General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan. Photo: FSCEM45212/Wikimedia Commons
LAHORE – Pakistani institutions are evolving rapidly. With executive authority increasingly in the hands of elected representatives, rather than dispersed among various competing institutions, the political establishment has been revitalized – and it has taken three important steps toward strengthening democracy and the rule of law. Is Pakistan, a country long prone to military coups, finally developing a well-functioning political system?
On November 27, Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain – acting on the prime minister’s advice, as the constitution dictates – announced that General Raheel Sharif would succeed General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani as Chief of Army Staff, even though Sharif was not among the military establishment’s favored candidates. Unlike Kayani – who has directed the Directorate-General of Military Operations and the Inter-Services Intelligence (Pakistan’s spy agency) – Sharif has not served in any of the positions that typically prepare someone to lead Pakistan’s best-funded and most influential institution. » More
US Army Capt. administring a vaccine to a Pakistani child, 2006. Photo: US Military/Wikimedia Commons
The huge rise in militancy across Pakistan (pdf) is also creating a number of hazards for aid workers. On New Year’s Day gunmen on motorbikes ambushed and killed six female aid workers and a doctor in Khayber-Pakhtunkhwa province. It marked the latest in a series of attacks on polio vaccination charity workers.
On December 18, five female aid workers were killed as they were administering polio vaccinations. The following day another polio supervisor was killed along with her driver in north-western town of Peshawar. » More
The flags of India and Pakistan. Photo: Jack Zalium/flickr
The possibility of a nuclear war between Pakistan and India grows every day. If the Pakistanis do not bring under control the terrorist groups in the country and resolve the conflicts with India, it is not a matter of if it will happen, but when.
There have been few achievements to celebrate in the sixty-five year history of Pakistan and that has made the success of the nuclear program central to the national identity. This is especially true for the military that receives a quarter of the budget and is the only strong national institution.
Development of the weapons started in January of 1972 by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, when he was the Minister for Fuel, Power and Natural Resources. The decision to go nuclear came after a disastrous military defeat in 1971 by India. Bangladesh with Indian assistance separated from Pakistan. » More
Former members of the Taliban surrender their weapons. Image by Fraidoon Poya for UNAMA.
By the end of 2014, normal U.S. combat forces are scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan. As this departure date approaches, Afghanistan and its U.S.-led allies continue to explore potential peace deals with the Afghan Taliban. At the same time, the Pakistani government is reportedly considering its own peace talks with factions of the Pakistani Taliban—the conglomerate responsible for daily small-arms and suicide bomb attacks in Pakistani territory.
Since the emergence of the Pakistani Taliban, Islamabad has entered into a handful of peace deals with factions belonging to the group—both written and unwritten—in attempts to placate the militants. Most of these peace deals, however, resulted in the further strengthening of the Pakistani Taliban, and only a few of the agreements lasted beyond a few months. Violence flared not long after the agreements became effective, and the Pakistani Taliban then demanded even further concessions from the government. The only exception was the situation in the Swat Valley, where the government launched an aggressive military operation against the Pakistani Taliban after the peace deal failed to render any results. In that case, the Mullah Fazlullah-led Pakistani Taliban faction was forced to flee the Swat Valley, and that region remains in control of the government today.
This article reviews the key peace agreements reached between Islamabad and various Pakistani Taliban factions, and it assesses whether the deals achieved their objectives. » More