Watch Samina Ahmed, Crisis Group’s South Asia Project Director, discuss Pakistan’s elections with Jim Middleton on ABC News: Newsline
Showing posts tagged as "samina ahmed"
Showing posts tagged samina ahmed
Karachi Braces for Violent Election Season | Wall Street Journal
By Annabel Symington
While most of Karachi is divided on clear ethnic lines, there are a number of mixed communities where the changing demographics of the city are creating flash points.
“You can actually identify the constituencies where you need to have safe guards in place,” says Samina Ahmed, South Asia director for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.
Pakistan: Countering Militancy in PATA
Islamabad/Brussels | 15 Jan 2013
To overcome the security challenges and curb extremism in Pakistan’s Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA), its national and provincial leaderships should reclaim the political space ceded to the military.
Pakistan: Countering Militancy in PATA, International Crisis Group’s latest report, assesses the impact of the military-led response to extremist violence on PATA’s security, society and economy. More than three years after military operations sought to oust Islamist extremists, the region remains extremely volatile.
The military’s continued control over the governance and administration of the region and the state’s failure to equip the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) police with the tools they need to tackle extremist violence lies at the heart of security and governance challenges.
“While the militants continue to present the main physical threat, the military’s poorly conceived counter-insurgency strategies and failure to restore responsive and accountable civilian administration are proving counter-productive”, says Samina Ahmed, Crisis Group’s South Asia Project Director. “Neither the federal nor the provincial government is fully addressing the security concerns of residents”.
Although some serious efforts have been made to enhance police capacity, they remain largely insufficient, and the KPK force is still not properly trained or equipped and lacks accountability. The larger challenge remains the reform of the region’s complex legal framework, which makes upholding the rule of law a daunting task.
While formally subject to Pakistan’s basic criminal and civil law and falling under the provincial KPK legislature, PATA is governed by various parallel legal systems that have isolated it from the rest of the province. Instead of reforming a legal system that undermines constitutional rights and the rule of law, the military has been vested with virtually unchecked powers of arrest and detention. Pressing humanitarian needs remain unmet because of continued instability and short-sighted military-dictated policies that include travel restrictions on foreigners and stringent requirements for domestic and international non-governmental organisations.
Islamabad and Peshawar should end PATA’s isolation and fully integrate it into KPK, removing the region’s legislative and constitutional ambiguities and revoking all laws that undermine constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights. The military’s control over the security agenda, governance and security must be replaced by accountable, responsive civilian institutions. A deteriorating justice system needs to be strengthened and the police force given the lead in enforcing the law and bringing extremists to justice.
“The state must restore the trust of PATA residents by convincing them of its sincerity, effectiveness and accountability”, says Paul Quinn-Judge, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director. “Helping them to rebuild their lives and livelihoods, free of the fear of militancy, would go a long way toward inoculating them against extremism and should be at the heart of counter-terrorism strategy”.
Analysts: Pakistan’s Economic Crisis Aids Extremists | VOA
By Sharon Behn
ISLAMABAD — ISLAMABAD — This week’s Taliban shooting of a Pakistani girl made headlines and drew worldwide condemnation. The militant group said it targeted the young activist for being “pro-West” and speaking out against the Taliban. Pakistani analysts said years of economic hardship and weak state institutions have given such extremists more opportunities to recruit and operate.
According to the International Crisis Group, the combination of conflict and flood-induced hardships, government failure, as well as restrictions on international and local non-profit groups is creating a crisis situation in Pakistan.
FULL ARTICLE (VOA)
Photo: Al Jezeera English/Flickr
Pakistan mired in humanitarian crisis | New Europe
By Andrew Wagaman
Pakistan’s militancy conflicts, coupled with environmental and economic problems, leave open ample recruiting opportunities for radical Islamist groups and temper whatever progress has been made since the democratic transition in 2008.
Photo: Kashif Mardani/Flickr
"Polls supervised by an independent and impartial electoral body are far more likely to be accepted as free and fair… . For change to come through the ballot box, and not through the military or the courts, ECP reform is vital."
—Samina Ahmed, in Crisis Group’s report Election Reform in Pakistan
Election Reform in Pakistan
Islamabad/Brussels | 16 Aug 2012
With fresh elections just months away, Pakistan’s government and opposition must urgently implement key reforms to the electoral commission to cement the transition to democracy and stave off another indefinite period of unaccountable rule.
Election Reform in Pakistan, the latest policy briefing from the International Crisis Group, warns of the potentially destabilising fallout if the transfer of power does not take place through free, fair, transparent and democratic elections, either when the government completes a full five-year term in March 2013 or earlier. If the elections are to be credible and ensure a smooth transition from one elected government to another for the first time in the country’s history, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) must be overhauled and made truly independent, fair and effective.
“Polls supervised by an independent and impartial electoral body are far more likely to be accepted as free and fair”, says Samina Ahmed, Crisis Group’s South Asia Project Director. “For change to come through the ballot box, and not through the military or the courts, ECP reform is vital”.
Over the last two decades, Pakistan’s elections have often been rigged by the military, using a subservient ECP that lacked autonomy and authority to do its bidding. In 2010, parliament amended the constitution, distorted by General Musharraf’s military regime, to strengthen federal parliamentary democracy. The ECP, in an advanced state of institutional decay, acknowledged its shortcomings and came up with a strategic plan to reform itself. Some of its targets have been met, but many have not been and are unlikely ever to be unless parliament assumes political ownership of the plan and monitors its implementation.
An encouraging sign has been the appointment through unanimous parliamentary consensus of a chief election commissioner – a first in Pakistan’s electoral history – but much more needs to be done. Flaws in the electoral process must now be removed. Voters have to be given time to identify errors and omissions on the electoral rolls; polling procedures should be improved; the code of conduct must be amended to ensure that it does not curb legitimate political activity and disenfranchise voters; and accountability mechanisms for candidates and parties must be strengthened. Dysfunctional election tribunals, responsible for excessive delays and even corruption, should be urgently reformed.
The international community should lend its support to the process by warning the military that it will not accept any postponement of the polls or other steps to derail the voting process. Pakistan’s political parties, meanwhile, must all work together to ensure that the democratic transition continues and remains sustainable.
“The government and the opposition should put aside their political differences and urgently reach consensus on the neutral caretaker government that will be needed to remain in office in the crucial period between the end of the parliament’s term through the 90 days before elections and the subsequent formation of the newly elected government”, says Paul Quinn-Judge, Crisis Group’s Acting Program Director for Asia. “Their failure to do so could disrupt the democratic process, giving the military, potentially with the support of the superior judiciary, the opportunity to disrupt the democratic process”.
Kabul/Brussels | 26 Mar 2012
A major course correction is needed if talks with the Taliban are to have any chance of delivering sustainable peace in Afghanistan.
Talking about Talks: Toward a Political Settlement in Afghanistan, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, finds that Hamid Karzai’s government and the U.S.-led reconciliation process are poorly positioned to cut a deal with leaders of the insurgency. Karzai’s efforts stand little chance of success in the face of an internal crisis of governance, deep-seated political divisions, deteriorating security and widely differing interests and priorities of influential outside actors. U.S. efforts to strike a deal with the Taliban – driven by the 2014 transition date and aimed at giving political cover to its exit strategy – are only invigorating the insurgency and its regional supporters.
“Afghanistan’s security forces are ill-prepared to handle the power vacuum that will occur following the exit of international troops”, says Candace Rondeaux, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst in Afghanistan. “Political competition will heat up within the country in the run-up to NATO’s withdrawal of combat forces at the end of 2014. The differing priorities and preferences of the parties will further undermine the prospects for peace”.
The Afghan government’s reconciliation program is foundering in the wake of increased violence and targeted assassinations of leading political personalities. This has harmed the peace process, eroding what little trust existed between the government and international allies, while severely undermining relations between the government and the country’s political opposition. Nor are U.S.-led efforts to patch together a deal with the Taliban before the 2014 transition, which lack local ownership and broad-based buy-in, likely to bear fruit. On the contrary, widespread opposition to the process, particularly among ethnic minorities, could pose serious risks for the country’s stability. All this underscores the increased potential for a deepening of the conflict upon withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces.
A lasting peace accord will ultimately require far more structured negotiations, under the imprimatur of the UN. As NATO prepares to draw down its forces, a major requirement is to create and bring into play a UN-mandated mediation team to help the sides develop an agenda and then negotiate a settlement that will require buy-in from Afghanistan’s neighbours, each of whom has major interests, including, importantly, Pakistan and Iran. Collective consultation and transparency rather than secrecy and unilateral action should be the guiding principles of the negotiation process.
Ultimately, the success of any settlement will depend on Kabul’s ability to set the negotiating agenda and ensure broad participation, and on the insurgency’s capacity to engage in a dialogue focusing as much on political settlement as on security concerns. In the coming years, the Afghan government is also likely to face even greater challenges to its legitimacy, as regional and global rivalries play out in its backyard. It will need to introduce constitutional change, including fundamental restructuring of the political order, and undertake genuine electoral reform in order to strengthen that legitimacy.
“The rhetorical clamour over talks about talks has led to a number of desperate and dangerous moves on the part of the Afghan government and its international allies to bring purported insurgent leaders to the negotiating table”, says Robert Templer, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director. “But a deal with the Taliban alone will never be enough to secure the peace the country so desperately deserves”.