Whatever the prospects of a ‘new’ Pakistan emerging from this week’s general election, expectations of a major shift in the country’s regional policies are likely to be ill-founded. The prime minister-elect, Imran Khan of the Pakistan Justice Party (PTI), in his victory speech on 26 July signalled as much, stressing continuity in foreign policy.
The reasons for this are not hard to establish.
For decades Pakistan’s regional foreign policies vis-à-vis India and Afghanistan have been the preserve of the military and treated as extensions of national security. Attempts by elected governments to craft independent regional policies or initiate dialogue with neighbours, notably India, have entailed heavy penalties.… Seguir leyendo »
Yet again the world must look on in bewilderment as Pakistan emerges battered and bruised from a crisis precipitated by an obscure theological dispute that has forced the resignation of the country’s law minister and led to the dramatic mobilization of religious forces directed by the ponderous sounding Tehreek-e-Labbaik ya Rasool Allah (or Movement in the Service of the Prophet [Muhammad]).
Presiding over this version of Pakistan’s own passion play is the country’s military establishment. It has been credited with brokering a deal that ended the crisis, but on terms that raise doubts about the government’s Islamic credentials and leave it vulnerable to an early demise.… Seguir leyendo »
Every once in a while Pakistan’s contested legacy of a state founded in the name of ‘Islam’ bursts into the public realm to threaten the country’s fragile democratic culture. From its laws of evidence which deny equal status to the testimony of Muslim women to its laws against blasphemy which penalise its non-Muslim minorities — both introduced by a military dictatorship in the 1980s — Pakistan’s appeal to ‘Islamic injunctions’ has long served its non-elected leaders to mould the political system in line with their own preferences.
The disqualification by the Supreme Court of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on grounds of ‘violating Islamic injunctions’ under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution — also introduced under a military dictatorship in 1985 — which requires a member of parliament to be ‘honest’ and ‘morally upright’ (ameen and sadiq), is no exception.… Seguir leyendo »
Pakistan has placed its forces on high alert after being denounced by India as a ‘terrorist state’ complicit in an attack on a military base at Uri in Indian-administered Kashmir. The accusations have been strongly denied by Pakistan and fuelled a war of words, raising bilateral tensions to levels not seen since the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008.
The attacks coincide with an upsurge in protests in Kashmir triggered by the death of Burhan Wani, a media-savvy and seemingly popular militant. For Pakistan, Kashmir lies at the heart of its disputed relationship with India. Pakistan has traditionally argued that Kashmir needs to be ‘resolved’ to enable the relationship to improve.… Seguir leyendo »