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SWAT: The main causes of the breakdown of governance & rise of militancy

Brief for the workshop

1.This report Swat: The Main Causes of the Breakdown of Governance and Rise of Militancy,has been prepared by RIPORT & NUPI. RIPORT is a policy research institute established in 2005 and operates in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. One of the mandates of RIPORT is to study conflict and to make policy reform recommendations.

2. RIPORT conducted the survey to find out the perception of households in Swat to identify the causes that created the crisis of governance in Swat in 2009. This was to be the first step of an exercise that would conclude by preparation of recommendations for the government. In this connection the perceptions regarding the causes and effects of the militant insurgency were gathered from respondents belonging to 384 households. The survey was administered in sixteen villages and three urban wards of Mingora.

3. Prior to the survey elaborate interviews with knowledgeable respondents were conducted to formulate hypothesis in various categories which were subsequently tested through the administration of a questionnaire. They allowed us to view the conflict from different perspectives. The aim was to understand the Swat conflict over a historical perspective and holistically. It is clear that conflicts don’t happen overnight but are the result of multiple causes that may have been germinating over a long period of time.

4.The study examines the interaction of Swat history and its demography with the various issues that arose overtime. At one time Swat was the center of the Hinayana sect of Buddhism and was a regional center of the Himalayan Civilization extending from Tibet to Swat including Kashmir.

5.The 16th century Yusufzai invasion brought new rulers to the valley supplanting the indigenous nobility who were scattered into the surrounding mountains. The study explores the dynamic of marginalization and the role it played in igniting the violence in Swat. The study indicates that poverty in Swat has created vulnerabilities that caused a large number of people to seek redressal of their plight and poverty by joining the terrorists when the opportunity arose from 2006 to 2009.

6. The analysis also examines the role of radical Jihadist intervention that influenced Swat with the arrival of Syed Ahmed from Patna in 1826. Many battles were fought by the people of this region over a period of time. As a result of this influence, Swat has always been reticent to claimants who used the label of Islam and promised justice. It was recognition of this trait that was exploited by religious figures who obtained dominant position in Swat in the early twentieth century. The coming to power in 1917 of Mian Gul Abdul Wadud as the ruler of Swat brought in a religious dynasty into power that ruled Swat till its final merger in Pakistan in 1969.

7. The study finds that lack of a plan to integrate Swat fully into Pakistan may have been the main cause of the unrest in this district. The study also found that Swat was prevented from a complete merger into Pakistan due to different vested interests who played a negative role for small personal gain even after a Supreme Court decision ordering a merger in Feb 1994 was passed.

8.The study is critical of the permissiveness of the MMA government that ruled KP from 2002-2007. It did not confront the religious challengers to the state. The study also found it inexplicable why at the start of the international War on Terror in Nov 2001, President Musharaff weakened the grid-lock of security by abolishing the district administration; it permitted the radicals the freedom to do as they pleased. The study concludes by noting that Pakistan’s drift to intervention of religion into state and law began immediately after the death of the founder of the nation, Quaid e Azam in 1948. Soon afterwards the Objectives Resolution was passed declaring that the management of Pakistan shall be based on principles of Islam. The Islamic tilt reached a peak during the rule of President Zia-ul-Haq from 1977- 88. He shifted Pakistan from a quasi secular status to a religious mindset, the laws were changed secular freedoms were restricted. At the same time Pakistan and the USA organized a Jihad against the USSR thus encouraging even more the growth of this mindset in a region that had a history of living in the midst of Jihad in the 19th century.

9. The present military operation will not succeed unless long lasting reforms take place. In this respect a number of reforms are proposed in this study. Some of the main ones are described briefly under different categories:-

A. Reform principles

These apex reform principles should guide the development of all new programs for Swat:-

  • All programs must cater for the very poor and shift the marginalized back into society.
  • The focus of investment should be on social protection and targeted safety nets for the very vulnerable. Social protection and funding of social safety nets must receive priority.
  • The provincial government needs to mainstream Swat by having Malakand division removed from the ambit of Art:246
  • Immediate steps must be taken to restore district administration as it existed prior to Local Government Reform 2001. Suitable changes should also be made in the Police Order 2000.
  • A robust communication strategy may be implemented without delay for transforming the mind set.
  • Priority of funding must be given to women and female programs in health, education and skill development and education.
  • The mainstream political parties should begin a drive for new membership based on the poor and the marginalized. Providing the poor with a political voice will assist in early and long term normalization. If political power devolves to the poor classes they will become empowered to defend their interests politically rather than through violence.
  • The government should administer Swat according to the normal laws of the land like the criminal procedure code and the civil code. The enactments that were introduced to please the militants should be retired.

B. Improved civil-military coordination

  • One of the major weaknesses noticed is the weak civil-military coordination. It is well known that insurgencies are defeated by a credible civil administration with the support of the military. Thus the priority of civilian control must be accepted.
  • Both the military and the civilian administration should have a clear road map with milestones and indicators for the exit of the military. The longer the military stays the more delayed will be normalization however there must be a transition plan where the police is strengthened to provide security.
  • The KP government must create a comprehensive district security program in consultation with the military and the police for a phased return to civilian control.
  • The issue of detention of militants must be resolved. States have dealt with these issues in two ways. Some countries protect their judicial system and keep the suspects interned in special prisons for a long term. Others process some of the militants legally. A political judgment call will need to be made to suit KP circumstances and essential legislation carried out. Secondly, detainee release policy should be dovetailed into a comprehensive rehabilitation and re-integration program for the militants.
  • KP government is advised to launch a comprehensive strategic communication initiative based on a transformative strategy delivered through multiple FM radio stations.

C. Poverty alleviation programs

  • The social sector indicators show the downward drift of Swat in infant mortality, calorific intake, adult education, drinking water, sanitation and combating infectious diseases like hepatitis. Investment in programs must be made to lighten these burdens of the people.
  • In the presence of land asset mal-distribution income generating programs for the very poor need to be replicated like the 1980’s Swiss Project for small farmers of Kalam

D. Security reforms

  • The law and order and criminal investigation oversight functions in Swat should be placed under the district magistrate. Police Order 2000 should be reviewed accordingly.
  • A district policing plan should be prepared jointly by the district magistrate and DPO Swat based on the examination of the role played by various drivers of conflict in Swat identified in annex-1

E. Mosque reforms

  • Mosques have a profound impact on governance. It is quite strange that mosques have been allowed to be taken over by Afghan and others who challenge the state. This free for all policy is suicidal. The KP government must return the mosque to the community through regulation.
  • The proposed regulations should ensure that only locals can become head of mosques; outsiders should be removed.
  • Mosque construction and upkeep should be regulated by considering them as community schools.

F. Madressah integration

  • Instead of speaking of Madressah reform the government should consider integrating them into its education stream. The introduction of Art 25 A into the Constitution by the 18th Amendment makes primary education compulsory and free. It now provides the government with an opportunity to make the required changes.

 G. Delivery of justice

  • Disposal of litigation by the courts should be improved
  • An alternate dispute resolution system should be instituted
  • Learned religious scholars should be provided openings into the adjudication system as assessors, Islamic law experts, consultants etc to create a vested interest of the clergy in the well being of the district.

H. Regulation of electronic media

  • A provincial electronic media regulatory authority should be created forthwith.
  • More FM stations need to be installed with relevant content on the model of Amn (Peace) FM Radio, Mardan

I. Regulation of Afghan refugee camps

  • The survey found a nexus between the Afghan refugee camps and insurgency. The location of a camp near a populated area is a sure sign of impending trouble.
  • The best option is to encourage the return of Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan
  • In case the camps continue then they must be monitored by the district administration and police and not other agencies.
  • The KP government should have a high / level committee under the Chief Secretary to decide about camp location and its security administration.
  • Under no circumstance should any refugee camp be permitted in Swat or its neighborhood.

J. Governance reforms

  • Swat needs to be mainstreamed. The President can order this under Art 247 (2) and (6)
  • Administrative reforms re-establishing prior to 12 Oct 1999 district administration model should be undertaken by establishing the executive magistracy, the district magistrate and police.
  • A comprehensive re-integration and rehabilitation plan for the militants be undertaken in consort with FATA
  • A reform monitoring unit be established in the Chief Secretary’s Office to review the pace and depth of these reforms.

Address of Khalid Aziz Chairman, RIPORT

Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti, Mr. Robert Kvile Ambassador of Norway, Mr. Helge Luras Adviser NUPI, Your Excellencies, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It gives me immense pleasure to present to you today the major findings of the report on Swat that identified the main causes of the conflict in that valley. There are different ways of looking at the conflict and the present study is an attempt to present a view of the world from the perspective of Swat households. Experience teaches one many lessons and one of the most important I have learnt is that the plain common sense of an ordinary farmer surpasses the intellect of many who consider themselves knowledgeable. In a little while I will present the policy reforms that are based on these perceptions.

RIPORT is a policy research think tank established in KP in 2005 that studies conflict and related public policy. It was formed in 2005. It is working in Swat as a partner with the UNHCR where it provides services in trauma management to those afflicted by violence and terror. One of its mandates is to study the origins of conflict that is the origin of trauma. This study is a preventive intervention so that conflict can be held at bay. It could be replicated to other areas with modifications. Our partner in this work is NUPI the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs who supported us and I want to thank the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs who gave a grant to NUPI for this task.

But before I discuss the policy recommendations emerging from the study I want to present a range of larger issues that face us and the people of Pakistan as a backgrounder for the framing of the policy options later:

  • KP and Pakistan sit on one of the most valuable strategic real estate in the world. It adjoins two of the fastest developing economies in the world today, China & India. Any de-stabilization in their neighborhood will cause huge problems for us and the world
  • Are we dealing with this valuable real estate with care and responsibility? The answer is equivocal and that is a very dangerous situation.
  • We are also witnessing the birth of a new world where one half will live in wealth generated by knowledge & skills and another half that exists in poverty. We are so near to the better option yet keep ourselves entrenched in poverty that is driven by bigotry due to lack of reform.
  • Although being a nuclear power should provide us wisdom and patience yet we are not compassionate towards the smaller provinces; our dealings with them remain arrogant and violent.
  • As the world population increases each inch of fertile land and each drop of water will count, the higher return from bio-crops and creeping corporatization of agriculture in poor nations will increase prices of food and result in regional famines.
  • To complicate all this will be the rising temperature and drying rivers; am I over dramatizing, I think not because we recently witnessed the reality that was predicted by the panel on global warming it had spoken of heavy rains, glacial melts and then dryness.

Can we face these challenges alone? The answer is no. If that is the case then it calls for a renewal of our national narrative that must reflect a peaceable identity that believes in international peace and human development.

If those are the larger pressures on KP and Pakistan how do we handle the conflict in Swat? The preceding narration indicates the warning signs on the path to reform.

The study on Swat found that the crisis was not created overnight but was the result of multiple causes and policies. Conflict is rarely ever created by a single event. Swat is no exception. Chapter 8 of the report re-constructs a model of the causes creating the Swat conflict. According to this research based on intensive statistical framework the following factors that are weaknesses in governance contributed to the crisis:

  • A fragmented population differentiated by class, ethnicity & traditional Pakhtuns vs religious zealots
  • A history supportive of Jihadist resistance against the Sikhs and later the British since the early 19th century
  • Pakistan’s failure to assimilate the States and mainstream them in 1947 at Independence after the signing of the Instrument of Accession
  • Shifting of the Pakistani state narrative from a comparative secularized position towards religious one
  • Absence of a reform road map when Swat was merged in 1969; it allowed the creation of vested interests composed of the industrialists, land owners, administrators and the Shariat lobby who colluded in preventing the mainstreaming of Swat (Chapter 8 of Report)
  • Failure to fight poverty and improve quality of life indicators. Decline of MGD indicators relating to hunger, infant mortality & others coupled with population growth and shrinking of employment opportunities.
  • Pakistan’s support for Afghan Jihad and the location of camps in Malakand that were radicalized and produced the foot soldiers for Jihad.
  • The takeover of many Swat Mosques by Afghan refugees
  • Weak regulation of electronic media  like FM
  • De-stabilizing the administration grid lock by the Local Govt Reforms 2002 at the start of a global war WoT
  • Lack of democracy and militarization of the Pakistani state

Summary of address by the Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

1.The Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Amir Haider Khan Hoti addressed the workshop on, SWAT: THE MAIN CAUSES OF BREAKDOWN OF GOVERNANCE AND RISE OF MILITANCY held at Marriot Hotel, Islamabad. In his address he highlighted major changes that his government had adopted in dealing with the conflict in Swat. He also indicated his government’s flexibility and willingness to adopt donor friendly processes that will provide them comfort in the disbursement of assistance for the flood affectees.

2. The Chief Minister appreciated the efforts of RIPORT (Regional Institute of Policy Research and Training) and NUPI for preparing the comprehensive policy paper on the conflict in Swat. He appreciated the presentation of the report made by the Chairman on the occasion that indicated the main policy recommendations for the KP government. The following were the major policy observations made by the CM in his address to the gathering:

The CM stressed that the KP province was at the forefront of this conflict against the militants. Many of the KP citizens had died in this confrontation including brave officers and many of the party workers of the ANP. Despite these challenges the CM stressed that his highest priority was the defense of Pakistan and the achievement of stability in KP.

The CM promised to bring those changes in governance will create a tolerant, progressive and a democratic society in KP.

 The KP government is determined to bring reforms some of them are indicated in the policy paper that were necessary to improve the situation in the following areas:

o Law & Order

o Security

o Improved service delivery

o Poverty Alleviation

o Governance reforms

 The CM elaborated that the KP government during the last two years has concentrated on improving the security situation and has allocated funds for the purpose; even the development funds were diverted to provide for it.

One of the major reforms was to introduce community policing in Swat for which 7,500 new posts have been created and the results from this form of policing have been very encouraging and the government is engaged in expanding this model to other parts of the province.

 The Govt of KP also has an apex committee where the Civil-Military coordination is made effective and a regional approach is adopted covering FATA & KP. Its membership includes the Governor, the CM KP, and the Corp Commander and key officials. It has delivered commendable results.

The KP government has launched programs to assist the affectees of the war and the floods some of these programs were:

o House Grant Scheme for Malakand


 Cash grant schemes would be launched shortly

 The Government has committed to make the Sharia Nizam-e-Adil Regulation effective and has constituted a High Court, bench in Swat for this purpose to perform the functions of Darul Qazha

While thanking the donors for their support to KP he underlined his intent to associate them in all the programs and the willingness to adopt procedures that would provide comfort to them.

The CM also promised to examine the recommendations contained in the policy paper at the government level and to adopt where feasible its recommendations.

 He thanked RIPORT and the Norwegian government for their help and assistance for the preparation of the policy paper that would go a long way in assisting the government in its resolve to effectively meet the challenges of militancy.

Summary of the speech by Norwegian Ambassador Mr. Robert Kvile

The Norwegian Ambassador in his remarks on the occasion said:

Norway had a close connection with Swat when its scholars visited the region. Norway also had a deep interest in the peace and stability of Pakistan and it was under this perception that collaboration took place between RIPORT & NUPI. Norway had allocated $ 66 million for cooperation with Pakistan and Norwegian citizens had donated $ 7.5 million for the flood affectees. He was happy to note that the report had generated a lot of interest in government and amongst the practioners.

Norway had about 22,000 families of Pakistani descent and they were playing an important role in Norway’s development. There were a few members of Pakistani descent in the Norwegian Parliament and the Norwegian Pakistanis played an important nation building role in that country. Recently three books in Norwegian have been published dealing with Pakistan and its issues.

Norway believes that ending terrorism in Swat was important for KP, Pakistan and international peace.

 He stated that the present research conducted by RIPORT-NUPI had relevance beyond Swat and the funds for the policy study were provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He hoped that the study will help Pakistan in meeting its security challenges.

After the presentations an intensive Q & A session followed that was chaired by Senator Afrasiab Khattak. 

Background of RIPORT


Regional Institute of Policy Research and Training (RIPORT) 10-C, Railway Road, University Town, Peshawar is a registered, nonprofit organization formed in 2005. The Institute is presently operating in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. It has plans to extend its operations to other parts of the country. It also envisages operating in other countries. RIPORT undertakes research in policies related to conflict security, social protection, finance, economy, governance and human rights in the region.

RIPORT excels in training, project management and research based on surveys.


To create alternate policies and practices based on peace and harmony, which lead to improvement in human rights and tension reduction in the region.


Working in collaboration with other stake holders, on a nonprofit basis, the main objective of RIPORT is to serve the region and emerge as a centre of excellence for generating alternate policy recommendations while enhancing the capacity of government and civil society leading to economic and social improvement in the community at large. In pursuit of the main objective RIPORT aims to focus on the following areas.

  • To render advice and recommendations to the governments based on objectively conducted policy research and analysis
  • To work for peace and welfare of the people by increasing understanding and bridging opposing thoughts
  • To research and advocate appropriate conflict resolution mechanisms
  • To Impart training to build and enhance skills and capacities of public functionaries and non-governmental institutions in the areas of conflict reduction, finance, development management and governance
  • To create linkages with centers of learning and excellence in the region
  • To advocate conflict reduction and peace, practice of democratic norms, inculcate respect for human rights through seminars, workshops and the media

Membership of the Institute is regulated by its bye-laws. The Institute is managed by a board of governors, which acts on behalf of and represents the institute in all matters of policy. It is mandated to make and adopt bye-laws. Officers of the Institute include the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Directors and Secretary. The Chairperson is the designated Chief Executive Officer of the Institute.

The Institute, being a nonprofit organization, draws its resources from fees, subscriptions, donations from members, and contributions from other sources, which are compatible with institutional objectives. The Institute has a Project Investment Fund for development of project proposals.

Transparency and accountability are core principles of the institute in managing its resources, which are to be utilized solely for promotion and fulfillment of its declared objectives.

The following are the board of members RIPORT

  1. Mr. Khalid Aziz, former Chief Secretary, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Chairman RIPORT.
  2. Prof. Muhammad Daud Khan, doctor and Vice Chancellor, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Medical University, Peshawar, Vice Chairman.
  3. Prof. Nasir Uddin Azam Khan, doctor, member, former Provincial Health Minister.
  4. Mr. Yusaf Ghaffar , Member, Civil Servant, Chinar Road, University Town, Peshawar.
  5. Dr. Muhammad Tariq Khan, member, neuro-physiologist, social worker
  6. Mr. Rahimullah Khan Yousafzai, journalist, member, social worker.
  7. Mr. Arbab Muhammad Arif, civil servant, member.
  8. Mr. Fida Muhammad Wazir, civil servant, member.
  9. Mr. Muhammad Shumayl Aziz, member, lawyer, advocate Peshawar High Court, Secretary RIPORT.

Background of NUPI

Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) (Norwegian: Norsk Utenrikspolitisk Institutt) is a Norwegian government agency and research organization based in Oslo.

NUPI’s Background:

The Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) was established by the Norwegian Parliament in 1959 in order to promote a better understanding of international issues in Norway. NUPI has sought to achieve this by undertaking a wide range of research activities and by disseminating information on international issues. The Institute has an independent position in studying matters of relevance to Norwegian foreign policy and economic relations.

As a small nation, Norway depends strongly on stable and open ties to the rest of the world. Consequently, the understanding of international relations and the constantly evolving international economy is a vital prerequisite when the foreign, as well as domestic policy of Norway is to be shaped. With 50 years of experience, NUPI is one of Norway’s leading independent centers for research and information on political, security and economic issues.

Full Workshop Report in PDF

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