At A Glance
Pakistan's regions of Baluchistan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (formerly known as North West Frontier Province) that border Afghanistan have suffered years of violence between militants and government security forces, although the causes of the conflicts differ.
In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, a government offensive against pro-Taliban groups displaced hundreds of thousands of people in 2009. Although the military ousted the Taliban from most areas, attacks by the militant groups continue.
In semi-autonomous FATA, the army has for years conducted military operations to root out Taliban and al Qaeda militants who fled there after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
In Baluchistan, Pakistan's largest and poorest province, tribal militants are engaged in a long-running, low-level insurgency to gain greater control of the southwestern region's natural resources and political power. Analysts say Afghan Taliban groups are also using Baluchistan as a base.
Islamist militants in the border areas regularly attack NATO supply convoys headed for Afghanistan.
Aid agencies have also come under attack.
In recent years, severe flooding has affected millions in Pakistan, and worsened the plight of those who had fled fighting.
Some of the militant violence has spilled into other parts of Pakistan, with suicide and armed attacks on troops and the country's main cities. The nuclear-armed country has also faced years of political violence as it moves between military and civilian rule.
Pakistan's western border areas are racked by violence as government forces fight separatists and pro-Taliban militants. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by the fighting.
The main areas affected are Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (formerly known as North West Frontier Province) and the semi-autonomous Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) that have a strong Taliban presence, and Baluchistan, where separatists are seeking greater political autonomy and control over local mineral resources.
Severe flooding in recent years has worsened the plight of those who fled the violence - some of the worst-affected areas have also been the areas where the displaced had sought refuge.
In KP and FATA, where the military holds sway, people’s eligibility to state aid is often determined by short-term security objectives, the International Crisis Group says. Restrictions have also been placed on international and local aid agencies. At the same time, radical jihadi organisations are operating freely using their charity fronts to win support.
The rest of Pakistan has also been subject to sporadic attacks by Islamist militants.
And sectarian violence is growing, with Sunni Islamist militant groups carrying out increasingly deadly attacks against Shi’ites in Baluchistan and other parts of the country.
Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated at the end of 2007 in an attack blamed on Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.
The United States regularly carries out missile strikes against al Qaeda and Taliban leaders in the border areas. In May 2011, U.S. forces killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden near Pakistan's main military academy in the town of Abbottabad in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
The U.S. administration of President Barack Obama has been pressing Pakistan to take firm action against Islamist militants as part of a drive to end a military stalemate in Afghanistan.
Who are the Taliban militants?
The Taliban and other militant Islamist groups operating in Pakistan are fighting internal conflicts, regional battles in Afghanistan and Kashmir and, in some cases, global jihad against the West. Some are connected with al Qaeda. They are loosely coordinated, but often share resources and recruits.
They include Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda militants, who fled Afghanistan when U.S.-led troops ousted them in 2001, and Pakistani Taliban and other Pakistani groups who share a similar hardline version of Islam.
Supporters of the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan’s remote border areas, became a mainstream Taliban force of their own when Pakistan’s army began offensives in the tribal areas to hunt down militants in 2002, a report by the Council on Foreign Relations said.
In December 2007, about 13 disparate militant groups coalesced under the umbrella of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban. They killed approximately two hundred tribal leaders and established themselves as an alternative, Hassan Abbas, former senior advisor at the U.S. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs said in 2008.
The Pakistani Taliban exists in all of FATA's seven agencies and parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. According to some estimates, it has at least 30,000 members.
The Afghan Taliban are focused on fighting NATO and the Afghan government. The Pakistani Taliban, meanwhile, are mostly bent on attacking the Pakistani state. However, some Pakistani Taliban commanders have been divided over whether the Pakistani state or NATO forces are their top target.
The Pakistani Taliban and its allies use high-profile kidnappings to supply them with funds. The campaign began in 2009, and victims include wealthy entrepreneurs, academics, Western aid workers and relatives of military officers, many of them kidnapped in the country’s major cities sometimes in broad daylight. The threat of kidnap has hampered the work of international aid agencies.
In January 2013, a top military commander of the Pakistani Taliban in North Waziristan signed a peace deal with the Pakistani army there. He said the group would focus on NATO forces in Afghanistan instead, and maintain attacks on the Pakistani army in other parts of Pakistan.
Some militant groups are vying for control of trade routes on the border with Afghanistan.
The Haqqani network in FATA is a valuable ally of both the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, and is a major threat to U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Admiral Mike Mullen said, before retiring as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September 2011, that the network was a "veritable arm" of Pakistani intelligence. Islamabad denied the allegation.
Afghan militants used Pakistan's border areas in the 1980s as a base for fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan. They were helped by foreign fighters, including men like Osama bin Laden who later became al Qaeda leaders. The so-called mujahideen were backed by the United States and Saudi Arabia among others.
After the Soviets withdrew, mujahideen factions formed a government in Afghanistan but tensions remained and the Pashtun-dominated Taliban faction began fighting for control of the country, taking over Kabul in 1996.
Since 2001, Afghan militants have used Pakistan's border areas to orchestrate their insurgency against the Afghan government and the U.S. and NATO forces supporting it.
Taliban groups have bases in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and, before a military offensive launched in April 2009, controlled parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. They also have bases in Baluchistan.
The spread of Taliban influence in the border areas has been blamed on years of neglect and poor governance, as well as insecurity in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Although the Pakistani Taliban are mostly active in the tribal belt along Pakistan's western border, other militant Sunni groups are based in the country's political heartland in Punjab province.
These groups are believed to provide logistics and other help to al Qaeda and the Taliban. Two of these groups, the sectarian Lashkar-e-Jhangvi – whose aim is to rid Pakistan of Shiites and is one of the most violent groups in Kashmir – and Kashmir-oriented Jaish-e-Mohammed have been blamed for bomb attacks inside the country.
One of the largest groups, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, is an anti-Indian militant group with historical ties to Pakistan's top spy agencies. India has accused it of organising an attack on Mumbai in November 2008 that killed 166 people. It has focused on Kashmir. It is the military wing of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JD), a fundamentalist missionary organisation that is allowed to operate freely in Pakistan. JD has helped establish the Difa-e-Pakistan Council, a group of militant and religious parties with an anti-India agenda.
The Afghan Taliban have long used Karachi as a place to rest and resupply. And the Pakistani Taliban have been operating in the city increasingly openly, carrying out attacks and extending their influence. Karachi is Pakistan’s financial centre and the capital of the southern Sindh province.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly known as the North West Frontier Province) was formed in 1901 under British India, and divided into Settled Areas and Tribal areas. It has a Pashtun-majority population, history and culture.
In the 1990s, cleric Sufi Mohammad took up arms to impose sharia law in what was the Malakand Division, which included Swat district. He led thousands of fighters to Afghanistan in 2001 to help the Taliban resist the U.S.-led invasion and was arrested on his return to Pakistan. Pakistani authorities released him in 2008 in a bid to defuse another uprising, led by his son-in-law Mullah Fazlullah, who has ties with other Pakistani Taliban factions and al Qaeda.
Fazlullah called his men to arms after a military assault on the Red Mosque in Islamabad in mid-2007. The mosque had been taken over by extremists who were stockpiling weapons there in a bid to impose Islamic law.
The army deployed troops in Swat in October 2007 and used artillery and gunship helicopters to reassert control. A civilian government came to power in 2008 and tried to reach a negotiated settlement, but a peace deal failed in May 2008 and fighting escalated. The militants gained control of almost the entire valley and unleashed a reign of terror, killing and beheading politicians, entertainers, soldiers and opponents. They banned female education and destroyed nearly 200 girls' schools.
But the military was also accused by local people of deliberately targeting civilians perceived to be sympathetic to the Taliban – a charge vehemently denied by the military.
In February 2009 Pakistan authorities agreed to introduce Islamic law in Malakand, dismantle all security checkpoints and release captured militants in return for peace. The decision was strongly condemned by the United States, which had made continued flows of aid conditional on Pakistan containing the Taliban groups.
The militants announced a ceasefire but refused to give up their arms and soon pushed into Buner district, also part of the former Malakand Division and only 100 km (60 miles) from Islamabad.
Amid mounting concern at home and abroad, security forces launched an offensive in April 2009 to expel the militants. The Swat Valley – once a major tourist attraction – became the scene of some of the worst fighting in Pakistan. Nearly two million civilians were displaced, and hundreds of thousands more were trapped by the fighting and out of reach of external help.
People began slowly returning home in July after the Pakistan Army said it had cleared the Taliban out of Swat.
Although the militant groups are less powerful than they were before the 2009 offensive, they still regularly attack both military and civilians in the region, including the region’s capital Peshawar.
In October 2012, Mullah Fazlullah’s Taliban faction shot Pakistani schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, for her work promoting girls’ education in the Swat Valley.
Millions of refugees who fled Afghanistan following the Soviet invasion in 1979 settled in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Many have since returned home.
Federally Administered Tribal Areas
Pakistani Taliban tribal groups have bases in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). They draw much of their resources from jihadi groups and their countrywide networks of mosques and religious seminaries, or madrasas.
According to the Islamabad-based think-tank FATA Research Centre, many in FATA welcomed the Taliban because they believed Islamic law would help address corruption and injustice. But as the Taliban began executing and kidnapping people, some turned against them. Opinion polls carried out by the centre in FATA showed support for the Taliban dropping from 50 percent in 2010 to about 20 percent in May 2012.
According to a Christian Science Monitor report, North and South Waziristan became hostile to the Pakistani Taliban in 2012 and 2013, partly because they were creating trouble for the Afghan Taliban based there. Local tribal leaders forced the Pakistani Taliban leadership to leave South Waziristan. They moved to North Waziristan, but face hostility from elders there too.
On the run from its traditional strongholds, the Pakistani Taliban recently pushed into Khyber Agency – part of FATA – in a bid to control lucrative trading routes with Afghanistan and establish a firmer base of operations. Several other groups are fighting for control of Khyber, including a local militant group, the Pakistani military, and a pro-government militant group.
After 2001, FATA became a hideout for al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban militants, establishing bases in South Waziristan, North Waziristan and Bajaur.
Repeated military operations and militancy, including in areas that have been declared cleared of militant groups, force thousands to flee their homes.
Pakistan's seven tribal areas (or agencies) were created by the British to serve as a buffer between what was then northwestern India and Afghanistan. A special form of political administration, based on independent jirga (council) systems, was devised to govern the Pashtun tribes that fiercely resisted colonial rule. The British stationed troops in FATA to maintain control, but also granted these areas a semi-autonomous status in return for acquiescence to colonial rule.
The system continued when FATA became part of Pakistan. Pakistan chose not to base troops in the region, but retained the colonial administrative and legal structures – effectively treating FATA's population as separate from other Pakistani citizens.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa's federally-appointed governor administers FATA. He governs the region through local proxies – mostly tribal elders – and laws that deprive locals of civil and political rights and the protection of the courts. The tribal elders' loyalty is rewarded with special status and financial benefits.
Some important changes were introduced in August 2011, when President Asif Ali Zardari signed the extension of the Political Party Order (2002) to FATA, which allowed political parties to operate legally in FATA for the first time.
The president's spokesman said the colonial-era provisions that allow collective punishment of an entire tribe for crimes committed by a member or on their territory, would be "softened" – indicating that perhaps women, children and the elderly will be exempt from the collective punishment clause, the International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for South Asia Shehryar Fazli said in August 2011.
The military has supported tribal militias to help it fight the religious extremists.
The Pakistani military has been criticised for its tactics, including attacks by helicopter gunships and heavy artillery that have forced thousands of civilians to flee to camps in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The United States carries out regular drone strikes in North Waziristan.
PACT WITH TRIBAL LEADERS
From late 2003 to early 2005, the Pakistan army focused on hunting down al Qaeda in South Waziristan, later shifting its attention to North Waziristan and Bajaur at the northeastern extreme of the tribal belt.
The heavy handed tactics of then President Pervez Musharraf's government – largely in response to external pressure – were widely thought to have backfired, pushing sympathies further towards the Taliban and fundamentalist Islamic beliefs.
In September 2006, Musharraf's government decided to soften its approach, signing a deal with tribal leaders and pro-Taliban forces. Islamabad agreed to hold off military operations, free prisoners and withdraw from checkpoints. In return, militants promised to end attacks on the army, distance themselves from foreign fighters and stop movement across the Afghan border.
The deal's supporters said it would empower tribal elders to control militants, although critics argued it would create a sanctuary for the Taliban and al Qaeda.
In the following months, attacks on U.S.-led troops in eastern Afghanistan trebled and an October 2006 U.S. congressional report said Taliban activities in the border region had increased.
The deal unravelled in July 2007 amid a surge in violence in northwest Pakistan, following the army's storming of the radical Red Mosque in Islamabad in which troops killed 75 supporters of hardline clerics.
North Waziristan militants scrapped the peace deal, arguing that the government had violated it by launching attacks and deploying more troops in the area.
As the pact collapsed, the U.S. president's national security adviser called on Musharraf to take further action against militants in the region, pledging Washington's full support. Violence in North Waziristan and other parts of northwest Pakistan intensified sharply.
The New York Times reported in July 2007 that the United States planned to pour $750 million in aid into Pakistan's tribal areas over the next five years, as part of a campaign to win over the local population. But there were concerns over how effectively the money could be spent on development in such an insecure region.
In August 2008, Pakistani forces launched offensives against al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Bajaur - a major infiltration route for militants entering eastern Afghanistan. The militants were said to include Afghans, Uzbeks and Arabs as well as Pakistani Taliban.
A Pakistani general in Bajaur described it as a "centre of gravity" for Islamist guerrillas and said the conflict in Waziristan was more of a "tribal war", whereas the situation in Bajaur had more "international linkages".
But the Pakistani military's tactics were strongly criticised, including reports that operations forced all schools to close in more than half Bajaur's towns, affecting about 50,000 students. An estimated 20 percent of Bajaur's population was forced to flee, most finding refuge in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, says the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.
The government signed a peace deal with tribal militants in Bajaur in March 2009.
Pakistan launched a major offensive in South Waziristan in October 2009 after several months of air and artillery strikes against the Taliban. Tens of thousands of people began to flee the region in May 2009 when the military began massing troops in large numbers in the semi-tribal areas on the periphery of Waziristan.
The United States has also been targeting the region with drone missile strikes, including one in August 2009 that killed Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. He was replaced by Hakimullah Mehsud who is believed to lead as many as 20,000 pro-Taliban militants in South Waziristan. A majority belong to the Mehsud tribe.
The region is out of reach of most foreign and Pakistani journalists and aid agencies.
Baluchistan lies to the southwest of FATA, bordering both Iran and Afghanistan, and is made up primarily of Baluch and Pashtun ethnic groups. Baluch tribal militants are fighting a decades-long insurgency for greater political autonomy and control over local mineral resources.
Afghan Taliban fighters also operate in the area, as do Pakistani militant groups.
A Sunni Pakistani group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, carried out one of Pakistan’s deadliest sectarian attacks in the province’s capital Quetta, killing nearly 100 Shi'ite Muslims in January 2013. The Shi’ites were from the Hazara ethnic group, which blamed some members of the provincial government of fomenting violence against them.
Baluchistan is one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world.
Tribal militants in Baluchistan have staged several insurgencies since the mid-20th century to fight for greater political autonomy and control over local mineral resources from the Punjabi-dominated authorities. Although the military maintains an iron grip on the region, Baluchistan is often cited by doomsters as the region most likely to splinter from Pakistan. Pakistan has accused India and Afghanistan of backing the Baluch nationalists.
The Pakistan government announced a roadmap in October 2008 for ending conflict in Baluchistan, focusing on redistributing natural resource revenues, a turnaround from Musharraf's strategy in the region. But the military occupation continues, with regular reports of human rights abuses, cited by the Asian Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
But Baluchistan was not incorporated into Pakistan until 1948, when Pakistani troops moved in, forcing the Khan of Kalat, the monarch who had ruled the area under the umbrella of the British Empire, to give up hopes of independence.
In the mid-1950s, the People's Party, a new nationalist party, was launched by the Prince of Kalat and in 1972 it joined with the National Awami Party, based in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and the Islamist Jamait-ul-Ullema-i-Islam in opposition to the centralising government of President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (Benazir Bhutto's father).
Major conflict broke out in 1973 after the intelligence services intercepted a consignment of weapons headed for Baluchistan and Bhutto dismissed the regional government.
Thousands of militants fought the national army, which targeted the Baluch tribes' livestock, their key economic asset. The insurgency dragged on until 1977, when Bhutto was overthrown and the new military regime of General Zia ul-Haq arrived at a political settlement with some Baluch leaders. Around 9,000 people died in the violence.
Conflict flared again in December 2005, following a rocket attack during a visit by Musharraf to the town of Kohlu. This spurred the Pakistani military to launch a major crackdown against nationalist groups in the region.
Since then, militants have regularly blown up gas pipelines, rail tracks and power lines and launched rocket attacks on government buildings and army bases.
The security agencies have responded by targeting hundreds of Baluch dissidents, including political activists, students, doctors, lawyers, journalists and even shopkeepers.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has cited numerous instances of intimidation, arbitrary arrests, torture, disappearances and extrajudicial killings by security forces and intelligence agencies.
Much of the militant violence is thought to be carried out by a group known as the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA).
Resentment against the central government has grown as infrastructure has been built to exploit the province's rich natural resources, especially gas. The Sui field in Baluchistan's Bugti tribal area produces around 45 percent of Pakistan's natural gas. The province also has significant deposits of uranium and copper.
Development has fuelled local frustration for two key reasons. Firstly, Baluchs feel their province is being increasingly monopolised by non-indigenous migrants attracted by its economic opportunities.
Secondly, there's a widespread perception that the province receives only a tiny share of benefits from the exploitation of its resources.
One major infrastructure project targeted by Baluch militants is the construction of a strategically important port at Gwadar on Pakistan's Arabian Sea coast near the mouth of the Persian Gulf, with the majority of funding coming from China.
Besides calling for a larger dividend from development projects and the exploitation of resources, Baluch militants want more control over their administrative affairs. Analysts say local people have few political channels through which to voice their grievances and demands.
AFGHAN TALIBAN IN BALUCHISTAN
Afghan Taliban groups have had strong links with Baluchistan for years. The Taliban movement, which swept to power in Afghanistan in 1996, sprang mainly from Islamic seminaries established in Baluchistan during the Afghan war. After their defeat by U.S.-led forces in 2001, the fighters regrouped in Pakistan. U.S. generals have often said the Afghan Taliban leadership operates from the regional capital Quetta – although Pakistan denies this.
Taliban groups are very active in southern Afghanistan bordering Baluchistan and it's here the United States stepped up its offensive against them.
Following an army attack on a militant base in FATA's South Waziristan in January 2007, cities around Pakistan were hit by a wave of suicide bombings, including the capital Islamabad and Quetta and Peshawar in the northwest.
A backlash against the security forces intensified after the July raid on the Red Mosque, confirming fears that unrest in the tribal areas was spilling over into other regions. Nearly 800 people were killed in militant-related violence in the following four months – many in suicide attacks and bomb blasts.
Musharraf imposed a state of emergency in Pakistan in November 2007, citing rising militancy as a key reason. He suspended the constitution, sacked most judges and locked up lawyers. Diplomats said his main aim was to stop the Supreme Court ruling that his earlier re-election as president had been invalid on the grounds he was still army chief at the time. Emergency rule was lifted in December.
Militants continue to target cities across the country.
Sectarian violence is growing, with Sunni Islamist militant groups carrying out increasingly deadly attacks against Shi’ites in several parts of the country, including Baluchistan’s capital Quetta and in Pakistan’s financial centre Karachi. In Karachi, a cycle of tit-for-tat killings is developing as a small number of Shi’ites begin to fight back.
Move to civilian rule
Musharraf came to power in a military coup in 1999. He named himself president in 2001, while remaining head of the army, and later granted himself sweeping new powers including the right to dismiss an elected parliament. Parliamentary elections were held in 2002, and Musharraf won a presidential election in 2007.
Hundreds died in the run-up to general elections in February 2008, including opposition leader Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated at a campaign rally in December 2007.
Bhutto's grieving Pakistan People's Party went on to win the elections. Musharraf, under threat of impeachment, eventually resigned in August and was replaced by Bhutto's widower Asif Ali Zardari.
Zardari was sworn in as president in September 2008 and announced a renewed commitment to tackle the militants using a combination of negotiations, economic and political reforms and military force.
Despite having committed itself to the deeply unpopular U.S.-led campaign against Islamist militancy, the government formally protested against U.S. missile strikes on the border areas soon afterwards.
In April 2010, parliament approved constitutional reforms that stripped the presidency of some powers accumulated under decades of military rule. The presidency lost the power to dissolve parliament, dismiss the government and appoint the head of the military. It became a mainly ceremonial role.
In KP, Baluchistan and FATA, hundreds of thousands of citizens have fled military operations and violence by militant groups. Calculating the numbers is difficult, because of a lack of access.
Nearly 760,000 people had registered as displaced by conflict in KP and FATA by mid-March 2013. The vast majority of these live with host communities, and only 10 percent are in camps.
But the actual figure is likely to be much higher because only those fleeing officially notified conflict zones are allowed to register, according to the International Crisis Group.
The number of people displaced by conflict peaked at more than 3 million people in 2009. By May 2010, the figure had dropped to 1 million, but returns since then have been offset by new displacements, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) said.
International aid agencies are trying to boost their development activities. The tribal areas in particular have suffered from poor literacy, scarce development funding and the fallout from the instability in Afghanistan.
Severe floods in 2010 hit hardest those areas where the displaced sought protection, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre said. The floods affected not only those living in displacement camps, but also the many families sheltering those who had fled conflict. For more, see AlertNet's Pakistan floods briefing.
Floods hit the country again in 2011 and 2012, affecting 4.8 million people in 2012 alone, most of them in Baluchistan, Punjab and Sindh.
Pakistan hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world – 1.64 million Afghans, the majority living in urban areas. More than 3.6 million Afghans have returned home since March 2002, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR says.
Despite a massive military offensive in 2009 and an ongoing military presence, militant groups continue to operate in the region, forcing many to flee their homes each year.
The current level of displacement, though, is at much lower levels than in 2009 when a surge of violence in Swat, Buner and Lower Dir districts forced about 2 million people to flee their homes.
Some sought shelter in the region's overcrowded displacement camps, but the majority lived with host communities or relatives, reluctant to live in formal camps where women could not strictly observe 'purdah' where they should be separated from men. Men often stayed behind to protect homes and livestock.
The majority have returned home since the government declared the area safe in July 2009.
Many people were also displaced when a massive earthquake hit Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Kashmir in 2005, killing 75,000 people and leaving up to 3.5 million homeless.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has also been a refuge for millions fleeing fighting in other parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
FEDERALLY ADMINISTERED TRIBAL AREAS
Military operations and militancy, including in areas that have been declared free of militant groups, continue to displace people in FATA.
Hundreds of thousands were displaced in 2012 alone, especially in FATA’s Khyber Agency, because of “sporadic, selective and heavy-handed military operations” ICG said.
Baluchistan displacement dates back to 2005 when the government launched a military offensive against separatists.
Only a few international aid agencies are allowed to work in Baluchistan, including the UNHCR, which mainly supports Afghan refugees in the province, and the World Food Programme.
Both humanitarian and development workers have come up against bureaucratic hurdles when trying to help the local population.
Delivering aid in Pakistan
It’s tough delivering aid in Pakistan, where the military is suspicious of foreign agencies, and allegations that humanitarian aid is a cover for foreign intelligence activity threatens both aid workers and those they seek to help.
Bureaucratic obstacles block some programmes – including those delivering emergency aid. And the military and local authorities tightly monitor the movement of national and international aid workers in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and restrict their entry into FATA.
Local media and aid agencies reported a rise in the number of attacks on aid workers in 2012 and early 2013. Attacks are threatening aid delivery in the neediest parts of the country, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.
At least 16 health workers taking part in polio vaccination drives were killed in December 2012 and January 2013.
Although Pakistani Taliban militants have repeatedly threatened polio eradication campaign workers, saying the vaccination drive is a plot to sterilise Muslims or spy on them, they denied responsibility for these attacks.
The crippling condition has been wiped out in all but three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
International Crisis Group's website includes reports on politics, sectarianism, and the spread of Islamist extremism in Pakistan.
The Human Rights Watch Pakistan page carries reports on rights, violence and the impact on civilians.
Also see the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan for information on rights concerns around the country.
The South Asia page of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, one of India's top thinktanks on security issues, offers commentaries on violence in Pakistan.
The Pakistan page of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre gives an overview of the different causes of displacement, including the situation in Waziristan.
For the latest news, figures and background on displacement see also the U.N. Refugee Agency's Pakistan page.
The Centre of Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance has useful reports on Pakistan.
The United Nations homepage for Pakistan provides information on the activities of different U.N. agencies in Pakistan.
Here are some online English-language newspapers in Pakistan:
Daily Times (Lahore)
The Nation (Lahore)
Daily Mail (Islamabad)
The Frontier Post (Peshawar & Quetta)
This does not include details of all attacks.
1893 - Colonial government in British-ruled India draws the Durand Line, dividing Pashtun and Baluch tribes in Afghanistan from those in what later became Pakistan
1901 - North West Frontier Province (name later changed to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) formed under British India
Frontier Crimes Regulation, a system of collective responsibility and punishment, introduced into Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)
1947 - State of East and West Pakistan created out of partition of India at the end of British rule. Hundreds of thousands die in widespread violence and millions forced to flee their homes
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa votes to join Pakistan. FATA becomes semi-autonomous part of Pakistan
1948 - Baluchistan incorporated into Pakistan after troops move in. First war with India over disputed territory of Kashmir
1958 - Martial law declared
1961-63 - Diplomatic and trade relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan suspended
1971 - Civil war breaks out after East Pakistan tries to secede. India intervenes in support of East Pakistan which eventually breaks away to become Bangladesh
1973 - Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto becomes prime minister
Insurgency breaks out in Baluchistan. Bhutto dismisses regional government
1977 - Bhutto deposed in a military coup led by General Zia ul-Haq
Baluch insurgency ends after Zia reaches a political settlement with some Baluch leaders
1979 - After Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, thousands of Afghans flee to Pakistan's border areas
1985 - Martial law and political parties ban lifted
1986 - Bhutto's daughter Benazir returns from exile to lead Pakistan People's Party (PPP) in campaign for fresh elections
1988 - Zia dies in air crash. PPP wins general election
1990 - Bhutto dismissed as prime minister on charges of incompetence and corruption
1991 - Islamic sharia law incorporated into legal code
1993 - Bhutto wins elections, but her government is dismissed again in 1996 over allegations of corruption
1999 - General Pervez Musharraf takes control in military coup. Commonwealth suspends Pakistan
2001 - Refugees cross into Pakistan after U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, accompanied by Taliban and al Qaeda fighters
Musharraf names himself president while remaining head of the army
2002 - Pakistan sends thousands of troops into border areas to hunt for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and other foreign fugitives
Work begins on Gwadar seaport in Baluchistan
First general election since Musharraf's military coup
2003 - Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa votes to introduce sharia law
Pakistan and India declare Kashmir ceasefire
2004 - Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), Baluchistan Liberation Front, and People's Liberation Army step up attacks on infrastructure and government facilities
Apr - Government reaches accords with pro-Taliban militants in South Waziristan
May - Pakistan readmitted to Commonwealth
2005 - Army moves campaign against foreign fighters from South Waziristan to North Waziristan
Jan - Baluch tribal militants attack facilities at Pakistan's largest natural gas field, forcing closure of main plant
Apr - First bus service in 60 years opens between Muzaffarabad in Pakistani-administered Kashmir and Srinagar in Indian-controlled Kashmir
Oct - Earthquake strikes Kashmir and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, killing about 75,000 in India and Pakistan and leaving up to 3.5 million homeless
Dec - Baluchistan conflict escalates after rocket attack during visit by Musharraf to town of Kohlu
Mar - Baluchistan provincial assembly votes to form bipartisan panel to try to make peace between authorities and warring tribal leaders
U.S. President George Bush visits Pakistan, and calls for greater efforts to flush out militants from border areas
Pakistan government bombs alleged militant hideout in North Waziristan, sparking clashes in Miranshah
Apr - Pro-Taliban militants offer talks with government to end stand-off in North Waziristan. Top al-Qaeda operative, indicted for the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, killed in army missile attack in North Waziristan
Pakistan sends more troops into border region
Government bans BLA after listing it a terrorist organisation
May - U.S. helicopter gunships wound civilians in missile strike against suspected Taliban fighters in South Waziristan
Government bans Baluch nationalist leaders from travelling outside Pakistan. Internet service providers ordered to block access to four websites containing Baluch nationalist material
Jun - Waziristan pro-Taliban militants announce month-long ceasefire to give tribal elders a chance to broker settlement after months of fierce fighting
Aug - Prominent Baluch tribal leader, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, killed by security forces. Protests over his death turn violent
Sep - Government signs pact with tribal leaders and pro-Taliban forces in North Waziristan
Oct - Army raid on Islamic seminary in FATA tribal area of Bajaur kills up to 80 people, sparking anti-government protests. Army says madrasa was training camp for militants
Jan - Army air strike on militant base in South Waziristan sparks suicide bombings across Pakistan, blamed on Islamist groups with links to al Qaeda
Suspected militants blow up major gas pipeline, disrupting supplies to over a million people
Apr - Ethnic Pashtun tribesmen in Waziristan beat their drums of war for first time in three years. The tribes have united to expel foreign al Qaeda-linked militants they had until recently sheltered
Jun/Jul - Baluchistan and Sindh provinces hit by heavy flooding that kills around 300 people and leaves some 360,000 homeless
Jul - Government forces storm radical Red Mosque in Islamabad, killing 75 supporters of hardline cleric. The incident unleashes wave of violence in northwest
Pro-Taliban militants in North Waziristan withdraw from a peace deal with government, accusing authorities of violating pact
Oct - Musharraf wins presidential election. Supreme Court says it will rule on whether re-election was legitimate
About 250 people killed in fighting between the army and militant Islamist tribesmen in Waziristan. Tens of thousands displaced near Mir Ali
Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto returns from self-imposed exile. Suicide bomber attacks her homecoming parade in Karachi, killing around 140 people
Violence between security forces and pro-Taliban militants flares in Swat Valley, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
Nov - Musharraf declares emergency rule, while awaiting Supreme Court decision on whether he was eligible to run for re-election. Commonwealth suspends Pakistan
Taliban militants free hundreds of troops after holding them captive since late Aug. in South Waziristan
Bhutto placed under house arrest
Dec - Musharraf ends state of emergency, restores constitution. Bhutto assassinated Dec. 27, sparking violence in many parts of the country
Jan - Al Qaeda-linked militants in northwest Pakistan attack offices of government-sponsored peace movement and kill eight people
Feb - General election won by Pakistan People's Party (led by Bhutto's widower Asif Ali Zardari) and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (led by former PM Nawaz Sharif)
Jul - 18 people killed in suicide attack on police guarding Islamists, marking anniversary of Red Mosque army commando raid
Aug - Ruling coalition decides to impeach Musharraf for violation of constitution and misconduct. Musharraf resigns
Sep - Asif Ali Zardari sworn in as president. He announces renewed commitment to tackle militants using combination of negotiations, economic and political reforms, and military force
Suicide truck bomber attacks Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, killing at least 52. Militants linked to al Qaeda and Pakistan Taliban widely blamed
U.S. carries out air attacks and first publicly admitted ground operation in Pakistan
Oct - Government formally protests U.S. missile attacks in Pakistan
Pakistan announces roadmap for ending conflict in Baluchistan, focusing on redistributing natural resource revenues
Magnitude 6.4 quake near Quetta, Baluchistan, kills over 200 people
Nov - U.S. missile strikes and Pakistan military operations continue. Suicide attacks in Tribal Areas. USAID contractor shot dead in Peshawar, and NATO supply convoys hijacked on their way to Afghanistan
Dec - India blames militants from Pakistan for Nov. terrorist attacks in Mumbai which killed nearly 200 people. Islamabad denies any involvement, but promises to co-operate with Indian investigation
Jan - New U.S. administration says future military aid to Pakistan conditional on progress in curbing militants
Feb - Taliban leaders in Swat Valley announce ceasefire after local government agrees to introduce Islamic sharia law in the area
Mar - After days of public protests, Zardari reinstates Supreme Court Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry sacked by Musharraf in 2007. Gunmen attack Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore. Peace deal signed with tribal militants in Bajaur Agency, FATA.
Apr - U.S. accuses Pakistan of "abdicating" to Taliban militants after Zardari approves imposition of sharia law in Malakand division, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, including Swat Valley. Taliban suspends talks with government. Army attacks militants in several districts in Malakand
Riots break out in Baluchistan after three Baluch nationalist leaders found dead
May - Pakistan orders military to "eliminate" militants and attack Taliban in Swat Valley. Hundreds of thousands flee the area
Jul - Thousands of displaced begin returning home to Swat after government says it is safe
Aug - Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud killed in U.S. missile strike in South Waziristan
Oct - Pakistan launches military offensive in South Waziristan, following several months of air attacks
Apr - North West Frontier Province renamed as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
Aug - Severe flooding affects much of the country
Sep - Pakistan temporarily suspends NATO supply route into Afghanistan after series of U.S. drone strikes in northwest
May - Bin Laden shot dead by U.S. special forces near Pakistan's main military academy in the northwestern garrison town of Abbottabad
Sep - Floods cause devastation in parts of Pakistan
Nov - NATO airstrike kills 24 Pakistani troops on the Afghan border, provoking a crisis between Pakistan and the United States. Pakistan closes ground supply routes used for NATO forces in Afghanistan
Jun - Supreme Court declares Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani ineligible for office for refusing to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. Parliament approves Raja Pervez Ashraf as his successor
Jul - Pakistan reopens NATO supply routes to Afghanistan after the United States apologises for killing Pakistani soldiers in Nov 2012
Oct - Several schoolgirls including Malala Yousafzai are shot at by Taliban gunmen
Jan - Nearly 100 Hazara Shi'ites are killed in Quetta. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant group claims responsibility. Ashraf imposes governor rule, which allows him to replace local authorities, some of whom the Hazara accuse of fomenting violence against them
Feb - An attack by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants on Quetta's Shi'ites kills 85
Mar - Musharraf returns from self-imposed exile to contest May elections