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Number of Downlaods: 11

Published Date: Oct 31, 2011

The Clash of Narratives Swat Military Operation against the Taliban (W-120)

Abstract

The Pakistani state launched a major military operation against the
local Taliban militants on 8th May, 2009 in Swat, which is situated in
Pakistan’s north-west province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that borders
Afghanistan. The state
simultaneously initiated an anti-Taliban propaganda campaign to create
legitimacy and consensus for the operation. This study analyses the
discourse
in anti-Taliban narrative(s) of the Pakistani state, as mediated in the
propaganda.
The study analyses the anti-Taliban narrative in media texts, where it
is
mediated. It uses the media reports of Dawn and Nawa-i-Waqt, Pakistan’s
leading newspapers, and undertakes a critical discourse analysis to
examine the
social conditioning of the state propaganda. The study determines that
the
anti-Taliban narratives of the state clash with the overall state
ideology,
which has ironically not undergone any radical transformation in the
post-9/11
era. The state ideology is ‘Islamic’ and it revolves around a national
security
discourse in which the Indian threat, both the real and perceived, plays
a
vital role. Even though the anti-Taliban narratives in the Swat
propaganda
campaign served the state’s immediate objectives of demonizing the
militants,
they are inherently ineffective in challenging the entire discourse
extremism
discourse in Pakistan.
The study argues that Pakistan’s
war on terror efforts can be best investigated in its communicative
practices. The
duality of the state’s response to terrorism should be looked at as a
discursive
practice of the state rather than a tactical problem. Therefore, the
Swat
Military Operation, or Operation Rah-i-Raast, serves as a case study.