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.
Protests in Lahore, led by faction of radical Barelvi party Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (or Labaik) seeking resignation of Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah for comments perceived to be sympathetic to minority Ahmadi sect, ended 1 Dec after Punjab govt reportedly agreed to reconsider restrictions on use of loudspeakers by mosques, and allow for review of Punjab education curriculum’s religious content; govt refused to dismiss Sanaullah. Followed late Nov protests led by Labaik demanding removal of Law Minister Zahid Hamid. Govt’s capitulation to protesters’ demands fuelled concerns that hardline Islamist parties will play more assertive and aggressive role, undermining ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and other mainstream parties ahead of July 2018 general elections. Jihadist and militant attacks included: in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)’s Peshawar (north west), Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) suicide bombers 1 Dec stormed Agricultural Training Institute campus, killing at least nine. In FATA’s North Waziristan agency, explosive device targeting army vehicle killed at least six 5 Dec; suspected militants 12 Dec attacked army patrol, killing two soldiers. In Mohmand agency, suspected militants 22 Dec killed three Frontier Corps personnel from Afghan side of border. In Balochistan (west), unclaimed attack on military-run railway construction in Harnai district 5 Dec killed three; Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP) claimed 17 Dec suicide bombing in Christian church in provincial capital Quetta that killed nine and injured over 50. Over 300 Baloch separatist militants, including seventeen commanders, surrendered to govt forces in Quetta 9 Dec. Amid growing U.S./Afghan frustration over Pakistan’s failure to take action against Afghan Taliban inside its territory, U.S. military continued to bomb militants from Haqqani Network inside Pakistan. Muhammad Saeed, alleged mastermind behind 2008 Mumbai attacks and leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (formerly Lashkar-e-Tayyba), 3 Dec announced plan to run in 2018 elections under Milli Muslim League (MML) banner. Supreme Court 15 Dec found Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan not guilty of failing to declare overseas business assets, but disqualified PTI Secretary General Jehangir Khan Tareen from elected office for life over failure to declare assets in his electoral nomination form.
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