In its brief history of 64 years, Pakistan has already faced four prominent insurgent conflicts: Bengali nationalist-separatist rebellion in East Pakistan (1971), low-intensity Baloch nationalist insurgency (1948-present) with heightened conflict between 1974 and 1977, Muhajir nationalist insurgency in Karachi (1990-9), and now the Pakistani Taliban insurgency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) (2001-present). In addition, Pakistan faces some militant separatism in Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan. Out of these four, the most successful movement was that of the Bengali nationalists who were able to secure a separate homeland for themselves at the end of the civil war. The outbreak of multiple insurgencies in Pakistan is not anomalous. This characteristic it shares with other states in its neighbourhood in South and Central Asia. Moreover, it also shares this phenomenon with other developing or under-developed countries of the world where state institutions are weak and armed conflict persists. In this chapter I explore the current Pakistani Taliban insurgency and keep the focus geographically circumscribed to the tribal areas and KP. Moreover, I limit the attention to insurgent groups that are directly engaged in challenging or resisting the Pakistani state and its armed forces in this region, i.e. the Pakistani Taliban, Punjabi Taliban and al-Qaeda. It should be noted that I use the term Pakistani Taliban and Taliban interchangeably to refer to the same conglomeration of militant outfits. The chapter begins with a brief history of the conflict, tracing the rise of the Pakistani Taliban to the participation of the Pashtun tribesmen in the fight against invading US and international forces in Afghanistan and the radicalization that subsequently took place as al-Qaeda re-settled within the tribal areas. The dynamics of the conflict are then discussed, followed by a survey of the actors involved in the insurgency, with special attention paid to strategic and tactical collaboration that takes place amongst them. Next, the structure and organization of the Pakistani Taliban, especially Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is explained, with special emphasis on its decentralized nature. I then explain the insurgents’ military strategy and discuss observed trends in the tactics used by them. Here I highlight the influence al-Qaeda and Kashmiri groups have had. The chapter then analyses militant recruitment. The use of selective incentives, coercion and the ability to exploit grievances

against the state are three essential factors of the Taliban’s recruitment strategy. Finally, I make some observations about the nature of the Taliban’s governance, pointing out that social repression, political authoritarianism and economic predation are three major characteristics of Taliban rule. The provision of quick and swift justice, however, remains one area of service that has at times made the insurgents popular.