Swat Conflict in Retrospect: Violence and Jarga among the Swat Pukhtuns in Pakistan
Keywords:Violence, Conflict, Militancy, Terrorism, Jarga, Jirga, Pukhtunwali, Culture, Ethnic Identities, Conflict Resolution, Swat, Pakhtunwali
Violent conflicts have perpetual and perennial impacts on societies. Culture and ethnic identities of the people are no exception. This study reflects the impacts of conflict and violence on culture, specifically a single cultural code known as Jarga. Methodologically, the study is based on an ethnographic fieldwork, comprised of 45 open-ended and in-depth interviews, five Focus Group Discussions and personal observation in Swat. Through the conflict in Swat and Pukhtun cultural code of Jarga, it contends that the conflict and violence in Swat has multiple and significant impacts for Jarga. Jarga on higher level, like the Swat Qaumi Jarga (Swat National Jarga) has been more active since the conflict started in 2007, while Jarga on lower (village) level has lost its practice in many areas of Swat. Militants and Pakistani state have been often involved in forming, using, and manipulating Jargas in Swat amidst the conflict. Moreover, the conflict has repercussions for Tanzeems (local organizations) and committees, which were sharing work and place with Jarga in Swat. The state institutions have introduced Village Defence Committees which have bypassed all the existing committees and organizations mainly due to their enhanced powers. These processes have added to ‘defaming’ the cultural ideals, which is socially an unacceptable and detrimental development for Pukhtun society. It has been concluded that conflict and violence impact the markers and codes of cultural and ethnic distinctiveness.
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