Pakistan (KPK and Northwest)


Conflict Summary

In 2001, Pakistan’s tribal regions began providing a haven for Islamic militants fleeing the war in Afghanistan. However, this remote mountainous terrain – along an oft-ignored nineteenth-century border with Afghanistan called the Durand Line – has long been difficult to control. With the region inhabited by Pashtun tribes, British colonial rulers gave seven agencies (Khyber, Kurram, Orakzai, Mohmand, Bajaur, North Waziristan and South Waziristan) autonomy to run their affairs in accordance with their tribal traditions and Islamic faith. When Pakistan became independent in 1947, its constitution exempted the region from many of the laws passed in Islamabad. A local Pakistani Taliban, the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) started to form in 2002 after the military entered the tribal areas in pursuit of the Islamist militants arriving from Afghanistan, with whom many local Pashtuns sympathised. A major government offensive into South Waziristan in 2004 resulted in heavy losses on both sides and several peace accords that did not hold. As a sustained terrorist campaign spread into North West Frontier Province (renamed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2010), the military expanded its operations accordingly. In 2009, another ceasefire with militants collapsed in the district of Swat and foreign governments began expressing concern about how close Islamist groups now were to Islamabad. Then-president Asif Ali Zardari launched full-scale army operations against militants in the region from April 2009 onwards. Since then, Pakistani security forces have steadily pushed the TTP and other militant groups out of their strongholds. An attack on Jinnah International Airport in June 2014 provided the impetus for Operation Zarb-e-Azb, a large-scale offensive to dislodge militants in North Waziristan, which has continued into 2015.