Governance and Militancy in Pakistan's Khyber Agency

In mid-October 2011, thousands of families were fleeing Khyber, one of the seven tribal agencies in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), to refugee camps or relatives living outside of FATA. Their flight was in response to the announcement by the Pakistani military that it was undertaking a fresh round of operations against militant groups operating in the area. Militants have been active in Khyber (and FATA more generally) for several years. Some have used the area as a safe haven, resting between their own military operations in Afghanistan or other parts of Pakistan. Others have competed locally for influence by providing justice or security services, by decrying the ruling elite’s failure to provide these and other services to the local population, or by using force against those people the militants consider threatening or un-Islamic. The Pakistani military’s actions against militants in Khyber have already driven most of these nonstate groups out of the more populated areas and into Khyber’s remote Tirah Valley. But beyond that, the government of Pakistan has failed to implement most of the legal and political changes required to reform Khyber’s dysfunctional governance system to meet the needs of its residents.

Mehlaqa Samdani