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Pakistan Security Research Unit

PSRU Papers and Briefings

Briefing Paper 76:

'Executing Governance Reforms in FATA: Impediments and Challenges' (4/10/2017) - Syed Adnan Ali Shah Bukhari

Since the Pakistan government’s decision in November 2015 to seek to integrate the FATA into the political mainstream in Pakistan, progress has been slow. Following the then Prime Minister’s acceptance of the recommendations the Committee on FATA Reforms (CFR), centred on the integration of the FATA with the KP, the government introduced two bills – the 30th Constitutional Amendment and Tribal Areas Rewaj Act 2017 – in the parliament on 15 May 2017, but the reforms remain in limbo. This brief outlines some the key impediments and challenges to progress which account for the current hiatus and provides insight about possible ways forward for this crucially important issue of governance reform.


Briefing Paper 75:

'Explaining Women’s Disempowerment in Pakistan' (30/10/2016) - Farah Naz

Pakistan's disempowerment of women and neglect of women's rights is not just a social injustice but represents a security risk in an education system which fails to build the resilience required for women to stand up to intimidation from radical religious and terrorist groups. Women in Pakistan are educated to be disempowered. The ordinary women of Pakistan have no meaningful rights to make either political or family decisions and their only duty is to follow the will of the male members of the family. According to the Madrasa education system of Pakistan, women lack reason and, therefore, they cannot take an active part in the political and family decision-making processes. This paper will use the Feminist Securitization Theory to explore the causes of women's disempowerment in Pakistan. This study draws on semi-structured interviews conducted with women in the two Pakistani cities in Swat and Peshawar (KPK) to examine the reasons for the disempowerment of women. The sample population was drawn from the Madrasa education system, including university students, and teachers. This paper discusses the status of women in Islam under civil and military rule, and finds that the failure of the Government of Pakistan to address women's disempowerment has implications for society and for security


Briefing Paper 74:

'The Malala Yousafzai Phenomenon: Women Promoting Peace in Pakistan' (30/06/2016) - Nathalene Reynolds

Should Pakistan take pride in the Nobel Prize for Peace that was awarded to the young Malala Yousafzai? Should it in parallel regret the scant attention the ‘international community’ has given to the numerous other female and male civil society figures who have also worked for an enlightened education system and thus for the promotion of peace? There is no doubt that dramatic circumstances thrust Malala Yousafzai into an international limelight of which she had never dreamed. One could of course blame Western powers looking to sooth their conscience as they sought to avoid tackling head-on the terrible consequences of the ‘war on terror’ in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Such an instrumentalisation of the Malala phenomenon should not, however, necessarily lead us to reject out of hand her contribution to efforts to improve the female condition. The first part of this paper will look at the path of this young Pakistani who dared (albeit under the guidance of an ambitious father) to make herself the advocate of literacy for girls. This will allow us to examine the context – often dangerous – in which Pakistani social workers act. The awards that Malala Yousafzai has collected around the world has provoked, in her country of origin, a debate worthy of analysis. One needs to try to deconstruct the West’s portrayal of Malala; she was in a sense projected as the only actor of note in a country overwhelmed by religious obscurantism. It is easy to understand the anger this has provoked in Pakistan. A civil society battling to promote durable peace has little use for simplistic Western analysis to make its own critic of the political and strategic direction taken by successive governments in Islamabad (and Rawalpindi).

Western and Pakistani perceptions of the concept of ‘promoters of peace’ differ. The former presupposes an acceptance of enlightenment ideas that have in fact been betrayed during the colonial and post-colonial periods. The latter rightly considers that it is a matter of facilitating a progressive change in dominant collective mentality. The second section of this paper will attempt to define the concept of ‘peace builder’ in a society that harbours a kaleidoscopic variety of conditions for women. The contributions of many other social workers who have fortunately not suffered the same kind of attack as Yousafzai remain anonymous even if their work can also be seen as small steps towards the objectives of resolution 1325 (S/RES/1325 (2000)) of the Security Council of the United Nations, a body that, it goes without saying, is dominated by Western interests whose policies have, ironically enough, on occasions jeopardised peace. This text, adopted on October 31st 2000, calls for the political inclusion of female voices in conflict prevention and resolution. For the moment, this seems to remain a mere empty statement of intent, since not only are women often the most affected by conflicts, but there tends to be a retreat into tradition in times of adversity.


Briefing Paper 73:

'The Emergence of Islamic State in Pakistan' (14/10/2015) - Simon Ross Valentine

The Islamic State (al-Dawla al-Islamiyya, IS), also known as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham); ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) or Da’esh (Islamic Nation of Iraq and Al-Sham), has, according to FBI Director James Comey, become the greatest international terrorist threat, surpassing al-Qaeda in terms of influence and activity.2 Having gained control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria, the IS has openly proclaimed its aim of establishing a world-wide Caliphate, characterised by the implementation of a strict Wahhabi-Salafi interpretation of Shariah. Having the support of affiliated groups, and individual "lone-wolf activists", the IS has carried out terrorist activities in various countries including Nigeria, Egypt and Tunisia. Extremely wealthy, disciplined and well organised the IS, possessing a first rate propaganda apparatus, has been successful in recruiting jihadi fighters – both men and women – from around the world. Despite air strikes by a US led coalition the IS has proven to be highly resilient, achieving major military victories, and able to extend its influence overseas, inspiring terrorist acts in France, Belgium, Tunisia and elsewhere. This article, after briefly explaining the history, beliefs and ideology of the IS considers the presence of the IS in Pakistan and Afghanistan, countries vital for maintaining the geo-political stability of the South Asian region, yet nations already troubled by the rigours of militant Islam. Following an examination of the emergence of the IS in the Af-Pak region, consideration is given to relevant key issues: the nature of the rift that has emerged between al-Qaeda and the IS; the reasons why certain elements of the Pakistan Taliban have joined the IS while other Taliban groups are actively opposed to it; and the response so far by the Pakistani authorities to the menace of the IS ideology. The article concludes with suggestions for policy-makers and decision-makers relating to the seriousness or otherwise of the IS threat.


Briefing Paper 72:

No Easy Walk to Democracy: Security, Politics and the State in Pakistan (14/05/2015) - Julian Richards and Chaudhry Miraj

The successful transition of government from one democratically elected regime to another in 2013 marked a first in Pakistan’s history, and offered a message of hope in the democratic development of the country. Subsequent civil protests spearheaded by Imran Khan’s PTI party, however, pose difficult questions about the constitutional and democratic development of a state such as Pakistan. Structural deficiencies in the state’s ability to deliver security, furthermore, temper optimism over Pakistan’s pathway towards full democracy, and show there is much yet to achieve.


Briefing Paper 71:

Formal Institutionalization of Military Rule: The 21st Amendment in Pakistan (14/05/2015) - Siegfried O. Wolf

The first ‘regular’ transfer of power between two civilian governments in Pakistan manifested itself in the aftermath of the 2013 general elections. Many celebrated this shift as a positive sign of democratic consolidation. However, the appreciation of this allegedly ‘new democratic wave’ ignores the resilience of decade-old authoritarian, and anti-democratic patterns. The military still dominates all significant political decision-making processes. Furthermore, with the 21st constitutional amendment the soldiers were able to further entrench their formal role in the political-institutional setup. This seriously challenges the notions of civilian supremacy, which is unfortunate, since civilian control of the armed forces is a necessary constituent for democracy and democratic consolidation.


Briefing Paper 70:

The Influence of Wahhabism in Pakistan (24/06/2014) - Simon Ross Valentine

In the last few years there have been repeated claims concerning the growing deleterious influence of Wahhabism in the Indian sub-continent and the support by the Saudi Arabian government of militancy, activities resulting in the introduction of extreme interpretations of Shariah; the Arabization of language and culture and the persecution of minority groups in various localities. After briefly explaining Wahhabism, its beliefs and ideology, this paper will consider the indoctrination and propaganda war allegedly undertaken by the Wahhabi Movement in Pakistan especially, as critics claim, through its use of "charities" and the madrassah system. Attention is given to Wahhabi opposition to Shi’ism and Sufism, particularly the veneration of pirs and al-awliya (holy men), and the cult of shrines, practices associated with the Sufi, Shia and Barelvi traditions. Tentative conclusions will be presented for further debate, principally the need for reform of the education system and for political accountability by the Pakistani government and elsewhere in acknowledging and preventing overseas funding of militancy within its borders.


Briefing Paper 69:

Just Another Carte Blanche? EU GSP Plus Status and Human Rights in Pakistan (20/06/2014) - Siegfred O. Wolf

The EU is considering offering Pakistan a Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP+) in trade which could have huge implications for the economic well-being of Pakistan. However this deal is tied to a package of human rights, labour rights, good governance and environment commitments. In the past Pakistan has signed up to such commitments but has failed to implement them (most starkly perhaps in relation to women’s rights and minority rights). This paper argues that the EU should seek to use the leverage of the GSP+ deal to ensure Pakistani compliance with, and implementation of, its obligations and should be willing to withdraw the deal if it does not. It cautions that the EU should not countenance a "carte blanche" in which Pakistan’s ruling elite reaps the rewards of EU trade liberalisation without any corresponding commitment – beyond lip service - to improve rights, governance, and environmental protection.


Briefing Paper 68:

'Nawaz Sharif and the Crisis of Political Authority in Pakistan' (22/07/2013) - David Schaefer

Despite his election victory and government majority, Nawaz Sharif’s time in office will be characterised by prolonged political instability. The threat to Pakistani democracy from the country’s powerful military establishment is receding under pressure from new social trends, but an empowered judiciary now presents another obstacle for effective governance. Pakistan’s democracy is plagued by a number of inter-related problems which can be traced to longstanding political dysfunction. Averting disaster will require the centralisation of political authority in the short term, not de-centralisation. Given the legacy of feudalism in Pakistani politics, this will not be an easy task: Sharif will have to tackle three issues – economy, energy, and insurgency – while successfully nurturing his political authority, and without triggering a backlash that could derail his government. Depending on his management of the politics of reform, this will probably involve poor relations with the judiciary or increasing unpopularity. 


Research Paper 67:

'Illiberal Democrats and the Marginalisation of Religious Minorities in Pakistan' (10/05/2013) - Ajay K. Raina

The central argument of this paper is that the illiberal particularities of the politics of two of Pakistan’s greatest leaders – Muhammad Jinnah and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto – decisively shaped the emergence of an Islamic, constitutional, legal, political, and educational context in Pakistan in which religious minorities, not least Pakistan’s Christians, are marginalised and repressed. It argues that the means to address these problems are extremely limited, but that ways forward may be found in the detoxification of the public sector school’s curricula, and in the introduction of super-majority political arrangements in which minorities are more centrally placed within the electoral process.



Briefing Paper 66:

'The Siachen Glacier and Independent Arbitration' (01/05/2013) - Brian Cloughley

The success of India and Pakistan in reaching and subsequently observing the Rann of Kutch agreement in 1968 provides not only an important illustration of the value of negotiation over violence but also offers important insight into how a similar agreement to resolve the dispute over the Siachen Glacier might be reached to the benefit of both India and Pakistan. This briefing tracks the efforts of the two countries to resolve the Siachen dispute, and looks at the linkage of this dispute to other issues of contestation between India and Pakistan. The author tracks the development of his own thinking on the issue and suggests a face-saving way out for both parties based on demilitarisation and independent arbitration.



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