Narrative of Despondent Pashtuns: Terrorism, Ethnicity and the Pakistani Military
N Khan

This primary research uses in-depth interviews to investigate the experiences and perceptions of the ethnic Pashtuns of Pakistan’s former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) regarding terrorism, ethnicity and the Pakistani military, especially after the emergence of the Pashtun Tahafuz (Protection) Movement (PTM). Since there is a dearth of literature on the perspectives of the terrorism-affected Pashtuns, this original research focusses on their direct experiences. It is important to understand how members of the ethnicity inhabiting the geo-strategically significant tribal areas perceive continuing political violence. As six out of these seven districts border Afghanistan, the terrorism therein has regional and international security implications. The research finds that contrary to stereotypes about the Pashtuns that portray them as ‘solely responsible’ for regional terrorism, they are largely its victims rather than perpetrators. Additionally, there exists a militant-military alliance consisting chiefly of members of Pakistan’s majority Punjabis—that has benefitted from the colonial-era laws in the former FATA. These findings regarding Pakistan’s ethnic problem manifesting itself as regional and transnational terrorism confirm the PTM’s fundamental narrative.

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