During the British Empire period, beginning in the late 19th century, the British established a cantonment on the Wana Plain which was used as a headquarters by the British forces in South Waziristan until they departed India after the partition in 1947. During their rule, the ferocious Pushtun tribes of Waziristan – part of the Karlanri Tribal Confederation – gave the British much headache. In fact, the British, known then as the ‘foreigners’, had to deal with a full fledged insurgency in Waziristan in the 1930s. At one point during the 30s, the British had up to 18,000 troops in and around Waziristan, with Wana being used as the forward headquarters and airbase.
Wana in the War on Terror
It is currently in the eye of a storm because of the embedded presence of another set of foreigners (Al-Qaeda) who have affiliated themselves with the Taliban-aligned Ahmadzai Waziris of the Wana Plain and others in the area [clarification needed]. The Pakistan Armed forces have conducted armed operations against these Al-Qaeda members since August 2003 off and on with limited success. Perhaps the town’s most violent incident in the War on Terror was the Battle of Wana which took place in March 2004 and included fighters from the Pakistani Army against Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces. More than 100 armed personnel were killed during the week of the fighting.
Ethnic background of inhabitants
Inhabitants of Wana are Muslim Pushtuns, primarily Ahmedzai Waziris. from the Wazir tribe. Also in South Waziristan Agency are some members of the Mahsud and Bhittanitribes who live in the surroundings of Wana.