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  • Author: Clare Castillejo
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: Pakistan's election result was a vote for the status quo and has clearly maintained power in the hands of the country's political elite. However, analysis of the election process and outcome does indicate some shifts in the deeply entrenched patterns of political, social and economic exclusion that fuel Pakistan's fragility. On the negative side these include increased splits among the provinces and a more dominant Punjab, as well as greater threats to minorities and secular voices. However, some positive trends also emerge. These include a possible increase in political appetite for economic reform and development investment; growing political confidence among Pakistan's women; and the political engagement of the urban youth and middle-class populations with an interest in changing Pakistan's corrupt political system. As the international community begins to engage with Nawaz Sharif's new government it must recognise the importance of addressing exclusion as a major cause of Pakistan's instability. In particular, it must seek new entry points in the post-election environment to support the emergence of a more inclusive political settlement in Pakistan.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Economics, Ethnic Conflict, Gender Issues, Islam
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Author: Michael Kugelman
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: This policy brief assesses the potential for two types of youth-led political change movements in Pakistan. One is an Arab Spring-like campaign, fuelled by demands for better governance and new leadership. The other is a religious movement akin to the Iranian Revolution of 1979, which seeks to transform Pakistan into a rigid Islamic state. The brief discusses the presence in Pakistan of several factors that suggest the possibility of the emergence of an Arab Spring-type movement. These include economic problems; corruption; a young, rapidly urbanising and disillusioned population; youth-galvanising incidents; and, in Imran Khan, a charismatic political figure capable of channelling mass sentiment into political change.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Youth Culture, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Arabia
  • Author: Stephen P. Cohen
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: As a state and a nation Pakistan has been in trouble for many years, but both now seem to be in a downward spiral. As a recent Brookings study observed, it is very difficult to predict Pakistan's short-term future, or the impact on its neighbours, let alone the wider international community. Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, its history of irresponsible behaviour as a nuclear proliferator, the close ties between radical Islamists and Pakistan, and its continuing hostile relations with India and Afghanistan all complicate efforts to look ahead even five years, let alone to speculate about effective policies.
  • Topic: Islam, Nuclear Weapons, Politics
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Author: Kaja Borchgrevink, Kristian Berg Harpviken
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: Searching for the roots of terrorism after the attacks of 9/11, the world's attention turned to Pakistan and to Pakistan's religious schools, the “madrasas”. This put pressure on the Pakistani government to reform the madrasas and ignited a long standing debate on the role of religious education in Pakistan and its links to radicalisation and militancy. This policy brief argues that the madrasa debate is not premised on a fair description of reality. The madrasa sector is diverse. The majority of Pakistan's madrasas are moderate institutions, concerned with promoting Islamic beliefs and knowledge. This makes it important to distinguish between moderate and militant madrasas. Madrasas must be seen as part of an Islamic tradition of learning, not primarily as political groups, but rather as socio-cultural institutions that are revered by many in Pakistan today.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Author: Marco Mezzera
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: The May 2nd 2011 Abbottabad raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden heightened long-standing tensions between America and Pakistan. What little trust still existed between the establishments of the two countries almost completely disappeared. It is in this context that Pakistan made immediately clear that it was not dependent on Washington's benevolence and that it could turn at any time to its “all-weather friend” China for assistance that is free of criticism. Originating more than 60 years earlier, the Sino-Pakistani relationship until then had gone relatively unnoticed by most observers. After Abbottabad, while American policymakers were busy questioning the reliability of the Pakistani state and suspending some of the huge flows of military aid that had been poured into that country since 2001, Islamabad was swiftly taking countermeasures.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Terrorism, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, America