Waziristan (Pashto and Urdu: وزیرستان, "land of the Wazir") is a mountainous region covering the former FATA agencies of North Waziristan and South Waziristan which are now districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan,which is disputed with Afghanistan. Waziristan covers some 11,585 square kilometres (4,500 sq mi). The area is populated by ethnic Pashtuns. It is named after the Wazir tribe. The language spoken in the valley is Pashto, predominantly the Waziristani dialect. The region forms the southern part of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which is now part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Overview and history
Waziristan lies between the Tochi River to the north and the Gomal River to the south. It is bordered by Bannu and Tank Districts, FR DI Khan, and Kurram Agency to the east and northeast, Sherani and Musakhel Districts of Baluchistan to the south in Pakistan and Khost, Paktia, and Paktika Provinces of Afghanistan to the west and north.
Waziristan is divided into two agencies now districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, North Waziristan and South Waziristan. According to 2017 census of Pakistan, the population of North Waziristan is 543,254 while that of South Waziristan is 674,065. The two parts have quite distinct characteristics, though both are inhabited by the Wazir tribe. They have a reputation as formidable warriors.
The British entered Waziristan in 1894. The British divided Waziristan into two agencies, North Waziristan and South Waziristan. It 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 Miramshah.
Waziristan Revolt (1919–1920)
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. 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.
Faqir of Ipi
In 1935–36, a Hindu-Muslim clash occurred over a Hindu girl of Bannu, who had married a Muslim. 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. 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. He didn't surrender to the government of Pakistan throughout his life. However, his popularity among the people of Waziristan declined over the years, with many jirgas in Waziristan deciding to support Pakistan. He died a natural death in 1960 in Gurwek.
War on Terror
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. 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.
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.
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, 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.
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 repelled after the merger of FATA to Khyber Pakhunkhwa in May, 2018.
Taliban presence in the area has been an issue of international concern in the War on Terrorism particularly since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. 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.
North Waziristan's capital is Miramshah. 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 Miramshah, Dande Darpakhel, Amzoni, Ali Khel, Mirali, Edak, Hurmaz, Mussaki, Hassu Khel, Ziraki, Tapi, Issori, Haider Khel, Khaddi and Arabkot irrigated by the river Tochi.
The South Waziristan's Agency has its district headquarters at Wanna. 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.
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- "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)
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- 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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