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.
PM Imran Khan’s new Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) govt faced domestic and international challenges, including radical extremists threatening to besiege capital, military influence on policy, and U.S. pressure to end terrorist and militant sanctuaries. PTI came under pressure from late Aug as extremist Tehreek-i-Labaik Islam (Labaik, political party of Barelvi radical Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah) launched protest march from Punjab to Islamabad demanding govt sever relations with Netherlands over planned “blasphemous” cartoon contest by Dutch far-right; Labaik called off march 31 Aug after contest was cancelled. Govt 7 Sept removed Atif Mian, from minority Ahmadi sect, from Economic Advisory Council, reportedly under pressure from Labaik. On foreign policy front, U.S. Sec State Pompeo 5 Sept visited Islamabad amid tensions over allegations of Pakistani assistance to Afghan Taliban; ahead of talks, U.S. defence department 1 Sept proposed to reprogram $300mn of withheld coalition support funds citing lack of Pakistani support of U.S. South Asia strategy. Khan 6 Sept said Pakistan would not be “part of anyone else’s war”. Khan same day insisted there was no divide between civil and military leadership; amid reports of split between cabinet and military high command on direction of high-profile China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), govt reportedly reviewing scale of projects; army chief reiterated “CPEC was Pakistan’s economic future”; govt 20 Sept announced Saudi Arabia agreed to invest “heavily” in CPEC. Insecurity persisted with militants killing three soldiers in attack in North Waziristan tribal district (west) 13 Sept. Militants 18 Sept killed two paramilitary troops in shooting in Killa Saifullah district, Balochistan (south west). Parliament 4 Sept elected PTI’s nominee Arif Alvi President, with opposition fractured and unable to put up joint candidate. Islamabad High Court 19 Sept suspended sentences against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief and former PM Sharif, PTI govt’s most prominent opponent, and his daughter and son-in-law, while hearing evidence in appeals against their conviction for corruption.
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