Imperial Frontier Tribe and State in Waziristan

Beattie, Hugh (2001). Imperial Frontier Tribe and State in Waziristan. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press.



This book explores a little-known but fascinating chapter in the history of the north-west frontier of British India - between the annexation of the Punjab in 1849 and the early 1880s. It focuses on relations between the British and the highly independent Pashtun tribal groups living in the mountains of Waziristan. Permanent occupation was thought to be impractical, and instead the British tried various indirect ways of controlling the tribes. These ranged from hostage-taking, blockade and military expeditions, to enlisting them in local militias and giving them land in British territory. By the 1870s this policy seemed to be working. However tensions caused by the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-80) upset the status quo and created millenarian expectations about the end of British rule. The result was a serious tribal incursion into British territory which led to British authority briefly collapsing along this border. Developments towards the end of the century (when considerations of imperial defence increasingly influenced British policy towards the tribes) and those in the early 20th century are also reviewed. The last part of the book looks at the conclusions to be drawn from the preceding narrative. Firstly the major influences on British tribal policy and the British strategies of tribal management are discussed. This is followed by an examination of the British understandings of tribal social and political organisation that underpinned these, and the significance of the cultural and religious aspects of the encounter.

Viewing alternatives

No digital document available to download for this item

Item Actions