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.
Targeted killings and attacks continued in Balochistan province in west, including 7 March killing of police official guarding Hazara neighbourhood in Quetta, and 15 March bomb in Qila Saifullah district which killed seven people. In east, suicide attack on police checkpoint in Lahore killed six policemen 14 March. Amid broader push against terror financing and money laundering, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa authorities mid-March seized assets and closed properties belonging to Jamaat-ud-Dawa (charity front of radical group anti-India Lashkar-e-Tayyaba). Balochistan police 13 March registered criminal cases against Manzoor Pashteen, leader of Pashtun Tahaffuz (protection) movement which began sit-ins in Jan against extrajudicial killings and has developed into major nonviolent civil society campaign; group organiser Aftab Mehsud found dead in Dera Ismail Khan late Feb. Police 21 March arrested suspended superintendent wanted for 13 Jan killing which triggered sit-ins. Ahead of 3 March indirect senate elections, Election Commission 28 March removed former PM Nawaz Sharif as president of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party following Supreme Court’s 21 Feb ruling that he could not continue as party president after his July 2017 disqualification from office of PM; court’s judgement widely criticised by legal community as judicial overreach. PML-N selected Sharif’s brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif as party president. PML-N won fifteen seats in 3 March elections overtaking Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) as largest party in senate, though PML-N’s candidates were officially elected as independents in line with Electoral Commission ruling.
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