Welcome to the Pakistan Taliban:
Today the Pakistan Taliban is the “de facto political leadership” in North and South Waziristan, Yusufzai believes. The Waziristans are the most populous of seven tribal agencies that are home to three million mainly Pashtun tribesmen. The agencies share a ragged mountain border with the domain of fellow Pashtun tribes in Afghanistan. They are collectively known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas or FATA.
This 370 mile-long frontier — and the Talibanized rule emerging there — represents Pakistan’s gravest internal threat, says Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the army chief who led a coup against the country’s civilian government in 1998 and named himself president two years later. In the eyes of Afghanistan watchers like Ahmed Rashid and Barnett Rubin, the Pakistan Taliban, allied with al-Qaeda and Islamists from Central Asia and Chechnya, have carved out an indispensable sanctuary for insurgents fighting in Afghanistan. For Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, FATA is the “secure hideout” from which al-Qaeda “radiates to its affiliates in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.”
The Pakistan Taliban is a new movement, though its roots are old. These roots can be found in the isolation of the tribal areas, in the tribal code of pashtunwali that governs their residents and, fundamentally, in the rupture of tradition caused by the import of a new Islamist ideology in the 1980s. In the taxonomy of the late Pakistani analyst Eqbal Ahmad, the Pakistan Taliban are a “restorationist” movement. The religious vision of their leaders hearkens back to an imagined, if debased, Islamic past. But the material aspiration of many of their followers is for a different, better future. They are united by war. The ties that bind leaders and led together can only be loosened by changing the conditions of the present in which they live.