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  • Author: Amira Jadoon, Andrew Mines
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Since its official formation in January 2015, the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan and Pakistan has risen to prominence as one of its most dangerous affiliates, making it one of the world’s top four deadliest militant organizations in 2018. Islamic State Khorasan’s (ISK) ascendency, however, has not come without heavy costs. Since 2015, a variety of state-led operations against ISK have inflicted substantial manpower and leadership losses upon the group across Afghanistan and Pakistan. This report is the first to conduct a systematic review of operations against ISK between 2015 and 2018 to answer the following questions: what is the nature and level of manpower losses incurred by ISK in various campaigns against the group? How have these operations altered the level of the ISK threat, and what do they reveal about ISK’s militant base? Finally, how have these operations affected ISK’s operational capacity? This report draws on open-source materials to assess the above questions, and provides detailed information on the various state-led operations against ISK in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the group’s associated costs in terms of losses of both leadership and other ISK-linked individuals. As this report demonstrates, intense targeting of ISK in both countries has resulted in substantial losses for the group; between 2015 and 2018, ISK’s losses amounted to the killing, capture, or surrender of well over 10,000 ISK-linked individuals and over 500 militants in leadership roles, predominantly in Afghanistan. A parallel examination of the group’s losses and its operational activity indicates that while state-led operations have curtailed ISK’s overall number of attacks and its geographical expansion, the group has retained its ability to conduct highly lethal attacks, as evidenced by recently claimed attacks in Kabul in late February and early March 2020. The report’s findings also imply that one of ISK’s key strengths, which has allowed it to survive the onslaught of state-led operations, is its access to a steady supply of experienced militants on both sides of the border that allows it to replace its top leaders and replenish its human capital.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Islamic State, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Asia
  • Author: Arsla Jawaid
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame
  • Abstract: Pakistan has struggled with Islamic militancy since the rise of the mujahideen in the 1980s. In the late 2000s, the Pakistan Army began establishing rehabilitation centers in the Swat Valley in an effort to deradicalize former Taliban fighters and other militants and reintegrate them into their communities. This report contrasts Pakistan’s deradicalization approach with the community-based program used in Denmark and the widely different prison-based program used in Saudi Arabia, and identifies areas in which the army’s approach could benefit from more extensive partnering with civilian-based organizations.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Prisons/Penal Systems, Violent Extremism, Islamism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Author: Noreen Naseer, Faiza Bashir, Muhammad Zubair
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Review of Human Rights
  • Institution: Society of Social Science Academics (SSSA)
  • Abstract: This article focuses on the clandestine role of women in aiding and abetting terrorism in the valley of Swat, Pakistan. It is based in extensive ethnographic fieldwork in the valley. The article investigates how women got involved in colluding with the Taliban when they took over the valley. Focusing on the class structure of the semi-tribal society of Swat Pushtuns, especially the segregation between men and women, the article suggests the Taliban exploited the long-built tension between the poor landless class and the rich landed class to convince the women of the former to collude with them with the promise of ameliorating their condition.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Women, Class
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Author: Shabana Fayyaz
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: South Asian Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: Events following the 9/11 attack have fundamentally changed the political landscape, especially for the Muslim World. A new wave of violent extremism emerged, altering the structure of global world order. Pakistan has suffered impeding consequences following the „global war on terror‟. Currently, Pakistan has been ranked at number five in the Global Terrorism Index of 2017. The magnitude of Pakistan‟s loss is not limited to its economic or political instability, but it has crept into the very fabric of the Pakistani society. The purpose of the paper is to analyze the impact of violent extremism on Pakistani youth.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism, Psychology, Youth, 9/11
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, Punjab
  • Author: Maryam Azam
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: South Asian Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: The rise of sectarian groups in Pakistan has sprouted many internal challenges for the state as well as for the society. The issue of sectarianism is directly linked with the security and harmony of Pakistani society as it has culminated into a grave internal security challenge causing violence and loss of human life. The institutionalization of these groups and their role in the political landscape of Pakistan reflects their complicated nature, objectives and the overall discourse on which these groups are built. Despite the fact that government in various time periods have banned these sectarian militant groups but they were able to operate in shadows or under the banner of different names and roles. This piece of research aims to explicate their multidimensional roles and their capacity to operate and affect the security paradox as well as society as a whole
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Religion, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence, Violent Extremism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, Punjab
  • Author: Umar Farooq, Asma Shakir Khawaja
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: South Asian Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: The article is intended to find out the geopolitical implications, regional constraints and benefits of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Researcher reviewed both published research articles and books to find out geopolitical implication, regional constraints and benefits of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. For this purpose, researcher also reviewed newspapers articles and published reports by government and non-governmental stakeholders working on CPEC. Review of the articles and reports indicated that CPEC had enormous benefits not only for China and Pakistan but also for the whole region. But different internal and external stakeholders are not in favor of successful completion of this project. Extremism, sense of deprivation, lack of political consensus, political instability are some of the internal constraints. On the other hand, Afghanistan, India, Iran, UAE and USA are posing constraints to halt the successful completion of CPEC.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation, Violent Extremism, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Iran, South Asia, India, Asia, Punjab, United Arab Emirates, United States of America
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Pakistani militants of various stripes collectively won just under ten per cent of the vote in the July 2018 parliamentary elections. Some represented long-standing legal Islamist parties, others newly established groups or fronts for organisations that have been banned as terrorists by Pakistan and/or the United Nations and the United States. The militants failed to secure a single seat in the national assembly but have maintained, if not increased, their ability to shape national debate and mainstream politics and societal attitudes. Their ability to field candidates in almost all constituencies, and, in many cases, their performance as debutants enhanced their legitimacy. The militants’ performance has fueled debate about the Pakistani military’s effort to expand its long- standing support for militants that serve its regional and domestic goals to nudge them into mainstream politics. It also raises the question of who benefits most, mainstream politics or the militants. Political parties help mainstream militants, but militants with deep societal roots and significant following are frequently key to a mainstream candidate’s electoral success. Perceptions that the militants may stand to gain the most are enhanced by the fact that decades of successive military and civilian governments, abetted and aided by Saudi Arabia, have deeply embedded ultra-conservative, intolerant, anti-pluralist, and supremacist strands of Sunni Islam in significant segments of Pakistani society. Former international cricket player Imran Khan’s electoral victory may constitute a break with the country’s corrupt dynastic policies that ensured that civilian power alternated between two clans, the Bhuttos and the Sharifs. However, his alignment with ultra-conservatism’s social and religious views, as well as with militant groups, offers little hope for Pakistan becoming a more tolerant, pluralistic society, and moving away from a social environment that breeds extremism and militancy. On the contrary, policies enacted by Khan and his ministers since taking office suggest that ultra- conservatism and intolerance are the name of the game. If anything, Khan’s political history, his 2018 election campaign, and his actions since coming to office reflect the degree to which aspects of militancy, intolerance, anti-pluralism, and supremacist ultra- conservative Sunni Muslim Islam have, over decades, been woven into the fabric of segments of society and elements of the state. The roots of Pakistan’s extremism problem date to the immediate wake of the 1947 partition of British India when using militants as proxies was a way to compensate for Pakistan’s economic and military weakness. They were entrenched by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in the 1970s and General Zia ul-Haq’s Islamization of Pakistani society in the 1980s. The rise of Islamist militants in the US-Saudi supported war against Soviet occupation troops in Afghanistan and opportunistic policies by politicians and rulers since then have shaped contemporary Pakistan.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Terrorism, United Nations, Violent Extremism, Secularism, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Middle East
  • Author: Bilal Mahmood, Abdul Majid
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: South Asian Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: The phrase of "the Global War on Terror" was adopted by the media. It was announced that Washington Administration would utilize all its resources to uproot terrorism and will punish all those who are responsible for the 9/11 tragedy. Both Islamic Jihadists and two Bush administrations have deployed spectacles of terror to promote their political agendas; that both deploy Manichean discourses of good and evil which themselves fit into dominant media codes of popular culture; and that both deploy fundamentalist and absolutist discourses.
  • Topic: Terrorism, History, Taliban, Violent Extremism, 9/11
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, North America, Punjab, United States of America
  • Author: Arshad Mahmood, Shaheen Akhtar
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: South Asian Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: Though Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is significantly weakened and dislodged from former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) yet, it has relocated to bordering areas in Afghanistan under ideological umbrella of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and gets operational and logistics support through Afghan and Indian intelligence agencies. ISIS, having been greatly marginalized in the Middle East is struggling to gain foothold in Afghanistan with TTP as its proxy to execute the deadly terrorist attacks in Pakistan. The presence of ISIS in Afghanistan not only poses threat to Afghanistan but its collusion with TTP threatens Pakistan’s internal security as well. Pakistan’s sacrifices go in vain if cooperation from Afghanistan and the US forces is not forthcoming in defeating ISIS and TTP operating from Afghanistan. The article argues while domestic reforms and effective implementation of National Action Plan (NAP) by Pakistan is important to quell extremism and terrorism from urban centres, the cooperation from regional countries, harbouring TTP is vital for the elimination of scourge of terrorism from the region.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, National Security, Regional Cooperation, Terrorism, Taliban, Violent Extremism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Asia, Central Asia, Punjab
  • Author: Muhammad Akram Soomro, Bushra H. Rehman
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: South Asian Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: Twenty first century has witnessed a new kind of war, “War on Terror”. Pakistan joined this war after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and became a front line state in this war. Resultantly, Pakistan had to end its support for the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban did not accept that policy shift and in reaction began attacking almost every place and segment of society right from military to politicians, mosques to parks, and hospitals to schools. The relationship between media and terrorism is indispensable because terrorists need media coverage and publicity, and media needs shocking and sensational news stories. Given this backdrop, this study intends to investigate two research questions. First, “What reasons of terrorist attacks were discussed in the editorials of major Urdu and English newspaper of Pakistan?” and second, “What solutions were suggested in the major Urdu and English newspaper of Pakistan?” Two newspapers, daily Dawn (English Newspaper) and daily Jang (Urdu Newspaper) have been selected for this study. Content analysis has been used as methodology and editorials published during 2001 to 2016 constitute the population for this research study. The results show that shift in foreign policy of Pakistan towards Afghanistan was discussed as a major reason of terrorist attacks and similarly, as solution, review of foreign policy of Pakistan towards Afghanistan was discussed in highest number of editorials.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Taliban, Violent Extremism, Media, News Analysis, Violence
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Asia, Central Asia, Punjab
  • Author: Sohail Ahmad, Mahwish Bakht
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Political Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: The Islamic State was hoping for a smooth establishment and extraordinary gains in the Khorasan region. The presence of US forces in Afghanistan and Operation Zarb-eAzb by the strong military of Pakistan did not allow it to happen. The Taliban could be a strong ally of IS in the region but clashes between the two had diminished the chances of its establishment and success in the Khorasan region. Both organizations have declared ‘Jihad’ against each other to enjoy monopoly status in the region, especially in Afghanistan. Afghan government even supported Taliban to fight against IS. Though IS has claimed many deadly attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan it has not gained the momentum and support it was expecting. The nature of this study is qualitative.
  • Topic: Violent Extremism, Islamic State, Conflict, Khorasan Group
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Asia
  • Author: Murad Ali, Reema Murad
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Political Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: Extremism, though not a new phenomenon, has undergone complete metamorphosis in the South Asian context. While in Sri Lanka, the discriminatory policy of ruling Sinhalese towards Tamil minority was reason of latter’s taking up arms to assert their identity, India is inflicting war on the assertive Kashmiris who are struggling for the recognition of their right of self-determination. At the same time, the ultra-right government of the BJP is encouraging religious extremism. With his baggage of Gujarat pogrom, Prime Minister Modi is treading a dangerous path of fanning Hindu nationalism. Afghanistan was subjected to the communist elements under the Babrak Karmal regime which had the backing of the Soviet Union and the traditional Afghan society was not receptive to the foreign ideology. People stood up against the direct Soviet intervention which they took as heretic. They were supported in their armed struggle by the US and Pakistan. As Soviets withdrew ignominiously from Afghanistan, the warlords went into civil war to assert themselves which created a vacuum filled by the Taliban. The US attacked Afghanistan to remove Taliban who were thought to have be harbouring the perpetrators of September 11, 2001 attack. The Kabul government however couldn’t win the confidence of the people and Taliban resurgence has cost the country dearly with ramifications for Pakistan. The element of extremism and violence was introduced in Pakistan was in Afghanistan after the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979 and got different and colossal dimensions post September 11, 2001 tragedy. In Pakistan, the Tehrik i Taliban Pakistan were formed after the Lal Masjid operation. There is hardly any parallel in history to match the devastating terrorist rampages costing huge loss of life and property. Unfortunately, the neighbouring India is fishing in the troubled waters to achieve some petty gains. While Afghanistan has its own circumstances and hence its responses to end the imbroglio, Pakistan has a long way to go end the menace of extremism as well as terrorism, of course in conjunction with Afghanistan, without which peace cannot return to the region.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Transnational Actors
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, Sri Lanka