South Waziristan Agency
South Waziristan Agency is the largest in size of all the other agencies in FATA. It has functioned since 1895. South Waziristan is bounded on the north by North Waziristan Agency, on the north-east by Bannu and Lakki Marwat Districts, on the east by Tribal Area Adjoining Tank, Tank District and Dera Ismail Khan Districts. On the south by Zhob district of Balochistan Province, and the tribal areas adjoining Dera Ismail Khan District; and on the west by Afghanistan.
Historically, South Waziristan has been the most volatile tribal Agency of the region of what is today called FATA. The Agency played a pivotal role in fighting in the Kashmir liberation war in 1948 when tribal laskhars were sent to liberate the Valley.
South Waziristan has a population of around 0.8 million. South Waziristan is about 6,500 sq kms and is the most sensitive agency of FATA. It is about 500 kms both from Peshawar and Quetta and about 580 kms from Islamabad. Wana is the capital and key city. South Waziristan share nearly 300 kms of border with Afghanistan. South and North Waziristan Agencies border Afghanistan’s Paktika and Khost provinces.
It has two headquarters:
- Tank is the winter headquarters of the Agency while
- Wana is the summer headquarters.
Races and Tribes
The Mahsuds and Waziris are the two main tribes of this Agency. There are also the Burki (whose enclave is in the heart of Mahsud territory), some Dotanis and other Powindah settlers in the southwest corner of the Agency between Thati to Zarmelan. According to their own traditions, the Waziris call themselves the descendants of Waziri who was the son of Sulaiman, the son of Kuki, the son of Karlan and grandson of Qais Abdur Rashid. They are usually described as being a tribe of Karlani Pashtuns. From this common origin come the Wazirs, a title which properly includes both the Wazirs and Mahsuds, although in practice the word Wazir has come to primarily represent the former.
These areas did not come under British control until November 1893, when the Amir of Afghanistan signed a treaty renouncing all claims to these territories. After an attack on the Delimitation Commission Escort at Wana in 1894 and subsequent large military operations in 1894-95, a Political Agent for South Waziristan was permanently appointed with its headquarters at Wana; another was appointed for the North Waziristan with headquarters at Miranshah. The post of Resident in Waziristan was created in 1908. The Political Agent in North Waziristan was subordinate to the Resident, who was directly responsible to the Chief Commissioner of North Western Frontier Province. With the withdrawal of Indian government to the settled districts, the regular armed forces were withdrawn and, instead, a local militia was raised in 1900. However, large scale disturbances occurred in 1904 resulting in the murder of the Political Agent and Militia Commandant at Sarwakai. Later, a plot to murder all the British officers, seize the Wana fort. and hand it over to Mullah Powindah, the self-styled king of Waziristan, was discovered. The Political Agent and the Commandant, on the same night, disarmed and dismissed all the Mahsuds from the Militia. A few months later, they were again enlisted, but were once again disbanded in 1906. In 1925 the Royal Air Force pacified Mahsud tribesmen by means of a short bombing campaign.
Historically, the Wazirs and Mahsuds have always looked toward Afghanistan as their real home, and throughout the British Colonial period, they supported Afghan kings in their wars against the British. On many occasions the Afghan throne was saved with the help of the Wazir, Mahsud, and Burki/Baraki from Wazirstan. Of those who fought during this time, most came back to their homeland, but those who stayed were given high ranks of office, such as Faiz Muhammad Mahsud, who was granted a title the equivalent of prime minister during the 1970s. Today the majority of Mahsuds are still in Logar Province, with the title of Waziri, but by caste, they are Mahsuds. The majority of these are Manzai with a sub-caste of Dramankel, Faridi, etc. When the Soviet-Afghan War started, some of these families came back to Wazirstan but could not stay there, so they moved to cities like Peshawar and Karachi.
Valleys of Sourth Waziristan Agency
Wana, Gomal, Baddar, Darra Algad, Khaisara, Mastang, Shaktu, Sheranna, Split Toi, Tak Zam
Dhana Raghzai, Spin
Pre Ghal, Spinghar, Spinkamar
The South Waziristan Agency is mostly a mass of rugged and complex hills and ridges. There are no regular mountain alignments. The land rises gradually from south and east to north and west. The dominating range is the Preghal in the west along the border with Afghanistan. It is the highest peak which is 3515 metres high. Zarmelan, Wana, Shakki, Zalai, Spin and Tiarza are the main plains of the Agency.
Rivers and Streams
There are two principal rivers in the Agency viz. Gomal of Luni and Tank Zam. Some important rivulets are Khaisora, Shaktu, Splitoi, Wana Toi, Shuza, Shinkai and Shahur. The rest are merely mountain streams generally insignificant but they all become dangerous and impassable during heavy rains which frequently occur during the months of July and August. The Gomal River rises in two branches in the eastern slopes of the western Sulaiman range in the Birmal District of Afghanistan not far from the source of the Tochi River. The Tank Zam is formed by the junction of the Tauda China and the Baddar Toi, at Dwa Toi, south of Razmak.
There is hardly significant mining to be mentioned. Coal mines have been discovered in the disputed area of Neeli Kach Tehsil Wana. Copper is found in Preghal and Spin Kamar.
The majority of the people of Waziristan are agriculturists. Their main crops during Rabi are wheat, barley and Shaftal and in Kharif sow maize, rice and sugercane, onion, melon, potato, tomato, Ginger etc, are subsidiary crops in “Zaid Rabi”. Apricots Apples, grapes, walnuts, plums, persimmon, pomegranates, Pears, Peaches, dates, figs, watermilli, Muskmilli, orange, Bananas and others are found in a large number in waziristan.
The Agency has hot summers and very cold winters. In winter, temperatures go below freezing point in places of high altitude. The summer season starts in May and ends by September. June is generally the warmest month when the mean maximum temperature rises slightly over 30 degrees Celsius. The winter starts in October and continues until April. December, January and February are the coldest months. The mean maximum and minimum temperatures for this period are 10 and -2 degrees Celsius, respectively. The Agency is outside the monsoon zone, yet at higher altitudes a fair amount of rainfall is received. South Waziristan Agency has an arid climate, receiving minimal precipitation. The western portion, bordering Afghanistan, receives more rainfall than the eastern portion touching Tank and D.I.Khan districts. Most of the Agency receives mean annual rainfall of 6 inches, while a small area in the southeastern corner receives less than 10 inches (250 mm) of rainfall annually.