12 September 2006.
  16. ^ "UN's AID TO WAZIRISTAN". ABP Live. 3 July 2014.
  17. ^ Khan, Ismail (2007). "Plan ready to curb militancy in Fata, settled areas". Newsweek international edition. Dawn.com. Retrieved 27 June 2007.
  18. ^ Drone Warfare, Killing by Remote Control. Medea Benjamin, Harper Collins, 2012 p.140
  19. ^ "President signs Fata-KP merger bill into law". The Nation. 1 June 2018. Archived from the original on 8 March 2021. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  20. ^ Beattie, Hugh (4 February 2014). "The Taliban: past and present". RadicalisationResearch.org. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  21. ^ North Waziristan IDPs figure reaches 800,000. Dawn. 8 July 2014.
  22. ^ "Air raids flatten 5 militant hideouts". The Express Tribune. 14 July 2014. Archived from the original on 15 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.

Further reading[edit]

  • Fürstenberg, Kai (2012) Waziristan: Solutions for a Troubled Region in Spotlight South Asia, No. 1, ISSN 2195-2787 (http://www.apsa.info/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/SSA-1.pdf Archived 7 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine)
  • Roe, Andrew M. Waging War in Waziristan: The British Struggle in the Land of Bin Laden, 1849–1947 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2010) 313 pages
  • Operations in Waziristan 1919–1920, Compiled by the General Staff, Army Headquarters, India, 1923 (Reprinted by Naval & Military Press and Imperial War Museum, ISBN 1-84342-773-7)
  • Systems of Survival (1992) by Jane Jacobs. Jacobs cites a story from the 16 July 1974 issue of The Wall Street Journal in which a Pathan husband in Waziristan reportedly cut off his wife's nose because he was jealous. Thinking the better of it, he took her to a surgeon to have the injury repaired. Upon finding out that an operation would cost thirty rupees, he called it off, saying he could buy a new wife for eighty rupees. Jacobs cites this incident as evidence contradicting the platitude that society is based on the family. Instead, each family is based on whatever society it finds itself in. (Jacobs' discussion in her book is viewable on Amazon.com. Search for "Pathan".)

External links[edit]