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The chapter focuses on British relations with Waziristan in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A region on the border between Afghanistan and what is now Pakistan (referred to by the British as the North-West Frontier), Waziristan at that time was largely independent. Until the later 1880s the main problem the British faced was raids and incursions launched by members of the main tribal groups living in it –Darwesh Khel Wazirs, Bhittanis, Dawars, and Mahsuds. In order to deal with this, as these groups had no leaders with whom they could negotiate, the British tried to identify subdivisions based on shared patrilineal descent from a common ancestor, and treat their members as collectively responsible for each others' actions. They did not, however, attempt to establish a permanent presence in Waziristan itself.
This began to change in the later 1880s as concerns about a possible Russian threat to Afghanistan led the British to pursue a more interventionist approach in Waziristan. The Mahsuds were seen as the most difficult to deal with because they were particularly reluctant to recognise any form of authority. The official responsible for relations with them, Richard Bruce, tried to address this problem by paying allowances to maliks, men he regarded as having some standing in the tribe, in return for which they were expected to keep the Mahsuds under control.
However, some of his nominees were murdered by fellow tribesmen, and Mahsud robbery and murder in the settled areas along the eastern Waziristan border actually increased. In 1900 William Merk took over responsibility for relations with the tribe. He decided that they were too ‘democratic’ for Bruce’s approach to work, and that allowances would be paid to the heads of families rather than to a small number of maliks, and that the tribe as a whole should again be responsible for any problems caused by its members.
The new arrangements were not very successful either. Difficulties included opposition from a religious leader whom the British called the Mullah Powindah, interference from Afghanistan, and growing disunity amongst the Mahsuds themselves. However, the chapter argues, their highly individualistic ethos was also an important factor. In conclusion some comparisons are drawn between the situation in the earlier 20th century and position today; there are seen to be some revealing parallels.
|Item Type:||Book Chapter|
|Copyright Holders:||Hurst & Co. (Publishers) Ltd. (?)|
|Extra Information:||About the book:
Beyond Swat readdresses Fredrik Barth’s seminal work Political Leadership among Swat Pathans, and the reactions it sparked, in relationship to contemporary developments in Swat and the wider Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier region. It explores the relevance of these scholarly debates to understanding the key dynamics affecting the region and its people today.
Written by anthropologists and historians with long-standing research experience in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as expertise in one or more of the region’s languages, each chapter explores varying yet interconnected dimensions of the region’s culture, society and politics over a broad span of history and their relevance to wider debates about the dynamics shaping this and other comparable ‘frontier’ spaces. The parallels the authors make cross temporal, as well as spatial boundaries and, in doing so, open up theoretically innovative lines of scholarly enquiry about the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier, the nature of Islamic militancy, its connections to ethnicity, class and transformations in the nature of state power, and, more generally, the relationship between anthropology and history.
|Academic Unit/Department:||Arts > Religious Studies|
|Depositing User:||Hugh Beattie|
|Date Deposited:||22 Feb 2012 16:00|
|Last Modified:||27 Oct 2012 19:48|
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