1992, Sufi Mohammad Khan established the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah-Mohammadi
(TNSM) in Swat, as a party seeking an Islamic order. The party
rose to national prominence in 1995, when Khan demanded the
immediate imposition of Sharia, Islamic law. Violence followed
as paramilitary forces began an operation against him.
After Khan's imprisonment in 2002, his son-in-law, Maulana
Fazalullah, a former chairlift operator, took over the TNSM
at age 28. By 2007 he had aligned himself with the hardline
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), setting up dozens of illegal
radio stations in Swat from which he preached his message
of jihad (holy war).
Fighting in Swat began after Fazalullah in July 2007 ordered
supporters to avenge a security force operation to clear militants
out of the Red Mosque (Lal Masjid) in Islamabad. Since then,
paramilitary forces and the Pakistan army have fought militants
led by Fazalullah. A brief truce in May 2008 brought relative
peace but fighting resumed in August. Some 4,000 militants
are said to be battling 12,000 troops. Although the militants
in Swat enjoy support from militants in tribal areas they
are not directly linked to them.
There is no independent confirmation of the number of casualties.
In January 2009, the military said 142 soldiers and paramilitary
troops had died since August 2008. In 2007, the military confirmed
the deaths of 230 civilians and 90 military personnel. At
the end of 2007, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)
in Swat said at least 400 civilians had died and 1,000 houses
According to rights groups and the media, approximately 800,000
of Swat's 1.8 million people have fled. With intensified fighting
from February 2009, as the Pakistan government promised to
retake control of the valley from the militants, more people
are reported to have left. Camps for internally displaced
persons have been set up in Mingora and elsewhere by the provincial