Empiricising “Islamic” Militancy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan: A Historical Perspective
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a North Western province of Pakistan was the center for initiation of Jihad Movement by Syed Ahmad Brailvi after his migration from India in 1826. His movement is known as the Mujahidin or Jihad Movement in the history of freedom struggle in India. Since then, various actors utilized the region for achieving their objectives by instrumentalizing religion. In post-Partition period the state of Pakistan used Mujahidin in the liberation struggle of Kashmir. The Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 changed the socio-political and geo-strategic situation of the region. The Afghan war along with General Zia’s Islamization policy in Pakistan revamped the Mujahidin’s activities in the region. Pakhtun tribal and settled areas were used as training centers or launching pad for Afghan Jihadist organizations. After Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan the anarchist fighting in Afghanistan led to emergence of a new militant force called Taliban, who got control of Kabul in 1996 and established her government in Afghanistan. Taliban government was friendly towards Pakistan and conclusion of the Afghan war in this way diverted different Jihadi mind-sets to Kashmir to open another front for those who wanted to continue Jihad. The post 9/11 American invasion of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s role as the front-line ally with NATO forces changed old friends into enemies. Pakistan’s support of the US-led invaders against the Taliban government gave birth to the militant activities in Pakhtun areas of Pakistan. Use of stringent policy against the militant groups in the region by Pakistan’s security forces coupled with military action against some religious institutions gave birth to the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which remain active against the Pakistani Institutions by terming them un-Islamic. These militant activities and the state action against them badly affected social and economic life of the people in the region. The Present Paper is an attempt to asses those factors and causes which led to the rise of militancy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and ex-FATA.