The Akhond of Swat

Manan Ahmed

WHO OR WHY, or which, or what, is Maulana Fazlullah of Swat? Recent headlines from Pakistan have been grim—pitched battles with many reports of casualties and mass migration of civilians from the conflict region. Yet, the foreign media hasn’t really focused on Maulana Fazlullah—perhaps thinking that the story of “Talibanisation” covers this particular mullah just as well as it does any other. At a cursory glance, it all does blend in. The overall deterioration in the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in recent years—specifically in Waziristan, the Malakand Agency regions, Dir, Bajaur, Swat and areas around Peshawar—is often called “Talibanisation” and is often pegged to the aftermath of the Afghanistan war of 2001. There is, though, a longer history that offers some additional venues of thought. At the very least, it tells us to pay attention to the local even as we highlight the trans-national aspects of movements like the Taliban. More on Manan Ahmed’s blog »

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