Go to 'Battle for Pakistan' home
The northwestern tribal region of Pakistan known as Khyber Agency is just across the Durand line from the Tora Bora cave complex, the mountainous hideout from which Osama bin Laden escaped in late 2001. Named after the historic Khyber Pass, Khyber Agency covers 2,576 square kilometers and has a population of 546,730. It is subdivided into three administrative units—Bara, Jamrud and Landi Kotal. The remote Tirah Valley is small but geographically important, and is believed to have been used by al-Qaeda militants escaping into Pakistan in the wake of U.S. and NATO attacks on Afghanistan in 2001. The valley, like much of Khyber, is inhabited by Afridi tribe members and has long been a safe haven for criminals and Islamist militants.
Modern militancy in Khyber Agency is multifaceted. Sectarian violence, Sunni groups aiming to establish a Taliban-style government, and drug mafias all fuel conflict in the area. Lashkar-e-Islam, Ansar-ul Islam, and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) activities in the area are wreaking havoc with the lives of Khyber’s residents. Observers often conflate these various militant groups despite the fact that they often compete with one another.
Raheel Khan is a Pashtun television anchor who is the Islamabad bureau chief for Mashal Radio and the head of a media and research company, Stratcom Private Limited. He has also worked as a director and editor for government-owned radio stations in Pakistan’s tribal areas.