Policing Urban Violence in Pakistan
Islamabad/Brussels | 23 Jan 2014
Jihadi and criminal violence is wreaking havoc in Pakistan’s provincial capitals, eroding stability and public confidence in the government’s ability to restore law and order and enforce the writ of the state, while exposing Pakistan’s religious minorities to ever intensifying confessionally-driven violence.
In its latest report, Policing Urban Violence in Pakistan, the International Crisis Group looks at the drivers of deadly violence in the four provincial capitals - Karachi, Quetta, Lahore and Peshawar - and identifies ways to confront it. While political, ethnic, religious and socio-economic tensions play into the hostilities, the escalating violence is largely a product of poor governance, inappropriate security policies and neglected police reform. Extremist groups and criminal gangs exploit the state’s failure to provide basic services, economic opportunities and the rule of law to establish recruitment and patronage networks. To restore stability, there is an urgent need for – along with a mix of political and economic measures - thorough reform of the urban policing system.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
- The federal and provincial governments should develop a coherent policy framework, rooted in providing good governance and strengthening civilian law enforcement, to tackle the jihadi threat and criminality. Countering jihadi networks also requires coordination and collaboration between the governments’ law enforcement institutions.
- Instead of relying on the military or paramilitary forces to restore order, the provincial governments should modernise and reform the police, guaranteeing that officers confronting terrorist and criminal gangs have adequate security and operational autonomy.
- Islamabad and the provincial governments must prevent any militant jihadi organisation from fundraising, recruiting and otherwise operating freely in all four provinces and the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). They must disband all state-supported militias and take action against political party members, paramilitary personnel and others providing logistical, financial or other support to militant groups or criminal gangs.
- The federal government should not negotiate with tribal militants that do not first renounce violence and commit to abiding by the constitution.
“Police are demoralised and paralysed by political interference and lack of adequate resources and political support, but they could become effective if properly authorised and given institutional and operational autonomy”, says Samina Ahmed, Crisis Group’s South Asia Project Director and Senior Asia Adviser.
“Negotiations with tribal militias without preconditions or a clear roadmap are unwise and can only expand the space for jihadi networks countrywide”, says Jonathan Prentice, Crisis Group’s Chief Policy Officer. “Instead, the state must adopt a policy of zero tolerance toward all forms of militancy”.