Hundreds of thousands of Pashtuns and other minorities are returning to their homes in the northwest region of Pakistan only to find homes destroyed and their crops in ruin. Although the Pakistan government claims to have driven out the Taliban from the region, Minority Rights Group International says by failing to address economic development it will only result in the Taliban returning to the area. Mark Lattimer notes about Pashtun refugee camps, “the conditions in the camps are miserable. the sanitation is inadequate. There’s inadequate protection from the weather. and what is more, we’re now hearing reports that there are Taliban recruiters who are trying to operate in the camps.”
The Pashtun area has never been the object of massive economic development which allows the Taliban to build on local grievances against all forms of authority in order to gain recruits. Once again, as in Afghanistan, the United States failed to provide the economic means to achieve success and only focused on military operations. Ironically, according to this group, recent polls in Pashtun areas reveal less support for the Taliban than what is believed by Pakistan government sources. The economic war has to become equal in importance to the political and military wars.