The ongoing military operation in North Waziristan may be making headway in clearing militant hideouts, but it has shattered the dream of one father of 36 children to take a fourth wife.
Gulzar Khan is one of hundreds of thousands of people who have fled the North Waziristan tribal area since the army moved in to clear longstanding bases of Taliban and other militants.
Escaping the military advance meant leaving the 35-room house he shares in the North Waziristan village of Shawa with around 100 family members, including wives, children and grandchildren.
The 54-year-old grumbled that paying to transport his brood used up the cash he had set aside for his fourth marriage.
“The money I had saved was consumed in relocating my family from Shawa to Bannu and now I have again started saving and waiting for the operation to conclude,” he told AFP.
Islamic law permits men to take up to four wives and in Pakistan’s deeply conservative northwest, large families are the norm.
But after giving birth to a dozen children each, Khan said, his wives had told him enough was enough.
“I was planning to have a fourth marriage because now my wives have boycotted me and told me ‘no more children’,” Khan said.
Khan was 17 years old when he married his 14-year-old cousin in Shawa. They had eight daughters and four sons, but after eight years, the tribesman got married again, to a 17-year-old.
Khan’s third wedding came when he married his brother’s widow when he was killed in a dispute just a month after tying the knot himself.
“I can tell you that he or she is my child, but I cannot tell with all of them who is his or her mother,” Khan said.