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  • Author: Aisha Ahmad
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In recent years, jihadists across the world have transformed their gendered violence, shocking the world by breaking from prior taboos and even celebrating abuses that they had previously prohibited. This behavior is surprising because jihadists represent a class of insurgents that are deeply bound by rules and norms. For jihadists, deviating from established Islamist doctrines is no easy feat. What then explains these sudden transformations in the rules and norms governing jihadist violence? An inductive investigation of contemporary jihadist violence in Pakistan and Nigeria reveals a new theory of jihadist normative evolution. Data from these cases show that dramatic changes in jihadist violence occur when an external trigger creates an expanded political space for jihadist entrepreneurs to do away with normative constraints on socially prohibited types of violence. As these jihadist leaders capitalize on the triggers, they are able to encourage a re-socialization process within their ranks, resulting in the erosion of previously held taboos, the adoption of proscribed behaviors, and the emergence of toxic new norms.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Gender Issues, Islam, Terrorism, Women, Gender Based Violence
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Middle East, West Asia
  • Author: Christopher Clary, Vipin Narang
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Is India shifting to a nuclear counterforce strategy? Continued aggression by Pakistan against India, enabled by Islamabad's nuclear strategy and India's inability to counter it, has prompted the leadership in Delhi to explore more flexible preemptive counterforce options in an attempt to reestablish deterrence. Increasingly, Indian officials are advancing the logic of counterforce targeting, and they have begun to lay out exceptions to India's long-standing no-first-use policy to potentially allow for the preemptive use of nuclear weapons. Simultaneously, India has been acquiring the components that its military would need to launch counterforce strikes. These include a growing number of accurate and responsive nuclear delivery systems, an array of surveillance platforms, and sophisticated missile defenses. Executing a counterforce strike against Pakistan, however, would be exceptionally difficult. Moreover, Pakistan's response to the mere fear that India might be pursuing a counterforce option could generate a dangerous regional arms race and crisis instability. A cycle of escalation would have significant implications not only for South Asia, but also for the broader nuclear landscape if other regional powers were similarly seduced by the temptations of nuclear counterforce.
  • Topic: National Security, Terrorism, International Security, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Counter-terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, India, Asia
  • Author: Prakash Menon
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Technology often seduces potential adversaries through a promise of relief from security threats only to deceive through the inevitable action-reaction cycle. In the universe of security, technology is contestable both by technology itself and by doctrinal prescriptions and operational countermeasures. The advantage provided by new technology is mostly ephemeral in that provides the momentum for an endless cycle that is best described as chasing one’s own tail. Only political intervention through mutual understanding, doctrinal prudence, and regulating the search for operational supremacy holds potential to escape the stranglehold of the action-reaction cycle. The elusive search for Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) is a prime example. This paper seeks to interrogate the role of the technology-security dynamics in the context of the Sino-Indian nuclear weapon relationship. ​ The context of the Sino-Indian nuclear weapon relationship is clouded by the enhancing reach of India’s missiles[1], the evolving Chinese reaction to U.S. nuclear modernization accompanied by a shift in nuclear posture, and a shared belief in the role of nuclear weapons that is signified by No First Use (NFU) doctrine. The latter point represents political intervention while the two former signify the action-reaction cycle which is primarily a product of technology. However, both China and India must contend with nuclear powers that espouse First Use. China in dealing with the United States and Russia who are quantitatively superior nuclear powers, while India deals with Pakistan whose claims of quantitative superiority are contested. ​ In technological terms, the rise of China and the U.S. reaction resulting in contemporary geopolitical flux at the global level has impacted the evolution of China’s nuclear arsenal. The most prominent illustration of this is China’s reaction to the United States’ withdrawal from the Ballistic Missile Defense Treaty. Earlier China had eschewed development of BMD, but the United States’ quest to create BMD has caused China to attempt to develop its own BMD system as well as systems that can overcome BMD like multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) and Hyper Glide Vehicles (HGVs). Similarly, India has reacted to developments in China and Pakistan by launching an indigenous BMD development program...
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Bilateral Relations, Weapons
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Michael Kugelman
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Michael Kugelman is Deputy Director for the Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center and is also the Center’s Senior Associate for South Asia. He is responsible for research, programming, and publications on South Asia. His specialty areas include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and U.S. relations with each of them. His recent projects have focused on India’s foreign policy, U.S.-Pakistan relations, India-Pakistan relations, the war in Afghanistan, transboundary water agreements in South Asia, and U.S. policy in South Asia. He is a regular contributor to publications that include Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Government, Science and Technology, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, South Asia, Asia
  • Author: Syed Huzaifah Bin Othman Alkaff, Natasha Quek, Md. Didarul Islam, Naman Rawat
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Islamic State’s (IS) territorial defeat reflects a shift in the epicentre of violence from Iraq and Syria to the peripheries (countries with an active presence of IS cells or other insurgent and terrorist threats). In the study of terrorism and insurgency, age-old threats can persist while new threats are always emerging, either due to policy shifts that give rise to new opportunities for insurgents to exploit, or due to changes in the political climate of societies. As such, the May issue deals with three key thematic challenges in a post-IS threat landscape. First, it looks at returning foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), who after IS’ territorial defeat have either traveled to or attempted to return to their home countries. According to the United Nations (UN) more than 40,000 FTFs from 110 countries had traveled to Iraq and Syria to join IS. The return of segments of the FTFs indicates escalation of threats in their home countries as they come armed with operational skills and could possibly regroup, establish local cells and engage in violence. In this case, a high number of FTFs travelled to Iraq and Syria from Tunisia despite the country’s peaceful transition towards a participatory democracy, in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab uprisings. Second, in order to deal with the shifting threat landscape, it is necessary to develop new and strengthen existing de-radicalisation programmes. De-radicalisation is a smaller part of broader counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation efforts that focus on terrorists or returning FTFs in custody. Effective de-radicalisation programmes will provide detainees with opportunities to reintegrate back into the society by rejecting violence and promoting peaceful coexistence. This issue critically evaluates de-radicalisation as a concept and specific programmes in Yemen, Pakistan, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, while extoling the need for holistic approaches for effective outcomes. Lastly, beyond the Islamist extremist threat emanating from IS and other affiliated or local groups, other non-Islamist threats continue to persist. This includes far-right extremists gaining traction and engaging in violence in parts of United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. In addition, ethno-separatist groups (Baloch Liberation Army in Pakistan) and communist groups (The New People’s Army in Philippines and the Naxalites in India) also have a strong support structure and operational presence. According to the Global Terrorism Index, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) or Naxalites killed 205 people in 190 different incidents across 2018. This issue specifically delves into the Naxalite insurgency in India, which has evolved from a mass-mobilisation movement to a militant insurgency over the last few decades. The article advocates for institutional reforms to address various grievances to reduce the agency to violence. In the first article, Natasha Quek and Syed Huzaifah Bin Othman Alkaff explore the causal factors behind Tunisia contributing one of the highest numbers of FTFs in theatres of conflict in the Middle East and beyond. The authors contend that the proliferation of Tunisian FTFs and surge in jihadist-linked violence domestically in recent years, poses a threat to long term stability, and could also fuel conflict in the wider region. Tunisia’s strong history of secularism provides an advantage, as the government can rely on a robust civil society rather than adopt a purely security-based approach. However, additional policy responses are needed to curtail jihadist activities and safeguard the country’s democratic achievements. Md. Didarul Islam then assesses various definitional aspects and theoretical models of de-radicalisation programmes. The author further provides observations on the gains, limitations and local context of de-radicalisation programmes, gleaned from four country case studies, which suggest that effective de-radicalisation of individuals necessitates a holistic approach focused on three key areas: (i) re-education or ideological interventions; (ii) vocational training or financial support; (iii) and a viable reintegration environment. Isolated approaches towards de-radicalisation that discount these variables are likely to only bring short-term success and a higher likelihood of recidivism. Lastly, Naman Rawat then examines different factors and underlying causes which have sustained the Naxalite insurgency in India for over fifty years. The author argues that since the 1960s, the lack of legitimate political institutions as well as corrupt practices of the government and bureaucracy have contributed to the Naxalites’ socio-political alienation in India. Additionally, the ineffective implementation of land reform laws, which prohibit acquisition of the tribal lands by non-Adivasis, has pushed the more extreme sections of tribal and peasant people to revolt against the government. Though the insurgency has been weakened in recent years, it is far from over.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Radicalization, Islamic State, Political stability, Conflict, Radical Right
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Iraq, South Asia, Indonesia, Middle East, India, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, North Africa, Syria, Tunisia
  • Author: Damien D. Cheong, Mohammed Sinan Siyech, Sara Mahmood, Abdul Basit, Neo Loo Seng, Farhan Zahid
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The suicide attack on India’s paramilitary Central Reserved Police Force (CRPF) in Kashmir’s Pulwama district has once again exposed the sharp fault-lines between India and Pakistan, pushing them to the brink of war. The February 2019 attack, claimed by Pakistan-based anti-India militant group, Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), killed 40 CRPF personnel. This attack and its aftermath underscores a new phase of militancy in violence-ridden Kashmir and renewed hostilities between India and Pakistan. India’s retaliatory airstrikes on alleged JeM camps inside mainland Pakistan (after a hiatus of five decades) have redefined the conflict threshold. In 1999, even at the height of the Kargil crisis between the two states, the Indian air force did not cross the Line of Control. Indian airstrikes signal a qualitative shift in the Indian position from the strategy of deterrence-by-denial to deterrence-by-punishment. Consequently, this will result in a new unstable equilibrium, lowering the threshold of a low-intensity, limited conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Moreover, the absence of a functional India-Pakistan crisis management mechanism further increases the probability of a limited conflict. The United States (US) and international community’s response to the Pulwama attack and its aftermath is also pertinent. Instead of urging both India and Pakistan to desist from escalation, for the first time, the US and international community acknowledged India’s right of self-defence and emphasised de-escalation only after Indian airstrikes on alleged JeM camps in Balakot. Barring China, no other country condemned India’s violation of Pakistani sovereignty. This will have long-term implications on strategic stability and balance of power in South Asia. The Pulwama attack has also witnessed emergence of new interlocutors in India-Pakistan tensions such as China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. JeM has 40,000 trained militants in its ranks and returned to Kashmir in 2016 with the Pathankot air base attack. Between then and the Pulwama attack, it has increased its activities and presence in parts of Indian Administered Jammu & Kashmir (IAJK). The use of a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) to hit a military convoy in a highly-militarised zone like Kashmir shows JeM’s enhanced operational capabilities. Accumulating 80 kilograms of highly explosive ‘RDX’ and preparing a VBIED signify the expertise of JeM’s cadres. The suicide bomber Adil Rashid Dar was a local Kashmiri, whom JeM had recruited by exploiting his anger and quest for revenge against the Indian state to serve its agenda of ‘liberating’ Kashmir. After witnessing a dip between 2008 and 2013, violence and militant recruitment have spiked in Kashmir since 2015. The number of militants killed in Kashmir rose from 130 in 2016 to 200 in 2017 and 240 in 2018. In the first two months of 2019, 31 militants have been killed in Kashmir. At the policy level, Pakistan’s response to the JeM threat is critical. Kinetic measures against militant groups such as sanctions, arrests and crackdowns, helpful in the short-term, need to be supplemented. Non-kinetic measures like an effective counter ideological narrative and a comprehensive de-radicalisation and rehabilitation plan would be necessary to create incentives for JeM members to shun militancy. The larger question is how will Pakistan create a counter ideological narrative against JeM without compromising on the state’s identical stance on Kashmir? Moreover, effective rehabilitation of a large number of militants will require massive time and resources and a strong political will by the Pakistani military and political leadership. In 2002, when the military regime of General Pervez Musharraf banned JeM and took action against its cadres, the group retaliated with two assassination attempts on him, alongside several high-profile attacks inside Pakistan. In the event of another round of crackdowns initiated against JeM, a serious backlash cannot be ruled out. Moreover, if JeM splinters as a result of heavy-handed crackdowns, some of its members might gravitate towards terror groups like Islamic State of Khorasan (ISK), Al-Qaeda in the Indian Sub-continent (AQIS) or Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). India and Pakistan, beyond proxy warfare, will have to dispassionately discuss the security challenges arising out of various terrorist groups operating in the region. India and Pakistan will have to create joint counter-terrorism and counter-extremism frameworks to overcome the challenge of militancy, notwithstanding who launched and supported these groups since the 1980s. Against this backdrop, the current issue features four articles looking at different aspects of the Pulwama attack and its aftermath. In the first article, Farhan Zahid traces the background and current status of JeM and its founder Maulana Masood Azhar. The author maintains that Azhar’s ideology had a significant impact on the evolution of Kashmir’s militant landscape. Headquartered in Pakistani Punjab’s Bahawalpur province, JeM has longstanding ties and nexuses with other militant groups in the region such as Al-Qaeda (AQ), the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). These ties have allowed JeM to evade bans and crackdowns from the Pakistani security forces in the past. Notwithstanding information that Azhar is critically ill and his brother Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar and brother-in-law Qari Talha are running JeM’s day-to-day operations, the author emphasises the need to create counter-narratives against Azhar’s violent ideology. The second article by Muhammad Sinan Siyech dissects the Pulwama attack using Louise Richardson’s conceptual framework of the Three Rs (Revenge, Renown and Reaction). According to the author, the Pulwama attack manifested all three Rs making it a highly successful attack for the JeM. The suicide bomber was seeking revenge for repeated arrests and humiliation faced at the hands of Indian security forces. JeM also drew maximum attention from mainstream and social media in the aftermath of the attack. The attack centre-staged Kashmir as a core dispute between India and Pakistan and a nuclear flashpoint that needed serious international attention. It also prompted immediate reactions from India in the form of retaliatory airstrikes on JeM camps in Balakot, escalation of India-Pakistan tensions and stringent security measures in Kashmir. The author argues that such security measures in Kashmir would likely provide JeM with fresh recruits and funding. To mitigate this likelihood, there is need to examine India’s domestic responses in Kashmir, with continued diplomatic pressure on Pakistan to take action against anti-India militant groups. It is also necessary to strengthen international ties to ensure timely information and intelligence sharing to curtail terrorist networks and their financing. The next article by Damien Chong and Neo Loo Seng discusses whether Kashmir could turn into a future bastion for the Islamic State (IS) akin to Marawi in the Philippines in the aftermath of the Pulwama terrorist attack. Various arguments are discussed for and against such a scenario. On one hand, continued violence, socio-economic and political instability in Kashmir, similar to the situation in Marawi in 2017, are pull factors for transnational threat groups such as IS. This is particularly in light of the recent collapse of IS’ territories in Syria/Iraq prompting it to re-group elsewhere. Proponents of the contending view argue that such an outcome is implausible as threat groups have thus far failed to effectively exploit the Kashmir conflict, given it is framed as a territorial and political dispute as opposed to an Islamist conflict. By assessing a broad spectrum of scenarios, the article discusses the pitfalls of the Marawi case and how they can be avoided in Kashmir. The last article by Abdul Basit and Sara Mahmood looks at the security and geopolitical implications of possible US withdrawal from Afghanistan on South Asia’s complex and diverse militant landscape in the context of the Pulwama attack. After 9/11, the US presence in Afghanistan had kept India-Pakistan tensions under control to ensure Islamabad’s cooperation in the border areas to track and hunt AQ remnants. A case in point is the US-brokered 2003 cease fire agreement between India and Pakistan. Now that the war in Afghanistan is nearing its end, tensions between the two South Asian nuclear rivals over Kashmir threaten to provide fresh fuel for regional militancy and bilateral tensions to persist. It seems that several militant groups like JeM which diverted their fighters to Afghanistan after 9/11 to assist the Afghan Taliban in fighting the US are now returning to their old conflict zones through incidents like the Pulwama attack. The Afghan Taliban’s perceived victory in Afghanistan will create a triumphant jihadist narrative for a plethora of militant groups in the region, giving them new zeal and fervour which will make the South Asian militant landscape more lethal and violent.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Taliban, Counter-terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Political stability, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, India, Kashmir, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Sudha Ramachandran
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: South Asian governments are becoming increasingly discontent with Belt and Road Initiative projects. In August, Pakistan’s new government expressed interest in reviewing the CPEC contracts that they perceive to be over-priced, unnecessary, or excessively in the favor of PRC companies (Dawn, September 11). Similar sentiments have been expressed by the new Maldivian government, which is reviewing BRI contracts signed during the rule of former President Abdulla Yameen (Economic Times, November 26). Such actions raise questions as to whether South Asian states might scale down or even cancel BRI projects.
  • Topic: Development, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Infrastructure, Soft Power
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, South Asia, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives
  • Author: Muhammad Nasrullah Mirza, Yasir Malik
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: South Asian Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: Over the years, the Taliban have overwhelmingly grown in influence and their stature is being well recognized; exerting more pressure on Washington’s future orientation in Afghanistan. Amidst the backdrop of transitions taking place in Afghanistan’s political landscape, the foreseeable future has, ostensibly, rekindled the prospects of peace. Although peace process is gradually moving further, yet both sides are reluctant to compromise on each others’ terms. Since the assumption of power, President Trump’s approach to Afghanistan has been oscillating in consulting varying options to bring the Taliban to their terms rather to indulge, in true spirits, in a widely acknowledged political framework for peace. These chosen policy actions posit more challenges and less opportunities for peace in war-ridden Afghanistan. The emergent scenario requires a comprehensive, well-crafted and compromising structure to be devised, featured with inclusiveness of all stakes and issues involved in this prolonged conflict. Evaluating and analyzing President Trump’s strategic policy toward Afghanistan, this paper aims to explore the manifesting failures and grey areas of Trump’s Afghan strategy and also attempts to provide strategic foresight while considering the framework of endgame in Afghanistan.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Taliban, Trump, Negotiation, Exit Strategy
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Asia, Central Asia, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Abdul Majid, Shoukat Ali, Fazal Abbas, Shazia Kousar
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: South Asian Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: Kashmir is the most serious dispute between Pakistan and India that originated with the British decision to give independence to British India that later divided into two states i.e. Pakistan and India. Being a Muslim majority princely state, the people wanted to join Pakistan. However the non-Muslim ruler of Kashmir opted India. The people of Kashmir revolted against this decision which set the stage for the first Kashmir war between Pakistan and India. Since then India has maintained its control over Kashmir by use of force and a heavy presence of Indian security forces. India and Pakistan fought another war on Kashmir in 1965. Despite India’s coercive policies, Kashmiris continued to resist Indian domination. The current uprising in Kashmir is the latest manifestation of Kashmiri revolt against India. Pakistan and India need to hold talks for a peaceful resolution of Kashmir which is also acceptable to the Kashmiris. They do not want to live under Indian rule and want to decide about the future of Kashmir through plebiscite, as promised in the UN resolutions of 1948-49.
  • Topic: United Nations, History, Territorial Disputes, Conflict, Protests
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United Kingdom, South Asia, India, Kashmir
  • Author: Rizwan Naseer, Musarat Amin
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: South Asian Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: The danger of nuclear terrorism has heightened significantly in the recent years largely because of the transnational terrorist networks and their unrelenting efforts to acquire nuclear technology. The menace of nuclear terrorism is alarming and should be calculated as credible source of emerging trends in terrorism. No incident of nuclear terrorism happened yet but terrorist groups are struggling to steal fissile materials, nuclear technology or insiders‟ support to either procure a crude weapon or steal one. International community is concerned with such foreseeable scenario. This research attempts to make a realistic calculation of the hazards of nuclear terrorism. First part of the paper underlines hype of nuclear terrorism and the risks it poses. It also signifies magnitude of reality involving nuclear terrorism. Second part of the paper underscores the response to international media that is frenzy about risk of nuclear terrorism in Pakistan. It also highlights the safety and security measures that Pakistan has adopted under the guidelines of IAEA and Nuclear Security Summits. This paper concludes with the argument that over the years Pakistan has remained relatively open about sharing information regarding how it is making advancements in its command and control system to ward off any risks of nuclear terrorism and has been successful in achieving better levels of security.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, Military Affairs, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia