Scholarly interest in religio-political movements in the Muslim world has increased dramatically in recent times. Given the considerable variety of movements that are inspired by Islam, it is imperative that overly general and descriptive analyses be avoided in favor of thoroughly contextualized studies of individual movements. In this article I adopt an interdisciplinary approach bridging the fields of history, anthropology, and politics to study the emergence of what I call the “new jihad in Swat” in northern Pakistan spearheaded by the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariati-Muhammadi (TNSM) and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Acknowledging the importance of the wider geopolitical environment, I argue that the rise of the TNSM and TTP is a function of the historical salience of Islamic (jihad) idiom in Pashtun society, localized sources of discontent, and historical-structural changes that have facilitated the emergence of a distinct agenda of “Shariatization.” My findings are based on extensive interaction with Swatis, both in their homes and workplaces, over an extensive period. I have also interviewed many who have been residing in refugee camps after May 2009. I conclude that the wider geostrategic environment, class, and other social cleavages in Swat and the ideational power of Islam ensure that spaces for the “new jihad” will continue to proliferate in Swat and its environs.

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