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  • Author: Selina Adam Khan
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The December 2014 terrorist attack in Peshawar that killed 132 schoolchildren forced Pakistan to acknowledge the extent of its ongoing problem with radical Islamist militancy. Islamabad, however, has yet to implement a comprehensive deradicalization strategy. In January 2015, it took a formal step in this direction with its twenty-point National Action Plan in response to the Peshawar attack—a step, but only a first step. If deradicalization is to meet with any success in Pakistan, the national narrative itself needs to change.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Author: Raheem ul Haque
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Pakistani leaders face serious domestic extremism challenges; more than 47,000 thousand lives have been lost in terrorism-related violence in Pakistan over the past decade. Effective counter-radicalization processes must take into account Pakistan's large young adult population (ages 15-29), which collectively accounts for at least 30 percent of the overall population. Youth radicalization in Pakistan can be understood as the product of an exclusively Islamic identity—meaning a majority of youth identify primarily through their religion over nationality— combined with a broader reactive movement comprised of militant, political and missionary organizations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Demographics, Islam, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Author: Arif Rafiq
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Sectarian violence between Sunni Deobandi and Shia Muslims in Pakistan has escalated in recent years. Most of this violence is perpetrated by local networks, but the sectarian phenomenon also has important ties to regional security dynamics and transnational terrorist networks. Despite sporadic state crackdowns, Pakistan's leading Sunni Deobandi sectarian militant groups have been able to maintain a persistent presence thanks in part to reluctance among mainstream Pakistani military and political leaders to directly confront groups that are sometimes seen as serving utilitarian political interests. Despite this negligence, Sunni Deobandi militants have also established linkages with terrorist groups that target the Pakistani state, such as al-Qaeda and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Rising conflict in the greater Middle East over the past five years has strengthened the sectarian political narrative in Pakistan and emboldened sectarian militant networks on both sides of the conflict.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Pakistan
  • 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: Max Boot
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Afghanistan is approaching a major inflection point in its long and turbulent history. In 2014 most of the foreign military forces are due to pull out. With them will go the bulk of foreign financing that has accounted for almost all of the state's budget. Twenty fourteen is also the year that Afghanistan is due to hold presidential elections. Hamid Karzai, the only president the country has known since the fall of the Taliban, has said he will not seek another term in office. Thus Afghanistan is likely to have a new president to lead it into a new era. This era will be shaped by many factors, principally decisions made by Afghans themselves, but the United States has the ability to affect the outcome if it makes a sustained commitment to maintain security, improve the political process, and reduce Pakistani interference so as to build on the tenuous gains achieved by the U.S. troop surge since 2010.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Democratization, Islam, Terrorism, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Taliban
  • Author: Moeed Yusuf
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Out of the proposed alternatives for dealing with Pakistan discussed in Washington, one that seems to have gained some traction calls for aggressively playing up Pakistan's civil-military divide by propping up civilians while dealing harshly with the military and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). While normatively attractive, the approach to deal with Pakistan as two Pakistans is unworkable. It grossly exaggerates the U.S.'s capacity to affect institutional change in Pakistan and fundamentally misunderstands what underpins the civil-military dynamic. In reality, any attempt by the U.S. to actively exploit this internal disconnect is likely to end up strengthening right wing rhetoric in Pakistan, provide more space for security-centric policies, and further alienate the Pakistani people from the U.S. A more prudent approach would be one that limits itself to targeted interventions in areas truly at the heart of the civil-military dichotomy and that would resonate positively with the Pakistani people: by continuing to help improve civilian governance performance and by providing regional security assurances to Pakistan.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Corruption, Islam, Terrorism, War, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, South Asia, Washington
  • Author: Stephanie Flamenbaum
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: As the Pakistani electoral cycle gears up for an election, the country's traditional political stakeholders face a change in the tenor of political discourse and a more robust electoral field due to the recent rise in popular support for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), or Pakistan Movement for Justice, helmed by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Author: Joshua T. White, Shuja Ali Malik
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) remain mired in an archaic century-old system of indirect governance that provides space in which militant movements have thrived. President Asif Ali Zardari recently announced the FATA Local Governance Regulation 2012, establishing a system of local councils in the troubled tribal region. Although the regulation is disappointingly vague, and retains the sweeping prerogatives of the central government, it appears to have been driven in part by the army's interest in building civilian governance capacity in conflict-torn areas. The governments of Pakistan and the United States, along with local and international stakeholders, should advocate for continuity of implementation, insist on party-based local council elections, encourage experimentation within the bounds of the regulation, link the new councils to existing development structures, press the government to articulate a longer-term political vision for the FATA, and be realistic about the necessity of the army's active involvement in shaping governance policy in the tribal areas.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Corruption, Government, Islam, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, South Asia
  • Author: Endy Bayuni
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Blasphemy can be a deadly affair in Indonesia and Pakistan, two of Asia's largest Muslim-majority countries. Triggered by allegations of blasphemy, virulent mob attacks against those perceived to have offended Islam have rocked the two countries in recent months. While Indonesia and Pakistan have laws that specifically address issues of blasphemy, those unfortunate enough to be labeled blasphemers are rarely taken to court. Encouraged by, if not with tacit approval from, conservative Muslim leaders, Indonesian and Pakistani mobs have been taking the law into their own hands instead.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Indonesia, Asia
  • 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