Location of North and South Waziristan (green) inside Pakistan (white)
Waziristan (Pashto, Urdu and Persian: وزیرستان, “land of the Wazir“) is a mountainous region in the northwest of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan and covering some 11,585 km² (4,473 sq mi). The area is entirely populated by ethnic Pashtuns. The language spoken in the valley is Pashto. It is part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, considered to be separate from the country’s four core provinces.
Waziristan comprises the area west and southwest of Peshawar between the Tochi River to the north and the Gomal River to the south. Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lies immediately to the east. 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, eliciting frequent punitive expeditions between 1860 and 1945. The region became part of Pakistan in 1947.
For administrative purposes, Waziristan is divided into two “agencies”, North Waziristan and South Waziristan, with estimated populations (as of 1998) of 361,246 and 429,841 respectively. The two parts have quite distinct characteristics, though both tribes are subgroups of the Wazir Tribe and speak a common Wazirwola language. They have a reputation as formidable warriors, and are known for their frequent blood feuds.
The Wazir tribes are divided into sub-tribes 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 Regulation.
Taliban presence in the area has been an issue of international concern in the War on Terrorism particularly since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.
North (purple) and South (blue) Waziristan and surrounding Federally Administered Tribal Areas and provinces
Main article: North Waziristan
North Waziristan’s District capital is Miranshah, also known as Miramshah, or Mirumshah in the local dialect.
The area is mostly inhabited by 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, Shawal and the Dawars (also known as Daurr or Daur), who 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.
Main article: South Waziristan
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.
Waziristan Revolt (1919–1920)
A flag used by a resistance movement in Waziristan against the British during the 1930s, with the Takbir written on it
Main article: Waziristan campaign 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 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 (Pakistan did not exist at this time), 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)
Main article: Waziristan campaign (1936–1939)
In 1936, trouble again flared up in Waziristan in the form of a political and religious agitator known as the Fakir of Ipi. 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.
Taliban presence and the War on Terror
On June 4, 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 4 provinces. They discussed the deteriorating law and order situation and the threat posed to state security.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 oust the foreigners. Since then, around 200 Maliks have been assassinated by local Taliban through targeted killings.
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.
The NSC of Pakistan has decided the following actions will be taken to achieve the goals:
- Deployment of unmanned reconnaissance planes
- Strengthening law-enforcement agencies with advanced equipment
- Deployment of more troops to the region
- Operations against militants on a fast-track basis
- Focused operations against militant commanders
- Action against madrassahs preaching militancy
- Appointment of regional coordinators
- Fresh Recruitments of police officers in NWFP
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 deploye police. there are another 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.
In December 2008, the Pakistan Army 14th Infantry Division, which was based in and operating in Waziristan, was moved and redeployed to the Indian border amidst rising tensions between the two countries in the aftermath of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.
1. ^ Lawson, Alastair (2008-04-21). “Why Britons walked warily in Waziristan”. BBC News. BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7325117.stm. Retrieved 2008-04-21.
2. ^ “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), Jan 8, 2008 (on-line)
3. ^ The Fakir of Ipi was a Tori Khel Wazir, whose full name was Mirza Ali Khan.
4. ^ Khan, Ismail (2007). “Plan ready to curb militancy in Fata, settled areas”. Newsweek international edition. http://www.Dawn.com. http://www.dawn.com/2007/06/26/top4.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-27.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Waziristan“. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- 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)