Embarking on field research into Pakistan’s chronic crises sixteen years ago, our South Asia Project Director Samina Ahmed was a woman in a man’s world. But her experiences persuade her that understanding conflict requires rigorously incorporating the perspectives of women and girls whose opportunities are frequently inhibited by violence.
Some 3,000 Islamists led by new radical Barelvi party Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah early Nov occupied bridge on Islamabad-Rawalpindi road, creating political and law and order crisis ahead of 2018 general elections. Sit-in demanded removal of law minister for his recent amendment to declaration required by electoral candidates. Protestors said change weakened part of declaration referencing finality of Prophet Muhammad and claimed it was made to appease minority Ahmadi sect. Parliament reversed change, describing it as “clerical error”, however blockade continued. Security forces 25 Nov attempted to clear protestors; six people reported killed and some 200 wounded in clashes. Protesters dispersed 27 Nov after reaching military-brokered deal with govt: law minister resigned and protestors were reportedly financially compensated. In Karachi, some leaders of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and rival Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) 8 Nov announced plan to contest 2018 election as “one party”, though alliance collapsed almost immediately amid mutual criticism; both sides claimed merger resulted from military pressure. Members of defunct Islamist alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) 9 Nov agreed in principle to revive coalition for elections, reportedly with military’s encouragement; hardline Islamist party Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) and Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) 19 Nov launched joint electoral strategy. Conflict continued in Balochistan: suicide bombing claimed by Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) killed Quetta deputy police inspector general and two others 9 Nov; unidentified assailants 15 Nov killed acting Quetta police chief and family members. Bodies of fifteen non-Baloch labourers discovered near Iranian border 15 Nov, and another five found 18 Nov; military 17 Nov said it had killed senior commander of Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), which it accuses of involvement in murders. Media 15 Nov reported prominent former TTP leader and tribal elders had formed “peace committee” in South Waziristan agency to run its affairs. Accountability court 15 Nov began hearings in three corruption cases against former PM Sharif and family members. Court 24 Nov released LeT leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, alleged mastermind behind 2008 Mumbai attacks, from house arrest.
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.
Pakistan’s six-month-old counter-terrorism strategy has failed to end the operations of violent jihadi groups, while military-led measures continue to undermine the civilian government. A winning strategy will have to include structural and governance reform, both to stop jihadis exploiting the absence of rule of law and to address the root causes of extremist violence.
In Pakistan, women’s security and political, social and economic status are under attack by religious extremists, undermined by discriminatory legislation and unprotected by the state. The government must stand by its pledge to end gender inequity and violence against women, especially in the conflict zones of north-western Pakistan and the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.
The recent wave of attacks within Pakistan is the result of Pakistan’s historical reliance on militant groups to promote its foreign policy agenda, which seems to be biting the country now.
With the reestablishment of Afghanistan’s national air force, we’re seeing the Taliban being driven into the mountains more than previously.
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.
Originally published in Política Exterior
As the world marks Polio Day today, Pakistan remains the greatest impediment to a polio-free world.
Originally published in Lowy Interpreter