Frontlines and Interstices in the Global War on Terror


  • I would like to thank Subir Sinha, Rashmi Varma, Gita Sahgal and the editors for extremely helpful comments and discussions, and the Leverhulme Trust for support for some of the research used in this essay.


In the context of the ‘global war on terror’ and related debates about development and the new imperialism, this essay looks at the involvement of religious absolutist militias in humanitarian aid following the Kashmir earthquake in 2005. By analysing how organizations which are considered ‘terrorist’ are simultaneously working with and fighting against US ‘Empire’, the essay considers the form of the Pakistani ‘development’ state, its geostrategic importance and how this relates to a religious absolutist militia infrastructure. The transformation of (often violent) religious right groups since the 1990s into development and welfare agencies is considered within the broader context of new ‘hypergovernance’ processes unleashed within ‘Empire’. Some general comparisons are also made between the processes of juridical hypergovernance that international humanitarian and human rights NGOs initiate in the ‘South’, and those created by violent groups of the religious right. Both reflect contending strategies for the management of populations by bodies having ambitions on a planetary scale.