The new government of Imran Khan is repressing opposition voices and yielding to parties propagating sectarianism. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2019 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to help Pakistan abide by its international commitments and keep supporting democratic governance.
Govt faced tensions with India and Iran following terrorist attacks blamed on Pakistani-based militants, while attacks also continued inside Pakistan. Pakistani-based Jaish-e-Muhammad 14 Feb killed some 45 Indian paramilitary troops in suicide attack in Kashmir, followed by Indian and Pakistani airstrikes across Line of Control (LoC, dividing Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir) (see Kashmir). Iranian Sunni militant group Jaish al-Adl – reportedly based in Balochistan – killed 27 Iranian soldiers in 13 Feb suicide attack near border (see Iran); Iranian army 16 Feb accused Pakistan of providing Jaish al-Adl safe haven and warned Iran would retaliate if “Pakistan does not carry out its responsibilities”; relations with Teheran further strained as Saudi Crown Prince 17-18 Feb visited Islamabad, signing investment agreements worth some $20bn. Landmark Supreme Court ruling 6 Feb condemned Sunni hardline Labaik Ya Rasool Allah’s use of violence in Nov 2017 protests, called on federal and provincial govts to prosecute those who violate law, and emphasised constitutional bar on members of armed forces engaging in “any kind of political activity”. Leader of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (Pashtun protection movement, PTM) killed during demonstration in Loralai city, Balochistan (south west) 2 Feb, with PTM leaders alleging police had beaten him to death; police denied allegation, 6 Feb arrested PTM protesters in Islamabad. Attacks continued inside Pakistan including Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan-claimed attack that killed four police in Dera Ismail Khan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (north west) 12 Feb. In coastal city Karachi, targeted attacks on politicians and sectarian violence increased including killing of Pak Sarzameen Party leader 19 Feb and murder of local leader of Sunni hardline group Sipah-e-Sahaba 4 Feb.
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.
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.
I don’t believe that Pakistan has the capability to straight out make peace happen in Afghanistan, but they definitely have the capability to make peace not [happen].
Reciprocal airstrikes by India and Pakistan have been accompanied by shelling, troop reinforcements and small arms fire. In this Q&A calling for restraint between the nuclear-armed neighbours, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director Laurel Miller notes that the airspace violations alone were the worst for 50 years.
A 14 February suicide attack by Pakistan-based militants was their bloodiest strike in Indian-administered Kashmir in over three decades. In this Q&A, our Asia Program Director Laurel Miller warns that even a limited Indian retaliatory strike could spark a sharp escalation in conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
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.