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.
Supreme Court (SC) 28 July disqualified PM Nawaz Sharif as member of parliament for failing to disclose unclaimed salary in United Arab Emirates-based company in nomination papers for 2013 elections. Controversial Islamic provision used to oust PM, instead of corruption charges filed after Panama papers leak about his and family’s offshore assets. SC asked National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to investigate corruption cases against PM, sons and daughter within six months. SC-mandated Joint Investigation Team investigating PM Sharif and his family’s offshore assets had submitted adverse report 10 July finding “significant gap/disparity” between known and declared sources of income and wealth. Sharif’s party 29 July endorsed nomination of his brother, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, as PM to serve last ten months of govt, and former Federal Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as interim PM till parliament elects Shahbaz. Nawaz Sharif said he will file review petition in SC against disqualification. Financial Action Task Force, international terror financing watchdog, 26 June expressed concerns Islamabad still not fully complying with curbs against entities blacklisted under UN Security Council Resolution 1267. U.S. 21 July said it would withhold $50mn in military reimbursements to Pakistan because it has not taken sufficient action against Haqqani Network. Militant attacks continued amid tightened security following large-scale June attacks in Balochistan (west) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA, north west). At least two Frontier Corps (FC) personnel killed 10 July in bombing in FATA’s Kurram Agency; Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) claimed responsibility. Military 16 July announced new operation in FATA’s Khyber Agency against TTP splinter groups and ISIS-linked militants. Three FC personnel killed 17 July in TTP-claimed suicide attack in Peshawar. Several security personnel and civilians killed in attacks in Balochistan, including four police killed in Quetta 13 July and four members of Shia Hazara family killed in Mastung district 19 July. At least 25 killed in TTP-claimed suicide bomb in Lahore (east) 24 July.
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