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 faced growing internal challenges with signs of more robust opposition and worsening economic crisis, as well as tensions with neighbouring countries and international partners. Days before 14 Oct by-elections for several national and provincial assembly constituencies, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) 5 Oct arrested leader of parliamentary opposition and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif on corruption charges. Shahbaz – released on parole for 17 Oct special parliamentary session – denounced “unholy alliance” between Ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and NAB; PTI claimed it had no role in arrest. PML-N and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP, whose co-chair, former President Zardari, also faces corruption investigations) cooperated in some constituencies; PML-N won four parliamentary seats, PTI lost three. Amid worsening economic downturn, finance minister and central bank governor 11 Oct met International Monetary Fund (IMF) director reportedly seeking $8bn in loans; IMF insisted on greater transparency about Pakistan’s debts. Govt 23 Oct announced loans of $6bn from Saudi Arabia following Khan’s visit to Saudi economic conference in Riyadh 22-23 Oct. Govt 1 Oct reportedly reduced Chinese loans under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for rail projects from $8.2bn to $6.2bn, potentially straining relations with Beijing. Tensions also increased with Iran and Afghanistan over border incidents, as Iranian Sunni militant group Jaish al-Adl – reportedly based in Balochistan – 16 Oct kidnapped fourteen Iranian border guards close to border, and Pakistani and Afghan border forces 15 Oct clashed near city of Chaman in Balochistan (south west). FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi 2 Oct met with his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo and U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton to discuss Pakistan’s role in bringing Afghan Taliban to peace talks and U.S. suspension of financial assistance to Pakistani military over alleged Pakistani assistance to Afghan Taliban. Militant attacks continued, including roadside bombs killing three paramilitaries in Balochistan 2 Oct and three soldiers in South Waziristan (north west) 11 Oct. Financial Action Task Force visited Pakistan 7-18 Oct and expressed concern at govt’s lack of progress in improving anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing laws. PTI 12 Oct withdrew legislation to amend blasphemy law under apparent pressure from Islamist hardliners.
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