"I'm doing it for peace," Zaid said, right before he fired several shots in the air with his rifle.
Pakistani military officials credit the lashkars with helping chase the Taliban out of Swat Valley and neighboring districts once infested with the militants.
"By nature, they're very tough," Pakistani army Major Hasnain Shah said of the lashkars. "They're sacrificing their lives just to protect their own values and to help us out."
One group, called the Soltan Kheil lashkar, is made up of 500 armed men from the district of Lower Dir. Group members say they protect their villages against Taliban fighters in bordering Swat Valley.
After a two-hour drive and another 30-minute climb in some of the most magnificent mountains in the world, we reach the lashkar's base.
Deafening gunfire greets the CNN team -- this is how Pakistan's ethnic Pashtuns say "welcome".
The mountaintop meeting offers a rare look at the militias. The men have rugged faces and chapped hands weathered by scorching summers and arctic winters.
This is a rare opportunity to get to know Pakistani tribesman who otherwise live in isolation from the international media. I ask them what they like most about America.
"It's a democracy," said one of the lashkar members.
"They like peace in their country," said another.