Showing posts tagged as "pakistan"

Showing posts tagged pakistan

26 Aug
Pakistan’s “Forgotten Crisis” | Priyanka Boghani
In just two months, more than 1 million people — including 456,000 children — have been displaced by the Pakistani military’s offensive against militants in North Waziristan, according to figures released earlier this month by the United Nations.
The exodus began when the Pakistani military launched a major offensive on June 15 on what’s believed to be the last stronghold of Taliban and Al Qaeda-linked militants in the country. After two weeks of air strikes that drove civilians from their homes, the military began a ground operation.
The staggering number of internally displaced people, or IDPs, was double what United Nations agencies in the area had prepared for.
FULL ARTICLE (PBS FRONTLINE)
Photo: PDI/Oxfam/flickr

Pakistan’s “Forgotten Crisis” | Priyanka Boghani

In just two months, more than 1 million people — including 456,000 children — have been displaced by the Pakistani military’s offensive against militants in North Waziristan, according to figures released earlier this month by the United Nations.

The exodus began when the Pakistani military launched a major offensive on June 15 on what’s believed to be the last stronghold of Taliban and Al Qaeda-linked militants in the country. After two weeks of air strikes that drove civilians from their homes, the military began a ground operation.

The staggering number of internally displaced people, or IDPs, was double what United Nations agencies in the area had prepared for.

FULL ARTICLE (PBS FRONTLINE)

Photo: PDI/Oxfam/flickr

25 Aug
Populist’s Brash Tactics Stir Fears of Crisis in Pakistan | DECLAN WALSHAUG
LONDON — Only last year, Imran Khan was casting himself as the savior of Pakistani politics: a playboy cricketer turned opposition leader who enjoyed respect and sex appeal, filling stadiums with adoring young Pakistanis drawn to his strident attacks on corruption, American drone strikes and old-school politics. When Mr. Khan promised that he would become prime minister, many believed him.
Now, though, Mr. Khan’s populist touch appears to have deserted him. 
He led thousands of supporters into the center of the capital, Islamabad, a week ago in a boisterous bid to force the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom he accuses of election fraud. But the crowds he attracted were much smaller than his party had hoped, and the protest movement has been messy, inchoate and inconclusive. 
FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)
Photo: Mustafa Mohsin/flickr

Populist’s Brash Tactics Stir Fears of Crisis in Pakistan | DECLAN WALSHAUG

LONDON — Only last year, Imran Khan was casting himself as the savior of Pakistani politics: a playboy cricketer turned opposition leader who enjoyed respect and sex appeal, filling stadiums with adoring young Pakistanis drawn to his strident attacks on corruption, American drone strikes and old-school politics. When Mr. Khan promised that he would become prime minister, many believed him.

Now, though, Mr. Khan’s populist touch appears to have deserted him. 

He led thousands of supporters into the center of the capital, Islamabad, a week ago in a boisterous bid to force the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom he accuses of election fraud. But the crowds he attracted were much smaller than his party had hoped, and the protest movement has been messy, inchoate and inconclusive. 

FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)

Photo: Mustafa Mohsin/flickr

22 Aug
"The government, parliamentary opposition, demonstrators and the security apparatus must all respect the constitution and rule of law. Otherwise it would be next to impossible to resolve Pakistan’s security challenges, including militancy and terrorism that have claimed thousands of lives."

—From Crisis Group’s latest Conflict Alert: Protecting Pakistan’s Threatened Democracy

"The protests rocking Islamabad threaten to upend the constitutional order, set back rule of law and open the possibility of a soft coup, with the military ruling through the backdoor. Renewed political instability at the centre would imperil any progress that has been made in addressing grievous economic, development and security challenges."

—From Crisis Group’s latest Conflict Alert: Protecting Pakistan’s Threatened Democracy

21 Aug
Conflict Alert: Protecting Pakistan’s Threatened Democracy
Islamabad/Brussels  |   21 Aug 2014
A little over a year ago, Pakistan entered an unprecedented second phase of democratic transition, with one elected government handing power to another by peaceful, constitutional means. This fragile transition will be gravely threatened unless a fast-escalating political crisis is urgently defused. The protests rocking Islamabad threaten to upend the constitutional order, set back rule of law and open the possibility of a soft coup, with the military ruling through the backdoor. Renewed political instability at the centre would imperil any progress that has been made in addressing grievous economic, development and security challenges. The government’s moves, supported by the parliamentary opposition, to accommodate some of the protestors’ demands – particularly as regards electoral reform – are welcome. It is worrying, however, that protest leaders appear adamant in rejecting such outreach. Crisis Group calls on the political and military leadership to continue adherence to the constitution and enforcement of the rule of law, while permitting the right to peaceful protest. 
Protesting with several thousand supporters in front of the national parliament in Islamabad, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Imran Khan and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s (PAT) cleric-cum-politician leader Tahirul Qadri are demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation. Beyond that their demands diverge. Qadri has called for resignation of the government, dissolution of all legislatures and formation of a national government to enact sweeping constitutional reform that would replace parliamentary democracy with a neo-theocratic order. Khan, who has prime ministerial ambitions, has claimed that massive rigging by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), then Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, segments of the media and many other institutions and individuals deprived him of victory in the May 2013 national and provincial elections. He wants those responsible for rigging tried for treason, Sharif’s resignation, dissolution of the national parliament, formation of a neutral interim government and new elections. While threatening the PTI’s resignation from the national parliament and the Sindh and Punjab provincial legislatures in which he has very limited representation, he has yet to decide a course of action in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KPK) where his is the governing party.
The government cannot absolve itself of all responsibility for the impasse, including confrontation between the police and Qadri’s followers in Punjab’s capital, Lahore, that resulted in the deaths of several PAT supporters in June and foot-dragging on Khan’s initial demands for a limited electoral audit. In the face of the Islamabad protests, however, it has thus far exercised restraint, concerned that any attempt to use force could further inflame sentiment, exacerbate the crisis and give spoilers opportunity to disrupt the democratic process. Further, it has accepted Khan’s original demand to recount votes in some disputed constituencies. It has also accepted his demand for a judicial probe into rigging, having requested the Supreme Court to set up a commission to investigate conduct of the May elections; and has responded positively to Khan’s critique of the ECP and the electoral process by constituting a parliamentary committee, including PTI legislators, to develop proposals for meaningful electoral reform. However, Khan has rejected these concessions and moved the goal posts, rejecting the elections entirely and calling for new polls.
All the major parties in the national parliament, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which leads the opposition and was in power until losing to PML-N in 2013, have strongly opposed any steps to derail democracy. They urge Qadri and Khan to resolve their differences with the government peacefully and vociferously reject demands for the dissolution of national and provincial legislatures. Elected representatives from Sindh and Balochistan consider the crisis a tussle for power between Sharif, Khan and Qadri – all from Punjab, the most populous province – and a threat to the budding democratic institutions. Justices of the higher courts, including the Supreme Court of Pakistan, have called on the government and protestors to refrain from anything that would undermine constitutionalism and rule of law. Pro-democracy activists and civil society organisations, including bar councils and associations and journalist unions, also vow to protect democratic institutions and governance. 
Khan and Qadri appear bent on upping the ante. They have reneged on commitments to the government to restrict their activities to areas allocated for their respective demonstrations outside the “Red Zone” that includes the legislature and Supreme Court, the prime minister’s official residence and secretariat and many embassies. To avoid violence, the government has allowed them to enter this sensitive area, but the crisis would escalate if Khan follows through on calls to his followers to seize the prime minister’s residence unless Nawaz Sharif immediately resigns. Despite a past record of his followers resorting to violence, including against law enforcement officials, Qadri insists his protest will remain peaceful. He has yet to moderate demands for an end to the entire political order.
Khan’s and Qadri’s refusals to moderate their demands and the increased potential for violence have brought the military in more directly. Even before the crisis escalated, the government had given it the responsibility, under article 245 of the constitution, to secure the capital. It is now in charge of protecting all important Red Zone buildings, including parliament. Prime Minister Sharif, his brother and Punjab Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan have met with army chief General Raheel Sharif, apparently to seek army support or at least neutrality. Nisar has strongly rejected suspicions in some political quarters of a high-command role in fuelling the crisis, given its displeasure with the government’s decision to try former army chief and President Pervez Musharraf for treason and Khan’s and Qadri’s own ties with the defence establishment. 
That said, with several platoons of troops and paramilitary forces now facing off against demonstrators in the Red Zone, the dangers of military intervention have multiplied. If Khan’s threat to storm the prime minister’s residence or Qadri’s to cordon the National Assembly are realised, there could be bloody confrontation or, as in past political crises, an indirect military intervention. In the high command’s first public response, the head of Inter-Services Public Relations, Major General Asim Bajwa, called on all “stakeholders” to demonstrate “patience, wisdom and sagacity” and “resolve the prevailing impasse through meaningful dialogue in the larger national interests and public interests”. There is in this an implied risk that past military interventions – including the removal of three elected governments in the 1990s – cannot be ignored: that the military might decisively enter the fray if it judges the politicians to be insufficiently wise.
If democracy is to survive and stability preserved, it is essential that political and military leaders: 
Exercise restraint:
While Qadri has few stakes in the system and little interest in sustaining it, Khan’s party, which had its best electoral results in 2013, must understand that disruption of the democratic order could deprive it of the chance of forming governments by legitimate means. It should in particular cease calls to attack public property, including the prime minister’s residence or parliament. The danger that infiltrators, including terrorists and violent extremists, could exploit the situation to attack elected representatives, security personnel, diplomats or even demonstrators to provoke violence, cannot be ruled out. The government should allow the demonstrations to continue – peaceful protest is a constitutional right – while ensuring that citizens, public property and embassies are protected. 
Respect constitutionalism and protect democratic institutions:
The government, parliamentary opposition, demonstrators and the security apparatus must all respect the constitution and rule of law. Otherwise it would be next to impossible to resolve Pakistan’s security challenges, including militancy and terrorism that have claimed thousands of lives. The threat or use of force to advance political goals empowers spoilers and cuts the country’s moderate moorings. The abrogation of constitutions and closure of democratic avenues to address grievances and demands by successive dictatorial regimes fuelled political polarisation. The various components of the federation must not be led to believe that their interests and priorities could again be made hostage to extra-constitutional power deals. 
Hold meaningful negotiations:
The government must continue its efforts to seek a negotiated settlement of the crisis with Khan and Qadri, but should not allow the military to dictate the outcome of the bargaining process or concede to any demand that undermines constitutionalism, democratic governance and the rule of law. If Khan and Qadri are to convince the public their actions are in the national interest, they must respond constructively to such overtures.

Conflict Alert: Protecting Pakistan’s Threatened Democracy

Islamabad/Brussels  |   21 Aug 2014

A little over a year ago, Pakistan entered an unprecedented second phase of democratic transition, with one elected government handing power to another by peaceful, constitutional means. This fragile transition will be gravely threatened unless a fast-escalating political crisis is urgently defused. The protests rocking Islamabad threaten to upend the constitutional order, set back rule of law and open the possibility of a soft coup, with the military ruling through the backdoor. Renewed political instability at the centre would imperil any progress that has been made in addressing grievous economic, development and security challenges. The government’s moves, supported by the parliamentary opposition, to accommodate some of the protestors’ demands – particularly as regards electoral reform – are welcome. It is worrying, however, that protest leaders appear adamant in rejecting such outreach. Crisis Group calls on the political and military leadership to continue adherence to the constitution and enforcement of the rule of law, while permitting the right to peaceful protest. 

Protesting with several thousand supporters in front of the national parliament in Islamabad, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Imran Khan and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s (PAT) cleric-cum-politician leader Tahirul Qadri are demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation. Beyond that their demands diverge. Qadri has called for resignation of the government, dissolution of all legislatures and formation of a national government to enact sweeping constitutional reform that would replace parliamentary democracy with a neo-theocratic order. Khan, who has prime ministerial ambitions, has claimed that massive rigging by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), then Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, segments of the media and many other institutions and individuals deprived him of victory in the May 2013 national and provincial elections. He wants those responsible for rigging tried for treason, Sharif’s resignation, dissolution of the national parliament, formation of a neutral interim government and new elections. While threatening the PTI’s resignation from the national parliament and the Sindh and Punjab provincial legislatures in which he has very limited representation, he has yet to decide a course of action in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KPK) where his is the governing party.

The government cannot absolve itself of all responsibility for the impasse, including confrontation between the police and Qadri’s followers in Punjab’s capital, Lahore, that resulted in the deaths of several PAT supporters in June and foot-dragging on Khan’s initial demands for a limited electoral audit. In the face of the Islamabad protests, however, it has thus far exercised restraint, concerned that any attempt to use force could further inflame sentiment, exacerbate the crisis and give spoilers opportunity to disrupt the democratic process. Further, it has accepted Khan’s original demand to recount votes in some disputed constituencies. It has also accepted his demand for a judicial probe into rigging, having requested the Supreme Court to set up a commission to investigate conduct of the May elections; and has responded positively to Khan’s critique of the ECP and the electoral process by constituting a parliamentary committee, including PTI legislators, to develop proposals for meaningful electoral reform. However, Khan has rejected these concessions and moved the goal posts, rejecting the elections entirely and calling for new polls.

All the major parties in the national parliament, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which leads the opposition and was in power until losing to PML-N in 2013, have strongly opposed any steps to derail democracy. They urge Qadri and Khan to resolve their differences with the government peacefully and vociferously reject demands for the dissolution of national and provincial legislatures. Elected representatives from Sindh and Balochistan consider the crisis a tussle for power between Sharif, Khan and Qadri – all from Punjab, the most populous province – and a threat to the budding democratic institutions. Justices of the higher courts, including the Supreme Court of Pakistan, have called on the government and protestors to refrain from anything that would undermine constitutionalism and rule of law. Pro-democracy activists and civil society organisations, including bar councils and associations and journalist unions, also vow to protect democratic institutions and governance. 

Khan and Qadri appear bent on upping the ante. They have reneged on commitments to the government to restrict their activities to areas allocated for their respective demonstrations outside the “Red Zone” that includes the legislature and Supreme Court, the prime minister’s official residence and secretariat and many embassies. To avoid violence, the government has allowed them to enter this sensitive area, but the crisis would escalate if Khan follows through on calls to his followers to seize the prime minister’s residence unless Nawaz Sharif immediately resigns. Despite a past record of his followers resorting to violence, including against law enforcement officials, Qadri insists his protest will remain peaceful. He has yet to moderate demands for an end to the entire political order.

Khan’s and Qadri’s refusals to moderate their demands and the increased potential for violence have brought the military in more directly. Even before the crisis escalated, the government had given it the responsibility, under article 245 of the constitution, to secure the capital. It is now in charge of protecting all important Red Zone buildings, including parliament. Prime Minister Sharif, his brother and Punjab Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan have met with army chief General Raheel Sharif, apparently to seek army support or at least neutrality. Nisar has strongly rejected suspicions in some political quarters of a high-command role in fuelling the crisis, given its displeasure with the government’s decision to try former army chief and President Pervez Musharraf for treason and Khan’s and Qadri’s own ties with the defence establishment. 

That said, with several platoons of troops and paramilitary forces now facing off against demonstrators in the Red Zone, the dangers of military intervention have multiplied. If Khan’s threat to storm the prime minister’s residence or Qadri’s to cordon the National Assembly are realised, there could be bloody confrontation or, as in past political crises, an indirect military intervention. In the high command’s first public response, the head of Inter-Services Public Relations, Major General Asim Bajwa, called on all “stakeholders” to demonstrate “patience, wisdom and sagacity” and “resolve the prevailing impasse through meaningful dialogue in the larger national interests and public interests”. There is in this an implied risk that past military interventions – including the removal of three elected governments in the 1990s – cannot be ignored: that the military might decisively enter the fray if it judges the politicians to be insufficiently wise.

If democracy is to survive and stability preserved, it is essential that political and military leaders: 

Exercise restraint:

While Qadri has few stakes in the system and little interest in sustaining it, Khan’s party, which had its best electoral results in 2013, must understand that disruption of the democratic order could deprive it of the chance of forming governments by legitimate means. It should in particular cease calls to attack public property, including the prime minister’s residence or parliament. The danger that infiltrators, including terrorists and violent extremists, could exploit the situation to attack elected representatives, security personnel, diplomats or even demonstrators to provoke violence, cannot be ruled out. The government should allow the demonstrations to continue – peaceful protest is a constitutional right – while ensuring that citizens, public property and embassies are protected. 

Respect constitutionalism and protect democratic institutions:

The government, parliamentary opposition, demonstrators and the security apparatus must all respect the constitution and rule of law. Otherwise it would be next to impossible to resolve Pakistan’s security challenges, including militancy and terrorism that have claimed thousands of lives. The threat or use of force to advance political goals empowers spoilers and cuts the country’s moderate moorings. The abrogation of constitutions and closure of democratic avenues to address grievances and demands by successive dictatorial regimes fuelled political polarisation. The various components of the federation must not be led to believe that their interests and priorities could again be made hostage to extra-constitutional power deals. 

Hold meaningful negotiations:

The government must continue its efforts to seek a negotiated settlement of the crisis with Khan and Qadri, but should not allow the military to dictate the outcome of the bargaining process or concede to any demand that undermines constitutionalism, democratic governance and the rule of law. If Khan and Qadri are to convince the public their actions are in the national interest, they must respond constructively to such overtures.

19 Aug
The Waxing Crescent | MARIANA BAABAR
On Independence Day, along with revered state heroes, a nation needs to celebrate contemporary feats of heroism too. This August, Pakistan has been celebrating the achievements of 21-year-old Samina Baig. After conquering Mount Everest, Samina, with her brother Mirza Ali, is now heading towards Mount Elbrus in Russia. Having already had the better of the highest continental peaks in Argentina, Antarctica, Tanzania and Alaska, Elbrus will make them the first Pakistani siblings to have conquered all the highest peaks in seven continents.
But Pakistan’s government of the day has little time for celebrating the feats of the girl from Shimshal valley in upper Hunza. At the vanguard of the forces bes­­ieging it are hijab-clad, sloganeering women from Punjab, headline-grabbing footsoldiers of Can­ada-­­­­based firebrand cleric Allama Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awa­mi Tehriq (PAT). With expectations and apprehensions surro­u­n­ding Qadri’s Inq­ilab March from Lahore to Islam­abad on Aug­­ust 14 reaching a fevered pitch as the date draws near, all eyes are on the so-called ‘chicks with sticks’.
FULL ARTICLE (Outlook)
Photo: Gul Hamaad Farooqi/GroundReport/flickr

The Waxing Crescent | MARIANA BAABAR

On Independence Day, along with revered state heroes, a nation needs to celebrate contemporary feats of heroism too. This August, Pakistan has been celebrating the achievements of 21-year-old Samina Baig. After conquering Mount Everest, Samina, with her brother Mirza Ali, is now heading towards Mount Elbrus in Russia. Having already had the better of the highest continental peaks in Argentina, Antarctica, Tanzania and Alaska, Elbrus will make them the first Pakistani siblings to have conquered all the highest peaks in seven continents.

But Pakistan’s government of the day has little time for celebrating the feats of the girl from Shimshal valley in upper Hunza. At the vanguard of the forces bes­­ieging it are hijab-clad, sloganeering women from Punjab, headline-grabbing footsoldiers of Can­ada-­­­­based firebrand cleric Allama Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awa­mi Tehriq (PAT). With expectations and apprehensions surro­u­n­ding Qadri’s Inq­ilab March from Lahore to Islam­abad on Aug­­ust 14 reaching a fevered pitch as the date draws near, all eyes are on the so-called ‘chicks with sticks’.

FULL ARTICLE (Outlook)

Photo: Gul Hamaad Farooqi/GroundReport/flickr

18 Aug
Cricket star Imran Khan overplays hand in Pakistan power game | Katharine Houreld
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Cricket hero Imran Khan rode a wave of discontent to finally break through as a serious player in Pakistani politics at last year’s election. Now he is aiming even higher, leading thousands on a march to the capital in a bid to unseat the prime minister.
But in taking his campaign to force out Nawaz Sharif on to the streets of Islamabad, Khan may have overplayed his hand. This weekend his crowd of followers was already thinning out, and without overt support from the military his protests are unlikely to be a game-changer.
Thousands showed up for his rally on Saturday, but some supporters grumbled they had slept out in the rain while Khan relaxed in his nearby mansion.
"The path he’s chosen is one of protest," said Samina Ahmed, South Asia director of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group think tank. "Now the question is: does he have a strategy beyond the protest?"
FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)
Photo: Carol Mitchell/flickr

Cricket star Imran Khan overplays hand in Pakistan power game | Katharine Houreld

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Cricket hero Imran Khan rode a wave of discontent to finally break through as a serious player in Pakistani politics at last year’s election. Now he is aiming even higher, leading thousands on a march to the capital in a bid to unseat the prime minister.

But in taking his campaign to force out Nawaz Sharif on to the streets of Islamabad, Khan may have overplayed his hand. This weekend his crowd of followers was already thinning out, and without overt support from the military his protests are unlikely to be a game-changer.

Thousands showed up for his rally on Saturday, but some supporters grumbled they had slept out in the rain while Khan relaxed in his nearby mansion.

"The path he’s chosen is one of protest," said Samina Ahmed, South Asia director of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group think tank. "Now the question is: does he have a strategy beyond the protest?"

FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)

Photo: Carol Mitchell/flickr

23 Jun
Education Reform in Pakistan
Islamabad/Brussels  |   23 Jun 2014
To combat religious extremism and sectarian violence, Pakistan must reform its education sector by boosting resources to public schools and updating the school curriculum to improve quality and remove divisive and discriminatory narratives.
Long underfunded, Pakistan’s system of public education has been further devastated by militant violence and natural disasters. Passed in 2010, the eighteenth constitutional amendment mandated compulsory education for all children between the ages of five and sixteen and devolved much of the education system’s management from the centre to the provinces. But more than nine million children do not receive a primary and secondary education, and quality of instruction varies widely between both genders and rural and urban areas. Madrasas and religious schools, many of which propagate religious extremism and sectarian hatred, seek to fill the gaps. In its latest briefing, Education Reform in Pakistan, the International Crisis Group examines the dysfunctional public education system and underlines the need to reform the curriculum and hold schools and teachers to acceptable standards.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
Although its law requires Pakistan to provide free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of five and sixteen, millions are still out of school, the second highest number in the world.
The quality of education in the public school sector remains abysmal, failing to prepare a fast growing population for the job market, while a deeply flawed curriculum fosters religious intolerance and xenophobia.
Poorly regulated madrasas and religious schools are filling the gap of the dilapidated public education sector and contributing to religious extremism and sectarian violence
The state must urgently reverse decades of neglect by increasing expenditure on the grossly-underfunded education system – ensuring that international aid to this sector is supplementary to, rather than a substitute for, the state’s financial commitment – and opt for meaningful reform of the curriculum, bureaucracy, teaching staff and methodologies.
“Before the eighteenth amendment was passed, school curriculums reflected an overly centralised state’s priorities, emphasising national cohesion – within a rigid ideological framework – at the expense of regional and religious diversity” says Samina Ahmed, South Asia Project Director and Senior Asia Adviser. “Provincial governments can now reform deeply flawed curriculums that contribute to political, regional and religious intolerance, but there is also the risk that education programs will differ radically among provinces”.
“Pakistan needs to take bold steps to tackle its education crisis”, says Jonathan Prentice, Acting Asia Program Director. “Millions of children are still out of school, and the quality of education for those enrolled remains poor. This is more than a question of the rights of children, vital though that is; ultimately, it goes directly to the state’s ability to combat extremism. Decades of neglect can only be reversed by overhauling Pakistan’s academic curriculum and education bureaucracy”.
FULL REPORT

Education Reform in Pakistan

Islamabad/Brussels  |   23 Jun 2014

To combat religious extremism and sectarian violence, Pakistan must reform its education sector by boosting resources to public schools and updating the school curriculum to improve quality and remove divisive and discriminatory narratives.

Long underfunded, Pakistan’s system of public education has been further devastated by militant violence and natural disasters. Passed in 2010, the eighteenth constitutional amendment mandated compulsory education for all children between the ages of five and sixteen and devolved much of the education system’s management from the centre to the provinces. But more than nine million children do not receive a primary and secondary education, and quality of instruction varies widely between both genders and rural and urban areas. Madrasas and religious schools, many of which propagate religious extremism and sectarian hatred, seek to fill the gaps. In its latest briefing, Education Reform in Pakistan, the International Crisis Group examines the dysfunctional public education system and underlines the need to reform the curriculum and hold schools and teachers to acceptable standards.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • Although its law requires Pakistan to provide free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of five and sixteen, millions are still out of school, the second highest number in the world.
  • The quality of education in the public school sector remains abysmal, failing to prepare a fast growing population for the job market, while a deeply flawed curriculum fosters religious intolerance and xenophobia.
  • Poorly regulated madrasas and religious schools are filling the gap of the dilapidated public education sector and contributing to religious extremism and sectarian violence
  • The state must urgently reverse decades of neglect by increasing expenditure on the grossly-underfunded education system – ensuring that international aid to this sector is supplementary to, rather than a substitute for, the state’s financial commitment – and opt for meaningful reform of the curriculum, bureaucracy, teaching staff and methodologies.

“Before the eighteenth amendment was passed, school curriculums reflected an overly centralised state’s priorities, emphasising national cohesion – within a rigid ideological framework – at the expense of regional and religious diversity” says Samina Ahmed, South Asia Project Director and Senior Asia Adviser. “Provincial governments can now reform deeply flawed curriculums that contribute to political, regional and religious intolerance, but there is also the risk that education programs will differ radically among provinces”.

“Pakistan needs to take bold steps to tackle its education crisis”, says Jonathan Prentice, Acting Asia Program Director. “Millions of children are still out of school, and the quality of education for those enrolled remains poor. This is more than a question of the rights of children, vital though that is; ultimately, it goes directly to the state’s ability to combat extremism. Decades of neglect can only be reversed by overhauling Pakistan’s academic curriculum and education bureaucracy”.

FULL REPORT

8 Apr
Policing urban violence | Tariq Khosa
While political, ethnic, religious and socio-economic tensions contribute to conflicts, escalating urban violence is largely a product of poor governance, inappropriate security policies and neglected police reforms.
This is the crux of a recent report by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG). “The police are demoralised and paralysed by political interference, and a lack of adequate resources and political support,” says Samina Ahmed, ICG’s South Asia project director. “But they could become effective if properly authorised and given institutional and operational autonomy.”
The recommendations are timely and deserve immediate attention at the federal, provincial and district levels of government. Similarly, the legislature, executive and judiciary must not only contribute to improving governance but also display a vision for ensuring that the criminal justice system upholds the rule of law by encouraging police officers, prosecutors and judges who are honest and efficient. This may entail massive purges to weed out the corrupt and the callous.
FULL ARTICLE (Dawn)
Photo: lukexmartin/flickr

Policing urban violence | Tariq Khosa

While political, ethnic, religious and socio-economic tensions contribute to conflicts, escalating urban violence is largely a product of poor governance, inappropriate security policies and neglected police reforms.

This is the crux of a recent report by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG). “The police are demoralised and paralysed by political interference, and a lack of adequate resources and political support,” says Samina Ahmed, ICG’s South Asia project director. “But they could become effective if properly authorised and given institutional and operational autonomy.”

The recommendations are timely and deserve immediate attention at the federal, provincial and district levels of government. Similarly, the legislature, executive and judiciary must not only contribute to improving governance but also display a vision for ensuring that the criminal justice system upholds the rule of law by encouraging police officers, prosecutors and judges who are honest and efficient. This may entail massive purges to weed out the corrupt and the callous.

FULL ARTICLE (Dawn)

Photo: lukexmartin/flickr

14 Mar
Policing becoming increasingly perilous in Karachi | The News International
From his home off a dirt road cluttered with trash in Pakistan’s teeming city of Karachi, policeman Didar Ahmed’s son shows the bloodstained jacket his father was wearing when gunmen cut him and three colleagues down in a hail of bullets last month.
Ahmed’s brother Gulzar looks at the bullet-riddled garment with a blank stare. He recalled how days before his brother’s death, they had talked about the rising dangers of police work as officers increasingly come under attack by criminal gangs and militants from the Taliban.
“He was sitting here and told me: ‘The situation in the city is deteriorating so if something happens to me, you take care of my kids and family,’” Gulzar said.
Ahmed was one of 44 police officers killed during the first two months of the year in the country’s largest city, a particularly violent start to the year for the police. The force was already reeling from 166 officers killed last year -roughly one every other day and a four-fold increase from just five years earlier.
FULL ARTICLE (The News International)
Photo: colincookman/flickr

Policing becoming increasingly perilous in Karachi | The News International

From his home off a dirt road cluttered with trash in Pakistan’s teeming city of Karachi, policeman Didar Ahmed’s son shows the bloodstained jacket his father was wearing when gunmen cut him and three colleagues down in a hail of bullets last month.

Ahmed’s brother Gulzar looks at the bullet-riddled garment with a blank stare. He recalled how days before his brother’s death, they had talked about the rising dangers of police work as officers increasingly come under attack by criminal gangs and militants from the Taliban.

“He was sitting here and told me: ‘The situation in the city is deteriorating so if something happens to me, you take care of my kids and family,’” Gulzar said.

Ahmed was one of 44 police officers killed during the first two months of the year in the country’s largest city, a particularly violent start to the year for the police. The force was already reeling from 166 officers killed last year -roughly one every other day and a four-fold increase from just five years earlier.

FULL ARTICLE (The News International)

Photo: colincookman/flickr