Conflict in the Swat Valley of Pakistan: Pakhtun Culture and Peacebuilding Theory-Practice Application

The resurgence of the Taliban movement and its affiliate organisations in the Swat Valley of Pakistan
since 2004, combined with military operations in 2009 and the displacement of residents created a
humanitarian crisis in the area. The devastating floods of July 2010 again created opportunities for
militant organisations to regain their lost position by filling the vacuum in relief efforts left by the
government and international organisations. This paper suggests a framework for peacebuilding
and conflict prevention in the region. The framework draws on the work of two scholar-practitioners
– John-Paul Lederach and Mohammed Abu-Nimer – and practices from traditional Pakhtun, or
Pashtun, culture to suggest ways in which the root cause of the conflict might be addressed to bring
about peace and sustainable development. Finally, the paper suggests a number of peacebuilding
strategies that need to be considered by governmental and non-governmental organisations for
peacebuilding in this conflict zone.