Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

01 June 2020, Monday, Vol 1, No.32

Drivers of Karachi Violence

Drivers of Karachi Violence, Four Foreign Policy Challenges for Pakistan, and Gender Inequalities

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus

Declining state authorities, unplanned urbanization, and armed groups are the urban drivers of political violence in Karachi: IISS Report
A study by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) titled "Urban drivers of political violence: declining state authority and armed groups in Mogadishu, Nairobi, Kabul and Karachi" analysis the factors responsible for the political challenges in Karachi. Antônio Sampaio, "Urban drivers of political violence: declining state authority and armed groups in Mogadishu, Nairobi, Kabul and Karachi,International Institute for Strategic Studies) The study identifies three broad areas while have contributed to this problem.

First, rapid and unmanaged population growth in Karachi. This issue has added further governance and political challenges amid the already existing issue of sectarian rivalries, organized crime, and armed militias. Given that Karachi is the largest and most populous city in Pakistan, the government has failed to handle this demographic explosion which is visible in its expansive slums which are home to criminal gangs and political militias both who are said to generate revenue and achieve some political legitimacy by exploiting the state's weak provision of services such as healthcare, water, and dispute-resolution mechanisms. This inability to extend services and development to Karachi's peripheries has driven local people further away from the state and towards political parties organized along sectarian lines, armed militias, gangs, and the others. Further, the growing ethnic tension created by the movement of migrants and displaced people from Pashtun areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Afghanistan has been a driver of political violence.

Second, militias and gangs have used the vacuum created by the absence of state-provided services as a means to achieve local political influence. This has led to further local political disputes that have evolved into armed conflicts, especially among pre-existing armed groups and ethnic tensions areas. The report states that many of these militias were maintained by legal, political parties, where the city's low-income areas were split into different territories that are controlled by rival militias. Further, non-state armed groups have also consolidated their presence in low-income areas of Karachi through noncoercive means.

Third, the intrusion and expansion of the Taliban in the city. The situation grew when factions of the Pakistani Taliban had established themselves in the Pashtun periphery of Karachi had adopted some of the political militias' extortion practices. Although violence and the Taliban presence gradually decreased after a military operation initiated in 2013 by the Sindh Rangers there remained violence and issue in the city.

The report, concludes by highlight that the case of Karachi shows how "political violence in a megacity is driven by a complex web of competing interests, with armed groups both exploiting and contributing to a weakening of state authority."

Pakistan faces four immediate foreign policy challenges: Maleeha Lodhi
Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the US, UK, and UN, in her recent article in the Dawn titled 'Navigating an unsettled world' mentions four immediate foreign policy challenges of Pakistan that require simultaneous addressing. (Maleeha Lodhi, "Navigating an unsettled world," Dawn, 1 June 2020)

First, "navigating the US-China confrontation". Lodhi says the upcoming US election year, anti-China public sentiment that has preceded and succeeded the Covid-19 pandemic, US President Donald Trump's bipartisan political consensus and his contain-China policy will fortify the 'new cold war' or Sino-US information war. This may lead to India emerging a stronger economic partner to the US; proving unfavourable to Pakistan by intensifying US' lukewarm responses to Kashmir and India's strategic and military expansionist policies. CPEC and Pakistan will be in a tight spot. However, CPEC must be prioritized by the federal government, and Beijing must be consulted over global and regional issues "including Afghanistan", she stressed.

Second, "dealing with occupied Kashmir and managing relations with an implacably hostile India". This, according to Lodhi, would be the most imposing challenge with the Modi government "bent upon crushing the Kashmiri resistance by unprecedented levels of repression and orchestrating anti-Muslim sentiment and pogroms in India". She criticized tweet diplomacy's on-off noise and emphasized Pakistan's need for a strategic and sustained diplomatic approach and global campaign on the Kashmir issue. Lodhi suggests that Pakistan capitalize on the growing concerns amid OIC nations regarding the anti-Muslim wave in India and refocus global attention on Kashmir by raising the issue in the UN Human Rights Council.

Third, "helping Afghanistan win the peace but also preparing for less hopeful scenarios". Maleeha says Pak-US ties may have improved but lack content. The former ambassador worries that the fragile Afghan peace process may further test these ties. Lodhi urges Pakistan to come to terms with the US withdrawal from Afghanistan (as both the US Presidential candidates Trump and Joe Biden share similar views on this matter) and prepare policies and strategies by keeping spoiler-states in mind.

Fourth, "balancing relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran". The former ambassador cautions Islamabad to not get caught in between the Saudi-Iran rivalry. However, she acknowledges that the task would prove challenging owing to Pakistan's increased financial dependence on Riyadh.

Casual references to gender-based homicide and sexual violence seem acceptable in our public sphere: Analysis
An analysis in  Dawn title "Gender inequalities," states "the coronavirus pandemic is anti-feminist" emphasizing that from broader social and economic considerations, the pandemic globally is expected to set women back decades, and especially in Pakistan. (Huma Yusuf, "Gender inequalities," Dawn, 1 June 2020)

The analysis identifies the effect of the pandemic on women from three dimensions. And it also, looks into the situation in Pakistan, where the government remains radio silent when it comes to women being subject to violence and casual oppression references to gender-based homicide and sexual violence seem acceptable in the public sphere and indicate the low status of women in society. The analysis concludes by asking if the Government of Pakistan would take any measure to prevent this.

Image Source: The News

In Brief

Ministers comment on the prospects of Covid-19 in Pakistan
Pakistan is on the verge of beating the count of China. As the cases increase, various ministers have blamed that the country's early lockdown was a mistake and have predicted that due to ease in lockdown the peak number of cases will hit by mid-June. They have recommended that "no mask no service" to be followed in public places and punishments need to be given to those violated the Standard Operating procedures. The NCC meeting will take place on Monday to discuss further on the COVID-19 issue. (Amir Wasim, "NCC meets today as Covid-19 situation worsens," Dawn, 1 June 2020)

COVID cases to surge to 71,068
The report of NCOC says that along with the death rate, the percentage of people tested positive is also increasing. The Minister of Planning and Development has asked the committee to create a smart plan to make sure the SOP's can be followed without violation in the easing of lockdown. It was informed to the committee that Sindh and Balochistan provinces chose home-quarantine in place of a smart lockdown. The Minister stated that "The NCOC is working to devise long- and short-term strategies on COVID-19 titled "Living with the Pandemic". (Ikram Junaidi, "Pakistan records 54,000 new cases, 1,100 deaths in May," Dawn, 1 June 2020)

Punjab records the highest number of death tolls in 24 hours
The Punjab province records 36 deaths due to coronavirus in a single day which is the highest number of causalities since the spread of the pandemic in Pakistan. Around 952 new COVID positive cases were reported in 24 hours in the province and took the number of affected patients to 25,056. The Corona Monitoring Room in Punjab said that the numbers of cases are more among the age group 16-30 and lesser above the age of 75. ("36 die as Punjab reports the highest number of corona deaths in a day," The Nation, 1 June 2020)

An editorial in Dawn, calls for "a less security-centric and more people-centric approach" to address militancy in Balochistan and KP

The editorial in Dawn addresses the recent escalation of violence in Balochistan and Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa and calls for sustainable peace in the region with a less security-centric and more people-centric approach. It identifies the long-standing grievances and disenchantment with authorities as to the driving factors for the fuelling extremism in the region. It also warns that the recent trends of a repeated attack on security officials in Waziristan will bring back the bad old days of fear and violence. ("Resurgent Militancy," Dawn, 1 June 2020)

Three suspected militants shot dead in exchange fire by Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD)
On 31 May, three suspected militants were shot dead in an encounter in Malakand division. This comes a month after the militants had shot three army men during an operation by the army personnel against them. These militants were identified and killed while returning from prayers by the CTD of Malakand division. (Abdur Rehman, "Three 'militants' killed in encounter in Malakand division," Dawn, 1 June 2020)

Pakistan condemns the expulsion of its diplomats in New Delhi

On Sunday (31 May), India expelled two Pakistani diplomats posted in New Delhi for indulging in espionage activities which were condemned immediately by Islamabad as a violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. Pakistan Foreign Ministry stated the action as, "a negative pre-planned and orchestrated media campaign, which is a part of persistent anti-Pakistan propaganda" and rejected the expulsion as "false and unsubstantiated charges". Pakistan urges the international community to notice the Indian designs and play a role in establishing peace in the region. ("Pakistan condemns expulsion of diplomats by India," The Express Tribune, 1 June 2020) 


"Pakistan’s most imposing challenge however will remain managing relations with India where the Modi government is bent upon crushing the Kashmiri resistance by unprecedented levels of repression and orchestrating anti-Muslim sentiment and pogroms in India. Dialogue with Delhi is ruled out by its brutal and illegal actions in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where even medical services have been denied during the pandemic, and India’s refusal to discuss the issue"

- Amb Maleeha Lodhi,
 (In an analysis in Dawn)


In Focus and In Brief sections are prepared by Lakshmi V Menon, Abigail Miriam Fernandez, A Padmashree and P Harini Sha.

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