UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACTS OF MILITANCY AND MILITARY OPERATIONS ON THE SOCIO-POLITICAL MILIEU OF ERSTWHILE FATA
The former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan maintained a unique cultural and traditional identity, playing a crucial role in nurturing peace and stability within the region. However, the region’s tranquility was disrupted by two significant events in neighboring Afghanistan. First, the Soviet military invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 led to the rise of religious fundamentalism. Second, the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 saw the disintegration of social and political structures relevant to the tribal society which was exacerbated by the region’s geographical proximity and ethnic similarity to neighboring Afghanistan. The emergence of militant groups in FATA following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan received a substantial response from the Pakistan Army and led to military operations in both the Frontier Regions (FRs) and FATA. These militant groups were able to spread their networks across the region, recruiting significant numbers of local people to their ranks and causing widespread devastation to military installations, mosques, and schools, amongst other key locations. This paper examines the impacts of these political and military events on the sociocultural dynamics of FATA, and the resulting effect on its traditional tribal structure. The paper utilizes a multi-disciplinary approach, incorporating analysis of official government and media reports, experts’ interviews, and independent research on the ground. This research comprehensively explores the impact of religious extremism, ethnic conflicts, and military operations on the socio-political dynamics of the traditional tribal society of FATA. Ultimately, this research provides a deeper understanding of the drivers behind the insurgency and conflict that have characterized this region and support efforts toward peace-building and conflict resolution.