Challenging the State: 1990s Religious
Movements in the Northwest
In the mid- 1990s in the Malakand Division, directly north of the Peshawar valley, and in the Khyber Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, just miles west of Peshawar city, socio-religious movements arose to contest state claims to the exclusive right to assert political authority, define criminal behavior, and structure local political and judicial institutions. Fifty years after the establishment of a state ideologically rooted in Islamic ideals, these new movements reflected old regional patterns of resistance to central authority, but, more importantly, also reflected the dynamism of a growing "public sphere" of debate regarding political accountability, institutional relevance, and adherence to founding, if highly contested, notions of society and religion. This paper explores the dual questions often used to analyze historic socio-religious activism: Are such phenomenon Islamic political movements? Or are they better seen as social movements in Islamic societies? 1 The contest between state authorities and these religiously-based organizations will also be approached through recent "state in society" scholarship to illuminate a process of confrontation, negotiation, and mutually transforming interaction. 2
In November, 1994 violence and confrontation in the Malakand Agency, particularly in Swat, signaled the rise of an Islamic movement, the Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i- Shariat-i-Muhammadi (TNSM) led by Sufi Muhammad. The TNSM directly challenged political and judicial institutions and presented claims for socio-religious reform. The TNSM forced the Pakistan state to rethink legal codes, development priorities, and issues of power sharing. Also by 1995, in the Khyber Agency
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Publication information: Book title: Pakistan, 1997. Contributors: Craig Baxter - Editor, Charles H. Kennedy - Editor. Publisher: Westview Press. Place of publication: Boulder, CO. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 123.