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.
New govt took power following July general election, militant violence continued, as did tensions with U.S. and Afghanistan over allegations of Pakistani assistance to Taliban. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan sworn in as country’s 22nd PM 18 Aug, promising an “Islamic welfare state”, after assembling coalition govt with support of several smaller parties to secure 176 (out of 342) votes in lawmakers’ 17 Aug vote for PM, ahead of 96 for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) nominee Shahbaz Sharif. Opposition alliance against PTI in protest at alleged election rigging appeared to unravel as former President Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), with 43 seats, refused to support Sharif’s nomination and abstained from voting. PTI also heads Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s provincial govt, has coalition govt in Balochistan, and formed govt in Punjab. Amid concerns over banned militant groups taking part in election through political fronts, extremist Tehreek-i-Labbaik Islam (political party of Barelvi radical Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah) emerged as major political player with two provincial assembly seats in Karachi; its 2.2mn votes make it fifth largest party in terms of vote share. Militant violence continued, including: gunmen 11 Aug killed three police officers in Gilgit-Balistan (north); bomb killed one person and injured ten in Chaman district, Balochistan (south west) 12 Aug. Following late-July speech in which he said relations with U.S. were currently “one-sided” and called for change to make them “mutually beneficial”, U.S. mid-Aug reportedly suspended funding for training of Pakistani military officers, and 20 Aug reiterated concerns that Afghan Taliban enjoy safe haven in Pakistan; U.S. Sec State Pompeo to visit Pakistan in Sept. Pakistani army chief strongly refuted allegation by Afghan President Ghani 16 Aug that Pakistani hospitals were treating Pakistani citizens who had participated in recent Taliban attack on Ghazni city. Financial Action Task Force (FATF) 16 Aug completed review of Pakistan’s anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing laws, telling govt that framework for non-profit and charitable organisations is weak and liable to misuse by militant and jihadist groups.
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