"Tribal Areas" North-West Frontier Province by JohnniOmani

North-West Frontier Province Travel Guide: 694 reviews and 1,296 photos

Lawless Country

The Tribal Areas make up around a fourth of the NWFP and the Tribal Areas consist of seven 'Agencies'. Internal tribal affairs are conducted according to the areas tradition, but each agency is overseen by a Political Agent (PA), who acts as a go between the NWFP government and the maliks (Pashtun tribal chiefs, of whom there are typically a few hundred in each Agency. Travelling here as an independant traveller is daunting at best and most travellers would feel intimidated. The NWFP is a place that lacks infrastructure and tourism due to the 9/11 attacks. I didnt see a backpacker/tourist for the entire time I was in the NWFP and that includes outside Peshawar and neighbouring towns. No tourists around is usually a great thing but in a lawless place and not seeing anyone was a feeling that would be hard to describe. Outside the town there are numerous tribal areas. One in Peshawar district includes the gun factory town of Darra Adam Khel. The Agencies are closed to foreigners with exception to a few roads such as the Khyber pass although you need an armed guard. Even a few hundred meteres off those roads, Pakistani laws dont apply and the Pakistan government has no authority whatsoever. Extreme caution must be exercised and it is the wildest place to date.

Way of the Pashtun

Pashtunwali, the male centered Pashtun moral code takes preference over everything and has four major elements. The major decisions are made by Jirga (elders) and if people dont listen to the ruling of the Jirga they face the possibility of having their house burned down or expulsion by the tribe. Melmastia means showing hospitality to visitors without expecation of reward no matter if the person is stranger or criminal. Badal means revenge and refers to the obligation to avenge an insult or injustice even if unintended to self , family or tribe. Most disputes are over zar, zan or zamin- gold, women or land. Nanwatai refers to absolute submission to the victor including humiliation. Nang means honor, by far most prominently in the case of women. Unresolved man woman affairs tend to generate the longest and bloodiest feuds and honor killings are common throughout rural areas. The four 'pillars' of the Pashtuns is a recipe for a strict and violent lifestyle. The four pillars are followed and it gives off an unsettling feeling. Overall, the Tribal areas are generally concerned with their own affairs rather than foreigners passing through the area.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Wild, Rugged, Remoteness and the Vibe
  • Cons:No Police/Military/Law and No women in sight
  • In a nutshell:Eye Opening Experience
  • Last visit to North-West Frontier Province: Apr 2006
  • Intro Updated May 16, 2006
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Comments (1)

  • Ekahau's Profile Photo
    Jun 5, 2007 at 7:54 AM

    This is such a fascinating part of the world. Very good overview loved reading it.


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