Govt working to bifurcate S Waziristan
* Wazir tribesmen favour move to end Mehsuds’ dominance
* Former political agent says division will cause problems
By Iqbal Khattak
PESHAWAR: The government has restarted work to divide South Waziristan into two zones to give the Ahmedzai Wazirs a separate entity and end their dependence on Mehsud tribes, official and tribal sources in Wana and Peshawar said on Wednesday.
The move aims to pacify the Wazirs and isolate the Mehsuds, who are proving a hard nut to crack in the face of ongoing military operation against militants linked to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
“It is being considered (by the government) whether the South Waziristan division will help the government or not as far as the war on terror is concerned,” the official sources said.
Mehsuds’ dominance: The Wazirs have since long been demanding a separate entity to free themselves from the Mehsuds’ dominance, who had been treated “differently” under the Nikat System devised by by colonial power before the partition of the Indian subcontinent.
Under the system, Mehsud tribes get 75 percent share in any resource distribution. The Wazirs have been complaining about having only 25 percent share, despite their population being almost equal to that of the Mehsuds.
The government has stepped up work to improve Gomal Road linking the Wazirs-inhibited areas of South Waziristan with Dera Ismail Khan, and to avoid using any route through the Mehsuds-inhibited areas.
The road had previously been closed due to a protest by the Mehsuds, but attacks on security forces by the militants loyal to Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud has forced the government to expedite the construction work on it.
According to a tribal source in Wana, the plan is being executed in “extreme secrecy” to avoid backlash from the Mehsuds. “The work on Gomal Road is in full swing, whereas the Wana airport is also close to its opening. The government has asked influential Wazir elders and Taliban commander Maulvi Nazir not to publicise the plan before it is fully implemented,” a tribal elder with close contacts with the government told Daily Times.
Division to cause problems: According to a retired political agent of South Waziristan, the division will be contrary to the former colonial power’s policy, which always set up a tribal region with two opposing tribes to pursue “divide-and-rule” policy.
“I think giving the Wazirs a separate tribal district status will compound problems for the government.
“And same is the case with North Waziristan, Kurram, Orakzai and Khyber tribal districts. Giving a tribe a separate status will be a costly game to play,” the former political agent said on condition of anonymity.