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May 5, 2008

Wikipedia: North Waziristan

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District map of FATA and NWFP - Districts of FATA are shown in blue, Waziristan is located in the south.

District map of FATA and NWFP – Districts of FATA are shown in blue, Waziristan is located in the south.

North Waziristan (Urdu: شمالی وزیرستان) is the northern part of Waziristan, a mountainous region of northwest Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan and covering some 11 585 km² (4,473 mi²). It comprises the area west and south-west of Peshawar between the Tochi river to the north and the Gomal river to the south, forming part of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Miran Shah is capital of North Waziristan. The North-West Frontier Province lies immediately to the east. The region was an independent tribal territory from 1893, remaining outside of the British empire and Afghanistan. Tribal raiding into British territory was a constant problem for the British, requiring frequent punitive expeditions between 1860 and 1945. The region became part of Pakistan on independence in 1947.

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 Waziris and speak a common Waziri language. They have a formidable reputation as warriors and are known for their frequent blood feuds. Traditionally, feuding local Waziri religious leaders have enlisted outsiders in the Pakistani government, and U.S. forces hunting al-Qaeda fugitives, in attempts at score-settling. The 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 so strong through so-called Collective Responsibility Acts in the Frontier Crimes Regulation.

In 1910 North Waziristan Agency was constituted as a full fledged agency with its headquarters at Miranshah. It is inhabited by the Pashtun Wazirs and Daurs tribes. The agency lies from 32.35 degrees to 33.22 degrees latitudes and 69.22 degrees to 70.38 degrees longitudes. It is bounded on the north by Afghanistan, Kurram Agency and Hangu District, on the east by Tribal Areas Adjoining Bannu District and Tribal Area Adjoining Karak and Bannu Districts. On the south by South Waziristan Agency and on the west also by Afghanistan. The total area of the agency is 4,707 square kilometres (1,817 sq mi).



Geographically, the whole of Waziristan is a single unit. However, for administration convenience it has been split into two agencies, i.e. North and South Waziristan. The area has been described as a land of high and difficult hills with deep and rugged defiles. The mountains of North Waziristan are geographically apart from the larger mountain system of the Koh-e-Sufaid in the north and the Sulaiman in the south. The Waziristan hills were subject to igneous activity during the late Cretaceous period. The highly mineralized zone of Razmak is connected with it. The mountains and hills form a rampart between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The average height of the Waziristan hills is 1,500 to 2,500 metres (4,900–6,600 ft) above sea level. The important ranges in the Waziristan hills are Derwesta, Laran, Vezda, Ingame, Shoidar, Shawal, Eblunkai, Alexandra, Muzdak and Zakha.

The Tochi River flowing through the agency has formed the Tochi Pass named after the river, through which armies, people and cultures have moved in and out of this region. The Tochi Pass connects Ghazni in Afghanistan with Bannu in Pakistan. The Tochi River has carved a large and important valley which is bounded by hills and mountains on all sides except the eastern side. It is about 100 kilometres (60 mi) in length and opens up into the Indus Valley near Bannu. The Tochi valley is fertile and cultivable. Ketu and Kurram are the two minor rivers which flow in the northern part of the agency.

There are five notable rivers namely: Tochi; Kaitu; Kurram; Khaisor and Shaktue. There are some streams namely: Khoni Aigad; Chashma Aigad; Saidgi Algad; Kanungo Aigad; Sagga Aigad; Tauda China Algad; Damoma Algad; Tarkhobi Algad; Suedar Aigad.


Following minerals have been found in the area:

Copper associated with volcanics at Boya, Manzarkhel Spinkamar (east of Shora-Algad). Manganese associated with cherts. Chromite associated with serpentinites. There are only two mining sites of chromite at Mohammad Khel and Saidgi. In some hills ordinary stones are mined for construction of buildings etc.


The climate of the area is cold in winter and warm in summer. Summer season starts from May and continues till September. June is generally the warmest month. The mean maximum and minimum temperatures during the month of June are 31 and 18 degree Celsius respectively. The winter starts in October and continues till April. December. January and February are the cold months. The mean maximum and minimum temperatures during the month of January are 10 and minus 2 degree Celsius respectively. Rainfall is scanty except in the Razmak area where the rainfall is slightly higher.


During Mughal rule, Waziristan was a part of the Mughal Empire, and once Bahadur Shah, son of Aurangzeb personally visited this place and received the tribute from the Wazirs and Daurs. After the fall of Mughal Empire, the emerging Sikh Empire and their Khalsa Army could extend their sway up to Bannu only. Their short rule in this area was confined to sporadic forages. Both tribes, Wazirs and Daurs accepted, the influence of the Mughal and Durrani Kings who counted on them as a solid army always in readiness to help them in emergencies.

British era

When the British took over the administration of the settled district of Bannu in 1849, the tribes of North Waziristan were under the sovereignty of the Kabul government. As both the Wazirs and Daurs used to be at loggerheads amongst themselves, the Daurs invited the British to enter their country in order to establish peace in this area and to give them protection from Wazirs. The British, therefore, entered North Waziristan in 1894 and made agreement with the tribes. The British introduced a regular system of land record and revenue administration for the most fertile part of the Tochi valley. It was later in the year 1910 when North Waziristan was made a full fledged agency. In 1935-36, a Hindu-Muslim clash occurred over a Hindu girl of Bannu, who had married a Muslim which led to disturbance in Waziristan. The tribesmen rallied round one Mirzali Khan, Tori Khel Wazir, who was later on given the title of the Faqir of Ipi. Jehad was declared against the British and the Faqir of Ipi with his huge Lashkar (force) remained at war with the British till the latter evacuated the area in 1947. The Faqir of Ipi died in 1960. In spite of his opposition to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan the Jirgas in Waziristan decided in favour of joining Pakistan.

Race and tribes

The chief tribes in North Waziristan are the Utmanzai Wazirs and Dawars. There are also small tribes like the Gurbaz, Kharsins, Saidgis and Malakshi Mahsuds. These tribes, except Saidgis, are Pakhtoons. According to the tribal annals they are descendants of Karlan, who in turn is descended from Qais Abdur Rashid. Regarding their ethnic origin, some historians believe that they are Semites, but it is the general belief that they are of Aryan origin. The traditions of the tribesmen however indicate that they are descendants of Karlan, and are, therefore, generally accepted as being a tribe of Karlanri Pashtuns. The Saidgis are the descendants of a Syed who accompanied the founder of the Wazir tribe. The Wazirs dominate the hilly tracts; Khaisora. Sherathala Plain, Kaitu valley, Lower stretches of the Kurram River and upper parts of Tochi valley beyond Kharakamar. They are divided into three main sections, namely, Ibrahim Khel, Wali Khel and Mamit Khel. These sections are further divided into several sub-sections. The Dawars are divided into two main sections viz: Tur gun and spin gund. The inhabitants of village Tappi, village Miramshah, Issuriand Khaidar khel are Tur gund and the remaining are spin gund. In the time of Ahmad shah Abdali the total number of Dawars was 12000 and wazirs were 60000. The Tur gund of dawars are 3000 and the spingund are 9000. The traditional jarga of spingund are still calling as “nazariza” (the meeting of all the 9000 spingund). Those living in the administration control of Miran Shah tehsil are known as Upper Dawars and living in the administration control of Mir Ali tehsil are known as Lower Dawars and the area occupied by them is also known as Upper Dawar and Lower Dawar. They have settled in the fertile Tochi valley, mostly on the left bank of Tochi river from Khajuri to Kharkamar. They are well educated and well mannered as compared to wazirs, because most of the educational institutions are falling in the area of dawars. Their lands are very fertile. The Kharsins are affiliated with Bora Khel and Madda Khel Wazirs. They live near the Durand Line to the north-west of the agency flanked by Madda Khel Wazirs and Saidgis. Mahsuds are the cousins of Wazirs; both have common ancestor, viz. Wazirs. A section of Mahsuds called Bahlol Zai Malakshai occupy a small portion of Razmak surrounded by Bora Khel and Tori Khel Wazirs. The Saidgis occupy Zoi valley, Shawal. Dawegar and Dande plain near the Durand Line.

Dress and ornaments

The common dress of tribesmen consists of shirt, trousers, Waist-coat, sheet of cloth, turban and Chappal. The Wazir woman wears a sleeved blouse or petti-coat and a long heavy shirt with trousers. She covers her head and body with a sheet of cloth. A married woman wears coloured trousers while unmarried wears simple trousers. On festivals and marriages Wazir women put on colourful and ornamented blouses and multi-coloured frocks some times made of 40 metres (130 ft) cloths. To further adorn themselves the women put on rectangular pieces of silver and gold that hang on their forehead and side-ways down to ears. A Daur woman’s dress is almost similar to a Wazir woman. As footwear she uses Chappal of leather.


The staple food of the tribesman is wheat or maize bread. Milk is taken in its various Forms. Roasted meat Larmin is relished much.


The Daurs live in houses closed together in a compact area. In case of Wazirs a large joint family lives either in one and the same house called Ket or Kot or in houses adjacent to one another, but separated from the houses of the other families. A walled enclosure of mud or mud and stones. three to five metres (16.4 ft) high is called Kot. Most of the Kots have fort like structure with a tower in the centre of every’ Kot used as a strategic point for fighting with the enemy, when hostilities break out. Every section in a village has a Masjid and a common sitting place. One or several households have a private guest house hujra attached to the house. [n a house there may be one or several rooms.


Due to the rugged nature of terrain and lack of education inhabitants look forward to government services. Sizeable number of people earn their livelihood by going abroad for labour. Local people have also invested in transport business.

Places of interest

Miran Shah town is the headquarters of North Waziristan Agency, It is connected with Bannu and other important places in the agency by metalled roads. This town houses the offices of all government departments in the agency and also serves as a market centre for people of the area.

Razmak valley is a summer resort. Ghulam Khan (on the Pakistan-Afghan border) and Keitu valley (which is also along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border) are some of the other places of interest in the agency.

Administrative setup

The agency is under the general charge of a Political Agent who administers civil, criminal and revenue cases in accordance with Frontier Crimes Regulation and Customary Law. The North Waziristan Agency consists of three sub-divisions and nine Tehsils. The Miran Shah sub-division comprises the Miran Shah, Ghulam Khan, and Datta Khel tehsils. The Mir Ali sub-division contains the Mir Ali, Spinwam, and Shewa tehsils. The Razmak sub-division consists of the Razmak, Dossali, and Garyum tehsils. Each of the sub-division is headed by an Assistant Political Officer/Assistant Political Agent. The Political Agent is assisted by three Assistant Political Agents in criminal cases and other official work including matters maintaining law and order in the agency. Assistant Political Agents assist the Political Agent in tackling problems of the agency. They perform their duties like a Liaison Officer between the Political Agent and the tribes. They also decide cases of minor criminal nature and civil suits. Political Tehsildars and Political Naib- Tehsildars are in charge of Tehsils and their main duty is to control the tribes and maintain law and order within their own areas. They are answerable to the Political Agent through the Assistant Political Agent. They deal with all cases occurring in the protected area of their respective Tehsils. Land revenue administration in some parts of the agency is carried on exactly on the same lines as in the settled districts of Pakistan. The Frontier Crimes Regulation is applicable in this area. Cases occurring in the unprotected area are decided by the tribes themselves through their elders who are known as Maliks and Motabars. The Maliki system introduced by British government was the same in North Waziristan Agency as functioning in other FATA. Maliks use to work like a medium between administration and the Qaum or tribe. A Maliki is hereditary and devolves on the son and his son so on and so both for which regular benefits and subsidies are sanctioned from time to time. Lungi system known as Sufaid Resh is slightly lower form of Maliki. In North Waziristan Agency there are 1620 Maliks and Lungi holders.

Pakistan’s new Waziristan strategy

On June 4 the National Security Council of Pakistan met to decide the fate of Waziristan and take up a number of political and administrative decisions to control “Talibanization” of the area. The meeting was chaired by President Pervez Musharraf and it was 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.

The government decided to take a number of actions to stop the “Talibanization” and 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 fast-track basis
  • Focused operations against militant commanders
  • Action against madrassah’s 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 militants and their institutions. The Ministry of Interior has prepared a list of militant commanders operating in the region and they have also prepared a list of seminaries for monitoring.

The Government is also trying to strengthen the law enforcement in the area by providing the NWFP Police with weapons, bullet-proof jackets and night-vision devices. The paramilitary Frontier Corps will be provided with artillery and APC’s. The state agencies are also working on studying ways to block FM frequencies of illegal FM radio channels.[1]

See also

  • Waziristan
  • South Waziristan
  • Islamic Emirate of Waziristan
  • Federally Administered Tribal Areas
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