USE OF FORCE AND FEAR IN THE RISE OF THE TALIBAN IN SWAT: A CASE STUDY
Keywords:Swat, Taliban, Militancy, Pakistan Army, Civilians, OperationRah-e-Rast
The Taliban in Pakistan first flourished in the tribal areas after the invasion of Afghanistan by NATO forces in 2001 and graduallyexpanded their influence to the settled areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. It was not clear when they reached Swat, where they became so powerful by 2007 that they ran a parallel administration. The militants rose to power by using violence and tried to maintain it through fear and intimidation by inflicting severe punishment on opponents. This research shows how constant use of force to intimidate the civilians and the officials ultimately alienated the people and led to the downfall of the Taliban in Swat. The subsidiary aspect of state failure to ensure a timely check on the rise of militancy has also been highlighted. The study is based on primary and secondary sources. David Kilcullen’s counter-insurgency framework, based on enemy-centric and population-centric approaches, has been partially used to analyze Taliban efforts to maintain a stranglehold over the civilians. The conclusion shows that the Taliban were initially successful with their declaration of introducing Sharia law and justice in the society. This was the reason people supported them with money and even tolerated their violent tactics. However, the Taliban failed to keep theirword and instead of focusing on the improvement of socioeconomic conditions in the areas under their control, they used brute force to silence their opponents. Consequently, they slowly lost public support. Finally, they lost power in 2009 when defeated by the army and expelled from Swat.
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