Pakistan, for the past few years, has faced a greater involvement of non-state actors in its state affairs. The concern is of whether non-state actors can undertake an armed conflict that would trigger a states right to self-defence. In comparison to an inter-state armed conflict, engaging the non-state actors is an upheaval task. The result is at times catastrophic as the civilian population is on the receiving end. An armed conflict within a state is normally triggered when states employ force (military, special forces, law enforcement agencies etc) against militants/armed groups (non-state actors) which in return set certain demands for the government to follow. The Swat and Malakand insurgency that is dealt with here has gripped the attention of Pakistan for a few years. Lawlessness in these areas started off in 1970 when the Government of Pakistan (GOP) replaced the Shariah law by the Pakistani state laws. The people of these areas were not ready for this change and resentment started to emerge. The result of this change gave birth to the Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Muhammadi (TNSM). The TNSM produced radical clerics such as Sufi Muham-mad who had a very anti-state perspective. The slogan of the enforcement of Shariah law attracted the Afghan fighters (settled in Peshawar and Bajaur agency), who in return got involved in the anti-state activities that destabilised the region. Eventually, the 9/11 incident changed the scenario of the world. The GOP focused its attention towards the TNSM, as it was imperative for Pakistan to remain in compliance with its international obligations. Sufi Muhammad in return exploited Pakistans role as an ally to the war on terror. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) another extremist movement, started vigorously camouflaging their motives by the blanket policy of religious preaching, thus inculcating their extreme motives into the minds of a number of volunteers. The International Humanitarian Law (IHL), (which is specifically intended to ameliorate humanitarian problems directly arising from international or non-international armed conflicts), explains that certain human rights are never dero-gable. Among them are 'right to life, 'prohibition of torture and 'slavery, 'inhuman or 'degrading treatment. IHL constitutes the Four Geneva Conventions (GC) of 1949 and their Additional Protocol (AP) I and II of 1977. IHL highlights the importance of fundamental rights without any distinction as of race, sex, language or religion. Article 3 common to all the GCs lays down the legal standard that each party is required to follow in an armed conflict taking place in a state. It states that wounded, sick and those who have surrendered should be treated humanely. The International Criminal Co-urt (ICC) considers the breach of Article 3 as a war crime for which it can prosecute state authorities, as well as civilians. Though Pakistan is not the member of the ICC (as it has not ratified the Rome Statute of 1998), still the later can extend its mandate and play a pivotal role. Article 51(1) of API 1977, states that civilian population shall enjoy protection against dangers arising from military operations. Article 51(4) prohibits indiscriminate attacks at a specific military objective that may result in collateral casualties. Article 5 of the fourth GC, states that if a protected person is engaged in hostile activities he shall nevertheless be treated with humanity and should not be denied of a fair trial. Article 32 concerns the prohibition of corporal punishment, torture, physical suffering and extermination. In apropos to above provisions, let us consider the behaviour pattern adopted by both parties to the conflict in case of Swat insurgency. The military forces are rightly following the roadmap set forth by IHL, and are avoiding indiscriminate killings, especially th-ose who are captured are pro-vided with every form of humanitarian assistance. Islam, the Pakistans state religion, also emphasises on the fundamental principles of human rights. It is an established norm of The Holy Quran that killing a single human is equivalent to taking the life of the whole humanity. In addition, the agenda put forward by the non-state actors is the enforcement of Islamic principles. No religion in the world teaches ferociously slaughtering innocent civilians and prisoners in the name of religion and with respect to Islam; its a crime against humanity. By doing so the militants are clearly violating the above-mentioned laws. IHL promulgates that even if an unlawful combatant (a person who does not qualify for the protections under the GCs) is captured by the enemy power, he should be treated under the conditions laid down in the third GC. It states that until and unless his status has been determined by a competent tribunal he should be treated humanely. A combatant who is a prisoner of war and is subsequently paroled on the condition that he will not take up arms against the belligerent power that had held him a prisoner is considered as a parole violator. He is still protected by the third GC until a competent tribunal finds him to be in violation of his parole. As evident from the above discussion, international law provides fundamental human rights to a spy, prisoner, unlawful combatant and even a parole violator. According to the IHL, both parties to the armed conflict should abide by its rules. Unfortunately, the Taliban have been completely ignoring and sidelining these norms. This leads to an integral question that do Taliban qualify for the protections provided under the laws of armed conflict as enjoyed by state parties to the GCs, or the international academia should take up this matter very seriously and draft new laws that can address these matters in a better way. The writer is associated with the Research Society of International law (RSIL), Pakistan. Email: info@rsilpak.org