Embarking on field research into Pakistan’s chronic crises sixteen years ago, our South Asia Project Director Samina Ahmed was a woman in a man’s world. But her experiences persuade her that understanding conflict requires rigorously incorporating the perspectives of women and girls whose opportunities are frequently inhibited by violence.
Parliament 24 May passed legislation abolishing long-standing semi-autonomous Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and absorb region into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, amid hopes that introduction of Pakistani constitution and national judicial, security and government institutions will improve conditions in area; president signed bill 31 May. Pashtun Tahaffuz (protection) Movement (PTM) calling for end to rights abuses against Pashtuns, led by youth and activists mainly from FATA and KPK, continued to hold rallies countrywide in defiance of state pressure including arbitrary arrests and detentions. Police and paramilitary rangers harassed, detained or charged hundreds of PTM activists involved in organising rally in Karachi 13 May attended by several thousand supporters. Interior Minister Ashan Iqbal wounded by gunman during political rally in his Punjab constituency 6 May; attacker identified himself as member of radical Sunni group Barelvi Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (Labaik). Police 8 May confirmed affiliation, Labaik denied. Hazara activists began hunger strike in Balochistan provincial capital Quetta (south west) following attacks on community that killed at least 30 in April and 500 in past five years; after strikers met several senior officials 1-4 May, army announced increased security in city. Army 16 May claimed to have killed three Lashkar-e-Jhangvi members, including senior militant, during raid outside Quetta in which a senior military intelligence officer was also killed; five suspected bombers thwarted and killed during attempted revenge attack 17 May. Former PM Sharif in 11 May media interview appeared to implicitly criticise military’s political interventions, and lack of progress in trial of alleged Pakistani perpetrators of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks; National Security Council 14 May rejected criticism. PM Abbasi 15 May defended Sharif in parliament, proposed committee to review his remarks. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) govt completed its five-year term 31 May; ahead of elections scheduled for 25 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.
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.
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.
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
As the world marks Polio Day today, Pakistan remains the greatest impediment to a polio-free world.
Originally published in Lowy Interpreter