The new government of Imran Khan is repressing opposition voices and yielding to parties propagating sectarianism. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2019 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to help Pakistan abide by its international commitments and keep supporting democratic governance.
Amid heightened political tensions, authorities escalated corruption probes on opposition leadership while militant attacks continued and govt continued crackdown on Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), civil rights movement from former Federally Administered Tribal Areas. National Accountability Bureau (NAB) 10 June arrested Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) co-chairman and former President Asif Ali Zardari on corruption charges and following day arrested Hamza Sharif, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader in Punjab Assembly; PPP and PML-N officials 15 June jointly denounced arrests as politically motivated, vowing to work together against govt. Following 26 May clashes in North Waziristan between military and Pashtun protestors led by PTM-affiliated MPs Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar – in which PTM claim military killed fourteen protesters, while police later arrested Dawar and Wazir – tensions increased over govt’s crackdown on PTM; PPP 1 June called on National Assembly speaker to issue order to allow Dawar and Wazir to inform parliament of their version of events. Govt 2 June filed references of misconduct to Supreme Judicial Council against two independent judges, for failing to disclose foreign properties; PPP and PML-N condemned references as attempt to undermine independent judges and called for their withdrawal; leading lawyers’ associations 14 June held countrywide protest calling for resignation of law minister and attorney general. Militant violence continued; in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s North Waziristan tribal district militants 1 June killed one soldier in Boya area and 7 June killed three army officers and a soldier in Kharqamar area. In Balochistan province, explosion 6 June killed two soldiers in Harnai district; two explosive devices 7 June killed five in Ziarat district; three Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) suicide bombers 26 June attacked police station in Quetta, killing one officer. In Punjab province, Counter Terrorism Department 20 June reported killing two prominent Islamic State-Khorasan members in raid in Multan city. In Gujrat city in east, security forces 30 June raided suspected TTP hideout, killing three militants.
Pakistan is moving to bring its Federally Administered Tribal Areas into the constitutional order. But rights remain severely restricted in the borderlands, threatening deeper popular alienation. To stop militants from stepping in, the government should lift its draconian interim regulations and deliver needed services.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, opened in 2015, could bring needed jobs and investment to Pakistan. But many projects also risk widening social divides and heightening political tensions along the route. With Beijing’s support, Islamabad should seek the public’s input to ensure equity in economic gains.
This report examines President Trump’s emerging counter-terrorism policies, the dilemmas his administration faces in battling ISIS and al-Qaeda across the Middle East and South Asia, and how to avoid deepening the disorder both groups exploit.
Ethnic, political and sectarian rivalries, jihadist groups, criminality and heavy-handed security policies are turning Pakistan's biggest city into a pressure cooker of tensions. Feuding politicians must set aside their conflicts or Karachi's law-and-order crisis may further worsen.
Once-tolerant southern Punjab has become a base for jihadist groups. Socio-economic grievances, political alienation and poor education provide a near endless source of recruits. To reverse the tide, the government must end a climate of impunity, block hate speech, improve rule of law, and refocus counter-terrorist action to target all jihadist groups.
Pakistan remains the greatest impediment to a polio-free world. The link between the disease and Islamist anti-immunisation campaigns is clear but without an appropriate political response. The authorities must tackle extremist networks, step up health services, and make sure that health workers are safe.
I don’t believe that Pakistan has the capability to straight out make peace happen in Afghanistan, but they definitely have the capability to make peace not [happen].
Reciprocal airstrikes by India and Pakistan have been accompanied by shelling, troop reinforcements and small arms fire. In this Q&A calling for restraint between the nuclear-armed neighbours, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director Laurel Miller notes that the airspace violations alone were the worst for 50 years.
A 14 February suicide attack by Pakistan-based militants was their bloodiest strike in Indian-administered Kashmir in over three decades. In this Q&A, our Asia Program Director Laurel Miller warns that even a limited Indian retaliatory strike could spark a sharp escalation in conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
Pakistan’s central government is all-in on CPEC. But at key points, local communities are resisting.
Originally published in The Diplomat
Addressing security concerns in Pakistan is vital for creating a more gender equal society. In this video, Crisis Group's South Asia Project Director Samina Ahmed highlights the need for measures geared toward enabling women to become more economically independent, such as safer public transport and a more gender-sensitive police force.