Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Jihad and the State in Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan

Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Jihad and the State in Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan

Article excerpt

Introduction

In this paper, I aim at enlarging our understanding of the ongoing militant upsurge in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas [FATA] of Pakistan in the post-9/11 period. After the American-led 'Operation Enduring Freedom' in Afghanistan, most of Taliban and trans-national jihadis (from Al-Qaeda and Central Asia) took refuge, across Durand Line, in the tribal areas of Pakistan. (1) Later, by re-organizing and re-structuring themselves, these militants initiated their struggle against the presence of foreign troops, comprised of the United States and its Western allies, in Afghanistan. Therefore, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas became a hub of militant activity in a war on terror; FATA was soon regarded as the most dangerous place in the world. (2) Since the U.S. and Pakistan were allies in the war on terror in Afghanistan, Pakistan was pressured to take military action against militants who were using FATA as a sanctuary in launching operations against international forces in Afghanistan. (3) The FATA tribesmen, due to religious and ethnic associations, not only supported Taliban, but, by forming Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan [TTP], a Pakistani Taliban movement, initiated a militant struggle against the Pakistani state. Therefore, in this paper, I will be addressing the following major questions: why has there been an upsurge of militancy in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan in the post-9/11 period? What is the relevance of the tribal jihadi tradition in understanding their ongoing militant posture?

After joining the international coalition against terrorism, Pakistan became a direct player as well as a victim in the war on terrorism. The decision makers in Islamabad, though accepting most of the U.S. demands, had a tacit understanding that they would stay neutral in the war on terror; they would neither participate in military operations nor provide their land for any such activity. (4) Evidently, Taliban's support in tribal areas was exceptionally high due to close ethnic and religious associations between Pakhtuns across the Durand Line. A tribal lashkar of ten thousand Pakhtuns, under the leadership of Sufi Muhammad, the founder of Tehrik-i-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM), movement for the enforcement of Islamic law, was mobilized to conduct jihad against the U.S. led international forces in Afghanistan in 2001. (5) As a result, "thousands of Pakistani tribesmen were killed or captured." (6) The rest of them returned home wounded, but resolved to revenge (badal) those lost. After the fall of Taliban, "between eight thousand and twelve thousand Taliban, or 20 percent of their total force, had been killed with twice that number wounded and seven thousand taken prisoner. Those remaining fled to their home villages or Pakistan." (7) Moreover, "between six hundred and eight hundred Arabs were escorted out of Tora Bora ... Bin Laden and a few body guards escaped on horseback into Parachanar," the Kurram Agency in Pakistan. (8) Consequently, the scope of war on terror was extended and the Pakistan army launched military operations in search of foreign militants in FATA. Due to these operations, Islamabad had to bear severe human and financial loss. According to a report, Pakistan lost a total of 49,000 lives since the September 11, 2001 event in the U.S. (9) Since 2007, 15,681 armed personnel, 5,152 civilians (in terrorist attacks and bomb blasts), and more than 200 members of tribal peace committees, or lashkars, including volunteers and chieftains, were killed. (10) Moreover, by extending aggressive propaganda against the West and the U.S., militants were trained, in training camps based in Tribal Areas, to conduct terrorist attacks all over the world. (11) The ongoing militancy in FATA therefore became a threat to Pakistan as well as to global peace and security. This situation requires a profound study of the nature of ongoing militancy in Tribal Areas of Pakistan. …

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