The tribal areas of Pakistan are most frequently described as lawless. The latest news to come out of Khyber Agency, one of the seven agencies in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), reaffirms that impression. Reportedly, no less than 100 families belonging to Afghan tribes have been forced to flee from their homes in Bara following death threats from an outlawed terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI). The roots of the issue can be traced to Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, where LeI faces an armed opposition from members of the same tribes, which remain settled in Afghanistan. The conflict poured into Pakistan when the Mangal Bagh-led LeI asked tribes living in Bara to provide fighters and other assistance to the group or face consequences. As the set deadline approached closer, the vulnerable tribes abandoned their homes and possessions to find shelter in Peshawar and other adjoining areas. This unfortunate development points towards two major problems.

It is evident from the incident that the concerned areas remain safe havens for terrorist outfits. Their influence can be ascertained from the fact that they are able to displace a hundred families at will. As long as their strongholds exist in FATA, they are free to launch attacks inside both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The former invites international criticism as well as drones and the latter needs no explanation for the destruction is there before all to witness. Though the Khyber Agency has undergone a military operation not too long ago, sustained peace is not possible unless a strong local infrastructure is set up.

The second problem is that of the Afghanistan-Pakistan link. What measures can be taken to curtail the fallout from the insurgency in Afghanistan? As long as the state continues to keep its borders open for the good Taliban, it will continue to expose its own citizens to avoidable risks. The free mobility enjoyed by militants has to be disrupted at all costs. But for now, what action will the authorities take to accommodate the displaced families and against LeI?