Last updated

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 a Pashtun tribe called the Wazir which is predominantly settled in the North Waziristan region.

Overview and history

North (purple) and South (blue) Waziristan and surrounding Federally Administered Tribal Areas and provinces FATA (8).jpg
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

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)

A flag used by a resistance movement in Waziristan against the British during the 1930s, with the Takbir written on it Flag of Waziristan resistance (1930s).svg
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. Souvenir by Offrs of Royal Engineers.jpg
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

In 193536, 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

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

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.

South Waziristan

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

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pashtunistan</span> Geographic region historically inhabited by the Pashtun people

Pashtunistan is a historical region located on the Iranian Plateau, inhabited by the indigenous Pashtun people of southern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan in South-Central Asia, wherein Pashtun culture, the Pashto language, and Pashtun identity have been based. Alternative names historically used for the region include Pashtūnkhwā (پښتونخوا), Pakhtūnistān, Pathānistān, or simply the Pashtun Belt. Pashtunistan borders the geographical regions of Turkestan to the north, Kashmir to the northeast, Punjab to the east, Balochistan to the south and Iran to the west.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bannu District</span> District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan

Bannu District is a district in the Bannu Division of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Its status as a district was formally recorded in 1861 during the British Raj. This district constitutes one of the 26 districts that collectively form the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. It borders North Waziristan to the northwest, Karak to the northeast, Lakki Marwat and Bettani to the southeast, and South Waziristan to the southwest. It is represented in the provincial assembly by four MPAs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">North Waziristan District</span> District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

North Waziristan District is a district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan. It is the northern part of Waziristan, a mountainous region of northwest Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan and covering 4,707 square kilometres (1,817 sq mi). The capital city of North Waziristan is Miranshah.

The Tochi Valley, also known as Dawar, is a fertile area located in the North Waziristan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. In 1881, Nawab of Sarhad Nawab Gulmaizar Khan established the North Waziristan Tribal Agency with its headquarters at Miramshah in the valley.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wanna, Pakistan</span> Place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

Wāṇa or Wanna is the largest town in the South Waziristan District of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. It is the summer headquarters for the agency's administration, Tank located in the neighbouring Tank District being the winter headquarters.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">South Waziristan District</span> District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan

South Waziristan District was a district in the Dera Ismail Khan Division of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province before splitting into the Lower South Waziristan District and the Upper South Waziristan District on April 13, 2022. It covers around 11,585 km2 (4,473 mi2). Waziristan is located in the southwest of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It is situated between two rivers. The Tochi River is flowing on its north and the Gomal River is flowing on its south. The region was an independent tribal territory from 1893, separated from both Afghanistan the British-ruled empire in the subcontinent. Raiding the tribal areas was a constant problem for the British, requiring frequent punitive expeditions between 1860 and 1945. Troops of the British Raj coined a name for this region "Hell's Door Knocker" in recognition of the fearsome reputation of the local fighters and inhospitable terrain. The district headquarter of the South Waziristan district is Wanna. South Waziristan is divided into three administrative subdivisions of Ladha, Sarwakai, and Wanna. These three subdivisions are further divided into eight Tehsils: Ladha, Makin, Sararogha, Sarwakai, Tiarza, Wanna, Barmal, and Toi Khula.

Mīrānshāh (Pashto: میران شاه) is a small town that is the administrative headquarters of North Waziristan District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Miranshah lies on the banks of the Tochi River in a wide valley surrounded by the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains. It is located at an elevation of about 930 metres (3,050 ft), 17 kilometres (11 mi) from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The nearest city in Pakistan is Bannu, about 55 kilometres (34 mi) to the east, while the nearest city across the border in Afghanistan is Khost, 60 kilometres (37 mi) to the northwest.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Faqir of Ipi</span> Pashtun tribal leader (1897–1960)

Haji Mirzali Khan Wazir, commonly known as the Faqir of Ipi, was a tribal chief and adversary to the British Raj from north Waziristan in what is now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.

The Mahsud is a Karlani Pashtun tribe inhabiting mostly the South Waziristan Agency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bannu Division</span> Division in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

Bannu Division is one of seven divisions in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. It consists of three districts: Bannu, Lakki Marwat, and North Waziristan. According to the 2017 Pakistani Census, the division had a population of 2,656,801, making it the least populous division in the province, but it spans 9,975 km2 (3,851 sq mi) of area, and this makes it the third-smallest division by area in the province. Lakki Marwat is the largest city of Bannu Division, with around 60,000 people, while the division's namesake and second-largest city is Bannu, with just under 50,000 people. The division borders Dera Ismail Khan Division to the south and west, Kohat Division to the north and east, and the province of Punjab, Pakistan to its east.

The Wazirs or Waziris are a Karlani Pashtun tribe found mainly in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. The Utmanzai Wazir are settled in the North Waziristan and Bannu Subdivision Wazir and the Ahmadzai Wazir are in the South Waziristan, and in Domel, Bannu. Those subgroups are in turn divided further, for example into Utmanzai tribes such as the Baka Khel and Jani Khel. The Wazirs speak the Waziristani dialect of Pashto which is similar to the neighboring Banuchi and Dawari dialect but still distinct.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mir Ali, Pakistan</span> Tehsil in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

Mir Ali or Mirali is a town in North Waziristan District, in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Mirali is located in the Tochi Valley, about 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) east of Miramshah, 40 kilometres (25 mi) west of Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and 70 kilometres (43 mi) southeast of the city of Khost, Afghanistan. Mirali is at an altitude of 674 metres (2,211 ft).

The Waziristan campaign 1936–1939 comprised a number of operations conducted in Waziristan by the British Indian Army against the fiercely independent tribesmen that inhabited this region. These operations were conducted in 1936–1939, when operations were undertaken against followers of the Pashtun nationalist Mirzali Khan, also known by the British as the "Faqir of Ipi", a religious and political agitator who was spreading anti-British sentiment in the region and undermining the prestige of the Indian government in Waziristan at the time.

Hafiz Gul Bahadur is the leader of a Pakistani Taliban faction based in North Waziristan. Upon the formation of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in December 2007, he was announced as the militant group's overall naib amir under Baitullah Mehsud, who was based in South Waziristan, but has largely distanced himself from the TTP due to rivalries with Mehsud and disagreements about the TTP's attacks against the Pakistani state.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Makeen</span> Place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

Makeen or Makin (ماکین) is a city in the South Waziristan region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It is located on the boundary of the North Waziristan district. On its west, it shares a border of 40 Km with Afghanistan's Barmal District and Paktika.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Federally Administered Tribal Areas</span> Former semi-autonomous region in north-western Pakistan (1947–2018)

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas, commonly known as FATA, was a semi-autonomous tribal region in north-western Pakistan that existed from 1947 until being merged with the neighbouring province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2018 through the Twenty-fifth amendment to the constitution of Pakistan. It consisted of seven tribal agencies (districts) and six frontier regions, and were directly governed by the federal government through a special set of laws called the Frontier Crimes Regulations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eidak</span> Village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

Eidak is a village in North Waziristan, Pakistan, 50 kilometres to the east of Bannu, lying close to the border with Afghanistan. Its inhabitants are mainly Pashtun-speaking Dawaris.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Manzoor Pashteen</span> Pakistani human rights activist (born 1994)

Manzoor Ahmad Pashteen is a Pakistani Pashtun human rights activist from South Waziristan. He is the chairman of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM).

On 31 May 2018, with the application of 25th Amendment, Federally Administrated Tribal Areas ceased to exist, and stood merged into neighbouring province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The inaugural meeting of the Pashtun National Jirga, also known as the Bannu Jirga, was held at Mirakhel Cricket Ground in Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from 11 to 14 March 2022 to discuss the critical issues faced by the Pashtuns in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was attended by about 5,000 delegates, including politicians, tribal chiefs, researchers, clerics, religious minorities, women and human rights activists.


  1. "President signs constitutional amendment to merge FATA with KP". www.pakistantoday.com.pk. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  2. 1 2 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. South Asia Defence and Strategic Year Book. Panchsheel. 2009. p. 260. ISBN   9788182743991.
  14. Rohde, David (10 September 2006). "Al Qaeda Finds Its Center of Gravity". New York Times. Retrieved 12 September 2006.
  15. "UN's AID TO WAZIRISTAN". ABP Live. 3 July 2014.
  16. Khan, Ismail (2007). "Plan ready to curb militancy in Fata, settled areas". Newsweek international edition. Dawn.com. Retrieved 27 June 2007.
  17. Drone Warfare, Killing by Remote Control. Medea Benjamin, Harper Collins, 2012 p.140
  18. "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.
  19. Beattie, Hugh (4 February 2014). "The Taliban: past and present". RadicalisationResearch.org. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  20. North Waziristan IDPs figure reaches 800,000. Dawn. 8 July 2014.
  21. "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