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(Front second right) Imran Khan, former Pakistani prime minister and leader of the opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, waves to supporters during a protest rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on July 2. FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP via Getty Images

Pakistan is going through a particularly challenging time, even by the standards of its reputation as a crisis-prone country. Since former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan lost a parliamentary vote of no confidence and was ousted from office in April, the cricketer-turned-politician has been threatening continued street protests by his supporters to demand early elections.

The nation is polarized—between Khan’s supporters and followers of Pakistan’s traditional political parties, between Islamists and supporters of Western democracy, and between proponents of the military and its detractors. Khan’s opponents identify him as a dangerous populist refusing to follow democratic norms. His supporters see him as an anti-corruption messiah who has been removed from office through a U.S.-backed…  Seguir leyendo »

People make their way through a flooded street after a heavy rain shower in Karachi, Pakistan, on July 11. (Rizwan Tabassum/AFP/Getty Images)

I never took climate change seriously until last year, when a mother and her child drowned in flooding just a few streets away from my home in Islamabad. This year the flooding is even worse. At least 150 people, including women and children, have died from heavy monsoon rains across Pakistan in 2022. Sherry Rehman, climate change minister, says that recent rainfall has been 87 percent heavier than in previous years.

Pakistan and India have fought each other several times over the decades, but this summer they are facing a common foe that has killed many people and displaced millions of others: climate change.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Mysteriously Low Death Toll of the Heat Waves in India and Pakistan

It’s monsoon season now in India, which means it is possible to look back on the extraordinary succession of heat waves that swept across South Asia starting this spring — and begin, at least, to take stock of their impact.

From late March through the end of June, a period of almost 100 days, high temperatures in Delhi were above 100 degrees Fahrenheit on all but 15 of them, with many days breaking 110 degrees. For large parts of those months, the punishing heat stretched over much of the subcontinent, often blanketing more than a billion people and in certain places crossing 122 degrees.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistan Army troops patrol along the fence on the Pakistan Afghanistan border at Big Ben hilltop post in Khyber district, Pakistan on Aug. 3, 2021. (Anjum Naveed/AP)

Back in 2007, my colleague Musa Khankhel and I were reporting in the Swat Valley, a remote part of northwest Pakistan’s tribal areas where elements of the Pakistani Taliban had just seized power. The militants noticed us when Musa started to film the hoisting of a Taliban flag on the roof of a local police station. Taliban fighters arrested us and took us to their headquarters. Here I encountered Muslim Khan, a militant leader who made his criticisms of the Pakistani army’s counterterrorism operations in American-accented English. (Musa, who knew him, explained to me that “Muslim Khan had spent many years in Boston”.)…  Seguir leyendo »

Afghan refugees sit around a makeshift tent shelter on the outskirts of Quetta, Pakistan, on Sept. 6, 2021. Banaras Khan/AFP via Getty Images

With a new, albeit shaky, government in Pakistan under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the U.S. government has an opening to resolve one of the most pressing issues lingering after its withdrawal from Afghanistan: completing the evacuation of its former Afghan employees who remain at risk under Taliban rule. The rifts that have divided Pakistan and the United States, varying from Islamabad’s long-standing support for the Taliban to Chinese military and economic cooperation, are unlikely to recede in the near term. But such an effort would be a small but important confidence-building step in repairing the relationship.

Many of the U.S. government’s former employees in Afghanistan remain at risk.…  Seguir leyendo »

Though Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted through a democratic, constitutional process, he has denied the new government’s legitimacy, a tack that could lead to violence. The strategy Khan has relied on since parliament passed a no-confidence vote against him on 10 April has two goals: to undermine the coalition government led by Shehbaz Sharif and to galvanise popular support for new polls. Khan accuses his political opponents, now heading a new government, of conspiring with the U.S. to remove him, and is calling on his supporters to reject “foreign-imposed regime change”. He also bears grudges against the Supreme Court for upholding the constitutionality of the no-trust vote and against the country’s powerful military for refusing to back him in the standoff.…  Seguir leyendo »

For the last two decades, conventional wisdom in Pakistan held that an Afghanistan ruled by the Taliban would be a boon to Pakistan’s security. Islamabad has long supported the Taliban with the understanding that the militants could help deny India­—which many Pakistani officials see as an existential threat—any influence in Afghanistan. But since sweeping back to power last August, the Taliban have confirmed how misguided the conventional wisdom truly was. Pakistan has become less safe, not safer, after the Taliban’s victorious march into Kabul.

The success of the Taliban in Afghanistan has galvanized the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, a militant group also known as the Pakistani Taliban or the TTP.…  Seguir leyendo »

Former prime minister Imran Khan refuses to accept his fall from power. Earlier this year, before he lost office in an unprecedented parliamentary no-confidence vote, he effectively declared war on his opponents: “I wish to warn you: If I am ousted from the government, I will be more dangerous for you”. Now he is trying to make good on that threat by fueling fears of bloody civil conflict if he isn’t restored to power within the next few months.

In recent years, Khan has tried to cement his hold on power through a populist strategy of polarization and division. Now, he is relying on the same playbook to reverse his defeat at the hands of Parliament — even if that means openly flouting constitutional ground rules.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan delivers a speech to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party supporters during a rally in Peshawar, Pakistan, on April 13. ABDUL MAJEED/AFP via Getty Images

Pakistan has rapidly lurched into disarray after Imran Khan became the country’s first prime minister to be removed from power in a parliamentary vote of no confidence on April 10. In a gambit to block his ouster, Khan made stunning allegations, accusing the United States of plotting a coordinated conspiracy with a motley coalition of Pakistani opposition parties to topple his government.

While Washington has dismissed the accusations, they have put renewed strain on Pakistan’s long-troubled relationship with the United States, an important security and economic partner. The spectacle of Khan’s removal has also increased the dangers of countless smoldering fires across Pakistan’s political, religious, and militant spectrums waiting to be lit.…  Seguir leyendo »

A motorcyclist rides past a billboard featuring Prime Minister Imran Khan on April 3 in Islamabad, Pakistan. (Anjum Naveed/AP)

Imran Khan, the 19th prime minister of Pakistan, has just plunged the country into an unprecedented constitutional crisis. Over the weekend, facing a parliamentary no-confidence vote that was set to remove him from office, Khan decided to sweep the pieces off the board by dissolving the National Assembly itself. His 18 predecessors failed to complete their five-year terms, most of them removed by the army or the courts. In contrast, this new crisis is entirely of Khan’s own making.

Yet I believe that, despite Khan’s attempts to subvert constitutional procedures, the country’s democratic institutions will prevail. The Supreme Court is deliberating over a solution to the impasse Khan has created, and the judges have a great opportunity to show that rule of law and the supremacy of the constitution offer the best solution to our problems.…  Seguir leyendo »

While the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan made headlines all over the world, one consequence of their return to power has received much less publicity: the resurgence of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in neighboring Pakistan. Also known as the Pakistani Taliban, the TTP has multiplied attacks on Pakistani security forces in recent months, often from Afghan soil.

This renewed militancy could have particularly grave implications for women and girls in Pakistan’s Northwest, bordering Afghanistan. Defying all odds, women in this deeply conservative region have in recent years made major strides in gaining access to justice, and toward political and economic empowerment.  But much as the Taliban authorities are rolling back women’s rights in Afghanistan, the TTP’s re-emergence as a prominent actor in the area could soon jeopardize these hard-won gains.…  Seguir leyendo »

Watch List 2022. Asia. Keeping Kashmir on the Radar

Crisis Group’s Watch List identifies ten countries facing deadly conflict, humanitarian emergency or other crises in 2022. In these places, early action, driven or supported by the EU and its member states, could save lives and enhance prospects for stability.

Away from the international limelight, the decades-old conflict in Indian-administered Kashmir grinds on, as New Delhi grapples with a Pakistan-backed but largely local separatist insurgency. In August 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government unilaterally scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status, abrogated its statehood and redrew its geographic boundaries. The government claimed that its decisions would put an end to militancy in India’s only Muslim-majority region and ensure its economic development.…  Seguir leyendo »

For years, Chinese and Pakistani leaders have described their relationship as “sweeter than honey.” Pool photo by Parker Song, via Getty Images

For years, Chinese and Pakistani leaders have described their relationship, forged by a common rivalry with their neighbor India, as “sweeter than honey”. But the Pakistani Army’s view of the relationship with China appears to be souring — and diverging from the political leadership’s.

Last month, after Prime Minister Imran Khan declined  the Biden administration’s invitation to its Summit for Democracy, the Pakistani television news anchor Kamran Khan posted a video on social media denouncing the “wrong decision”, one he declared was made at China’s behest. (China was not invited to — or happy about — the summit.) The journalist lamented that, with that move, the prime minister had “put Pakistan openly in China’s lap”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at news conference on Oct. 26. (Rahmat Gul/AP)

Imran Khan has always portrayed himself as the savior of Pakistan. He has often claimed that a country borrows a lot only if its leaders are corrupt. Pakistanis still remember him saying that he would rather kill himself than beg for loans.

But that isn’t how he’s acted since he became prime minister in 2018. In the three years since then, he’s broken all previous records on borrowing ($40 billion). Now, his opponents are callously demanding that he should honor his words and end his life because he has surrendered the financial sovereignty of Pakistan to the International Monetary Fund. Khan appointed a former IMF official as the head of the central bank, and now the IMF has drastically curtailed the Pakistani government’s control over the bank as well.…  Seguir leyendo »

It’s Time for a U.S.-Pakistan Policy Reset

For decades, U.S. policy toward Pakistan has been predicated on America’s goals in Afghanistan. Pakistan both helped and hindered the U.S. war on terror, making for a notoriously dysfunctional relationship. Now the United States is out of Afghanistan, and the relationship is on shaky footing. It’s time to reimagine it.

The United States must treat Pakistan as a country in its own right, not as a fulcrum for U.S. policy on Afghanistan. That starts with America disentangling itself from the close military relationship with Pakistan.

A reset won’t be easy: Resentment is rife. America sees Pakistan’s support for the Taliban as one reason it lost in Afghanistan; Pakistan sees the Taliban insurgency it faced at home as blowback for partnering with America next door.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistan's Gen. Ameer Abdullah Khan Niazi, second from left, signs the surrender document as chief of India's Eastern command Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora, left, looks on, surrounded by other commanders in Dacca (now Dhaka), Bangladesh, on Dec. 16, 1971. (AP)

Today, Dec. 16, we commemorate the end of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 — a war that ultimately transformed what was originally known as East Pakistan into the independent nation of Bangladesh. Pakistan, ruled at the time by its dictatorial president Gen. Yahya Khan, reacted to a growing movement for autonomy in Bengali-dominated East Pakistan by sending in the troops. That prompted intervention by India, which ultimately helped the increasingly rebellious Bengalis to break away from rule by Islamabad.

The human cost of the war was huge. But perhaps no survivors have suffered a sadder fate than the children who were born as the result of sexual violence committed by members of the Pakistani military: the so-called war babies, whose existence has been long ignored or suppressed by both Bangladesh and Pakistan.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistani news channels live telecast of Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif addressing an opposition parties meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Sept. 21. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

An independent judiciary is one of the crucial pillars of any genuine liberal democracy. Here in Pakistan, a new scandal has ignited a firestorm of controversy precisely because it is reminding us that our judicial branch can make no claim to independence. Our country’s senior judges have intervened in politics again and again throughout history.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has disqualified sitting prime ministers many times. The judges even decreed the hanging of one prime minister during the reign of a military dictator. There was no public outcry against the judiciary’s dubious actions back then. But society is changing.

On Nov.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad in March 2020. (B.K. Bangash/AP)

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan seems more willing to talk to terrorists blamed for killing thousands of Pakistanis, including security personnel and schoolchildren, than sit down with his political opposition.

He was absent from a five-hour, closed-door special meeting of the parliamentary committee on national security on Monday because he probably didn’t want to shake hands with his nonviolent rivals. Why is he digging a big hole for himself?

Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, the director general Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), have informed parliamentarians from the government and the opposition that the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan was facilitating talks with the banned group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).…  Seguir leyendo »

Las políticas climáticas son políticas sociales

La cantidad de días al año en que la temperatura supera los 50 °C (122 °F) se duplicó desde la década de 1980 y nunca antes había ocurrido en tantos sitios. Este calor extremo tiene un efecto dramático sobre la salud de las personas, los animales y el ambiente. Según un informe reciente del Banco Mundial sobre la migración climática, durante los próximos 30 años, 216 millones de personas podrían tener que desplazarse debido al aumento de las temperaturas, la escasez del agua y la caída en la productividad de los cultivos. Se verán obligadas a abandonar sus comunidades y sustento para buscar mejores alternativas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistani protesters in Karachi, September 2001 Photograph: STR/Pakistan/Reuters

Not too long ago, Pakistan and Afghanistan were called Af-Pak: two countries joined at the hip, doomed to live and die together. You didn’t get to choose your neighbours, we were told. Geography, we were taught, was our destiny.

There was a lot of talk about geostrategic significance – which was the Pakistan military’s way of saying there were great advantages to be derived from our unfortunate neighbours.

More than four decades ago, our leaders insisted we had to help the Afghan mujahideen fight the Soviets because that would help us ward off communism in our own country. Having lived most of my life in Pakistan, I have probably come across half a dozen communists – and even they never agreed with each other.…  Seguir leyendo »