From ‘Waziristan Field force’ to ‘Waziristan Scout Force’

Waqas Mehsud
Graduate from GC University Lahore, Hailing from South Waziristan.

It was after the Durand Demarcation 1894 that “Waziristan Field Force” was established to undertake the task of pacifying Waziristan, especially Mahsud region. The Demarcation was a line that separated the tribes into two halves; therefore, it was not endurable to the tribes of Waziristan to see their selves under the sway of alien government. That line of division made the tribes determined to inflict offences against government. However, the Waziristan Field Force was given the task to settle the recalcitrant and independent tribes, either by punitive expedition or blockades.

The Durand Demarcation was an enigma that the tribes never deciphered. It was in a moments that they were circumscribed and put under new laws and so on and forth, simultaneously. However, the tribes, in a state of confusion, were now worried of further encroachment by government. This was hard thing to face. Therefore, as the first interaction between the two occurred, the only thing came out of it was altercation. The reasons were many and explicit: tribes were based on democratic values while the government was based on interventionist policy; the tribes were independent while the government was dependent, and the tribes were believer of Prophet (PBUH) while they were not. Such differences led the two to a never ending skirmish.

The first skirmish took place at Wana. It was when the government troops marched towards the region, without taking the local people into consideration, and constructed forts all around. The step taken was a dead-blow to tribalism of the region. Therefore, a couple of days later, the settled troops were attacked. In result of the attack, a special force was prepared to handle the nationalist tribes.

Waziristan Field Force was established to take revenge of the tribes. Without delay, the Force had embarked on a task given to them. The tribes, bereaved of Durand Line and encroachment of Wana, were determined to fight the alien force. However, the force destroyed the homes, and had taken the cattles en route. But there was no sign of submission. Consequently, the tribes got agreed to reduce the offences; the force then retreat in 1896.

The nationalist and independent tribes in 1897 then sent a letter to government that no further encroachment would be tolerated. It was a terrible move indeed. They warned the government, if an inch be encroached, a strong action would be taken. Meanwhile, Mr. Gee along with his escort set out to choose sites for the fort’s construction. And they selected the Maizar Village of Wazir in North Waziristan. In result of this move by Mr. Gee, the tribes at once sprang up and attacked them. However, punitive expedition was the step to be taken by government.

It was now once again in 1898 that Mahsuds confronted the government. It was a hard task, especially for British. However, there were several British troops that were murdered by Mahsud as they were snatching freedom, tribalism and religious zeal of them. Again a punitive step taken against Mahsud; this time a blockade was imposed as Waziristan Field Force was in constant failure.

The British Government then vetoed further encroachment and advancement into the region. But it was in 1899 that Lord Curzon arrived in India as Viceroy, and he gave new implications of controlling the independent tribes. He was of the opinion that intrusion in the region is danger, we have to control them with less intervention policy. Therefore, all the regular troops were withdrawn to the borders.

Waziristan Scout or Militia Force was established to fill the evocation produced by the regular forces. The force was comprised of local people. It was purposed for the following reasons:

  • To pursue the attacker
  • To fight the one who is disloyal to government
  • To escort the Political Agent
  • To gather information
  • To undertake operations

However, couple of months later, the Waziristan Scout Force turned against the Government. Though the local people were getting smart amount of money and other allowances for serving government, but they refuse to do all that. The ultimate reason of revolt was their attachment with own people. Because the government were using the local people against local people; in other words, tribal against tribal. But this policy of British failed.