Protected by the mountain fastness, the Wazirs and Mahsuds historically resisted British authority. When the Durand Line was established as the border between Afghanistan and British India in 1893, Waziristan became an independent territory outside the bounds of effective British rule. Since Waziristan became part of Pakistan in 1947, the government has continued the British practice of pacification through payment of subsidies to tribal chieftains it has also tried to persuade the tribespeople to move to more settled areas. The tribes, led by the Faqir of Ipi, reportedly received arms from Afghanistan, which agitated for an independent Pushtunistan composed of all border Pathan tribal lands.
Waziristan was one of the many border regions that struggled to absorb hundreds of thousands of refugees during the Soviet invasion and occupation (1979–89) of Afghanistan. The area became a refuge for the Taliban and Al Qaeda after they were overthrown in Afghanistan, and Pakistan established military bases in the area for the first time in 2002. Government attacks on foreign fighters in South Waziristan in 2004 led to fighting with local militants who regarded the operation as a breach of the region's autonomy operations against the foreigners continued into 2005. In 2005–6 there was fighting between Pakistani troops and suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda forces as well as local militants in North Waziristan. By late 2006, however, the government had agree to restore the autonomy of both regions and end military operations in exchange for an end to cross-border attacks into Afghanistan. In 2007 there were outbreaks of fighting between South Waziristan's tribal fighters (supported by Pakistani troops) and foreign fighters, and both regions have seen renewed fighting between government forces and Islamic militants, also known as Pakistani Taliban, which intensified in 2009 after the government launched an offensive in Swat . In Oct., 2009, the military mounted a major offensive against militants in South Waziristan and captured most of the main militant bases in a month, but the successes were due largely to a militant pullback after some two weeks of fighting, and by mid-2010 the militants appeared to have regrouped in North Waziristan. The area has continued to be the site of occasional fighting, and Pakistan launched a major offensive in North Waziristan in 2014.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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