An Overview of Waziri & Maraka

Sher Aman Khan

Tribesmen gather for a tribal Maraka in Waziristan in a picture taken circa 1920.

In Urdu language word ‘Wazir’ means Minister as in daily life, we read this word regularly like Wazir-e-Azam (Prime Minister), Wazir-e-Mawasilat (Minister of Communication), Wazir-e- Pani-o-Bijli (Minister of Water & Power) and many more from different sources of print media. The word is same of course in both of the cases but the meanings are different. It’s not the same to a Waziri, an individual of Waziristan. In Waziristan, from word Wazir one means that Wazir is a person who is directly decedent of ‘Wazir’ who was the son of Sulaiman.

If we look at the term Wazir through the lens of structuralism of Levi-Strauss. As Pace (1978) cites Levi-Strauss that “non-literate societies express thoughts and feelings not by inventing special abstract concepts but by juxtaposing concrete objects borrowed from their environment” (p. 286). In light of this argument if we see the genealogical trees of different Pashtun tribes and clans, we will notice that they have many Qaums (tribes) and Khels (clans) with same names which proved that they juxtaposed these names from the existing set of names present in Pashtu language or defused from some other neighboring savage society. In his book ‘Solat-i-Afghani’ which was first published in 1876 Haji Muhamad Zardar Khan made the same remarks. Wazir word is a very famous term in all of the Afghan political history and Waziris are also the part of Afghan history, that’s why Sulaiman named his son Wazir looking to the fame of the word. Even as member of the same Pashtun society I personally noticed the similar in my daily life interactions, when I met many persons named like Gernel (General) Khan, Kaptan (captain) Khan, Wazir Khan and so on.

Furthermore, many authors shed light on the history of Waziri Narkh some calls it Waziri or Wazirwalla too. In Pashtu language Narkh generally means price but in Pashtunwali (Pashtun code of conduct) it refers to Pashtun customary law or constitution. Poett point out that “the best known Narkhs are: Ahmadzai Narkh and the Razmak Narkh (p. 359). “Razamk was an important outpost on the frontier” (Poett, 1991, p. 21). Razamak is the subdivision of North Waziristan Agency, FATA (Federally Administrated Tribal Area) of Pakistan and a former cantonment of Saxon British Raj in Subcontinent. Atayee (1979) states that: in the Eastern and Southern provinces, every tribe has a Narkh of its own. This difference indicates the process of the weathering away of the tribal life, but two main Narkhs prevail. The Ahmadzais’ Narkh and the Razmak Narkh do not only govern the judicial life of these people but other tribes refer to them for the settlement of their disputes as well. (p. 67)

Some authors also discuss the emergence of Waziri Narkh amongst the savage society of Waziri tribe. Khan (1876) argues that “Waziri tribe personally called it Waziri Narkh. Which is the source of unity and strength for them because their law is better than lawlessness (p. 514). Another author Alikuzai (2013) point out that “Waziri or Wazirwali is the Waziri law it has long history, most of the disputes are solved by this law. The law has its origin from Sharia laws. The Waziri law has been responsible of the protection of this tribe from most of the internal tribal feuds which has dis-tried many of the neighboring tribes” (p. 284).

Every law around the globe provide different provisions to control law and order in the society. Therefore different provisions are made by the Waziri Narkh for the reconciliation of various disputes or unlawful acts: murder, theft, elopement by the a member of the Waziri tribe. This customary law came into existence in the era of Mughal King Shah. Atayee (1979) argues that: it is said in Wazirs that the Waziri was founded by the four Narkheyan (lawyers) of Razmak in the era of Shah Jahan. They were:

1. Kaji, Kamil Khel, Otmanzai Wazir of Margha.

2. Raji, Jani Khel, Otmanzai Wazir of Bannu.

3. Zubaira, Mamiat Khel, Otmanzai Wazir of Ziarat-i-Haider Khel.

4. Sikandar, Tori Khel, Otmanzai Wazir of Razmak

For hearing an important case in the Wazirs the Maraka (council of tribal elders) sits in Razmak. (p. 67), this citation shows two important terms Maraka and Khels (clans). The former which is used instead of Jirga (council of tribal elders) in Waziri language and the later shows those clans who’s heads were the founder of this Narkh.

References:

1. Pace, D. (1978). Structuralism in History and Social Sciences. American Quarterly, 30(3), 282–297. doi:xroads.virginia.edu/~DRBR2/pace.pdf

2. Albrecht, H. (2006). Conflicts and conflict resolution in Middle Eastern societies: Between tradition and modernity. Berlin: Duncker und Humblot.

3. Poett, N. (1991). Pure Poett the Autobiography of General Sir Nigel Poett. Havertown: Pen and Sword.

4. Atayee, M. I., Shinwary, A. M., & Nader, A. J. (1979). A dictionary of the terminology of Pashtun’s tribal customary law and usages. Kabul: International Centre for Pashto Studies, Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan.

5. K̲h̲ān, M. Z. (1876). Ṣaulat i Afg̲h̲ānī. Cawnpore: Munshī Naval Kishor.

6. Alikuzai, W. H. (2013). The Concise History of Afghanistan, volume 1: Trafford Publishing.

7. Ali, Z. (2015, May 03). Secular roots: Waziristan in retrospect. The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine. Retrieved August 08, 2016, from http://tribune.com.pk/story/877930/secular-roots-waziristan-in-retrospect/