A MODEL OF THE CRISIS IN SWAT

A. Introduction

The result of the survey in Swat and this analysis has brought out quite clearly what the problems and issues stoking the fire of violence in Swat are. However, it gives analysis added weight if it reconstructs the disaster. At the risk of oversimplification the following is the reconstruction of the Swat conundrum as discovered by this research.

B. Marginalization

�         It is clear that the link between the state and the community is strong when the latter is seen as a benefactor and it delivers services that are valued by individuals.  These services relate to delivery of education, health and other basic needs. This issue has been discussed already when we examined the role played by exclusion and marginalization of individuals and communities in driving the Swat insurgency. Clearly, military operations by themselves are not a solution and will fail as they create further marginalization as explained before. If KP wants to avoid such a fate then efforts must be made to provide solutions that remove the marginalization of people in any form.

�         The challenge of the marginalized has combined with the terrorists to challenge the State’s. Another way of describing it is that over a period of time the government has become dysfunctional and is prevented from supplying those goods that lead to the creation of legitimacy by associating a larger population with itself in what one will call enterprise Pakistan. Association by choice permits the state to govern through voluntary obedience. According to this analysis, legitimacy occurs when the state provides the following social goods at an efficient level;

�  Security

�  Justice

�  Political empowerment

�  Livelihood and employment

�         An axiom that we should not forget is that vulnerable individuals and communities will fight the state if they blame it for their failure to function as an economic and a social unit. If force is used against them under such conditions where marginalization and vulnerability exist, one can be certain that marginalized groups will challenge the state; if they are encouraged by indigenous or international radical groups, then the reaction will be more severe and unrest more long lasting. Under such conditions the use of coercive force actually encourages insurgency to spread. Therefore let us be less sanguinary about the positive long term impact of the current military operations in Swat. As a matter of fact operations increase the effectiveness of militant groups as they are forced to become better rural and urban guerillas for survival. Continuous use of force will ensure the loss of war. Thus calculus is what makes WoT a failure.

C. A reconstruction of Swat militancy

One of the most important factors that prevented Pakistan from proceeding with the complete merger of Malakand division of which Swat is part was the manipulation of circumstances by various important players for protecting their own self interest. The objectives of the vested interests to retain their privileged status coincided with a strategic game changer that occurred with the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in 1979.

In the process Swat was radicalized. Some highlights of this event are narrated below. While the state was being weakened by the presence of well armed militias, a new opportunity was provided to the militants to put forward their claims for the imposition of Shariah system of law when the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Feb in 1994 challenged the administrative regulations under Article 247 of the Constitution as violative of it.  Executive authority of the province that was already marginal becomes dysfunctional. It was an excellent moment for the province to mainstream the region into Pakistan rather than keep it as a special area.

However, the vested interests including the political executive ignored the decision. This gap in regulation was noted by the militants and was filled first by Maulana Sufi Mohammad and latter by more radical militants who became stronger after the US intervention in Afghanistan and the flow of militants to Swat from Bajaur and other parts.

The following dynamics that resulted from this situation created the militancy that we witness today. The synopsis below explains a complex dynamics of the interaction of forces that operated to create terrorism in Swat in 2004-09 and is as follows:

�         After the merger of Swat, Dir & Chitral states in 1969 vide regulation no 1 of 1969, these areas were allowed to be governed by custom and usages having the force of law till 1974. In April 1974, regular courts were established and some laws were extended to that area.

�         In 1975 two Regulations for administering criminal and civil disputes were promulgated and the judicial powers were vested in the bureaucracy, local Jirgas and religious scholars of Swat. They used their power to suppress and subjugate the ordinary citizens of the area through subverting the judicial process. The poor were marginalized further by this regulation.

�         By 1980s the Jamat e Islami a religious Pakistani party had built influence in upper Dir and Buner districts. Swat, Malakand protected areas and Chitral remained outside the influence of JI. Tussle ensued between it and the PPP a secular party to dominate.

�         The workers of JI were recruited in the Afghan Refugee Commissionerate, who were benefited with handsome salaries and were used for influencing Pakhtun society for supporting Afghan Jihad.

�         In Malakand division ex senator Sher Mohammad Khan of Shangla, Dr. Mehboob ur Rehman and Dost Mohammad Khan were influential leaders of PPP who were later joined by the son of ex Wali of Swat namely Mian Gul Amir Zaib and Amane Room and were elected to National Assemblies in 1977 and 1988.

�         Aftab Khan Sherpao who became the Chief Minister of KP in 1988 wanted to win the Malakand districts of Dir/Swat for his party because of their electoral strength.

�         The business interests and elites of Swat who were involved in the running of specialized silk textile units and cosmetic industry wanted the special status of Malakand to continue as they received exemption from custom duties and taxation under such a dispensation.

�         The administrators in the region wanted the special status to continue as it gave them formidable discretionary power and any movement towards mainstreaming would reduce their power.

�         Thus the interests of KP Chief Minister in 1994, the administrators and the business community coalesced to retain the special status of Malakand by sponsoring Sufi Muhammad, an ex worker of JI who had broken away from the movement upon a disagreement. He believed that in Islam there was no concept of democracy; only knowledgeable and honest theologians should run an Islamic state based on Shariah. Consequently, he created the TNSM to contest the JI. This suited the PPP administration and they used Sufi Mohammad to make inroads into the JI vote bank. The PPP avoided the use of violence in the initial stages of the rise of TNSM.

�         When the US intervened in Afghanistan in Dec 2001, Sufi Mohammad announced Jihad against the US and led many hundreds of TNSM supporters in a lashkar to support the Afghan Taliban. Several hundred residents of Malakand division died in Afghanistan as a result. One of the side effects of this episode was a further radicalization of Malakand division and KP. Sufi Mohammad was arrested upon his return from Afghanistan and placed in D.I Khan Jail.

�         General Musharraf not only patronized, trained and financed the local militants but also gave save passage to those militants who came from Afghanistan after the military intervention by US forces. They came to South and North Waziristan and some latter shifted to Bajaur. These militants consisted of Afghans, Arabs, Chechens, Uzbek, Tajik and Punjabis.

�         In the 2002 elections Gen. Musharraf sponsored the victory of the MMA in KP who became his secret supporters. The MMA also looked the other way when Mullah Fazlullah, a son in law of Sufi Mohammad created his own faction of militants.

�         Since the JI was also a member of the religious ruling coalition in KP from 2002-07, they continued to detain Sufi Mohammad because of his earlier challenge of the JI.

�         From 2002 to 2007 the religious radicals grew in strength in the region with the tacit support of the MMA and the manipulation of Gen. Musharraf who wanted to keep the threat of Islamic radicalization alive to draw resources for his undemocratic and personal rule. This complex dynamic spread the radical revolt against Pakistan to other districts like Dir and elsewhere as well as tribal area of Waziristan, Bajaur, Mohmand etc.

�         The ANP Govt. that came to power as a result of the 2008 elections defeating the MMA won all the 7 provincial seats from Swat. It wanted to defuse the flames of revolt and went into a peace deal with the militants in Feb 2009 after having earlier released Sufi Mohammad from jail. A move that was also supported by the strong Pakistani intelligence agencies. A deal was struck by the ANP Govt. which first signed a peace agreement with Fazlullah group on 21st May, 2008 and which lasted for about two months.

�         A second deal was signed in July 2008 with Sufi Mohammad after the government agreed to accede to his demand for the promulgation of his version of Shariah and in return the militants would become peaceable.

�         However, after the de facto transfer of power to the militants in April 2009 in Swat, the militants did not give up their rebellion and took over Buner a neighboring district. Secondly, the militants refused to hand over their heavy weapons or remove their check posts as agreed with the government of KP.

�         Sufi Mohammad became more belligerent and even began to abuse the Pakistani apex institutions like the Parliament and the higher courts. In Swat terrorist activities against the state and the citizens increased. It clearly showed that the militants were no longer under the control of Sufi Mohammad or he and they had other designs.

�         Pakistani civil society that had remained aloof from this struggle in FATA and KP finally woke up to the dangers of a possible future under the tyrannical militants when videos of their barbarity against women and abuse of the Pakistan state institutions were witnessed by them. This provided the justification for the Pakistan government to move the military into the region to stamp out the rebellion. This move for now has the support of the people.

�         It is premature to say whether the current military operation will succeed in its various objectives. One thing is however certain that the dynamics of past decisions has created new forces that will take considerable effort to neutralize. What began as a struggle for small gains has shaped itself as a serious threat to Pakistani and international security.

D. Findings on hypothesis

Before giving the recommendations it will be instructive to provide the results regarding the hypothesis listed in chapter 1 of the report.

�         The result of the survey shows that when the government fails to provide services to its people it weakens the bonds between the state and the communities and creates grievances.

�         The survey found that those who are marginalized because of lack of access to incomes joined the militants.

�         Income marginalization also swelled the ranks of militants. Those without land fanned joined the militants and forcibly took possession of land belonging to the feudal. 

�         Poor governance, weak dispensation of justice and lack of reform to mainstream Swat helped militancy.

�         The introduction of the Local Bodies Reform 2001 and the manipulation of the administrative structure of the country assisted militancy and was a reckless experiment conducted by Gen Musharraf.

�         The survey established a close connection between religious based education and militancy. Swat region has been a bastion of Jihadism and people support it if credible leadership is leading it.

�         The weak PATA Regulation under which Swat was administered since its merger in 1969 was a factor encouraging the rise of militancy in Swat. The vested interest prevented the mainstreaming of Swat.

�         Weak regulation of illegal broadcasting encouraged the growth of militancy.

�         The provincial government was sympathetic to the Swat militants between 2002-07 and state stewardship of the State was compromised.

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