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Charting Pakistan’s Internal Security Policy

SR368-coverFrom September 2014 to March 2015, I was a senior Pakistan expert in residence at the United States Institute of Peace. This opportunity gave me the time to take a break and do some writing. In May 2015, my report was published.

Can be downloaded here

Traditionally ruled by military or quasi-military regimes, Pakistan is struggling to strengthen its democratic governance but the military remains in charge of country’s security policy. This period of incremental democratization corresponds to the unprecedented rise in terrorism and domestic insurgencies that have challenged state capacity and taken a toll on both the morale of the country and the economy. This report reviews Pakistan’s progress in devising and implementing counterterrorism policy frameworks in recent years. In highlighting key related strategic and operational issues, it offers Pakistani policymakers ways forward on how best to ensure internal stability and security, reminding us that a balance in civilian and military institutions is vital for effective policy outcomes.

Summary

  • Pakistan’s recently announced National Action Plan focuses on combatting both terrorism and militancy and addresses endemic insecurity and radicalization. The plan follows in the wake of the National Internal Security Policy, which has been in place for more than a year.

  • These two policy frameworks underscore the commitment of the government to implement counterterrorism operations. Implementation of both, however, is affected by the civil-military divide that defines Pakistan’s power landscape and by the altered governance architecture since the onset of devolution reforms of 2010.

  • Pakistan’s historically entrenched civil-military imbalance puts the military in the driver’s seat on all issues related to national security. The current civilian government has enabled the military to take the lead on internal security arrangements as well.

  • Internal security challenges of Pakistan are directly related to its external security policy, especially with respect to India and Afghanistan.

  • Centralized management of internal security policies, however, is fraught with difficulties. It is unclear whether the provincial governments “own” the National Internal Security Policy and how far the central government is enabling reform to achieve results.

  • Progress to date remains mixed. In fact, recent decisions indicate that key counterterrorism goals, such as action against proscribed militant outfits and madrassa regulation, may have been diluted to prevent backlash from religious militias. Counterterrorism efforts cannot succeed without dismantling the militias that have operated with impunity.

  • To effectively counter internal militancy and external terrorism, Pakistan’s policymakers will need to harness both civilian and military institutions. To do so, they need to develop a multifaceted strategy that incorporates a national intelligence directorate, an internal security adviser, enhanced jurisdiction of the National Counter Terrorism Authority, parliamentary participation in counterterrorism, increased financial commitments, education reform, provincial counterterrorism strategies, and altering public narratives. Such measures need to be implemented in letter and spirit with complementary institutional reforms.

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June 6th, 2015|governance, Pakistan, Published by USIP, terrorism|0 Comments

The terrorism challenge

The Pakistani government must take swift, effective action to implement its will and assert its authority.

Terrorism4

Pakistan’s terrorism challenge has burgeoned into a full-blown national crisis. Terrorism emanates from extremist ideologies that use religion to glorify violence. In addition, when there is constant marginalization of particular sections of society, people are denied basic necessities of life and any aspirations for a better life are in vain, many are driven towards violence. In Pakistan, surveys have shown that while the masterminds of extremist outfits are often well-educated, their recruiting ground is among the under-privileged.

In Pakistan the extremist narratives emanate from three main sources – the mosque-madrassah complex, school curricula, and the media. The country’s policymakers and law enforcement agencies need to take appropriate steps targeting these sources in both the short and long term, if the menace of terrorism is to be effectively curtailed.

Terrorism emanates from extremist ideologies that use religion to glorify violence

Short Term Measures:

Credible information is needed about all mosques and madrassahs operating at the district, provincial and national level. At the district level, the District Coordination Officers (DCOs) should be tasked to map and monitor all mosques and madrassahs operating within his jurisdiction. All madrassahs should be required to be formally registered with the local authorities. Information collected from each district should then be compiled into provincial and national data banks containing verified information on those running these mosques/madrassahs, their activities, their donors etc. Any madrassahs with foreign funding sources and teachers should be kept under extra scrutiny. In addition, police officers need to compile their data from each district and create national data centers which can help law-enforcement agencies to identify and monitor suspicious activity in any part of the country.

Any funding from any sources, both loc […]

The search for a new security paradigm

Latest for The Friday Times

Recently, Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, elaborated on the losses incurred by the country in fighting terrorism, while making a policy statement in the Parliament. He cited 3,700 major terrorist incidents that took place from 2005 to 2007 across the country, which resulted in 3,500 casualties. The Minister added that during the period 2008-2012, 8,514 incidents of terrorism claimed the lives of 9,600 people, leaving another 25,000 injured. An estimate (by South Asia Terrorism Portal) suggests that since 2003, Pakistan has lost over 22,838 innocent lives.

Financially, Pakistan, has suffered losses around $100 billion according to different reports. The actual figure may be lower but given the destruction and loss of livelihoods this may just be close to the actual figures. This devastating estimate spans twelve years since 9/11 and Pakistan’s subsequent support to US efforts in Afghanistan.

In the recent years, the lack of a detailed, viable counter-terrorism policy by Pakistan has often been called into question. Successive governments have failed to adequately deliver on security concerns, while the military still exists in a stasis about terrorists in Afghanistan or local, radicalized organizations such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba or the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi – outfits that were deemed vital to Pakistan’s geopolitical concerns.

As Ayesha Siddiqa has noted, “Pakistan’s counterterrorism strategy in Afghanistan is rife with inherent contradictions, caught between an inclination to fight militant forces and yet having to partner with some to strengthen its future bargaining position” (The Washington Quarterly, Winter 2011). Therefore it can be deduced that Pakistan’s juggling of its multitude of concerns – a future in Afghanistan that offsets India’s efforts in the country, a stable relationship with the US and the geostrategic significance of Kashmir – all play into the state’s muddled foreign policy framework.

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