Breaking: Tribal Conflict Exists in Pakistan

by Joshua Foust on 5/22/2008

I don’t know if Foreignpolicy.com‘s Joshua Keating is being sarcastic by treating a deal between the civilian government in Islamabad and the tribal elders of the FATA as a groundbreaking thing, but his post certainly doesn’t seem that way. Today he linked to a photo essay exclaiming the wonders of tribal militants “operating quite openly in much of Afghanistan border region [sic], and enforcing their own brand of frontier justice.”

Why yes, Mr. Keating, just have they have continuously for the last several hundred years. In that photo essay, we learn FP can’t tell the difference between the Taliban and “[al Qaeda] terrorists, Afghan insurgents, and other extremists” (hint: they are quite different, and collaborate only for convenience’s sake), they find it remarkable that they have their own justice system, and completely miss the story behind militants holding a funeral for a man “killed in a gun battle with a criminal gang accused of kidnapping local officials and children for ransom.”

Which is, obviously, that the dynamics in the tribal belt of Pakistan is far more complex than “central government good, Taliban bad.” Especially if “the Taliban” (or one of the militants) is fighting off criminal gangs who are attacking government figures and their families.

But stereotypes and repeating the conventional wisdom is much easier, I suppose.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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