Showing posts tagged as "samina ahmed"

Showing posts tagged samina ahmed

19 Sep
Parliament’s Role in Pakistan’s Democratic Transition
Islamabad/Brussels  |   18 Sep 2013
In its latest report, Parliament’s Role in Pakistan’s Democratic Transition, the International Crisis Group examines the challenges facing a legislature still striving for full democratic sovereignty. In the midst of a security crisis, lingering extremism and a weakening economy, its authority is tested from many directions. Yet, the opportunities to consolidate democracy are real and legislative tools to address institutional challenges are more sophisticated than ever.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
The experience of the thirteenth National Assembly (2008-2013) demonstrated that threats to democracy from an interventionist military, ambitious judiciary and unreformed bureaucracy continue. The second phase of the democratic transition, now underway, offers opportunities to entrench parliamentary democracy.
The new parliament must remove constitutional distortions put on the books by past military regimes, particularly Islamisation provisions that continue to undermine its authority. Parliament also needs to exercise more oversight of the executive branch, including the security apparatus.
Parliamentary standing committees should enhance their capacity to oversee the budget and legislation, lead inquiries into government performance, hold officials to account and engage civil society in the legislative process. But for parliament to fulfil its potential, its members will require much more research, analytical and technological support.
The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should reinforce parliamentary sovereignty by ending practices that circumvent the legislature. The opposition will be better placed to regain power eventually if it behaves as an effective government-in-waiting in parliament, presenting alternative policies, budgets and other legislation, rather than merely obstructing ruling-party proposals and bills.
“The recent reforms, particularly the eighteenth constitutional amendment that removed many of the distortions of the Musharraf military regime and enhanced fundamental rights, have strengthened parliamentary democracy but failed to remove some of the constitutional distortions of the past”, says Samina Ahmed, Crisis Group’s Senior Adviser and Project Director for South Asia. “To become more dynamic and assume its role as a co-equal branch of government, the new parliament should build on its predecessor’s steps, putting itself at the centre of the domestic and foreign policy debate”.
“By consolidating the gains of the past five years and enacting long overdue legislative reforms, the new parliament can take a vital part in sustaining Pakistan’s democracy”, says Jim Della-Giacoma, Crisis Group’s Program Director for Asia. “However, if the ruling party and its parliamentary opposition use the legislature as a forum for settling political scores, those gains will soon be lost, as will the prospects of the country continuing to move along the democratic path”.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARYPhoto: ~MVI~ (warped)/Flickr

Parliament’s Role in Pakistan’s Democratic Transition

Islamabad/Brussels  |   18 Sep 2013

In its latest report, Parliament’s Role in Pakistan’s Democratic Transition, the International Crisis Group examines the challenges facing a legislature still striving for full democratic sovereignty. In the midst of a security crisis, lingering extremism and a weakening economy, its authority is tested from many directions. Yet, the opportunities to consolidate democracy are real and legislative tools to address institutional challenges are more sophisticated than ever.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • The experience of the thirteenth National Assembly (2008-2013) demonstrated that threats to democracy from an interventionist military, ambitious judiciary and unreformed bureaucracy continue. The second phase of the democratic transition, now underway, offers opportunities to entrench parliamentary democracy.
  • The new parliament must remove constitutional distortions put on the books by past military regimes, particularly Islamisation provisions that continue to undermine its authority. Parliament also needs to exercise more oversight of the executive branch, including the security apparatus.
  • Parliamentary standing committees should enhance their capacity to oversee the budget and legislation, lead inquiries into government performance, hold officials to account and engage civil society in the legislative process. But for parliament to fulfil its potential, its members will require much more research, analytical and technological support.
  • The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should reinforce parliamentary sovereignty by ending practices that circumvent the legislature. The opposition will be better placed to regain power eventually if it behaves as an effective government-in-waiting in parliament, presenting alternative policies, budgets and other legislation, rather than merely obstructing ruling-party proposals and bills.

“The recent reforms, particularly the eighteenth constitutional amendment that removed many of the distortions of the Musharraf military regime and enhanced fundamental rights, have strengthened parliamentary democracy but failed to remove some of the constitutional distortions of the past”, says Samina Ahmed, Crisis Group’s Senior Adviser and Project Director for South Asia. “To become more dynamic and assume its role as a co-equal branch of government, the new parliament should build on its predecessor’s steps, putting itself at the centre of the domestic and foreign policy debate”.

“By consolidating the gains of the past five years and enacting long overdue legislative reforms, the new parliament can take a vital part in sustaining Pakistan’s democracy”, says Jim Della-Giacoma, Crisis Group’s Program Director for Asia. “However, if the ruling party and its parliamentary opposition use the legislature as a forum for settling political scores, those gains will soon be lost, as will the prospects of the country continuing to move along the democratic path”.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Photo: ~MVI~ (warped)/Flickr

26 Jun
Afghanistan’s Parties in Transition
Kabul/Brussels   |   26 Jun 2013
Afghanistan’s political parties must exercise restraint as they jostle for power in the final months of President Karzai’s mandate. For its part, the outgoing administration should also resist calls to excessively regulate the parties. A commitment to pluralism, by all players, is key to the legitimacy of Kabul politics – and an important advantage against armed insurgents.
In its latest briefing, Afghanistan’s Parties in Transition, the International Crisis Group examines the plight of Afghanistan’s nascent political parties, provides an overview of their current positions and analyses their ability and willingness to shape the transition to the post-Karzai era, after a decade of government efforts to restrict the functioning of political parties.
FULL BRIEFING

Afghanistan’s Parties in Transition

Kabul/Brussels   |   26 Jun 2013

Afghanistan’s political parties must exercise restraint as they jostle for power in the final months of President Karzai’s mandate. For its part, the outgoing administration should also resist calls to excessively regulate the parties. A commitment to pluralism, by all players, is key to the legitimacy of Kabul politics – and an important advantage against armed insurgents.

In its latest briefing, Afghanistan’s Parties in Transition, the International Crisis Group examines the plight of Afghanistan’s nascent political parties, provides an overview of their current positions and analyses their ability and willingness to shape the transition to the post-Karzai era, after a decade of government efforts to restrict the functioning of political parties.

FULL BRIEFING

6 Jun

Listen to Samina Ahmed, Crisis Group’s Senior Asia Advisor, discuss the US drone policy on The Kojo Nnamdi Show’s “Drones Divide US And Pakistan.”

21 May
Drones: Myths and Reality in Pakistan
Islamabad/Washington/Brussels  |   21 May 2013
Drone strikes alone will not eliminate the jihadi threat in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Extension of Pakistani law and full constitutional rights to the region is the only long-term solution.
In its latest report, Drones: Myths and Reality in Pakistan, the International Crisis Group examines the extensive CIA-led program of drone strikes in Pakistan. The report argues that the U.S. needs to be transparent about its drone policies and bring them in accord with legality and enhanced congressional oversight and judicial accountability, while Pakistan must live up to its responsibility for governance and security in FATA.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
Pakistan’s new civilian leadership under PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif must make the extension of the state’s writ in FATA the centrepiece of its counter-terrorism agenda, bringing violent extremists to justice and thus diminishing Washington’s perceived need to conduct drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal belt.
Drones are not a long-term solution to the problem they are being deployed to address, since the jihadi groups in FATA will continue to recruit as long as the region remains an ungoverned no-man’s land.
The U.S., while pressuring the Pakistan military to end all support to violent extremists, should also support civilian efforts to bring FATA into the constitutional and legal mainstream.
The lack of candour from the U.S. and Pakistan governments on the drone program undermines efforts to assess its legality or its full impact on FATA’s population. The U.S. refuses to officially acknowledge the program; Pakistan portrays it as a violation of national sovereignty, but ample evidence exists of tacit Pakistani consent and, at times, active cooperation.
Pakistan must ensure that its actions and those of the U.S. comply with the principles of distinction and proportionality under international humanitarian law. Independent observers should have access to targeted areas, where significant military and militant-imposed barriers have made accurate assessments of the program’s impact, including collateral damage, nearly impossible.
The U.S. should cease any practices, such as “signature strikes”, that do not comply with international humanitarian law. The U.S. should develop a legal framework that defines clear roles for the executive, legislative and judicial branches, converting the drone program from a covert CIA operation to a military-run program with a meaningful level of judicial and Congressional oversight.
“The core of any Pakistani counter-terrorism strategy in this area should be to incorporate FATA into the country’s legal and constitutional mainstream”, says Samina Ahmed, Crisis Group’s Senior Asia Adviser. “For Pakistan, the solution lies in overhauling an anachronistic governance system so as to establish fundamental constitutional rights and genuine political enfranchisement in FATA, along with a state apparatus capable of upholding the rule of law and bringing violent extremists to justice”.
FULL REPORT

Drones: Myths and Reality in Pakistan

Islamabad/Washington/Brussels  |   21 May 2013

Drone strikes alone will not eliminate the jihadi threat in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Extension of Pakistani law and full constitutional rights to the region is the only long-term solution.

In its latest report, Drones: Myths and Reality in Pakistan, the International Crisis Group examines the extensive CIA-led program of drone strikes in Pakistan. The report argues that the U.S. needs to be transparent about its drone policies and bring them in accord with legality and enhanced congressional oversight and judicial accountability, while Pakistan must live up to its responsibility for governance and security in FATA.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • Pakistan’s new civilian leadership under PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif must make the extension of the state’s writ in FATA the centrepiece of its counter-terrorism agenda, bringing violent extremists to justice and thus diminishing Washington’s perceived need to conduct drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal belt.
  • Drones are not a long-term solution to the problem they are being deployed to address, since the jihadi groups in FATA will continue to recruit as long as the region remains an ungoverned no-man’s land.
  • The U.S., while pressuring the Pakistan military to end all support to violent extremists, should also support civilian efforts to bring FATA into the constitutional and legal mainstream.
  • The lack of candour from the U.S. and Pakistan governments on the drone program undermines efforts to assess its legality or its full impact on FATA’s population. The U.S. refuses to officially acknowledge the program; Pakistan portrays it as a violation of national sovereignty, but ample evidence exists of tacit Pakistani consent and, at times, active cooperation.
  • Pakistan must ensure that its actions and those of the U.S. comply with the principles of distinction and proportionality under international humanitarian law. Independent observers should have access to targeted areas, where significant military and militant-imposed barriers have made accurate assessments of the program’s impact, including collateral damage, nearly impossible.
  • The U.S. should cease any practices, such as “signature strikes”, that do not comply with international humanitarian law. The U.S. should develop a legal framework that defines clear roles for the executive, legislative and judicial branches, converting the drone program from a covert CIA operation to a military-run program with a meaningful level of judicial and Congressional oversight.

“The core of any Pakistani counter-terrorism strategy in this area should be to incorporate FATA into the country’s legal and constitutional mainstream”, says Samina Ahmed, Crisis Group’s Senior Asia Adviser. “For Pakistan, the solution lies in overhauling an anachronistic governance system so as to establish fundamental constitutional rights and genuine political enfranchisement in FATA, along with a state apparatus capable of upholding the rule of law and bringing violent extremists to justice”.

FULL REPORT

14 May

Watch Samina Ahmed, Crisis Group’s South Asia Project Director, discuss Pakistan’s elections with Jim Middleton on ABC News: Newsline 

3 Apr
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.
FULL ARTICLE (Wall Street Journal)
Photo: mdmission/Flickr

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.

FULL ARTICLE (Wall Street Journal)

Photo: mdmission/Flickr

15 Jan
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”.
FULL REPORT

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”.

FULL REPORT

13 Oct
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 

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 

11 Oct
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.
FULL ARTICLE (New Europe)
Photo: Kashif Mardani/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.

FULL ARTICLE (New Europe)

Photo: Kashif Mardani/Flickr

16 Aug
"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