(FROM WATAN DOST http://watandost.blogspot.com/ )
Two issues forced the government’s hand in North Waziristan: first, the two main tribes, Wazir and Dawar, are involved in militancy against security forces; and two, the continued army operation and heavy bombing and shooting have shifted loyalties from the government to the militants. “All sub-tribes are involved in militancy against security forces,” former FATA security chief Brigadier (retd) Mehmood Shah told TFT in Peshawar.
The Wazir tribe lives mostly along the border while Dawars are spread from Miranshah to Bannu district. Compared to other Pashtun tribes, the Wazir have historically been able to evolve a system where internal feuds are dramatically reduced. Among most Pashtuns, a murder is to be avenged in such a way that the family or clan members of the murderer could be killed in revenge, setting off a longstanding feud among families. Among the Wazir, however, this does not apply and only the actual culprit is punished.
“With this one change in customs, the Wazir have been able to greatly decrease vendettas that once begun go on for generations. This custom has also ensured that the Wazir are more united as a tribe,” says a historian.
The Dawar are locally called “administered Wazir” because during the British Raj, they were known for striking deals with the colonisers; they have also been nicknamed “bazaari Qabils”, which means “untrustworthy tribesmen”. On the other hand, the Utmanzai Wazir were more rebellious and generally kept a distance from the British. Their areas, even then, were regarded as “no-go” zones. Dawar are also not known to have the same amount of “tribal integrity” that the Wazir are famous for.
But today, says a history teacher at a state-run college in Miranshah, jihadi sentiments are more dominant among the Dawar than the Wazir. “It is the Dawar who are more uncompromising,” he said.
The Madakhel sub-tribe of the Wazir, however, is also notorious for militancy both across the border and against Pakistani security forces. Its location on both sides of the Touchi River gives it strategic edge over other tribes and hence it is also able to facilitate militants in crossing over into Afghanistan, says one insider.
A government official told TFT the border could have been secured with the help of the Wazir “had General Safdar (Hussain) not pounded their areas before talks”. “This situation needed political handling. The government could have gone to the Wazir and asked for their help against militants but now the tribe is completely against us,” he said. “The Wazir are good negotiators and it is ironic that the government did not win them over,” he added.
Brigadier (retd) Mehmood Shah says another problem is that the tribal youth in North Waziristan is no more under the elders’ influence and are being completely indoctrinated by their Islamic teachers. “Even where elders of a particular tribe ask their youth to leave madrassas, they don’t listen anymore; tribal authority has, in this way, eroded and stands below the authority of religion and religious teachers,” Shah added.
This shows that the tribal structures, which the government was thinking of using to push back the Taliban, are now too weak in the face of new Islamic thinking. Under the circumstances, while the deal might have given some respite to government troops in the short-term, it is unlikely to play to Islamabad’s advantage in the long term.