A fragile democratic transition faces the dual challenges of political instability and poorly designed counter-terrorism strategies that sacrifice long-term peace for perceived short-term security goals, fuelling militancy in various parts of the country. Across the border, rival India accuses Pakistan of harbouring terrorists and even sponsoring deadly attacks on Indian soil. There is no resolution in sight to the two countries’ dispute over Kashmir, which continues to claim soldiers’ and civilians’ lives along the Line of Control. Crisis Group monitors Pakistan’s domestic politics and security, with the aim of informing Pakistani leaders and international stakeholders about effective strategies for countering instability within the country and preventing its spillover abroad.
Two large attacks on police installations have rocked Pakistan, compelling the authorities to rethink their approach to countering militancy. Their dilemma is that the insurgents’ main supporters – the new authorities in Afghanistan – are also their long-time allies.
Crackdown on former PM Imran Khan’s party deepened Khan’s isolation, insecurity persisted in provinces bordering Afghanistan and govt secured international funding amid debt default fears.
Military-led crackdown intensified on Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). After large numbers of senior PTI leaders exited party following 9 May street unrest and authorities continued to detain many others, several journalists deemed sympathetic to PTI were disappeared during month, while others were detained and charged with crimes such as sedition and mutiny against state. Military 7 June called for “noose of law” to be tightened for masterminds of “politically driven rebellion”, and reiterated intention to try civilians in military courts. Supreme Court 22 June began hearing several petitions challenging military trials of civilians. Military spokesman 26 June announced dismissal of at least three senior officers, including lieutenant general, and disciplinary action against 15 other officers, including three major generals, for failure to protect military installations on 9 May. Khan’s isolation deepened as he faced charges that could result in disqualification from public office and his former close confidant 8 June launched Istekham-i-Pakistan Party with backing of almost 100 former PTI leaders, in likely bid to damage PTI’s electoral chances ahead of polls.
Security operations and militant attacks continued in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces. Pakistani Taliban 8 June claimed killing of two police constables in Swat district’s Mingora city. Militants same day killed police constable in Lakki Marwat district. Gun battle in North Waziristan district 9-10 June killed three soldiers. Security forces 28 June killed three Islamic State militants in Bajur district. In Balochistan province, militant attack along border with Iran 1 June killed two soldiers; Baluch Liberation Army suicide bomber 24 June killed police officer in Turbat city.
Govt secured International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal. PM Shehbaz Sharif 9 June presented 2023-24 budget to parliament providing tax exemptions for several sectors, including IT and agriculture. Moody’s Investor Services 14 June warned that Pakistan could fail to revive IMF program by looming expiration on 30 June, heightening risks of sovereign default. In effort to secure “standby arrangement” with IMF, govt removed subsidies and tax exemptions and reduced expenditures with revised budget passed by parliament on 25 June. IMF 30 June announced staff-level agreement with govt for $3bn fund.
As Pakistan faces interlocking crises that threaten the outbreak of violence, political stability is of the utmost importance. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2023 – Spring Update, Crisis Group explains what the EU can do to help.
The Pakistani military is getting new leadership amid political turmoil centred around former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who refuses to accept the current government as legitimate. The generals promise not to get involved, but if the dispute turns violent, they may feel compelled to intervene.
A would-be assassin wounded former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan as he led his followers in a protest march calling for snap elections. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Samina Ahmed explains the causes and possible consequences of the country’s latest political tumult.
A local jihadist group and a violent protest movement are driving renewed sectarian strife in Pakistan. To prevent a slide back into violence, Islamabad should ensure those inciting or perpetrating violent acts are prosecuted while denying hardliners the civic space to propagate their hatred.
Kicked out of office, former Prime Minister Imran Khan keeps denying his successor’s legitimacy. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2022 – Spring Update, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to help Pakistan's new government ward off violence, expand the social safety net and promote electoral reforms.
This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood and Crisis Group trustee and leading South Asia expert Ahmed Rashid talk about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ouster, and the domestic and foreign policy challenges facing his successor, Shahbaz Sharif.
Imran Khan has become the first Pakistani prime minister to lose office through a parliamentary no-confidence vote. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Samina Ahmed explains that his ouster occurred by constitutional means, but his challenge to the new government’s legitimacy could lead to violence.
The renewed militancy prompted by the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan threatens hard-won gains for the women of northwest Pakistan.
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