A fragile democratic transition faces the dual challenges of political instability and poorly designed counter-terrorism strategies that sacrifice long-term peace for perceived short-term security goals, fuelling militancy in various parts of the country. Across the border, rival India accuses Pakistan of harbouring terrorists and even sponsoring deadly attacks on Indian soil. There is no resolution in sight to the two countries’ dispute over Kashmir, which continues to claim soldiers’ and civilians’ lives along the Line of Control. Crisis Group monitors Pakistan’s domestic politics and security, with the aim of informing Pakistani leaders and international stakeholders about effective strategies for countering instability within the country and preventing its spillover abroad. 

CrisisWatch Pakistan

Deteriorated Situation

Pakistani Taliban killed dozens in suicide attack in Peshawar; tensions remained high as former PM Imran Khan campaigned for early polls and electoral dispute erupted in Sindh province.

Deadly bombing rocked Peshawar city amid spate of Pakistani Taliban attacks. Suicide attack – claimed and then denied by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – at mosque in Peshawar’s Police Lines district 30 Jan killed at least 90 and injured over 200. Earlier, TTP maintained high-frequency attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, killing over dozen security forces. Notably: 6 Jan killed two police officers in Lakki Marwat district; 14 Jan killed three police officers in Peshawar; suicide attack 18 Jan killed three police officers in Khyber district. Attack from Iran in Panjgur district 18 Jan killed four soldiers. Security operation in South Waziristan district 5 Jan killed 11 militants, including top TTP commander. Meanwhile, interior minister 2 Jan said “Islamabad may target the TTP in Afghanistan if Kabul does not take action to dismantle them”.

Khan and allies maintained pressure on govt, dissolving two provincial assemblies. Khan ally and Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi 11 Jan won confidence vote in Punjab assembly, which was dissolved 14 Jan. In KP, chief minister – and member of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) – 18 Jan dissolved assembly; elections now due in both provinces in April. Election commission 22 Jan appointed opposition nominee as Punjab’s caretaker chief minister; PTI 27 Jan challenged nomination at Supreme Court. Meanwhile, PTI embarked on new bid to push for early general elections by seeking to withdraw April 2022 resignations of 131 lawmakers in order to defeat PM Sharif in potential confidence vote; 45 PTI members 23 Jan withdrew resignations but failed to prevent speaker from 17, 20, 22 Jan accepting resignations of all PTI lawmakers; election commission 29 Jan announced by-elections for 86 national assembly seats in March.

Political tensions rose in Sindh province. During second phase of local polls 15 Jan, clashes and electoral disputes erupted between rival party activists; if Sindh’s ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and closest contender Jamaat-e-Islami fail to reach agreement on key positions, particularly Karachi’s mayor, instability in financial hub could further undermine fragile economy.

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In The News

30 Jan 2022
Rather than punishing the Afghan people and making life difficult for them, we can restructure the sanctions regime so it targets the Taliban. ABC News

Ibraheem Bahiss

Analyst, Afghanistan
4 Mar 2019
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]. Reuters

Laurel Miller

Former Program Director, Asia

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