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• Dr. Muhammad Hanif Khalil has resumed the charge as Acting Director of the National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad w.e.f. 25-09-2023
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National Institute of Pakistan Studies
Name of ScholarRehana Wagha
Title of Dissertation War, Violence and Women Agency: The Case of Swat Region
Issue Date2022
PublisherNational Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad

After 9/11, the ‘War on Terror’ brought a new wave of anarchy, extremism, and violence to the valley of Swat. However, the narratives and experiences of women trapped in this conflict and civil war remained muffled, rather unaccounted. They were mostly portrayed as victims of violence inflicted upon them by the Taliban. How they experienced militancy, what led them to support or resist the Taliban or how they coped with the everyday violence; displacement and resettlement between the period from 2005 and 2010 are some of the questions which needed to be explored. This research captures the norms and forms of women’s agency during conflict. It deploys and appropriates multidisciplinary approach by using post-modernist feminist framework that views structure and agency as co-constituted and mutually dependent.

This is an effort to unpack the socio-political regimes of violence and oppression enacted through the systems and structures created by fragments of archaic tribal traditions in convergence with the orthodox Islam. Through the qualitative analysis of women’s narratives, this research suggests that the norms and forms of Swati women’s agency during conflict were shaped by the prevalent systems and structures validating violence against women. Intriguingly, women’s efforts to subvert those regimes of oppression and in their quest for independence and autonomy, their agency got manipulated by the religious extremists for political gains. This study shows that until women’s socio-economic status is not improved, the status quo and cycles of heightened socio-political violence are most likely to continue.