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Special focus on Pakistan


Many terminologies have been adopted for the phenomenon of insurgencies manifested worldwide. But it is vital to define this term clearly in order to circumscribe the situations under study: Is Insurgency a War? A great variety of terms have been used for insurgency and counter-insurgency by different names that correspond to its different dimensions and characteristics: guerrilla warfare where emphasis lies on tactics; armed resistance (focus is on the violent element); asymmetric warfare (asymmetries in power and methods of the opposing sides are highlighted); 'small wars'; and revolutionary wars etc.

The conventional definition of war as has been defined by Clausewit is: 'war is... an act of force to compel the enemy to do our will.' And also, war is 'a continuation of political intercourse, with the addition of other means.' (as cited in Strachan & Herberg-Rothe, 2007).1 In essence, insurgency and counter-insurgency includes the use of force and violence for political purpose, seeking to compel the opponents to bend to ones will.

According to Steven Metz and Raymond Millen:

Insurgency is a strategy adopted by groups which cannot attain their political objectives through conventional means or by a quick seizure of power. It is used by those too weak to do otherwise. Insurgency is characterized by protracted, asymmetric violence, ambiguity, the use of complex terrain (jungles, mountains, and urban areas), psychological warfare, and political mobilization all designed to protect the insurgents and eventually alter the balance of power in their favour (Metz & Millen, 2004).2

It is clear that insurgents are motivated by a political agenda therefore the 'Crime and Punishment' dialogue which is usually used in the context of terrorism (or, in core, insurgency and counter-insurgency) is questionable and often deficient in strategic sense.

Logic of Insurgency and the Strategic Objectives: A Public Perspective

Regardless of the roots, the strategic objective of insurgency is to mould the public's perception, regarding its legitimacy which is often challenged. Violence is used as a tool of persuasion which damages the reputation of the state, political order, government or its policy; thereby attracting and mobilizing supporters, intimidating opponents of insurgency and finally it isolates them from the government. Metz and Millen (2004)2 framed the concept as 'armed propaganda' which also facilitates political mobilization and establishes 'brand awareness' and spreads the political agenda of the insurgent group in the general public. In strategic terms, it is similar to a concept describing the deployment of armed forces in international relations and called 'armed suasion'. This concept was explained by Thomas Schelling in his book Arms and Influence (1967). In summary, it is the show of military power:

Its use or the threat of use, are employed to shape the perception of opponents as well as allies about the situation and influence their ensuing decisions about further courses of action. (Schelling, 1967).3

David Galula, (French author and former officer) who fought Algerian insurgents, stated (1964) that the watching audience is the key to each insurgency as its opinion and support decides the final outcome. (Galula, 1964).4 Furthermore, the audience can be divided into a minority of active supporters of insurgents, which the insurgents who serve as a vital source of intelligence, logistics, and sanctuary etc. and the remaining small group of active supporters of the government has to be intimidated or destroyed, and a passive majority is hoped to evolve (Galula, 1964).5 It is this passive majority from whose perceptions and opinion constitute the main battleground of insurgents and counter-insurgents. A common phrase, 'the battle for the hearts and minds', became very popular after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and this phrase is precisely related to this characteristic of insurgency and counter-insurgency. Manwaring remarks: 'its chief aspect is the use of words, images, and ideas. (Manwaring, 2004).6

Challenges to the Counter-Insurgent

The triumph of insurgency is dependent on several factors such as geographical conditions, organization, experience, resources, and the will of the active minority of supporters, as well as external assistance, availability of safe havens etc.

In this context the primary factor is the appeal of insurgent aims to the wider public. If the appeal is articulated strongly, resonating the existing problems and accepted grievances in relation to state, political order or government, then the insurgency stands much greater chances of final success.

According to Galula:

The best cause for the insurgent's purpose is one that, by definition, can attract the largest number of supporters and repel the minimum of opponents. (Galula, 1964).7

Precisely for this reason the main target of counter-insurgents usually is the insurgents' cause which either needs to be brought into disrepute or simply 'stolen' by demonstrating that the problems and grievances feeding insurgency are being seriously addressed and effectively dealt with by the government. The second facet is the competence and experience of the counter-insurgent itself in suppressing insurgencies, that is, the political will and determination of its leadership; and the external moral, political, financial and military support and assistance. (Galula, 1964).8

Every war, following Clausewitz's words is a dual. Actions of one side evoke the responses and reactions of the other. The image and actions of the counter-insurgent, in the eyes of a general public, often determine the outcome of the conflict. (cited in Howard & Paret, 1976).9 Thus the insurgents use violence, seeking to reveal the counter-insurgent's weaknesses, incompetence, isolation, and most significantly provoke the government's inadequate and unbalanced response. Such a reaction leads to negative public opinion and increases the number of members of society supporting the insurgency. (O 'Neill B., 2005).10 The situation of the counter-insurgent is often unenviable. Initially, signs of the insurgency become obvious only when the political dimension has already been shaped in support of the insurgents. Governments are slow to recognize preconditions of insurgency and its early development, when the secretive organization of the insurgent movement takes place. Consequently they are forced to react to violence which already cannot be crushed or neutralised with coercive actions available to the government, unless parts of society are successfully repressed. This is a trend of a gradual transition to war, where governing authorities fail to realize in time when the situation necessitates acute emergency measures similar to wartime, and/or in case they are not able to distinguish the challenge in time, will find it hard to impose such measures due to a negative public opinion. (Galula, (1964).11

The Establishment is responsible for ensuring law and order within the territorial boundaries of the country, and protect its economic, financial and administrative infrastructure, citizens, and their property. Insurgents who on the contrary, are not burdened by such responsibility, exploit this imbalance causing an overstretch of the authorities that are struggling to maintain control of the country's territory.

For this characteristic, insurgency and counter-insurgency was dubbed as 'war of fleas', where 'fleas' (insurgents) simply exhaust the 'dog' (government) by persistent attacks which cannot be prevented, respond to, and/or countered all over the place and most of the times. (Taber, 1965).12

Most researchers state that the administrative capacity of the counter-insurgent, its ability to maintain control over the territory and population, without leaving the vacuum of governance where alternative administrative structures of the insurgents could emerge, is very important elements in successful counter-insurgencies. Hence the importance of effective coordination of all state authorities and agencies - military, intelligence, police, internal security, financial, migration, diplomatic, judicial, economic, and even educational in counter-insurgency campaigns. Military and law enforcement agencies constitute one- fifth of the overall efforts of the government. (Taber, 1965).13 Most of the work is done by political, social, ideological, and propaganda agencies. Therefore, most authors conclude that there are no military solutions to insurgency. This observation is in concordance with the analysis of the main objectives of the counter-insurgent by 'stealing' or discrediting the insurgents' cause, thus, isolating them from the society upon which the insurgents depend and draw for support. It is exactly this view of competing networks which lies at the core of 4GW and 'net-war' concepts. (Manwaring, 2004).14 As defined by Arquilla, Ronfeldt, and Zannini (2004):15

Net-war refers to an emerging mode of conflict...at societal levels, involving measures short of traditional war, in which the protagonists use network forms of organization and related doctrines, strategies, and technologies attuned to the information age.

Insurgency and counter-insurgency usually is a long war, lasting for years and even decades, where both sides are simply seeking to outlast each other. For this reason, Mao Tse-Tung calls his model of insurgency 'a protracted people's war'. As Metz and Millen wrote (2004):16

Often insurgencies drag on so long that entire generations emerge that have known nothing but conflict.

More than that, insurgents use time as their weapon because, as Drew (1988)17 put it:

Everyday of the conflict when insurgent movement continues its existence discredits the government and its ability to govern effectively and control its own destiny.

In this chapter, the focus is on Pakistan, as it is in the centre of the 'global war on terrorism', and facing the worst insurgency and acts of terrorism against its population, in the recent global history. Other countries like Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Somalia Chechnya, and Tajikistan etc. have experienced insurgencies at different times.

The Centre of the 'Global War on Terrorism': Focus on Pakistan

Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The northwest tribal belt of Pakistan has been at the centre of decisive events in mankind's history. Professor Arnold J. Toynbee characterizes the region as the 'cross-roads' of civilizations. The region, due to its strategic location, besides being one of the most important areas of the country is also one of 'the most sensitive areas in Pakistan and indeed in South Asia.'

The tribal belt is a mesh of barren, harsh mountains intersected by long narrow valleys, innumerable gorges and torrent beds intermingled with patches of cultivable land. It is a combination of rugged mountains with barren slopes as in Mohmand and Khyber Agencies, and rugged and complex hills and ridges as in South Waziristan. The mountain-ranges are generally 1500 to 3500 metres high, the highest being the Sikaram peak which is 4755 metres above sea level on the Pak-Afghan border. These mountainous tracts are dissected by numerous dry and arid watercourses.

There are a number of border passes between Pakistan and Afghanistan but seven routes are well-known which run through its territory, i.e., Malakand, Khyber, Gandab route through Mohmand territory, Kohat route through Parachinar, Bangash or Paiwar route by Kurram, Gomal and Tochi routes through Waziristan. To its south lies the famous Bolan route to Quetta in Balochistan province. These are 'corridors of invasion and commerce between the Indus plains and Central Asia.' There are five rivers-Swat, Kabul, Kurram, Tochi and Gomal-running through this area. (See map of tribal area in Appendix I). The territory has an extreme climate: hot and sultry in the plains to extreme cold in the snow-clad mountains. (Haq, Rashid & Maqsudul, 2005).18

People of FATA. The old records make no distinction between Pashtun and Afghan. But a distinction, though not clear-cut did exist 'long before the British came to draw most of the tribes east of the Sulaiman watershed within the orbit of their dominion.' Whereas Afghans are generally under Persian influence being part of Safawi Empire of Persia and speak Darri (Afghani Persian) language; the Pashtuns or Pathans were less influenced by the Persian because of their interaction with the Mughal Empire of Delhi, which ruled over them from Peshawar, Kabul or Qandhar. The Pathans areproud to a degree, self-reliant only as their life can make them, hardy beyond measure and absolutely tireless. Their physical fitness would be incomprehensible if one did not consider the climate and country they live in, which allows no weaklings to survive.... Taken as a whole, the frontier tribes are unquestionably among the hardiest men on earth and so much the more redoubtable foes when war is afoot.

The origin of Pathans is not clearly known. Different hypotheses have been propounded. Some view them as the descendents of 'Afghana, the son of Jeremiah, the son of Saul, who was Solomon's Commander-in-Chief and builder of his temple.' Some think that they are one of the lost tribes of Jews. According to others they are of Aryan origin, and some think they are of 'Turko-Iranian type with a considerable mixture of other physical types found beyond the Indus.' To some they are closer to Arabs.

If the origin of a race is to be determined on the basis of customs and traditions then Pukhtoons would be closer to Arabs. The study of Arabian and Pakhtoon society presents a remarkable resemblance, particularly, in their tribal organization and social usages. To both, hospitality is one of the finest virtues; retribution a sacred duty; and bravery an essential pre-requisite for an honourable life. Love of independence, courage, endurance, hospitality and revenge were the supreme virtues of pre-Islamic Arabs. ... these attributes are considered as pillars of the Pukhtoonwali (Pukhtoon code of honour).

The code which guides them has several unwritten laws and traditions but its main 'maxims are those of mediation or protection (Nanawati), retaliation (Badal), and hospitality (Mailmastia).'

Amongst the different Pashtun tribes, there is a clear distinction between those who inhabit the plains and those who live in the mountains. The highlanders generally inhabit the area east of the plateau of Afghanistan and west of the plains of Pakistan. They conform to 'patriarchal society where concepts of modern law and liberty find no place.'

The Pakhtuns, or Pashtuns [or Pathans] never fell under the effective sway of any recorded imperial authority and now form the backbone of the so-called tribal belt.The various past empires which claimed to rule the Frontier extended their control only over the plains and one or two mountain passages. It was only during the rule of the Mughal Empire (1526-1707), that the rulers thought it worthwhile to make a serious attempt to bring the hill tribes under their domination as subjects-but even they failed. Passage through a main route from the mountains had to often be asserted by difficulty and force against the refractory tribes, which controlled the roads in usage. An understanding of this fact explains the exclusion of this tribal belt as a whole from subjection to any external power-a freedom symbolized by the failure to impose any form on taxation on them. This is also a major reason why a tribal form of society has persisted in a country which lay across the path of countless invaders, including some of the most well-known conquerors in all history like Alexander (356-310/309 BC), Chingiz Khan AD 1162-1227), and Tamerlane [Amir Taimur] (AD1336-1405). (Haq, Rashid & Maqsudul, 2005).18

Resurgence. It was only after the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States and the subsequent American campaign in Afghanistan that the government of Pakistan began to focus on TNSM (Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shareeat-e-Muhammadi) [movement for the enforcement of Islamic law]. (Saad, 2009).19

Following the devastating earth quake of October 2005 in the north western areas of Pakistan, the TNSM capitalized on this human catastrophe and re-energized itself. Volunteers from the party led the vanguard of the relief work in the devastated areas of the NWFP. Not surprisingly, in the absence of timely official help, the locals came to admire these volunteers for their selfless devotion in helping the quake victims. TNSM at this point in time effectively began to propagate the idea that the natural calamity was visited upon the locals because they were becoming irreligious. The recommended remedy in their view was simple-living by a strict Shari'ah code which was defined by them. Understanding the mindset of the local population, these groups utilized the heightened emotional state of the affectees to their benefit.

The Swat Valley The Swat valley is the upper valley of the Swat River, which rises in the Hindu Kush range. It is an administrative district of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan, and is located 160km/100 miles from the country's capital, Islamabad. Although the capital of Swat is Saidu Sharif, but the main town of the valley is Mingora. It was a princely state (see Swat princely state) until it was dissolved in 1969. With high mountains, green meadows, and clear lakes, it is a place of great natural beauty that used to be a popular spot for tourists and known as the 'Switzerland of Pakistan'. (Valley Swat, 2007).20

Ancient Gandhara, the valley of Pekhawar, with the adjacent hilly regions of Swat and Buner, Dir and Bajaur were one of the earliest centres of Buddhist religion and culture following the reign of the Mauryan Emperor Asoka in the third century BC. The name Gandhara first occurs in the Rigveda which is usually identified with the region. It is crucial to understand that the Swat Valley had its own benevolent ruler, who ensured easy access to justice, and took care of any human rights violations that occurred in his domain.

The Rise of Militancy and Talibanization .in Pakistan For the last few years, talibanization, militancy and terrorism has been rampant in the district of Swat. A powerful cleric and head of the prototype Taliban, Maulana Fazlullah held considerable influence over the conservative population of the region, and led a campaign based in Swat denouncing television-cum-cable network and satellite receiver, music, polio drops, women empowerment etc. European lifestyle and education for girls was denounced through statements in local and national mass media and speeches on illegal clandestine FM Radio station. By January 2003, there was a notable increase in violence as militant groups in the Swat valley began attacking police check-posts and killing civilians in Swat. In 59 villages, the militants set up a 'parallel government' with Islamic courts imposing Sharia law. In December 2008 most of the area was captured by the Taliban insurgency and it was considered dangerous for tourism. (IRIN, 2009).21

Approximately about 189 government, semi-government, and public-sector schools and colleges were devastated and a complete ban on girls' education was imposed in the area after 15 January 2009. The same negative tendencies were also exhibiting its influence in other district of the Malakand region in particular and the whole province in general. In order to extend terror and anarchy and to promulgate their own defined Islamic Sharia, these Talibans began to disseminate anonymous threatening letters to different segments of the society. They proved their intentions in practice when they blew up 189 girls' and boys' schools, video shops, attacked law enforcement personnel, camps, offices and vehicles. They also began to slaughter security personnel and innocent civilian in city squares, who did not abide their orders. The area completely came under the spell of terror and uncertainty. No one was allowed to enjoy their basic human rights. People had no rights to freedom of expression, consciousness, movement, choice and lifestyle.

The administrative section of girls' schools and colleges began to receive letters in the beginning of the talibanization phase to ensure that girls wore the shuttle-cock burqa (special type of veil), and then subsequently issued a decree to all educational institutions to stop the education of girls in their respective schools and colleges. Medical representatives and other officials who wore shirts and jeans as a uniform were not allowed to wear it in their routine activities. The socio-economic conditions of the region as a consequence were at the threshold of collapse.

The Pakistan Army was involved at several fronts in the NWFP, and the newly elected PPP government of Asif Ali Zardari opted for a peaceful solution to the talibanization problem, but as the consequent events proved, it was a futile effort. Militants increased their violence in the areas under their control and tried to violate the writ of the Government of Pakistan, and gained more areas under their control. After failed negotiations and agreements with the militants, the government in late May 2009 began a military offensive to regain control of the region.

The main strategies used by the insurgents are the use of the complex terrain in their favour, psychological warfare and political mobilization of the local population. Their aim is to protect themselves (militants/insurgents), as well as alter the balance of power in their favour. Whatever the roots of insurgency, the strategic objective is to shape the public's perception of the legitimacy of their objective, which usually comes under challenge. Violence is involved as a means of persuasion, which helps to discredit the writ of the state. Such sophisticated tactics of militants apparently seems to have developed through their years of experience as Mujahideens in the long-drawn Soviet-Afghan War. It is vital to appreciate that in that war, several small groups of indigenous population, as well as sophisticated and trained international military groups, with well-designed and practiced strategies were involved.

The experience of the Afghan War created a mindset which manifested itself in the form of:

A narrow religious concept of Jihad against all cultural and social aspects which did not agree with their interpretation of Islam.

A sense of betrayal,betrayal and feeling of being used resonated in the region, as the outcome of the war led to no better prospects. On the contrary, the country was devastated, divided, and had come under the crossfire of the tribal warlords, who gained power in the absence of a strong centralized government, leading to the Taliban Movement in the region. Pakistan bore the brunt of the outcome of the Afghan war, both in the form of refugees and the Talibinization of the NWFP and FATA regions of the country. This aftermath scenario was undoubtedly due to Pakistan's involvement and support in the Soviet-Afghan War, and also Pakistan's vast, uncontrollable, and porous areas that border with Afghanistan.

The insurgency strategies mentioned above, are all visible in the activities of insurgent groups operating in the NWFP region. Through violence, they managed to intimidate the local population; and brutally slaughtered all visible supporters of the government. They were also able to utilize the religious emotions and perceptions of the people for their own benefit, thereby, undermining the writ of the government; gaining further strength through this perception. (The Strategist, 2009).22

One question that is intriguing is how the militants in Swat are able to obtain their funding and weaponry, especially so, since Swat does not share a border with Afghanistan? Secondly, it is also important to ponder on their use of strategies, and political mobilization, all designed to protect the insurgence, eventually to alter the balance of power in their favour.

In studying the following map, if we observe the areas highlighted in grey and their corresponding position with respect to the valley of Swat, the question that will emerge would be, is it simply a coincidence that insurgency in recent times has suddenly accelerated in all the surrounding agencies. If one is able to answer this question, it will be easy to decipher the arterial source that is feeding the insurgency in Swat Valley.


Aftermath of Insurgency in Pakistan (by Unaiza Niaz and Seher Hasan)

Mammoth displacement of the local population: IDPs incidence in the global history. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee/leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular, in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized state border. In a nutshell, they are refugees in their own country.

Pakistan & Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

Short History of IDPs

Kashmir Conflict and IDPs. The conflict in Kashmir has been characterized by widespread human rights abuses on both sides, and has caused the displacement of a multitude of humanity. An unknown number of Kashmiris have fled from India into Pakistan or Pakistan-controlled Kashmir areas since 1947. During the Indo/Pak Kargil conflict in 1999, hundreds of Kashmiri families were forced to leave their homes along the Line of Control (LoC) to escape cross-border shelling. (IDPs, 2009).23

Balochistan. The conflict in Balochistan has resulted in causing a number people to become IDPs. Although several of them return back to their homes after the normalization of situation but the number of Baloch IDP's still remains high. A regional human rights organization stated that 200,000 people are still displaced (AHRC, December 2006),21 while the head of the Baloch Rights Council, an NGO, insisted that with 200,000 people displaced from Kohlu district alone, the IDP figures were much higher than reported (ICG, 22 October 2007, p. 6). Other estimates put the number of Baloch IDPs to be between fifty to sixty thousand. (Economist, 17 April 2008).

Displacement has occurred in Balochistan not only as a result of conflicts but also due to floods of June- July 2007, and the earthquake in October 2008. Approximately 2.5 million people were affected by the floods 300,000 displaced. According to IFRCpreliminary assessments indicate that the earthquake displaced an estimated 17,500 families in Ziarat and Pashin. (IDPs, 2009).23

Military Operation in FATA and Swat. Military operation against the Taliban in FATA and Swat has resulted in a massive internal displacement. The affected districts of these operations are Swat, Buner, Dir, along with Malakand, Mehmand and Bajur Agencies. The massive number of IDPs that fled to the adjoining districts became a social and infrastructural strain on them. A percentage of them also migrated to major urban centers like Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi for better economic prospects and family/clan support system that could accommodate them.

Statistics of IDP's From Other News Sources

NWFP Information. The number of registered and unregistered Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from insurgency-hit areas of the country reached the 700,000 mark. (Daily Times, 12 May 2009).24

Provincial Relief Commissioner. Around 13,000 families consisting of 86,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have been registered at the relief camps so far (Daily Times,9 May 2009).25 According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, 2009),26 up to 200,000 people had arrived in safe areas in the past few days. 'Another 300,000 are on the move or are about to flee.' The latest escalation of hostilities was seen in Lower Dir, Buner and Swat. People from these areas have joined the already 555,000 previously displaced Pakistanis who had fled from their homes in the tribal areas and NWFP. This new influx of IDP's placed a huge pressure on the resources already shared by around 93,000 people sheltering in 11 UNHCR-supported camps, and over 450,000 staying in rental accommodation or host families. (The Nation, 9 May 2000).27 About 80 per cent of the population of Buner District left their homes due to the military operation against the Taliban. (The News, 9 May 2009).28

NWFP Environment Ministry reported that the influx of people from Swat, Buner and Dir districts of Malakand Division to the plains of NWFP continued and the number of displaced persons stood at 1.2 million. (The News, 9 May 2009).

Pakistan Earthquake 2005. After the earthquake that hit the northern regions of Pakistan on 8 October 2005, large numbers of people from the highlands and from the destroyed lowland towns took refuge in IDP camps. The earthquake killed 75,000 people and rendered 3.5 million homeless. Although, aided by a government scheme for rebuilding homes and rehabilitating these people, many earthquake-affected families have returned to their area of origin. But they are still struggling. Most people of the highland regions returned back to their villages by 2006, but a few remained. And the ones that remained behind did so for some particular reason. Normally those who remained had particular reasons from remaining in camps (perhaps they had lost their land in a landslide, or did not own any land). (Earthquake 2005).29

Impacts and Challenges of IDPs

The recent IDP issue is new for Pakistan in its magnitude, though Pakistan has been hosting Afghan refugees for over 20 years. But ever since post 9/11 attack of USA over Afghanistan, small conflict areas have been simmering, and people of the FATA region have been moving from those areas. Unfortunately, they were not recognized as IDPs either nationally and internationally since they were in relatively small in number - from hundreds to few thousands. - They moved to urban centers like Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and settled down with family/clan/ tribe and other support people in line with Pakhtun culture. (IDPs, 2009).23

A similar phenomenon is being repeated when the number of registered IDPs had crossed the 300,000 figure, although the unofficial estimates were much higher since the entire population had fled from the affected areas. Onsite visits by a range of journalists, NGOs, philanthropic and other social groups confirm that a large number - safely estimated to be 50 per cent - were residing with relatives, as per their customs and traditions. Majority of them were low-income families. This in itself widened the magnitude, consequences and level of the crisis beyond the IDPs. It not only required camp management and organization, and support to the displaced and the host families, but it also created immense pressure on the social and infrastructural system of the host areas. This would require in-depth assessments and long-term support mechanism and social re-engineering. The caution is to keep the experiences of the earth quake in view from all perspective. The Pakistan's Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) should be engaged to share best practices and lessons.

Rehabilitation is still a far-cry for the earthquake IDP'S. The need is for a long-term plan (at least 5 years) on a war-footing, for the IDP's physical, institutional, personal and ideological transition, and to support, rebuild, rehabilitate and mainstream them in society so that similar extremist ideologies are not able to hold the population hostage for ransom (IDPs, 2009).23

People of the conflict areas have been subjected to extreme ideologies that at times were anti-national as well. A large number endorsed such radical ideologies in order to buy peace for themselves but it could not work out, thus leaving a psycho-social vacuum. It would need 'social re-engineering' to win the battle of the mind, and change ideas and ideologies. To achieve this will need consistent and long-term support.

The general public of the conflict zones of NWFP and FATA regions is facing tremendous 'sense of insecurity'. Current insurgency and security concerns forced the people to migrate to safe areas. Undoubtedly forced migration has certain social, psychological, economic and political impacts on the Internally Displaced Persons as well as influence the geopolitical and socio-economic conditions of the country. Some of them include the following;

Psychosocial Impact The IDP families are subjected to travel and live on safer grounds in contravention to their customs, practices and culture especially for women and children which in itself is traumatizing. More so the head of families have left the ancestral homes and land holding with no guarantees to be able to either return to their livelihood. Security threat looms large while traveling to and being in the camps that furthers the strain. Children watched horrifying traumatic incidents such as kidnapping, injury or violent and brutal death of family members. These children consequently end up feeling a sense of fear or the rest of the lives. The mental health of IDP's elders is seriously affected due to homelessness and lack of means to support their families. Their destitute state may lead to major psychiatric disorders or criminal behavior. (IDPs, 2009).23

Social Impact. Pride and honour are integral parts of the social culture of the NWFP, hence, the majority of people are estimated to be residing outside the refugee camps. As per the Nazim's estimate, only one-tenth of the people have been registered in these camps.

It's not the affluent families but majority of low income families that are accommodating their relatives which will further strain these families.

Most of the social institutions became paralyzed or destroyed in the conflict zone and the country has had to bear heavy socio-economic losses. For instance, prior to conflict, Swat was considered as one of the best tourist spots of the country, and which has now become a battlefield. Provision of basic social services and amenities, personal space, health and related facilities became a critical challenge for the state to assist large numbers of IDPs. (IDPs, 2009).23

Economic Impact. The economic situation has been affected in many ways. Firstly, the economic activity zones of conflict areas are destroyed that not only have a crippling effect on the individual but has a negative impact on the supply-chain line of the products as well. The related sub-sectoral economic activity and the bread-earnings of daily-wage earners were also adversely affected. Thirdly, as the IDP entered the host communities, and their respective economic activity zones, these IDPs were often seen as willing to work for lower wages than the people belonging to the host communities, hence, causing a dis-balance in the latters earning power. Moreover, supplies provided by the state and philanthropic agencies were seen to be often pilfered, instead of reaching the IDPs.

Political Impact. The IDPs are not merely people but also possess voting rights in the country. Hence, in a democratically elected government the role of elected government and political parties is personified. In the given situation in FATA and Swat there is heightened need for the political parties to keep themselves rooted and connected with the people in order to keep extremist elements away from them. The sense of the IDPs to be able to reach their representatives at all levels will help in reducing their tensions and keep the frustration levels down. (IDPs, 2009).23

Mental Health Issues of IDPs of Pakistan

The above background is necessary to understand the long sufferings, trials and tribulations of the people of Swat and FATA Region (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). The salient feature of the stressful lives of these people was that there was total confusion among the people regarding the support or credibility of the Taliban by the government of Pakistan. The Talibans were being supported by the religious parties but the not by the majority who primarily lived in urban areas of the country. They were completely against their rigid and orthodox interpretation of Islam. The most intriguing aspect of the Mental Health Issues of IDP'S in the camps is that they are very reluctant to talk. They were still afraid what might be their plight if the Taliban returned. The people of Swat in particular, because they suffered twice: once when the so called Nizam-e-Shariat was imposed by the Taliban; and the second time when the Pakistan Army moved in to flush out the militants. The primary care physicians reported an increase in psychosomatic complaints and insomnia.

Some raw data was given by a psychiatrist Yahya Aamir, who worked in the Metroville Hospital in the outskirts of Karachi city, about IDPs from Swat who were living with relatives in Karachi. The number of patients seen in the last 3 months was 200 who belonged to the IDP category. The male-female ratio was 1-3. The most predominant presentation of psychiatric trouble was of depression and anxiety disorders, which was seen in 75 per cent of the patients. Only 12 patients were diagnosed with PTSD. The rest of the patients who had a past history of psychiatric illness suffered from acute psychotic episodes. Interestingly, no child or adolescent reported to the clinic.

Prospects in Current Scenario

Presently, anti-US sentiment is sweeping across Pakistan as well in the Islamic world in general; this is unlikely to mellow down in near future. There is a wide disconnect between the governments and grass-root perceptions of the people. Occupation of Iraq and continued killings, arms gap with India, Indo-Israel nexus, Pakistan's nuclear proliferation scandal, isolation of the country and rise of India as a hegemonic power - all fuel negative feelings that put pressures on the government. Besides, there is brewing resentment in Balochistan, and the NWFP, especially FATA, which has been the scene of the recent military action.

However, much still needs to be done on the home-front to curb religious zealotry and sectarianism, policies towards minorities, revision of school curricula, reconstructing 'official' history, promotion of universal education, and overhauling of the madrassah system.

Bringing normalcy to FATA is going to be a long and patient haul. There are no 'quick-fix' solutions. Like the rest of the country, the tribal areas have suffered too from the state's acts of omission and commission in the last over half a century, albeit more seriously. Consigned to backwaters, victims of apathy and exploited for Jihad, the anomalies are now staring the nation.

Admittedly, the malaise cannot be cured in a few years. But if the beginning is well-intentioned, policies sustainable, and carried to their logical conclusion, these regions could be lifted from the quagmire of crime, poverty and religious fanaticism. Most importantly, the funds allotted for their welfare should be spent in a fair and transparent manner so as to effect their fast and smooth national integration. High political rhetoric should be replaced by tangible changes in the day-to-day lives of the tribal people.

If the government policies are pursued with commitment and vision it would mean fortifying Pakistan's western borderlands. Moreover, it will amount to invigorating the state structure while the latter extends its writ into the heretofore neglected FATA region.


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  2. Metz, S. and Millen, R. (2004). Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in the Twenty-First Century: Re-conceptualising Threat and Response, Carlyle: US Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, p. 4.
  3. Schelling, T. C. (1967). Arms and Influence. Yale University Press.
  4. Galula, D., (1964). Counter-Insurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice. London: Pall Mall Press, 1964, p. 8.
  5. Ibid, pp. 75-6.
  6. Manwaring, M.G., (2004). Shadows of Things Past and Images of the Future: Lessons for the Insurgencies in Our Midst, Carlyle: US Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, p. 2.
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  8. Ibid, pp. 75-6.
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  10. O 'Neill B., (2005). Insurgency and Terrorism: From Revolution to Apocalypse. Washington: Potomac Books. pp. 104-6.
  11. Galula, D., (1964). Counter-Insurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice. London: Pall Mall Press, p. 9.
  12. Taber, R., (1965). The War of the Flea: A Study of Guerrilla Warfare Theory and Practice.
  13. Ibid, p. 89.
  14. Manwaring, M.G., (2004). Shadows of Things Past and Images of the Future: Lessons for the Insurgencies in Our Midst, Carlyle: US Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, p. 2.
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  28. The News - May 9, 2009
  29. Earthquake (2005). Retrieved on 11 July, 2009 from http://www.ndma.gov.pk/NWFP%20IDPs.html

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