Development and Conflict: The Economic Impacts of Civil War in Swat: Pakistan

by Haseeb Ahmed Bhatti

Institution: University of Waikato
Year: 2015
Keywords: Conflict economics; Civil war; Swat and the Taliban; Post-conflict sustainable livelihoods
Record ID: 1313169
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/9207


Violent conflicts have economic causes and economic consequences. In addition to the lost lives, injuries and the overall scale of human suffering that conflicts create, they also destroy assets and institutions. The consequences, the intensities of conflicts and their linkages with human endeavours to protect people from critical threats are not only a major national, but also an international developmental challenge. The terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001 drastically changed the paradigm and the epicentres of conflicts to something much different from the 20th century. In the changed paradigm, terrorist planning and attacks are largely considered to be originating from Muslim countries, masterminded by internationally linked organisations like Al Qaeda. These organisations are considered to be the source and Western countries to be revenge targets, particularly the United States because of its foreign policy repercussions in Muslim countries. Considering this fact, this thesis examines global conflicts and their links with income, economic development and democracy from 2000-2009, the period which fundamentally transformed the nature of global intrastate conflicts. This study is expected to be the first attempt to cover the period and to have a specific focus on Muslim majority countries, using similar econometric techniques and variables to those applied to broad global analyses. This study then moves from global analysis to focus on the micro household effects of the recent violent civil conflict involving the Taliban in Swat, Pakistan. A visible gap in economics-based conflict-orientated research was identified, with no apparent studies of post-conflict livelihoods in Swat. This thesis seeks to fill the void, and investigates losses of key household assets and their impact on determining post-conflict livelihood choices in Swat. Using survey data from 275 randomly sampled households in five out of the seven affected tehsils of Swat district, several statistical and modelling techniques are used to assess how and to what extent the conflict, which became civil war, has affected household livelihoods in Swat. Specifically the following relationships were considered and examined: (i) assets and income portfolios of households, and the quantitative extent of damages to conflict-affected household assets; (ii) asset endowment and its impact in prioritising post-conflict livelihood strategies; and (iii) possible alternative livelihood opportunities resulting from positive post-conflict interventions in the regional economy, which effectively results in livelihood revival. It was found that households lost human, physical, natural, social, and financial assets, and the post-conflict environment constrained their income and employment opportunities. Their expenditures increased and as a coping strategy, many sold their assets. The limited and damaged asset endowments (physical, financial and natural) were identified as major constraints to pursuing known livelihood choices or adopting more rewarding…