Pakistan’s western provinces, Balochistan, the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), are in the midst of a violent upheaval caused immediately by the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in the Winter of 2001. The U.S. invasion, which was joined later by a number of NATO countries, and some assistance from a few non-NATO nations, was designed to capture, or eliminate, the alleged masterminds behind the 9/11 attack in the United States, and also to remove the Afghan Taliban regime that had provided shelter to the al-Qaeda militants.
The invasion failed in the sense that the al-Qaeda militants moved eastward across the undefined Durand Line that separates Afghanistan from Pakistan, and the Afghan Taliban dispersed from Kabul and other cities, to rural areas where they have fully re-built themselves, posing a serious threat to the foreign troops inside Afghanistan.
The al-Qaeda militants, now inside Pakistan, began to carry out operations along the border areas inside Afghanistan to harass the foreign troops. They were soon joined by the tribal groups from FATA. Islamabad, under President Pervez Musharraf, which had joined the Bush Administration’s War on Terror, could not prevent its citizens along the border areas from opposing the War on Terror. As a result, a very difficult situation developed when Islamabad, under pressure from the Bush Administration’s hardliners, represented by Vice President Cheney, was forced to deploy troops and paramilitary forces to counter the FATA militants helpingthe Afghan Taliban.
Within a very short time, the situation worsened. Aided by Saudi funding, to spread Wahhabi-led jihadinside the tribal areas, and huge sums of cash generated
by the opium explosion inside Afghanistan, militants almost paralyzed the Pakistani troops inside the FATA, and Islamabad was unable to maintain law and order in the area. As it stands today, Islamabad’s writ is virtually lost in the FATA, and weakened vastly in Balochistan and the NWFP.
The Swat Valley, located at the northeastern part of the NWFP (Figure 1), has already become autonomous, and has imposed Wahhabi-style Islamic Sharia law, in violation of Pakistan’s constitution. For all practical purposes, Islamabad has handed the Swat Valley over to the Saudi-funded Wahhabis. Since all these developments have occurred within the short span of eight years, one wonders what caused such rapid deterioration.
Where are its roots? read on