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Location of North and South Waziristan (green) inside Pakistan (white)
North (purple) and South (blue) Waziristan and surrounding Federally Administered Tribal Areas and provinces

Waziristan (Pashto: وزیرستان‎, "land of the Wazir") is a mountainous region covering the North Waziristan and South Waziristan agencies, FR Bannu, and the western part of Tank in northwestern Pakistan, and the Janikhel, Gurbuz and Barmal districts of eastern Afghanistan. Waziristan covers some 15,000 square kilometres (5,800 sq mi). The area is mostly populated by ethnic Pashtuns. It is named after the Wazir tribe.[1] The language spoken in the valley is Pashto, predominantly the Wazir dialect. Most of the region forms the southern part of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Waziristan comprises the area west and southwest of Peshawar between the Tochi River to the north and the Gomal River to the south. Bannu, Tank and FR DI Khan lie immediately to the east, Kurram Valley lies to the northeast, while Paktia, Khost and Paktika lie to the west and north. The region was an independent tribal territory until 1893, remaining outside the British Empire. Tribal raiding into British-ruled territory was a constant problem for the British,[2] eliciting frequent punitive expeditions between 1860 and 1945. The region became part of Pakistan in 1947.

For administrative purposes, Waziristan was divided into two "agencies", North Waziristan and South Waziristan, with an estimated populations in 1998 of 361,246 and 429,841 respectively. The two parts have quite distinct characteristics, though both are inhabited by the Wazir tribe. They have a reputation as formidable warriors.[3]

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.

Taliban presence in the area has been an issue of international concern in the War on Terrorism particularly since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, but has a history back to the later 19th Century.[4]

North Waziristan[edit]

North Waziristan's District capital is Miranshah, also known as Miramshah, or Mirumshah in the local dialect.

The area is mostly inhabited by the Dawar Tribe and the Darwesh Khel, better known as Utmanzai Waziris, who are related to Ahmedzai Waziris of South Waziristan, a sub clan of the Wazir tribe (from which the region derives its name), 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, Darpa Khel, Amzoni, Ali Khel, Mirali, Edak, Hurmaz, Mussaki, Hassu Khel, Ziraki, Tapi, Issori, Haider Khel, Khaddi and Arabkot irrigated by the river Tochi.

South Waziristan[edit]

The South Waziristan's Agency has its district headquarters at Wana.

South Waziristan, comprising about 6,500 square kilometres (2,500 sq mi), is the most volatile agency of Pakistan. Not under the direct administration of the government of Pakistan, South Waziristan is indirectly governed by a political agent, who has been either an outsider or a Waziri—a system inherited from the British Raj.

In south Waziristan Agency, there are three tribes, Wazir, Maseed and Burki.


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

In the rugged and remote region of Waziristan on British India's northwest border with Afghanistan, mountain tribes of Muslim fighters gave the British Indian Army a difficult time in numerous operations from 1860 onwards.

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 Indian Army, and used some modern Lee–Enfield rifles against the 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.

Waziristan Revolt (1936–1939)[edit]

In 1936, trouble again flared up in Waziristan in the form of a political and religious agitator known as the Fakir of Ipi.[5] Trouble flared up again in 1938–39, although to a much lesser extent. After 1939, the North West Frontier quietened down until the end of British rule and the creation of Pakistan in 1947.

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 local Taliban through targeted killings.

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.[6] 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.[7]

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 in order 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. [8]

The ministry of 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, no body 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 NWFP Police with weapons, bullet-proof jackets, and night-vision devices. The paramilitary Frontier Corps is to be provided with artillery and APCs. The state agencies are also studying ways to jam illegal FM radio channels.[9]

The US drone programme has been responsible for numerous bombings in Waziristan, carried out with the approval of the Pakistani government[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tribe: Ahmadzai Wazir" (PDF). Naval Postgraduate School. 
  2. ^ Lawson, Alastair (2008-04-21). "Why Britons walked warily in Waziristan". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  3. ^ "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)
  4. ^ Beattie, Hugh (2014-02-04). "The Taliban: past and present". RadicalisationResearch.org. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  5. ^ The Fakir of Ipi was a Tori Khel Wazir, whose full name was Mirza Ali Khan Haji Shabraam mahsud machil.
  6. ^ South Asia Defence and Strategic Year Book. Panchsheel. 2009. p. 260. 
  7. ^ Rohde, David (10 September 2006). "Al Qaeda Finds Its Center of Gravity". New York Times. Retrieved 12 September 2006. 
  8. ^ "UN's AID TO WAZIRISTAN". ABP Live. 3 July 2014. 
  9. ^ Khan, Ismail (2007). "Plan ready to curb militancy in Fata, settled areas". Newsweek international edition. www.Dawn.com. Retrieved 2007-06-27. 
  10. ^ Drone Warfare, Killing by Remote Control. Medea Benjamin, Harper Collins, 2012 p.140

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)
  • 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".)

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