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.
Fallout of 13 Jan extrajudicial killing by Karachi police of Naqeebullah Mehsud continued, with major sit-in by youth, civil society activists and supporters, mainly from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), in Islamabad, growing into broader movement for fundamental rights, particularly in FATA. Several hundred protesters convened in Islamabad 1 Feb protesting Mehsud’s killing, demanding superintendent allegedly involved be held responsible and wider investigation into extrajudicial killings in Karachi. Protest swelled in following days as hundreds more joined from around country; demands grew to include nationwide probe into extrajudicial killings, and in FATA recovery of missing persons, removal of landmines and end to coercive security measures. Sit-in ended 10 Feb after govt promised to hold accountable those involved in Mehsud’s murder. Following Jan diplomatic spat with U.S. over Pakistan’s alleged support for terrorist groups and visit by UN sanctions monitoring team to assess govt measures against terror groups, govt took several steps against militant groups: 9 Feb expanded list of banned terrorist groups to include groups sanctioned by UN Security Council, including anti-India group Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s (JuD, formerly Lashkar-e-Tayyaba) and its Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation; 13 Feb approved measures to freeze bank accounts of banned terrorist groups; mid-Feb reportedly seized hundreds of properties and madrasas owned by JuD. U.S. welcomed steps but said more action needed; after reviewing Pakistani measures 18-20 Feb, Financial Action Task Force decided against placing Pakistan on its non-compliance list, giving it three-month reprieve. U.S. drone strike 8 Feb in FATA’s North Waziristan killed at least three suspected Haqqani Network militants; drone strike near Afghan border 8 Feb killed Pakistani Taliban’s deputy leader, Khan Saeed Mehsud alias “Sajna”. Pakistani Taliban claimed suicide bombing 3 Feb near army base in Swat district (north) that killed eleven soldiers; and 14 Feb attack in Balochistan provincial capital Quetta that killed four Frontier Corps soldiers. Suicide bomb attack near Quetta 28 Feb killed at least four Frontier Corps soldiers. Army 15 Feb said it would deploy “contingent” to Saudi Arabia on “training and advice mission”.
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