Waziristan Unrest: Until Musharraf Rule


Waziristan located on the mountainous region of northwest of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan and covering some 11,585 sq. km located between Kurram Agency and Balochistan Province and the territory bordering Afghanistan’s Paktia Province. Waziristan is geographically located between the Gomal and Kurram Rivers. The region is surrounded by mountains on the western side by the Afghanistan Districts of Birmal and Khost and the Bannu district of NWFP to its east.  It forms the tip of FATA areas in Pakistan. Waziristan has remained as an independent tribal agency from 1893. It had remained outside the British purview. The Mughal and Durrani rulers did include the hill tribes of Swat, Bajaur and Tirah, but “no empire of which we have any record has ever succeeded in making subjects of the tribes of Waziristan. [1]

The British penetrated Waziristan several times established roads and forts in all directions; but none of this disarmed the inhabitants, or administered the country, or succeeded in imposing taxation”.[2]  The policy followed during the British rule was of non- interference with the tribes. The British government established an understanding with the Amir of Kabul that the “various Wazir and Mahsud tribes should look to Shimla and not to Kabul for their political guidance. [3]  The Wazirs and the Mahsuds were the most important tribes in Waziristan. Olaf Caroe, the British Governor of NWFP, equated Mahsud to a wolf and the Wazir to a panther. [4]

Situation during British Rule

The Britishers dealt with the volatile tribal areas of Pakistan by politically managing the tribes. In 1877, Lord Lytton, the British Viceroy, instead of depending on the provincial government of Punjab, devised a system where by the central government would have direct control over the frontier administration and policy.  To achieve this purpose the Britishers established a system of political agencies in the tribal area.[5]   The political agent acted as a liaison in his areas of jurisdiction. In 1890, with the agreement of Shiranis, Mahsuds and Darwesh Khel tribes, Gomal Pass in South Waziristan was opened for traffic. Tribal levies were raised and levy posts were built.

The tribals in Waziristan resented against the British in early 20th Century. Lord Curzon, the Governor General could not pacify the tribe and continued to face difficulties in the tribal areas. After World War- I, the British maintained military pockets and posts at important points in Wana. The British government after 1919-20 adopted the Modified Forward Policy which required building roads, and maintaining 46,000 khassdars and 5000 troops at Wana and Razmak.[6]  They performed the watch and ward duties in the Waziristan area.  During 1936- 37 there was an intense uprising and fighting in the Waziristan belt. The Faqir of Ipi of Tori Khel tribe, one of the sections of Utmanzai Wazirs of North Waziristan, led the revolt. It was reported that 32,000 regular troops and 5000 irregulars took part in the battle. The army was repressive through out the entire operation. The British attempts to pacify Waziristan resulted in …..several major incursions into tribal territory during the hundred years of British presence in north-west India. On each occasion the tribes and the mountains won a strategic victory, despite local tactical reverses, and the bulk of the Indian Army’s troops were forced to withdraw back of the Indus Valley. Periodically, the British forgot that you can annex land but not people.[7]

Administrative set up in Waziristan

Waziristan agency was divided into two agencies North Waziristan and South Waziristan.  The Agency consists of three sub divisions, and nine Tehsils. Each sub division was headed by an Assistant Political Agent. The Political Tehsildars and Naib Tehsildars were in charge of the Tehsils and their main duty was to maintain law and order within their jurisdiction. The Malik system of administration was introduced in North Waziristan. The Maliks worked as a medium between the administration and the tribal, hence the Malik was a hereditary position which would continue for generations with subsidies and compensations.
The South Waziristan Agency had been functioning since 1895 under a Political Agent who administered civil, criminal and revenue cases in accordance with the Frontier Crimes Regulations and Customary Law. The Agency was divided into three administrative set ups and the sub divisions were further divided into eight Tehsils. Waziristan inhabited by four tribes, all belonging to the Pashtun race; these were the Darwesh Khel Wazirs, Mahsuds, Daurs and Bhittanis. In the north were the Daurs, who inhabit the Tochi valley from Ghazlamai village to Khajuri; they are reputed to be morally the lowest of the Pathan species, but are hardworking and, on occasion, have fought well if attacked by other tribes. There existed a vicious group known as Kabul Khel Wazirs, inhabiting the hills between Bannu and Thal. The centre of Waziristan was occupied by Mehsuds one of the most trouble some tribes of the North West Frontier.[8]  

Waziristan- Post 1947

The British imperial authority in NWFP lasted till 1947. It was extended gradually from “influence to sway to ascendancy to control and finally to domination.”[9]  Jinnah declared in his address to the Tribal Elders in Peshawar during his first visit in Waziristan in 1948. In his address Jinnah reassured the people that every possible help would be given to the tribals but the Pakistani establishment would not like to interfere in the internal freedom of the Tribals. The government would make them stand on their legs through educational, economic and social up-liftment. The policy of continuing allowances and the existing arrangements would not be modified except in consultation with them and as long as they remained loyal to Pakistan. [10]

After the partition from India, the Mahsud tribe was employed in militia and regular army, state bureaucracy and business all around Pakistan. The Wazirs and Mahsuds were part of the tribal junta which entered Kashmir. The tribal involvement in Kashmir shows both the strength and weakness of an operation performed by irregulars.

In 1947, the Wazir tribes were allotted land in the district and town of Dera Ismail Khan by providing land at nominal prices. The Mahsud tribe integrated into the Pakistani society far better than the Wazirs. Although the Britishers left Waziristan, they left behind an administrative structure through which they had ruled and this same system was followed post British rule in Waziristan.

The political administration of Waziristan revolved around the person of and in the office of the Political Agent. The PA has been describes as ‘half ambassador and half governor’.[11]  The duties of the PA were to maintain law and order, roads, protecting the government property. He was assisted by an assistant political officer and two Assistant political agents.

Governance System in Tribal Areas

The Pakistan Constitution gave the President of Pakistan executive authority to control the Tribal Agencies including North and South Waziristan; the appointed governor of NWFP controlled the tribal lands by managing bureaus that delivered services on health and education in the tribal areas. The tribal lands have representatives in the National Assembly, and not in the Provincial assembly of NWFP. The real power of the tribal agencies had rested with each of their Political Agents, who represented the federal government and maintained control in the colonial era under the Frontier Crimes Regulations.

Article 247 of the Pakistan Constitution provided that no Act of the Parliament would be applied to FATA, unless the President desires. The President was authorized to amend laws and promulgate ordinances for the tribal areas. Since 1955, the NWFP Governor acted as an agent to the Governor General of Pakistan in relation to the administration of the Tribal Areas, and exercised immediate authority in these areas. His Secretariat is known as the “Local Administration of NWFP”, headed by the Chief Secretary, which dealt with all matters in relation to the Tribal Areas. All policy directives from the Federal Government of Pakistan were communicated to the Chief Secretary, who furnished the compliance reports to the Federal Government. Since there were no Divisional Commissioners in those days, the Political Agents and the Deputy Commissioners used to correspond directly with the local administration.[12]  So far as the political agencies of Khyber, Kurram, North and South Wazirstan are concerned, there has been little change in the administrative set up since their creation more than a century and a quarter ago. [13]

Waziristan during Afghan Jihad

North and South Waziristan were used as bases for launching operations against the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. During the Taliban rule a numbers of local wazirs joined the Taliban forces and fought against the Northern Alliance where they came in contact with Arabs, Central Asian and other foreign militants in different training camps. US provided military assistance to militants against the Soviets. The tribal area became a conduit for supplying arms and weapons to the Mujahideen. The Duran Line had practically ceased to exist between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The local government in Waziristan had nominal control over the tribal population; this resulted in illegal activity, like smuggling, drug trafficking.  A large number of Uzbeks----from Afghanistan as well as Uzbekistan--- had settled down in the South Waziristan area for many years. Many of them married local women. The Afghan Uzbeks were largely former supporters of Rashid Dostum, the Uzbek leader of Afghanistan. They served in the Afghan Army of Najibullah in Southern and Eastern Afghanistan. While Dostum, was instigated by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), deserted Najibullah in 1991 and joined hands with the CIA-trained Mujahideen, these Uzbek soldiers deserted from Najibullah's army and settled down in the South Waziristan area.

In 1992, the Soviet installed regime of Dr. Najibullah collapsed under pressure from the terrorist groups and Afghanistan continued to suffer from war and destruction as a result of civil war. Tribal area became centre for Afghan refugees. Terrorist not only increased but the mushrooming of extremist religious movements like Sufi Mohammad’s Tehrik-e- Nifaz-e- Shariat-e- Mohammadi (TNSM) took place. This complicated the prevalent complex social, political and security situation in the Tribal Areas. In 1996, when Taliban established its rule in Afghanistan they had close links with the religious political parties of Pakistan, Jamiat-ul- Islam (Fazal) JUI (F) and Jamiat-ul- Islam (Sani) JUI (S). These political parties has tremendous support base in the Tribal Areas. Local tribals from Waziristan joined the fight with the Taliban against Northern Alliance. There was no regulation of men and material across the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan a large number of people crossed over from different Pakistan regions to wage a Jihad in Afghanistan.  Then, ISI used the extensive intelligence and militant network that it built up during the Afghan war to support a new Jihad against the Indian forces in Kashmir. [14]  The terrorism took a new turn in Kashmir in the 1990s with the emergence of Pakistan based militant groups like, Harkat-ul- Mujahideen (HuM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) emerged.

Extension of Adult Franchise

Pakistan adopted adult franchise right after 1947, but FATA was represented by one member in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. Under the 1973 Constitution Maliks constituted huge chunk of members for Electoral College for the election to 8 seats of the National Assembly. But under the Legal Framework Order introduced by Musharraf the number of National Assembly Members to be elected from FATA were made 12. In 1996 the federal government introduced universal adult suffrage in FATA for elections in 1997. A total of 298 candidates stood for the eight seats of the National Assembly in the 1997 elections, but South Waziristan polled 19.64 percent. While in the 2002 elections the voter turnout was 25 percent in FATA. This showed even after introduction of democratic reforms people of Waziristan did not want to participate in political activities.

Waziristan Post 9/11 
Waziristan and FATA areas have been areas of refuge for the Taliban and Al Qaeda members. The Pakistani military initiated four attacks against the Al-Qaeda - Taliban militants. The first was carried out on 27 June 2002; the second on 2 October 2003, the third on 8 January 2004 and the fourth was launched on 13 March 2004. In July 2002, the Pakistani Troops entered the Shawal Valley of North Waziristan, and later South Waziristan.

On June 27, 2002 Operation Kazha Punga, was conducted in South Waziristan. The operation was conducted by 500 elements of Special Security Group (SSG), Frontier Corps. As mentioned by Pervez Musharraf in his book ‘In the Line of Fire’  “Operation Kazha Punga made us realise that we needed a special, fast reacting, hard-hitting force for the mountains”[15]  The US supported Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) was created. US provided the logistics help and intelligence help, but assistance came in the early of 2003 which led to beginning of  new operations Bagihar China, in which eight terrorists were killed including a Jordanian named Samarkand, and a Chinese named Hassan Masoom, who was the leader of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement.

Military operations that started in the tribal region in October 2003 in Angoor Adda in South Waziristan turned out to be a bloody operation, which resulted in the death of 8 terrorists and arrest of 19 suspects. After the much awaited February 24, 2004 operations were launched after the expiry of February 20 deadline.  The Operation in Wana was conducted with the help of SOTF. 6,000 troops entered Wana they faced large number of casualties which led to 600 troops being lifted by helicopters. The command control centre of Al-Qaeda was destroyed in Waziristan. Wana operation was the first large scale operation conducted by Pakistan Army in which according to official estimates, sixty-four soldiers were killed and fifty-eight injured. The terrorists’ casualty ran up to sixty-three killed, thirty-six foreigners and twenty seven locals.  Many Chechans, Arabs, Egyptian militants were flushed out to Afghanistan, where the US troops were stationed to encircle, capture and destroy them. There was great opposition to Pakistan army strikes in Waziristan which was believed to be at the behest of the US. Coinciding with this were the two suicide assassination attempts on Musharraf in December, 2003. Observers point out that hand of Libya based terrorist Abu Faraj al-Libbi hiding in Waziristan was behind the assassination attempts on President Musharraf. He was arrested in May, 2005 by the Pakistani commandos.

The speculation was rife that some elite commando unit, namely Task Force 121, a covert commando team involved in capturing Saddam Hussein, was shifted into the area to apprehend Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. Also, it was speculated that in lieu of allowing pardon to nuclear scientist Dr. Qadeer Khan by the US, Pakistan territory was being allowed to be used to hunt down the Al-Qaeda leaders and some other noted terrorists.

On June 10, 2004 Pakistan Army launched Shakai Valley operation in response to the reports that 200 to 250 Chechan and Uzbeks militants, along with a few Arabs, and 300 to 400 local supporters had gathered in Shakai Valley in Waziristan. 10,000 regular troops combined with SOTF and Frontier Constabulary troops launched air attacks in Shakai Valley, up to Sangtoi, Mangtoi, and watershed of Bosh Narai. During the operations training, logistical, and propaganda bases, were destroyed in South Waziristan. Approximately 300 soldiers lost lives and 350 militants were killed and 800 arrested. [16]

Pakistan government pursued a classic example of carrot and stick policy, where Western aided development was doled out to the tribes in order to resolve the under-development of tribal areas. On the other side tribes homes were demolished by Pakistan army, shops sealed, seizure of vehicles and dismissals from government jobs. This created a sense of frustration among the locals, even if they did not want to support the Taliban militants were forced to do so.

Shakai Agreement

In April 2004 an understanding was reached between the militants in Wana and Pakistan government. The government agreed to pardon five dreaded militants including Nek Mohammad (killed in June 2004) and Maulvi Mohammad Abbas. The local tribal militants agreed for peace and pledged not to use Pakistan soil for any anti activities, the foreign militants were to be registered with the government. The peace agreement was not successful because of following reasons. One it was unwritten, there was no mention of surrender from the militants side. Second, practically no foreign militants surrendered. The registration process of the foreign militants was extended from 30 April to 10 May due to technical differences, government wanted registration process with photographs, militants without it. Tribal leaders agreed to registration process and then backed out as they feared Pakistan government would hand over the foreign militants to US troops.

Conflict Erupts in Waziristan

In June 2004 the fighting resumed after Pakistan army was convinced of backtracking tactics of Nek Mohammad. After the Shakai agreement, Nek Mohammad gave interviews claiming the Taliban leader Mullah Omar as Amirul Momineen “the leader of all Muslims”. The Pakistan army was responded in South Waziristan when bombers and gunships including F-7 bombers and Cobra helicopters were used. Nek Mohammad perished in a missile attack in June, 2004. The Kalusha operations which took place in 2004 concentrated near Wana, South Waziristan District. Wana area which was under the control of five Islamist militants-Nek Mohammad, Noor-ul- Islam, Mohammad Sharif, Maulvi Abbas and Maulvi Abdul Aziz who were suspected of harboring foreign terrorists had links with the Taliban. The operation backfired as it inflicted heavy losses to the Pakistani Military.[17]  Troops were sent to crush the terrorists meant army repression for its subjects which was never taken well by the tribals who felt that their sovereignty and freedom where challenged.

Peace Deal in North Waziristan 2005

Pakistan government signed a deal with militants in North Waziristan in 2005. It was agreed that “there would be no cross border movement for militant activity in neighbouring Afghanistan. The militants of the Taliban council agreed to cease attacks on government and army officials. Pakistan government in turn agreed to resolve the issue through local customs and traditions and withdraw ground or air operations. The deal was brokered by a grand tribal jirga, or assembly, set up by the governor of the North-West Frontier Province on July 20, after the militants declared a unilateral ceasefire. According to Institute for Conflict Management data, between January 2005 and March 19, 2006, a total of 667 persons, including 121 civilians, 71 soldiers and 475 terrorists have died. 340 terrorists and suspects were reported to have been arrested during this period.[18]  After the peace accord, the militants held sway in the North and South Waziristan agencies and expanded influence in the tribal agencies of Khyber and Bajaur and also settled districts of NWFP. The former members of Pakistani jehadi organizations belonging to the banned Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami (HuJI), Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), had converged in North and South Waziristan. According to rough estimates, about 25,000 activists of several jihadi organizations had assembled in North and South Waziristan in 2005, with the declared determination to “fight until the last man and the last bullet” and most of them are still siding with the local Taliban in their ongoing fight against the Pakistani security forces. [19]

The terrorist training camps in Miramshah in North Waziristan, in which over 30 persons, were killed was followed within days by a concerted shelling by NATO forces on North and South Waziristan killed over 33 persons, including women and children.[20]  The Pakistan army had denied the role of the US in the bombing of the mosque in Miramshah, there was an increasing evidence pointing to the fact that the US Special Forces had used a new weapon system known as Himars (High Mobility Artillery Rockets) which could be configured to shoot a wide array of rockets and missiles, from cluster bombs to a single missile system up to the range of 300 kilometers. The US Special Forces were stationed in the Khost province of Afghanistan located near Miramshah. The bombings did not trigger protests but certainly created a setback for the Pakistan Army. According to the available estimates, more than 700 soldiers have been killed in the military campaign in North Waziristan alone since 2004, and at least six mid-level army officers have been court-martialed for refusing to fight. This growing dissent within the officer corps was one of the reasons that Musharraf negotiated a truce with the tribal leaders and pull back troops from Waziristan. [21]

Miramshah Agreement

In September, 2006 peace agreement was signed between the local commander of Taliban and North Waziristan Chief Administrator in Miramshah. Under the agreement, the local Pakistani Taliban accepted the Government demand that cross-border attacks should not be launched into Afghanistan and no sanctuary should be given to foreign terrorists. They also agreed not to attack government buildings or security forces, and not to conduct “targeted killings” of government servants, tribal elders and journalists co-operating with the Government.  In return, the Government agreed to stop air and ground operations; return all weapons and other material seized during operations; restore the privileges of tribesmen; and remove all check-posts.  Troops were withdrawn and 165 militants were released, militants were economically compensated and they were allowed to carry small weapons. It has been said that “One of the things (the Pashtuns) think is that they defeated the Soviet Union. In their mind they’ve (also) defeated the Pakistani government. Who’s next NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation)?”[22]   Dawn reported that ‘The Taliban opened offices after signing the peace deal in Miramshah, they imposed tax on every 10-wheeler truck entering the agency would have to pay Rs1,500 for allowing them six-month road access, while six-wheeler trucks would pay Rs1,000 twice a year.” [23]

Stephen Cohen of US and Prof. Hasan Aksar Rizvi of Pakistan indicated that Pustun presence as 15-22% among officers and between 20-25% among the rank and file. The feeling of discontentment was brewing among the Pushtuns in the army due to the stationing of forces in Waziristan. as the rank and file was influenced by the local opinions. According to the renowned analyst Ahmed Rashid, "The Waziristan deal was to prevent dissention within the Pakistan Army—border guards dying, defecting. The deal was to satisfy the Army" (Center for Conflict and Peace Studies, Kabul, October 4 2006). [24]

Failure of Peace Agreements

The peace agreements between the tribal militants and government failed because of the presence of foreigners, not only in Waziristan but in FATA. Most of these fighters arrived from Chechenya, Central Asian Republics, Arabs, and Afghans during the 1980s and settled in various parts of FATA. As the foreigners were uprooted from their homes, they found refuge in local community of Waziristan. The Pakistani government used force to drive away these foreigners away by including provisions in the agreement; this led to increasing local support for them. The second reason for failure of peace agreements was the porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Due to corruption, narcotic trade, arms mafia and non acceptance of local tribes to accept the Durand line led to the failure. Third major problem was the way in which the state tried to establish writ on Waziristan. Realistically, government had minimal control in these areas, Taliban militants had established writ over North and South Waziristan and had killed over 150 pro-government tribesmen. Taliban had entered local administration by imposing there own religious codes and customs.  Peace agreements were given a try by government because it wanted to look for short term gains to establish internal peace in Waziristan and to win the hearts and minds of locals by avoiding military operations. Through this Taliban militants got time to regroup their activities and act as a major force against Pakistan army. Observers point out that it was probably strategy of government to let Talibanised FATA exist than political FATA, which could pose more challenges for the state. 


The January 2006 air strike in Bajaur Agency, which targeted Al Zawahari, led to angry demonstrations by locals and an equally robust police response using batons and tear gas, which a local member of the Jamaat-i-Islami party described as a “slap in the face of the country’s sovereignty”.[25]  A United Nations Security Council report in November 2006 suggested that “security incidents” in Afghanistan’s Khost and Paktia provinces, which neighbour North Waziristan, increased by 50 per cent immediately after the peace deal in that area.[26]   Much of the money that the Pakistani government offered as a part of South Waziristan peace deals in 2004 some USD 500,000 was to buy off the indebt ness for the tribal leaders and release them from the grip of Al Qaeda. [27]

Waziristan Post Lal Masjid

Militants in North Waziristan declared the peace deal with Musharraf over, not because of the Lal Masjid military operations in Islamabad and close proximity of main cleric, Maulana Abdul Ghazi but due to Pakistani transgressions of the peace agreement in light of re-establishing military checkpoints in the region and moving in extra troops. In North Waziristan the 10 months old peace deal between the Taliban backed Al-Qaeda militants was called off on July 15, 2007. Taliban militants cited the reason for annulment of peace pact with government was because latter had violated the terms of agreement and attacked Taliban in Dwatol, Saidgai, Paryat and Godai Wallia. The Taliban accused the government of not adequately compensating the tribesmen and solving their problems. A report published in the Washington Post on July 19, 2007 stated that over 200 Pakistani soldiers have been killed ever since the Pakistan security forces had deployed 100,000 security forces in FATA area.  Major clashes erupted when 18 soldiers of the Pakistan army were kidnapped while returning back to their base near Wana, of which two of them were beheaded by the Taliban militants.

There are four elements which led to annulment of in crises in Waziristan; first element is the presence of foreigners. The Pakistan army operations were primarily against them. During the Cold War times, both North and South Waziristan was used as launching pad against the Soviets occupation and foreign jihadis were familiar with the topography of the area, scores of Taliban fighters fought against Northern Alliance in the middle of 1990s. The flow of foreign funds has continued unabated in Waziristan as new Al-Qaeda training camps were established where volunteers joined in. After the army operations in 2004 they were depleted considerably, since they had no where to go. They rejected amnesty offer of Pakistani government.

The second element is the Afghans residing in Waziristan. They move across the border and stay in different parts of Waziristan. About 20 percent of those came to Pakistan before 1979 or during the Soviet Occupation. They had established business all over Waziristan and acted as facilitators for the Taliban and other Afghan militants who cross over to the tribal areas.

The third element is the emergence of new ideologues of Taliban. After the abdication of Taliban from Afghanistan the emergence of Pakistani Taliban cannot be ruled out. There are elements in tribal areas who call themselves as Pakistan Taliban. This can be substantiated from the fact the emergence of suicide bombings in Waziristan were on the patterns of Iraq. [28]

 On 20 August 2007, four security personnel and one civilian were killed and 15 others injured, when a suicide car bomber rammed his explosive- laden vehicle into a security check-post located between Thal and Miramshah.[29]  Since the Pakistani Government initiated military action against foreign militants in North Waziristan in July 2007, nearly 360 soldiers have been killed in a spate of deadly suicide bombings, roadside bomb blasts and ambushes.[30]  The scrapping of the North Waziristan peace deal, in particular, is casting its shadow on the fate of similar agreements made by the government in South Waziristan and Bajaur.[31]  This led to the integration of local Taliban in North Waziristan and South Waziristan which have come to the rescue of each other after the Pakistan army operations begun in the area.

On 25 August, 2007, pro- Taliban militants kidnapped four governmental officials, including an army colonel and two security officials near Ladha in the troubled South Waziristan Agency.[32]  The kidnapping took place after Baitullah Mehsud, the supreme commander of militant Mehsud Taliban groups in South Waziristan Agency, announced on 18 August 2007 to scrap the February 2005 peace agreement between Mehsud Taliban and the government.  [33]

North Waziristan Agency

After the failure of the peace deal the Taliban militants started abducting government functionaries and soldiers of the Frontier Corps. [34]  The Taliban say that direct US attacks in the area lead to violation of the peace deal. Incidents of roadside bombs, providing food to the army units are being targeted. The spiraling affect of extremism is on the adjacent area where the arc of Taliban fundamentalism was expanding. For the first time, the peaceful Mohmand Agency is experiencing the rise of local Taliban. Extremists occupied the shrine of freedom fighter Haji Sahib Turangzai in Mohamand Agency and renamed the adjacent mosque as Lal Masjid. Simultaneously, Bajaur Agency militants led by Maulana Faqir Mohammad have vowed to avenge the killings at Lal Masjid-Jamia Hafsa. The Khyber agency has been destabilized due to the intense fighting between Lashkar-i-Islam and Ansarul Islam Islamic groups are fighting to settle scores and the Pakistan army has failed to stop the fighting in Tirah Valley and Bara Area. Orkazai agency and Kurram Agency are not spared by the periodic bouts of sectarian strife between the Shia and Sunni tribes.

South Waziristan Agency

South Waziristan has emerged as the centre of extremist activities. The presence of Al-Qaeda units which have allied with Mehsud tribesmen had abducted 205 Pakistani troops (135 army soldiers and 70 Frontier Corps troops) along with seizing 20 of their vehicles. Majority of soldiers are in custody of Taliban, and the government has been practically forced to engage negotiations with them.  Pakistan army was successful in tackling Al-Qaeda by supporting Maulvi Nazir, a Taliban leader pro-government. He had begun an effective campaign against Uzbek militants and evicted the agency. After the killing of dreaded militants Abdullah Mehsud and Mullah Dadullah the Taliban have shown resilience to fight back. Pakistan has been rattled by 39 suicide attacks in 2007, so far killing 350 people; most of these attacks targeted the Pakistani army, the Frontier Corps and government officials in FATA and NWFP. [35]

FATA Sustainable Development Plan

The FATA Sustainable Development Plan plans to secure the social, economic and ecological well being of FATA promoting a just, peaceful and equitable society where the people can live in harmony, respect and dignity.[36]  The main objectives of the plan are: to address the basic social needs, explore and diversify economic opportunities, manage and maintain ecological life support systems on the livelihoods of the common people, improve the institutional and financial capacities of the departments/agencies, monitor and evaluate the multi-sectoral progress for strengthening and sustaining development of the people and region. The basic thematic areas have been identified by the Pakistani government are: Basic Human Services, Natural Resources, Communication and Infrastructure Services, Economic Development. The document on FSDP demarcates categorically in the Implementation stage the role of private sector involvement.  Against this backdrop US involvement in the FATA areas can be examined, U.S. Department of Defense plans to pour $750 million of aid into tribal areas in next five years. The FATA areas which is home to 2.3 million people, remains a tribal badlands due to lowest female literacy in the world, no banking system, smuggling of narcotics being the major line of business for people. There are sever governance deficiencies in the tribal areas and aid of this nature has to be sustained in a way that the funds are utilised. The question lies ahead is that funds procured for development of FATA areas may benefit few people, and used for promoting extremism. As pointed out by Craig Cohen (Center for Strategic and International Studies) in Washington that “Delivering $ 150 million in aid to the tribal areas could very quickly make a few people rich and do almost nothing to provide opportunity and justice to the region”. [37]

Swat Unrest

Swat is a valley and a district in the North Western Frontier Province. Swat was a princely state in Pakistan until it was dissolved in 1969. Swat had been important stopping point for invaders including Alexander the Great and Mahmud of Ghazni. Swat was the centre of Hinayana sect of Buddhism. Recently, militants led by Maulana Fazlullah have rebelled against the state and captured two thirds of Swat. They established parallel government in 59 villages and imposed Sharia. Earlier an attempt was made in 1994, by Maulana Sufi Mohammad to enforce Sharia. The same efforts are furthered by his son in law, Maulana Fazullah.

In 1994, the government had lost its writ, in parts of Swat. Violence had occurred in the district, which is now divided into Upper Dir and Lower Dir districts. Government installations under attack in Bajaur agency which was then a part of Malakand division was under the influence of TNSM led pro-Taliban commander Maulana Faqir Mohammad. The army began action against the militants from twin towns of Mingora and Saidu Sharif towns located in Swat. Major General Ghafoor got hold of Maulana Sufi Mohammad and prevail upon him to advise his followers to end occupation of government installation. The Sherapao led PPP government in NWFP agreed to the Maulana’s demand to enforce Shariah in the Malakand division by imposing Nizam-i-Sharia and setting up Qazi courts. Finally, Maulana was arrested in late 2001 in Dera Islamail Khan and his 10,000 of poorly armed followers joined ranks with Taliban against US led forces in Afghanistan.

The situation in Swat can be attributed to Maulana Fazlullah son in law of Faqir Mohammand. Fazlullah was expelled from TNSM due to his violent means of waging a war against state. For months, he was allowed a build up of heavy and sophisticated ammunition for spreading terror in Swat. Women mobility was restricted and men were forced to grow beards. Barber shops, video and audio business were blown up to create unrest and fear. Unique strategy employed by Fazlulllah was increasing suicide attacks on the security personnel and Frontier Corps check posts. He began to take control of several tehsils in the district as the security personnel surrendered to the militants. The presence of foreign militants reportedly the Uzbeks and Tajiks in Swat and the massacres of innocent people were done recently.

Free hand was given to the jihadi forces and religious parties in Swat after 2002. The anti US sentiment after the invasion of Afghanistan radicalised the population. Radio station was set up by Maulana Fazlullah to spread extremist’s message in Swat. The FM radio was used to demand the enforcement of Sharia, people were urged to destroy their Televisions, music and video films. Cleric launched campaign against narcotics and crime which the government failed to do. To enforce law and order he formed a Shaheen Force comprising of some five thousand armed men. Fazlullah provided security of life and property cheap efficient justice this made him popular among the masses. Swat had become a major bone of contention for President Musharraf.

The war in the tribal areas could be the battle for Pakistan itself. It could be battle against the creation of an Al-Qaeda state within Pakistan. Having failed to create one in Somalia, the attempt by Al-Qaeda is to make FATA area as base for major terrorist’s activities in the West.


The Musharraf government was in a no-win situation in Waziristan. The Taliban and Al-Qaeda have not only strengthened their hold over the region, but also have the support of the tribal leaders who are incensed by the continuing military operations despite the failed peace deal with the militants in North and South Waziristan. The ethnic composition of Pushtun in the Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps has had a considerable influence on the defence forces of Pakistan. Scores of Pushtun officers and commanders had mutinied and refused to obey orders to shoot the tribal people. Despite using a disproportionately heavy force, the Army has not been able to establish the writ of the state. It has conducted military operations in which many lives have been lost. It has offered amnesties to militants and then reneged on its promise and has witnessed the tribal leaders, supporting the government, being killed. [38]

The British devised a special system of political administration to govern the Pushtun tribes which resisted colonial rule with a determination. The tribal people were granted maximum autonomy and were allowed to run their affairs in accordance with the Islamic faith, customs and traditions. [39]  The lessons of governance in Waziristan have failed and led to a quagmire. The spiraling affect of terrorism can be seen with the expansion of Taliban influence of operations (especially in Tank, Dera Ismail Khan and Swat Valley in the North-West Frontier Province).

The situation is complex in Waziristan and it requires an integrated approach based on an entire development of FATA in economic, social, educational and political terms. This means that the integration of FATA into mainstream of Pakistan is required. The Pakistan government has adopted FATA Sustainable Development Plan (PSDP), which outlines a number of issues of governance, law and order, society and culture, services and utilities, economy and development and environmental concerns. The implementation of this plan has to be done in a pro- active way, without the bureaucratic delays. The political agents continue to dole out funds to hand-picked people, often in an attempt to buy peace- hardly an inclusive policy. [40]

References :

1. Caroe, The Pathans 550 BC- AD 1957. McMillan and Company op. cit., pp. 390-391
2. Caroe, The Pathans 550 BC- AD 1957. McMillan and Company op. cit., pp 392
3. H de. Watsville, Waziristan, 1919-20 (London: Constable and Co. Limited), 1925 p.6
4. Haq, Rashid Ahmad Khan, Maqsudul Hasan Nuri, Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (IPRI- March 2005)
5. Lal Baha, op. cit., pp.6-8
6. Report of the Tribal Control and Defence Committee, 1931, P.S.D.L., B-293, cited in Lal Baha, op.cit.,p.105
7. Warren, op.cit., p. xxv
8. Wattenville, Waziristan: 1919-1920, Constable and Co. Ltd, 1925, London
9. T. H. Thorton, Sir Robert Sandeman (London:  1895), pp. 358-9, memorandum dated 27 September 1890 cited in Alan Warren, Waziristan, the Faqir of Ipi, and the Indian Army  (Karachi: Oxford University Press), p. xxiv
10. Ahmed, Wahid, ed. Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah: The Nations Voice, Vol VII:, (Karachi: Quaid-e-Azam Academy, 2003) , pp 346-349
11. Spain 1962, p. 24 quoted in Ahmed A. Akbar., Resistance and Control in Pakistan
12. FATA- Wikipedia, http;// Areas Last Accessed on 27 June, 2007
13. Government of Pakistan, 1998 Census Report of FATA, Census Publication No. 152, (Islamabad: Population Census Organization, Statistics Division, March 2001), p. 1
14. Zahid Hussain, ‘Frontline Pakistan- The Struggle with Militant Islam, Viking,  New Delhi, 2007
15. Pervez Musharraf, ‘ In the Line of Fire’, Free Press, New York, 2006
16. ibid
17. Dawn, January 18, 2006
18. Last Accessed on 5 October 2007
19. Amir Mir., Long War in Waziristan., Kashmir Herald Last Accessed on 03 July, 2007
20. Wilson John, Unrest in the provinces, Washington Times, Ed, 30 June, 2007
21. ibid
22. Carin Zissis, Pakistan Tribal Areas, Council of Foreign Relations, November 9, 2006, Last Accessed on 06 October, 2007
23. Taliban slap taxes in Miramshah, The Dawn, October 23, 2006, Last Accessed on 06 October, 2007.
24. Hassan Abbas, Musharraf Contends with the Pushtun Elements in the Pakistani Army, Vol. 3, Issue 42, (October 31, 2006), Last Accessed on 06 October, 2007.
25. Agence France Presse (2006, January 14). Thousands of protestors tear-gassed after US air strike deaths in Pakistan. http;//
26. Jane’s Sentinel Security Assessment (2007, April 18) Security: Pakistan, p.2
27. Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst (2005, May 1) How Al-Qaeda bankrolls terror in Pakistan, para 7.
28.  -------, Excerpts from the ORF Discourse
29. Attacks on FC check post kill five, The Post, 21 August, 2007.
30. Last Accessed on 10 September, 2007. In the month of September, 2007 10 militants were killed and seven soldiers injured in North Waziristan after the military convoy was attacked in Pusht Ziarat Area (Located on border of North and South Waziristan).
31. Rahimullah Yusufzai, Accord and Discord, Last Accessed on     21 August 2007.
32. Colonel, 3 others abducted in SWA, The Post, 26 August, 2007.
33. Baitullah calls off South Waziristan Deal: The Post, 26 August 2007.
34. Hassan Abbas, Increasing Talibanization in Pakistan’s Seven Tribal Agencies, Terrorism Monitor, Vol. 5 Issue 18 (September 27, 2007), Last Accessed on 6 October 2007.
35. ibid.
36. ------ Sustainable Development Plan for FATA (2006-15) Last Accessed on 19 September 2007
37. Jane Perlez, Aid to Pakistan in Tribal Areas Raises Concerns, July 16, 2007,
38. Alok Bansal, Waziristan Quagmire, Last Accessed on 18 August, 2007.
39. Pakistan’s Tribal Frontiers, Rahimullah Yusufzai, BBC News,
Last Accessed on 18 August 2007
40. Increasing Talibanization in Pakistan’s Tribal Agencies, Hassan Abbas, Last Accessed on 28 September, 2007.


More by :  Rahul Mukand

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