Madiha Afzal

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Supporters of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at march in Wazirabad, Pakistan, November 2022. Akhtar Soomro / Reuters

In early November, a gunman opened fire on Imran Khan, the former prime minister of Pakistan, and his supporters at a rally. One person was killed, many more injured, and Khan was struck in the leg. Although the motivation of the shooter, who was detained, remains unclear, Khan quickly blamed the government and, pointedly, a senior intelligence official for the attack. Since losing office in April in the wake of a no-confidence vote, Khan has led a campaign against both the new civilian government and the generals who are seen as the true power brokers in Pakistan. In so doing, he has deepened already fraught political tensions and put himself in unprecedented direct conflict with the military, once his ally.…  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 »

Muslim devotees wearing protective masks offer Friday prayers at the Jamia Masque during the Islamic holy fasting month of Ramadan in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on Friday. (Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images)

Perform your ablutions at home. Bring your own prayer mats, place them six feet apart. Wear masks. Use the provided hand sanitizer. No handshakes or hugs allowed. No talking in the mosque. No one over 50 years old can enter. No children allowed.

These guidelines are part of a list of 20 standard operating procedures that Pakistan’s government issued on April 18, ostensibly in consultation with the country’s religious clerics, for mosque congregations during Ramadan. In reality, the government caved in to the demands of clerics, who earlier that week said that they would refuse to limit Ramadan congregations, despite a growing number of covid-19 cases in the country.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters in Pakistan continue demonstrating into their third week, first demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan and then calling for new elections. What began as a large-scale caravan into Karachi and led to a 13-day sit-in in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, is now moving to other parts of the country, where the protesters plan to block major roads and highways.

The opposition protest is led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who heads the political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F). Leaders of Pakistan’s major opposition parties have pledged their support, although they did not join the Islamabad sit-in.

This protest is the first significant political challenge Khan has faced a little more than a year after his election.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai walks with her brother Atal Yousafzai, left, her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, and the principal of all-boys Swat Cadet College, Guli Bagh, during a visit to her home town, Mingora, last month. (Abdul Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)

Last weekend, Malala Yousafzai visited Pakistan for the first time since she was shot by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) more than five years ago. That she was able to visit — albeit amid exceptionally tight security — is a testament to how much safety has improved in Pakistan. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, 748 civilians and security personnel died in terrorism-related incidents in Pakistan in 2017, a drop from 3,739 such deaths in 2012.

Since the Taliban targeted Malala for her advocacy for girls’ education, she has become known globally for promoting girls’ schooling around the world, for which she won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.…  Seguir leyendo »