The Taliban gained support in Swat valley in part by building on a variety of local grievances, including weaknesses in local law enforcement. — File Photo

WASHINGTON: The Taliban gained support in Swat valley in part by building on a variety of local grievances, including weaknesses in local law enforcement and justice institutions, according to a World Bank report released on Saturday. The World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security and Development also points out that some 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by repeated cycles of political and criminal violence, and no low-income fragile or conflict-affected country has yet to achieve a single Millennium Development Goal.

Discussing the situation in the federally administered tribal areas (Fata), the report stresses the need for removing or amending laws perceived as unjust and discriminatory, such as the Frontier Crimes Regulation, which applies a legal regime to the tribal areas differing from the rest of Pakistan.

In places like Swat, formal systems for the provision of justice are weak or broken down, the report noted. “At the local level, this breakdown opens gaps not only in the core criminal justice system, but also in the regulation of land and family disputes,” the report warned.

“Such gaps have led to popular frustration and have opened opportunities to violent opposition movements such as the Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, which have in some areas of the country established a shadow presence offering an alternative local dispute resolution system.”

Following Islamabad’s 2009 military offensive to drive militants from Fata and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the government — with assistance from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UN, and European Union — undertook an assessment to address needs and understand the factors underlying violence.

In addition to traditional analyses of economic and social data, the assessment involved a crisis analysis and consultations with more than 1,000 representatives of communities from Fata and KP; focus group discussions were also held by local NGOs and women’s groups.

The survey identified primary issues as jobs and justice system reform, including the country’s overall legal framework (different in Fata from the rest of Pakistan) and the resolution of land and family disputes.

The exercise highlighted the danger of raising expectations: initial plans did not take capacity into account, resulting in unrealistic timelines. The World Bank study noted that since the assessment, Pakistan had faced an even more immediate challenge in the shape of last year’s devastating floods.

The survey determined that traditional and community structures for dispute resolution were also potential partners in delivering early results and warned that it may be unwise to ignore them.

The World Bank noted that rising numbers of internally displaced populations, which include substantial new displacements in 2009 and 2010 in countries such as Pakistan, undermine recovery from violence and interrupt human development.

In Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the tribal areas on their borders, violence from the conflict between the government and international forces and the Taliban and other armed groups was linked to drug trafficking and criminal violence, as well as kidnapping, extortion, and smuggling of a range of natural resources.

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