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.
In Balochistan, Islamic State (ISIS) claimed 12 May bomb that killed at least 25 and wounded 37 in Mastung town; attack targeted Senate Deputy Chairman and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur) leader Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, who was lightly injured. Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) gunmen 13 May opened fire on road construction workers in Gwadar district, killing at least ten, mostly migrants from Sindh province. Defence minister 14 May accused India and other “anti-Pakistan forces” of sponsoring Mastung and Gwadar attacks. Iran blamed Pakistani govt for 26 April killing of at least ten Iranian border guards in attack near border crossing in Balochistan, warned of cross-border action if Pakistan doesn’t crack down on militant groups responsible; Pakistan expressed concern over remarks. Interior ministry late April blocked conditions sought by Sindh provincial govt on extending paramilitary Rangers’ mandate in Karachi, arguing powers could not be restricted or modified from those in Anti-Terrorism Act; Rangers’ mandate extended 29 April. Security forces clashed with Afghan military as census team entered villages along disputed stretch of Pakistan-Afghanistan border near Balochistan, with at least twelve Pakistani and Afghan civilians dead and scores wounded. Govt launched fresh crackdown on social media and online activism: 12 May warned television channels against airing “unconfirmed news or analysis” related to military-govt relations; interior minister 14 may called for Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to take “immediate action against all those dishonouring the Pakistani Army” on social media; FIA subsequently arrested six including ruling and opposition party activists.
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.
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.
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
Originally published in The Boston Globe