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.
Supreme Court’s 31 Oct acquittal of Aasia Masih “Bibi”, Christian woman sentenced to death in 2010 for blasphemy, prompted violent protests countrywide by Islamist groups, spearheaded by Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), political front of hardline Barelvi Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah. Protests ended 2 Nov after ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) struck deal with TLP, pledging to prevent Bibi from leaving Pakistan, not oppose review petition against Supreme Court judgment, and reportedly release religious activists detained for violent acts; perceived govt capitulation raised concerns that radical Islamist parties and groups would be further emboldened. Police arrested TLP leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi 13 Nov to “safeguard public life, property and order” after he refused to withdraw call for further protests; over 300 Rizvi supporters arrested in violent clashes with police. Amid ongoing economic downturn govt continued to seek external support including assistance from China and International Monetary Fund bailout package; 20 Nov received $1bn from Saudi Arabia, part of controversial support package agreed in Oct. Relations with U.S. worsened as President Trump in 18 Nov interview accused Pakistan of doing “nothing” for U.S. and assisting Afghan Taliban, prompting Khan to accuse U.S. of using Pakistan as “scapegoat for their failures” in Afghanistan. Several security personnel killed in ongoing attacks including in North Waziristan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). Pakistani cleric and mentor of Afghan Taliban, Maulana Samiul Haq, killed in Rawalpindi, Punjab 2 Nov. Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for 17 Nov killing of ex-deputy inspector general of police in Quetta, Balochistan. Police 23 Nov killed three suspected suicide bombers attempting to attack Chinese consulate in Karachi; two police and two Pakistani civilians also killed in attack, claimed by separatist Balochistan Liberation Army; PM Khan ordered inquiry, calling attack “conspiracy” against strategic China-Pakistan cooperation. Explosion at market in Kalaya, Orakzai district shortly after killed at least 35; Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility.
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