A fragile democratic transition faces the dual challenges of political instability and poorly designed counter-terrorism strategies that sacrifice long-term peace for perceived short-term security goals, fuelling militancy in various parts of the country. Across the border, rival India accuses Pakistan of harbouring terrorists and even sponsoring deadly attacks on Indian soil. There is no resolution in sight to the two countries’ dispute over Kashmir, which continues to claim soldiers’ and civilians’ lives along the Line of Control. Crisis Group monitors Pakistan’s domestic politics and security, with the aim of informing Pakistani leaders and international stakeholders about effective strategies for countering instability within the country and preventing its spillover abroad. 

Read our CrisisWatch entries on India-Pakistan (Kashmir) here.

CrisisWatch Pakistan

Unchanged Situation

Pakistan and Afghanistan engaged in sporadic border clashes, killing two soldiers, while militant attacks continued in border provinces and protests over prices turned violent in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Deadly border hostilities resumed between Pakistan and Taliban forces. Pakistani aircraft 10 May conducted strikes inside Afghanistan, killing at least four suspected Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants. As Pakistani forces 13 May tried to fortify positions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Kurram district, clashes erupted with Taliban forces which lasted six days and killed at least one Pakistani soldier and Taliban forces member; sides 18 May agreed to ceasefire reportedly negotiated by tribal elders. Interior minister and top counter-terrorism chief 26 May held Pakistani Taliban responsible for 26 March suicide attack that killed five Chinese engineers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Sangla district, requested Kabul to arrest or hand over alleged planners along with TTP leadership; minister warned of “unilateral action” if Kabul does not cooperate. 

Militant attacks continued in border provinces and spread into Punjab. In sign of expanding Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) attacks into Punjab province, heavily-armed militants 1 May attacked checkpoint in Taunsa district, injuring seven police constables, and gun battle between police and TTP militants in Rawalpindi city same day killed constable.In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, two militant attacks 11 May killed seven military personnel in North Waziristan, marking one of deadliest attacks of May. Military 27 May said operation previous day killed 23 militants in Peshawar’s Hassan Khel area. In Balochistan province, suspected Baloch militants 9 May shot dead seven Punjabis in Gwadar district.

Unrest erupted in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Alliance of civil society organisations 11 May commenced protest march over high prices of flour and electricity. Clashes lasted several days with security forces, killing five, including constable, and injuring over 100. PM Sharif 14 May accepted demands for subsidies to offset high prices.

Relations between former PM Imran Khan and military plummeted further. Ahead of first anniversary of 9 May 2023 anti-military unrest led by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), military 7 May called on Khan to publicly apologise and abandon “politics of anarchy and hate”. PTI same day condemned military’s “irrational, illogical and venomous press conference”. 

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In The News

22 Aug 2023
As Pakistan’s relations with the Taliban severed, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has also gotten cold feet in their engagement [with the Taliban]. The Cradle

Ibraheem Bahiss

Analyst, Afghanistan

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