A map compiled by the BBC Urdu service shows that only 38% of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province and adjoining areas is under full government control.
This illustrates the growing strength of Taleban militants who in some areas, like the Swat Valley, have in effect usurped the state and are currently battling the Pakistan army that has been called out by the government to regain control of these areas.
The map is based on correspondent reports compiled over the past 18 months, backed up by conversations with local officials, police officers and journalists.
The research concluded that 24% of Pakistan’s northwest frontier is either under direct Taleban control or in the midst of army operations to evict militants.
Another 38% is designated as areas of weak government rule, where the Taleban have established a permanent presence and demonstrated their ability to strike at will.
The map also indicates areas to which researchers believe Taleban-style militancy might further spread. It highlights districts of the central Punjab province which have seen incidents of sectarian violence, and are known to host radical Islamist groups and seminaries.
“The media has generally been so focused on the day-to-day events that we at the Urdu Service felt that we were losing the larger picture,” says Aamer Ahmed Khan, Head of the Urdu Service.
“And when we sat down to put together the larger picture, the result, though anticipated, was still startling.”