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.
Govt appeared to launch crackdown on Sunni Barelvi hardline Labaik Ya Rasool Allah and its political front Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), but seemed unwilling to pursue criminal charges, instead filing scores of corruption charges against opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz parliamentarians, and continuing clampdown on dissent and media freedoms. Govt 1 Dec reported 3,164 TLP activists under preventative custody and claimed two TLP leaders had been detained on treason and terror charges though no formal charges pressed. Amid growing concern over repression of religious and other freedoms, authorities 2 Dec barred two parliamentarians and former leaders of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM, leading Pashtun rights group) from leaving country and detained them for three days. Police 8 Dec filed cases against two journalists covering PTM rally in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Dera Ismail Khan. EU, Australia, Canada, Japan, Norway and Switzerland 13 Dec stated concern about shrinking space for civil society, criticising closing down of eighteen international NGOs. U.S. Sec State Mike Pompeo 11 Dec announced U.S. late Nov had added Pakistan to list of “Countries of Particular Concern” for violations of religious freedom. U.S.-Pakistan relations appeared to improve around Afghanistan; President Trump 3 Dec wrote to PM Khan seeking “full support” for U.S.-led Afghan reconciliation process, reportedly suggested countries “explore opportunities to work together and renew partnership”; Khan 14 Dec confirmed Pakistan would facilitate talks between U.S. and Taliban, which took place 17 Dec. In ongoing militant violence, in Balochistan province (south west) Frontier Corps paramilitary officer was killed 5 Dec in landmine explosion, reportedly planted by militants, and six officers and four attackers were killed 14 Dec during attack in Kech district near Iranian border; Pakistan lodged protest with Iran; attack came two days after countries had signed MoU to improve border security (see Iran). Former leader of Muttahida Qaumi Movement Ali Raza Abidi died after being shot by unknown assailants in Karachi 25 Dec. Authorities banned former President Zardari alongside 171 others from leaving country following allegations of money laundering.
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.
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.
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.
Originally published in Política Exterior