In 2004, Pakistan Army moved into FATA for counterinsurgency operations. Since then, there has been fierce debate on how to end the insurgency in the tribal areas, particularly north and south Waziristan, and restore the writ of the state. But successful action requires a correct diagnosis of the problem – its level, intensity and location – and a correct assessment of our own capabilities. I contend that the situation in Waziristan and the rest of FATA is not an insurgency at all, and this mistake in identifying the problem has resulted in counterproductive policies and actions.
An insurgency involves a group of people taking up arms against a government or the state, with the purpose of secession or control of territory. It is an advanced stage of rebellion, but less severe than a civil war. A rebellion is the initial taking up of arms by a group of individuals without popular support or strength to control any territory and without any legitimacy. An insurgency has support among people and some limited control of territory. Both these stages are within the domestic jurisdiction of a state. When the group challenging the established authority has almost the same power as it, and exercises governmental authority, that is a civil war. Such a situation may justify international intervention, and thus the conflict becomes an international armed conflict.
There is another type of violent situation, when a territory of one party to a conflict falls in the hands of another, and is in its effective control. Such territory is referred to as enemy-occupied territory. In the enemy-occupied territory, the armed conflict may be between the local population taking up arms against foreign occupiers, and the occupation forces suppressing them. The taking up of arms by the locals is referred to as resistance movement. In such situations, the regular forces of the party to which this territory belonged legitimately can and normally will support the local resistance as well as take action against the occupation forces to re-claim its territory. On the other hand, the occupation forces will do all they can to end the resistance and protect their occupation.
FATA is Pakistani territory with a special status, administered through the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) promulgated in 1901, with minor amendments in 2012. The law is aimed at securing government property in the tribal areas, and the denial of its use as safe haven by fugitives from the settled areas. The FCR law provides for a system of collective responsibility, which simply means the whole tribe is held responsible if a violation takes place on its territory. The tribe is expected to hand over or take action against any wanted people taking refuge on their territory. If it doesn’t, the whole tribe is punished through confiscation and/or destruction of its property and the arrest of its elders, without any judicial overview.
The system worked well for a long time, but gradual socio-economic changes eroded the basis of Pashtun tribal traditions on which it was based. By 2001, it had become an ungoverned territory and an administrative vacuum, and only the appearance of the system remained. After 2001, when the Taliban government in Kabul was overthrown, the Afghan Taliban and terrorist groups from around the world for whom Afghanistan had become a safe haven, found FATA a convenient place for refuge and a base camp for actions inside Afghanistan. These groups found limited support because of ethnic, religious and economic considerations.
The international forces in Afghanistan soon realized this abuse of FATA as a major hurdle in their success in Afghanistan. Responding to international calls led by the US, Pakistan decided to send in its army into the tribal areas in 2004. There were clashes between Pakistan Army and the outsiders and their local collaborators, eventually leading to the emergence of Tehrik–e–Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
[quote]The TTP’s objective is to protect the use of FATA as a safe haven for global terrorists[/quote]
The main objective of the TTP was and is to protect the use of FATA as a safe haven for global terrorists, more specifically for those acting inside Afghanistan. For that purpose, the TTP has gradually filled the vacuum created by the collapse of the erstwhile administrative system, replacing the state and the tribal elders.
The Pakistani state, its military, its security experts and the public began referring to the clashes as an insurgency, and a debate on the best counterinsurgency measures ensued.
The matter was further confused by Pakistan’s security policy that focuses on India and finds religious extremists good tools of leverage. The state began to separate the Taliban fighting in Afghanistan and the groups supporting them, from those active inside Pakistan – hence the division of ‘good Taliban and bad Taliban’.
To be continued…
The author is associated with the Department of International Relations, University of Peshawar
You mean to say that TTP has replaced the tribal elders in FATA and they wanted to protect FATA to launch attack in Afghanistan. well I am sorry to say that your analysis are absolutely wrong and they are going no where. TTP are paid hujratian trained and funded by across the boarder by the foreign Allies and they launch attack against Pakistan and against Pashtuns. if you say that they have replaced the elders in FATA then let me tell you that they have done with the help of UNMAMNNED ariels ( Drones) ie americans helping them in setting base and authority ( Don’t you remember a Drone attack killing almost all the tribal elders and maliks, kindly search and then write). IF they wanted to protect FATA for launching attacks in Afghanistan then tell me why are haven’t they done so far and why they have been attacking Pakistan. Secondly so far all the attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan are carried out by Pakistan Army, ISI and other support groups with the help of some Countries.