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Current Affairs ( 25 Aug 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Virus of extremism: New Age Islam’s Selection from Pakistan Press, 25 August 2015

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

25 August 2015


 Virus of Extremism

By Mohammad Ali Babakhel

 A Wheelchair-Bound Convict Is Set To Be Hanged In Pakistan: Mercy Please!

By Sarmad Ali

 Social Media And The Radicalisation Process

By Khurram Minhas

 The Nero Syndrome

By Marvi Sirmed

 What Does The War On Terror Mean To Citizens?

By Shaukat Qadir

 Military Interventions And Suicide Attacks

By Dr Fawad Kaiser

 Pakistan’s Growing Gender Gap

By Rukhsana Shah

 Karachi: Uncertain Gains

By Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

 Is Pakistan Bold Enough To Give Sex-Offenders The Death Penalty?

By Sana Hameed Baba

 Empowering Pakistani Women

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

 Military Interventions and Suicide Attacks

By Dr Fawad Kaiser


Virus of Extremism

By Mohammad Ali Babakhel

August 25th, 2015

THERE is hardly any organised effort to assess the causes of extremism. Certain questions need to be answered. What roles do discrimination and a class-based education system have to play in fanning extremism? What is the nexus between curriculum and extremism? How can communities — particularly women — counter extremism? How does social isolation incubate obscurantism?

Extremism not only fans terrorism but is also a reason for the multiplication of crime. Analysis of murder statistics from Jan 1, 2014 to April 15, 2014 suggests that out of a total of 783 murders in KP, 149 took place due to sudden provocation.

Radicalisation is a by-product of historical events, ideological conflicts and socio-economic and economic deprivation. The prevailing impression that terrorism and other forms of violent extremism can only be tackled by law-enforcement and security agencies is flawed. De-radicalisation requires equally the in­­volvement of academics, researchers, sociologists, anthropologists, the media and clergy.

In the run-up to the 18th Amendment there were expectations that the status of Fata and the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) would be resolved, but this proved to be an unfulfilled hope. Though the 1973 Constitution empowered around 37,000 maliks to vote, ordinary tribal people were kept away from the electoral process, which only served to alienate the common folk. It was only in 1997 that universal adult franchise was extended to the tribal areas.

De-radicalisation is a slow and laborious process.

Other factors that have spurred extremism in Fata and KP include the Afghan jihad; presence of Arabs in the tribal areas; and the values imported by labourers working in the Middle East. During 1973-1997 the maliks remained dominant; as a reaction to the maliks the clergy has emerged as a new challenge. In practice, the mullah and the malik have both maintained the status quo.

An obsolete, elite-centric criminal justice system has also incubated extremism. Before the military operations in Malakand and Fata began, locals were attracted by the alternative speedy justice system introduced by the extremists. The shura — imported from Arab culture — took root and challenged the FCR as well as the jirga. As part of an organised strategy militants attacked jirgas.

Extremism has also fanned cultural terrorism. Targeting the shrines of Sufi Sheikh Nisa Baba and Sheikh Bahadur Baba in Khyber Agency, Ziarat Kaka Sahib, Rehman Baba, Abdul Shakoor Malang Baba, Hazrat Abu Saeed Baba, Mian Umer Baba, Malang Baba and Ajmal Khattak was the outcome of a well-thought-out strategy. The tomb of Haji Sahib Tarangzai in Mohmand Agency was captured and converted into the headquarters of the militants.

Education has been another victim of extremism. The vice-chancellor of Islamia College University was kidnapped in 2010 and remained in captivity for four years. In 2009, militants attacked Malakand University while in 2010, Dr Farooq, the VC of Swat University and one of the inventors of the ‘Sabaoon’ component of the de-radicalisation programme, was killed by extremists.

Since 2006, there have been some 175 attacks on CD and barber shops in KP. Nishtar Hall, a cultural centre in Peshawar, remained closed for several years while cinemas were also attacked. Women singers Ghazala Javed and Ayman Udas were killed by relatives.

Extremism does not occur in isolation. Hence it is imperative to understand the contributory factors such as missing persons and internally displaced persons. The heirs of 739 missing persons and two million IDPs in KP are susceptible to extremism. Further, since 2004, in KP 4,045 persons have lost their lives in incidents of terrorism while as a result of 314 drone attacks in Fata, reportedly 2,774 people have been killed.

Jails are supposed to be correctional facilities but in our case jails are rearing criminals and extremists. There is a dire need to have de-radicalisation programmes in prisons. Lessons can be learnt from other countries’ programmes, such as the successful Jordanian de-radicalisation effort.

A de-radicalisation initiative focused on juveniles, adult prisoners and family members of detained persons in Swat was introduced in 2009. In Punjab, the Counter-Terrorism Department, with the collaboration of the Technical and Vocational Training Authority, initiated a pilot project to de-radicalise former extremists. More than 300 members of former banned organisations belonging to 15 districts of Punjab benefited from the programme. The pilot programme got financial allocation of Rs9.33 million. Former extremists between the ages of 16-35 were part of the programme.

Though the National Action Plan is a welcome step, it seems silent on de-radicalisation, reintegration and de-weaponisation. De-radicalisation is a slow and laborious process. It requires a collective and holistic approach. Remaining in a state of denial will be suicidal. It is therefore imperative for the state to not only use force, but to also counter militancy on the ideological front.

The writer is a police officer.


A Wheelchair-Bound Convict Is Set To Be Hanged In Pakistan: Mercy Please!

By Sarmad Ali

August 25, 2015

A wheelchair-bound convict, Abdul Basit, aged 43 years, is set to be hanged in Pakistan despite appeals from human rights groups both in Pakistan and abroad. If he is sent to the gallows in Pakistan, it will be the first time that the state executes a wheelchair-bound convict. Abdul Basit was convicted for murder in 2009 but developed tuberculosis one year later, becoming paralysed from the waist down. The same sort of execution was once held in the US in the year 1993, where an extremely disabled man was hanged to death in Virginia. Other than that no such example is found in the rest of the world.

A black warrant was issued on July 28, 2015 but due to the efforts of his legal team, the warrant was stayed and the court adjourned until August 25. This proceeding will determine whether to go ahead with the execution. A mercy petition is pending before President Mamnoon Hussain, requesting the suspension of the death sentence because the execution of Abdul Basit will violate Pakistani prison regulations and international law. On paper, executing insane, semi-disabled or wholly disabled people is not sanctioned under Pakistani and international law. The mercy petition that is pending before the worthy President says that the condemned prisoner is unable to use his lower body to support his own weight and cannot stand on his feet at all. A medical board examined Abdul Basit on August 1, 2015. In the board’s opinion, he was diagnosed with Tuberculosis Meningitis in 2010. He is on supportive therapy and rehabilitation since then, as the medical board told the jail authorities. The medical board further contended that patients with such conditions are permanently disabled and may not recover for their entire lives. They are likely to remain on bed rest for the rest of their lives. Therefore, it can be said that in the medical board’s opinion, Abdul Basit is totally unfit and has permanent disability from which he cannot recover in his lifetime.

The question is, why are the jail authorities all set to execute such a convict? I believe that executing anyone, either fit or disabled, is barbaric and state murder. In the wake of the Peshawar attack last year on the Army Public School, in which Taliban extremists gunned down school children, the government of Pakistan lifted the moratorium on executions. To date, about 200 lives have been taken since 2014 by sending convicts to the gallows. It has been proved all over the world that execution is barbaric and cruel; such punishment has no space in the modern world. Critics have noted that in this bid to crack down on terrorism, many of those who have been executed since 2014 were not convicted of terrorism-related crimes.

It is my opinion that this pattern of punishment was found in medieval times. It is wrong to suggest that the reinstatement of capital punishment in Pakistan would slowly decrease the rate of crime. It is not out of place to mention that after the bloodied partition of India, the newly emerged country of Pakistan had only two capital crimes. Now, there are about 27 capital crimes and the country still faces very high rates of crime all over Pakistan. The rate of crime in Pakistan has not decreased at all since the reinstatement of capital punishment. For instance, in Karachi we often come to know about murders, thefts, burglaries, mobile phones being snatched, etc. Many suicide attacks have taken place since 2014; the masterminds and those who blew themselves up had full knowledge of the reinstatement of capital punishment. Therefore, the argument of deterrence has no weight. This argument is insufficient to justify capital punishment. The countries that have abolished capital punishment in practice or in law have lower crime rates in comparison to countries that have capital punishment in their criminal justice system. Abdul Basit’s execution would be violent and unlawful under Pakistani and international law and an affront to justice and humanity. The modern advanced capitalist countries of continental Europe, except Belarus, have abolished capital punishment for all crimes. Yet some states of the US still retain capital punishment in their criminal justice system although there is a strong movement all over the US, pushing for the abolition of capital punishment. Some states of the US have already abolished it and are transforming their criminal justice system to non-penal social engineering. It is my opinion that Pakistan should place a moratorium on executions. The criminal justice system of Pakistan can easily be manipulated by people with deep pockets. It is wholly sordid, from the police investigations to justice by the courts. Police departments are not fully equipped and educated to conduct investigations, collect evidence and prepare cases to present in a court of law.

Pakistan has executed a number of people since 2014, and most of them were convicted of murder and not terrorism as mentioned earlier. Prima facie, Aftab Bahadur was innocent but still sent to the gallows, whereas his co-accused was pardoned by the complainant. There is another example of Shafqat Hussain, who was hanged as well. He was sentenced to death when he was a juvenile of 14 years, as per reports. The police obtained his confession of murder through torture. International human rights groups urged Pakistani officials to stay his execution but their efforts were all in vain. There are other examples of those who were innocent but sent to the gallows.

I submit that Pakistan should place a moratorium on executions immediately. The international human rights groups also urge the officials of Pakistan to do so immediately. This barbaric and anti-human practice should be stopped forever and those who place their reliance upon the deterrence theory should be taught through the media and social groups that keeping capital punishment will not lower the rate of crime in Pakistan. In countries where there is economic growth, the rate of crime is lower in comparison to countries in economic crisis. I further contend that capital punishment violates the right to life and dignity. This practice should therefore be stopped. I hope that the disabled man, Abdul Basit, will not be executed and those languishing in jails accused of capital crimes will have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment. I end this piece in the hope that Abdul Basit will not be hanged.

Sarmad Ali is an advocate of the High Court. He can be reached at


Social Media and The Radicalisation Process

By Khurram Minhas

August 25, 2015

Scientific developments and the ease of access to various communication technologies for a wide-ranging audience beyond borders have made almost boundless prospects for broadcast and digital information. Since its inception, the internet has empowered the introduction of numerous platforms for mass communication, including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram and other social media outlets. Not surprisingly, among the billions of users worldwide, we also find terrorist organisations. In early years of the 21st century, it was publically understood that the online activities of terrorists were confined to the process of radicalisation. However, activities and incidents in recent years have revealed the fact that various radical groups and individuals are playing an extensive role in the recruitment and planning of terrorist activities. The world community in general, Pakistan in particular, has tried to diminish the physical contact between the member of a terrorist group and a potential new recruit. Therefore, those extremist elements shifted their strategies from those involving physical contact to those involving virtual contact with a potential new recruit.

Highlighting this phenomenon for the first time, the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (NDRE) published a comprehensive report in 2006 titled ‘Jihadism online’. The report concluded that the online activities of terrorists were increasing but that there was no evidence of the direct recruitment of jihadists through the internet. However, 99.8 percent of terrorism activities including recruitment through inspiration and motivational videos were revealed by the Dutch Intelligence Service in 2012. The same source revealed that when individuals keenly participate in online debates on features of the extremists’ narrative, jihadist recruiters can get information from these individuals. Later, they can contact them through vague online identities and further motivate them for jihad. However, scholars are unable to find the motivation behind the first appearance in chat-rooms concerning radical discussions but they consider Facebook and other social media outlets as the most vulnerable and easily accessed sources for such activities in underdeveloped countries.

It was believed that the process towards radicalisation developed gradually and would take several years. However, the most recent case studies, particularly in the wake of Islamic State (IS) and its recruitment activities in Europe, offered different experiences to study. The process of youth radicalisation in European countries and their recruitment in IS has been occurring within a very short period overwhelmingly based on the group’s motivational social media campaigns.

There are approximately 25 million social media users in Pakistan. Unfortunately, numerous banned extremist and militant organisations, and their sympathisers, specifically religious propagators, use these social media outlets for the targeting of vulnerable youth to stimulate radicalisation with smartly crafted messages and fancy videos. These extremist elements use this media outlet for numerous purposes, including to celebrate their successes and to inspire vulnerable minds by sharing the stories of their heroic acts in the battlefield. The propaganda also includes fake pictures of carnage and the martyrdom of “Musalmaan bhai” (Islamic brothers) to grab more sympathy from their potential recruits. In this regard, their propaganda cells use fake pictures and videos with emotional background jihadi songs. This propaganda campaign was very intensive in nature during the early months of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in 2014.

Likewise, since 2012, political parties in Pakistan have also started using Facebook for the strengthening of their narrative. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) initiated the use of Facebook for the spread of its political narrative. Subsequently, various political parties followed the PTI in this narrative building campaign. Though social media has introduced various new political trends in political parties, it has increased the level of political radicalization, which could be detrimental for the democratic process.

Similarly, the debate over culture and traditions has also been intensifying with the passage of time by social media users. For instance, the most recent debate of gay marriages been legalised in every state in the US bombarded social media for several days in Pakistan. The intensive and furious debates between liberals and traditionalists in Pakistan highlighted a wider social and cultural gap. The issue of identity and social norms is leading Pakistani youth towards two extreme sides. It is not only creating a psychological gap but is also providing excuses to violent extremists or jihadist elements to propagate their version of Islam. Therefore, it is a dire need that the government strictly monitor the use of cyber-technology in order to stop the radicalisation process in Pakistan through social media.

Khurram Minhas is a freelance columnist


The Nero Syndrome

By Marvi Sirmed

August 25, 2015

That Pakistan is finally going in the right direction is echoing everywhere from TV talk shows to the opinion pieces to chatteratti of the capital and the bazar – the overall marketplace that determines the disposition of public opinion. Thanks to a very aggressive and out-of-the-box communication strategy adopted by the establishment, much of this ‘feel good’ effect in national mood is being attributed to the army and rightly so. It is because much of the crucial decision-making about many longstanding controversial issues for affecting a good change had to be made by the army.

The feel-good factors in Pakistan’s recent handling of itself include its decision to take on the terror haven in its restive tribal areas and elsewhere. Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan and assorted operations of different intensities throughout the country has produced a visible effect on country’s internal security situation that is hard to ignore. The terrorist networks are broken or have started breaking if the state institutions and Law Enforcing Agencies (LEAs) are to be believed. More evidence of which, however, would be needed to make an informed opinion.

Process of reforms in Madrassas has also been initiated reportedly. We are told that a conference of Madrassa administrations from all major sects is reportedly being held soon in Islamabad where important issues regarding curriculum reforms would be discussed. The reforms process, however, is much beyond these conferences. The basic issues of regulation are yet to be resolved.

Going by newspaper reports, a combing of madrassas is going on whereby search operations and raids are being made on suspicious madrassas, registered or unregistered. This has given very important leads to many terror attacks including the one on Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada this month.

The communication networks previously available to the terrorists are being broken now. With massive exercise of mobile phone SIMs’ biometric verification, huge data is already available to the government. Scrutiny on other means has been tightened, albeit at the cost of civil liberties of the peaceful citizens of Pakistan. That probably is the cost that the citizens will have to pay for the wrong policies of some state institutions, which would just not go for accountability for those policies.

One can also see considerable progress being made on putting necessary constrictions on the funneling of terror financing. Terrorist organisations have been generating much of the cash through crimes, bank robberies, domestic theft, blackmail and kidnappings for ransom. Although decreased, the number and frequency of such crimes has not affected much.

This entire ‘change’ is being attributed to army. Which is actually a rightful thing to do. Whether it was about the long awaited military operation in North Waziristan or the tough decision to do away with the ‘assets’, all of it depended on a certain side on the civil-military equation. At a cursory look, it all seems good, very good indeed. Madrassas being corrected, terror networks being dismantled, terror financing being nabbed, militants being killed in custody, criminals (not only the terrorists) being executed, military courts established, military operation is underway in North Waziristan for more than a year. That is, after years and years of dillydallying and getting thousands of its citizens killed and soldiers martyred. We are finally doing it. All seems good. The direction seems right.

Anyway, keeping the unresolved questions of accountability of the security sector aside, the point is, Pakistan kept waiting for a ‘suitable time’ for the military action on North Waziristan while silently tolerating the mass murder and near genocide of its citizens belonging to different religious communities. We started it a year ago after years of stationing our troops miles away from the terrorist havens. More than ten months ago, we were told that almost 90% area has been ‘cleared’. Since ten months, we are on the same position. Ninety percent area cleared. During this period we have lost scores of our brave soldiers who embraced martyrdom fighting till their last breath.

Leave the accountability. Let’s just see the bigger picture.

Pakistan’s western neighbor Afghanistan is undergoing an unprecedented hype in terror attacks, claimed by Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network. The leadership of the two groups was in Pakistan weeks ago for making negotiations with Afghan government. Small victory. This was after all our long held wish to be on the negotiations table with Afghan government sans India and with Afghan Taliban as key negotiator of future. Applause.

The price. Murder of Afghan peace at the hands of unbridled Taliban and Haqqanis. The strategic policy elite of Pakistan should have known the track record of these groups in 1990s. When was the last time that they honored Pakistan’s requests of cooperation? Had they done it in 2001, there would not be so many years of Pakhtoon blood that both the countries saw.

The consequence. We have a disgruntled neighbor on the western borders. This side of our border has never been as hostile as it has been in last few weeks. Thanks.

And what’s brewing at the eastern border? With a rigid xenophobe and jingoist narrative in command, this side of our border should have been anticipated to be what it is. Rather than mitigating the threat, the Punjabi machismo of those in control of policy in Pakistan is hurling bravado on this side. Having seen LoC violations every now and then, and sacrificing citizens and soldiers, we should have been slightly more prudent than heating the side up.

Our long held ‘frenemy’ that keeps spending its tax payers’ money on us – errr… on our guns that is – is already threatening to roll back the aid money. That’s because she thinks we are not – once again – doing enough to leash Haqqani network. It was just last week that the USA sent a public jibe at us for not doing so. Not that our all-weather friend in the North East would be much pleased on all this. May be the macho heroes in the establishment need to spare a thought on the reason we are saving some dimwit brutal killers who have hardly obliged us with anything in past.

With both the borders vulnerable, world’s biggest power – whose sidekick we have been playing since decades – calling us out, our biggest province (yes, its Balochistan) under insurgency, our only economic hub hit with political and resultant economic instability, army being busy internally with Karachi, Balochistan and North Waziristan, who is making these decisions like an alpha male flaunting his false muscle? Hitting on the increasing radicalization and extremism is not even an issue under discussion. Xenophobia is still being used as a tool to get short-term objectives.

This reminds me of the Titanic when it was sinking in the Atlantic, some of the crewmembers were arranging the chairs in the back instead of making sure that the passengers on board were safe. That’s what is called Nero’s Syndrome. Not seeing the tightening noose around our neck while engaging in every other minor or major conflict under the nose, we are fast becoming a classic case of Nero’s Syndrome. Wither Pakistan?

Marvi Sirmed is an Islamabad based freelance columnist.


What Does The War On Terror Mean To Citizens?

By Shaukat Qadir

August 25, 2015

For some time now, I have wanted to explain exactly what we have got ourselves into. What does the ugliest of all ugly wars mean to us all?

First, the very basics. If there is an insurgency, it is because all, or some of the nation’s citizens, have a complaint against the government. The complaint is invariably sociopolitical and/or economic.

Furthermore, the government has been unable or unwilling to redress the complaint(s) of these people when aired by peaceful, legal means, leaving them no option but to use force to make their grievances heard.

Despite the rationale, once people cross the line to violate the law, even if they are airing legitimate grievances, they have become insurgents and, consequently, enemies of the state.

From the foregoing explanation, it is obvious that if grievances are sociopolitical and or economical, so are the solutions to those complaints. It flows therefrom that the ultimate solution to an insurgency, counterinsurgency or COIN for short, is by political means i.e., a negotiated settlement and not the use of force.

But, that by no means implies that military operations are unnecessary, in fact, the opposite is the case. Once protestors become insurgents, their suppression by force becomes a necessity. It is important to remember that force can merely create favourable conditions for negotiations to succeed and redress grievances. Or, in other words, security forces can win the battles so that negotiations win the COIN war.

Perhaps, the best example of this is that of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The Irish people had been fighting for their rights for centuries. But in the 1980s, the IRA finally began bombing the streets of London. On one occasion, it almost succeeded in targeting Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister.

Unofficial but fairly authentic rumour has it that Thatcher ordered a small special counterterrorism unit created under a serving brigadier, who reported directly and only to Thatcher. Built round a nucleus of specially selected SAS personnel, it seduced disillusioned former IRA personnel to train them.

Over a number of years, members of this unit infiltrated the IRA, gained the confidence of some mid to mid-high level IRA leaders before beginning to target them, forcing the IRA to go underground. The moment this happened, Thatcher reached out to them to initiate talks.

Today, many of these leaders with huge bounties on their heads sit across the table with the British prime minister to negotiate the future of Ireland.

Whether these rumours are accurate or not, there are numerous lessons to be learnt. But an important aspect to be considered here is that the IRA infiltrators gained the confidence of IRA members. To do so, they obviously had to commit acts of terrorism against their own citizens.

The road to heaven is not always paved with high morality, to coin the phrase. But the beauty of this entire British operation lay in its timing. The IRA, subjected to the same terrorist threat that it posed to British citizens, was forced underground. And that is when Her Majesty’s government reached out with offers to negotiate.

Thatcher just gave them a taste of their own medicine. She was careful to neither subjugate the IRA nor humiliate it. That could have been self-defeating.

But the case in Pakistan is far from the same as that of the IRA; which is why our course cannot be chartered on this example.

While our tribal areas were also socio-politically and economically neglected, our tribal rebellion, which began the ongoing insurgency, was caused by the government trying to stop people of the tribal areas from fighting alongside the Afghans against US-led forces of invasion. In the case of the IRA, despite its acts of terrorism, as it represented the politico-socioeconomic aspirations of its people, its members enjoyed the willing support of a large segment of the Irish people. The Pakistani Taliban, however, do not represent the aspirations of their people. They operated through force and fear alone and if they were ever allowed to contest an election, they would not be able to win even a village election, if it were not rigged.

This is why there is no scope for negotiating with our insurgents. The IRA was seeking improved conditions for the Irish. Our insurgents have absolutely no interest in improving the lot of the people. In fact, better conditions, which make satisfied and loyal citizens is the last thing these insurgents want.

That is also the curse our security forces of today live under. All security forces draw wages round the year to protect the citizens of their country. In this war, to protect the hapless citizens, our security forces have been forced to target some of their own citizens, however misled they might be. As one who has worn his uniform with pride for many years and has had the misfortune of participating in military COIN operations, though nowhere near the intensity that soldiers of the current crop face, I sympathise with their predicament.


Military Interventions and Suicide Attacks

By Dr Fawad Kaiser

August 24, 2015

Suicide attacks are the most virulent and horrifying form of terrorism in the world today. The mere rumour of an impending suicide attack can throw thousands of people into panic. Although suicide attacks account for a minority of all terrorist acts, they are responsible for a majority of all terrorism-related casualties, and the rate of attacks is rising rapidly across the globe.

The recent terrorist suicide attack that killed Shuja Khanzada underscores that militant groups are increasingly becoming a source of national insecurity. This and the other recent casualties equally highlight the fact that developing and fragile security control and monitoring are especially vulnerable to myriad terrorist groups and transnational militant and criminal organisations that seek to exploit the limitations in the security sections of weaker or poorly monitored national interests. Advances in both information technology and weapons systems, moreover, have given armed militant groups heretofore unparalleled capabilities, enabling more lethal operational activity as well as recruitment on a provincial and national scale.

The death of the provincial home minister by a suicide attack questions the effect of military interventions on the incidence of suicide attacks. It presents three theoretical explanations. Military interventions may boost the insurgents’ use of suicide attacks by fomenting a ‘cornered to the wall’ backlash that sanctions the use of more extreme and unconventional tactics like suicide attacks providing more and better targets against which suicide attacks can be launched. Secondly, they may promp insurgents to use suicide tactics in order to overcome their power asymmetries and to confront better-defended targets that are enhanced by interventions. Thirdly, it is possible that military interventions with specific features like paramilitary forces in the context of assisting a local government and involving larger numbers of ground troops may boost suicide attacks by tipping the balance of power against insurgents and hardening targets. Regime challengers are, as a result, likely to increase the use of suicide attacks focusing on soft targets.

Another provocative hypothesis proposes that suicide terrorists are especially likely to attack democracies. They do so primarily out of nationalist rather than religious motivations and they target democracies because they perceive democracies to be especially sensitive to suffering casualties.

Those who believe suicide terrorism can be explained by a single political root cause, such as the presence of military forces in the presence of democracy, ignore psychological motivations, including religious inspirations, which can trump rational self-interest to produce dangerous or diseased heroic behaviour in ordinary people. Those who believe that some central organisation such as the old Taliban directs such suicide terrorists ignore the small-group dynamics involving friends and family that form the diaspora cell of brotherhood and camaraderie on which the rising tide of martyrdom actions is based. Finally, those who simply dismiss jihadis as nihilists risk developing policies based on faulty assumptions that seek to challenge deeply held religious beliefs rather than more effectively channel them towards less violent expressions.

There have been numerous calls from both the left and the right to re-engage the region militarily. All political sides agreed to military intervention but are ignoring the root causes of this problem. The interests at stake in Pakistan are not simply humanitarian concerns or preserving state writ but, more fundamentally, the size of the future terrorist threat to the country. Far from hurting the terrorists, it does appear so far that engaging military would put us back on the path of a rising terrorist threat that has taken us over a decade to escape.

The return of terrorist attacks and the subsequent military intervention are, therefore, raising interest on a number of levels. One particular area that the conflict and military intervention illuminates, however, is the way in which constitutional law is subtly adjusting to the new threats posed by armed militant groups and the terrorists operating in the territories that are fragile, notably with regard to the concept of intervention by invitation in an internal armed militant conflict and the concept of implied authorisation for the use of force.

The anatomy of this conflict and the relevant reaction of parliament and the Supreme Court (SC) decision to back the military intervention and evaluation of the violence index in Karachi all demonstrate that the new paradigm of armed conflict ushers in a more permissive view of the legality of the use of military force against non-state armed groups or violent extremist organisations operating in the territories of fragile provinces and ungoverned spaces.

Recent improvement from the security point of view seen in Karachi confirms an analysis of the terrorist conflict and the legal authority asserted by Rangers and the military to legally undergird its intervention in the province. It also undoubtedly explores the contours of the changing national legal landscape and examines relevant provisions of the National Action Plan (NAP), positing that the military intervention represents a subtle shift in constitutional law vis-à-vis military force in counter-terrorism operations. It is therefore relevant that we do not lose sight of the implications of this subtle shift for national counter-terrorism operations when military forces are arrayed against armed militant groups both inside and across border regions.

Many analysts would agree that terrorism caters to the sadistic immoral need of suppressed consciousness and an over-inflated sense of self-entitlement. Do we really understand the causes of today’s suicide terrorism? What else can be done to turn the rising tide of martyrdom? There may be no simple answers to these questions but those who undertake martyrdom actions are not mentally incompetent, hopeless or poor but are educated and successful. They are intelligent, they apply advanced combat techniques and hence the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) will have to formulate a contingency framework. “Know thine enemy” is not a call for therapy but for a better understanding of who out there is dying to kill and why. Understanding that can help decision makers devise organisational and ideological solutions to defuse the threat of suicide attacks.

The writer is a professor of Psychiatry and consultant Forensic Psychiatrist in the UK. He can be contacted at


Empowering Pakistani Women

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

August 24, 2015

On August 14, as on every August 14, a patriotic but persecuted community celebrated Pakistan’s Independence Day by putting up flags and lights on their main community centre in the small town they are, for all practical purposes, besieged in. No points for guessing what community this was but here is another hint: they have been abused and humiliated by the state on voter forms and passport forms since the 1980s and have faced the kind of curbs on their religious freedom that are more reminiscent of King Henry VIII’s medieval England than of any modern nation state in the 21st century. When I retweeted pictures of the aforesaid celebration, one overzealous and constitutionally appropriate Muslim, who happened to be a woman herself, proudly responded that had the said community been lax in its celebration, their women would be raped by the evening.

What is it about Pakistani society that women become such easy targets for violent threats? Obviously, this misogyny is not limited to Pakistan but one can only speak for the society one cherishes as one’s own. Even women like Fatima Jinnah and Benazir Bhutto faced the kind of misogynistic abuse that should leave every head hanging in shame. What some eminent citizens of Gujranwala supporting Ayub Khan said and did at their public rallies against Fatima Jinnah, the woman we refer to as madar-e-millat, cannot be repeated here but is part of historical record. Benazir Bhutto was greeted with choicest abuse by the likes of Sheikh Rasheed, including a threat that he would jail the PPP leader in Islamabad Zoo. Even today, some maulanas want a constitutional amendment barring women from holding the position of head of state or government. Such is the society we live in. We must resist all such reactionary elements.

The most recent victim of such popular outbursts of social hate for women has been none other than Reham Khan. As if the PML-N’s abuse against her was not enough, most PTI supporters, who till last week were comparing Reham to Fatima Jinnah and Benazir Bhutto, had nothing but the worst possible things to say about her character after the party’s defeat in NA-19. Imran Khan only encouraged such abuse when he decided to ban Reham Khan’s political activities on the PTI platform. Those who are old enough to remember will no doubt note that Jemima Goldsmith was a similar victim of our society.

Severely patriarchal societies, those that are caught up in issues of honour and dishonour, think in binaries where women are either your mother, sister or daughter, or they are mere playthings, prostitutes or women of ill repute. Such societies, while on the one hand claiming to respect women, actually disrespect women at a most basic level by denying them their individuality as a human being. A recent example of this was Ayyan Ali’s visit to Karachi University. The number one problem those objecting to her presence there had was that she was a mere model who went to the university to corrupt young men and women with her baleful influence. One young woman who had nothing better to do than protest this full frontal assault on morality in her opinion said that Ayyan Ali should stick to modelling and that universities were for respectable women. Such is the nature of misogyny in our homeland that women have internalised and use every opportunity to reinforce it.

So how does one break this vicious cycle of misogyny? Cultures such as in Pakistan, where the social attitudes are driven top down, require effective leadership in countering such notions of the sexes. It is also a constitutional obligation of the state under Article 34 of the Constitution, which requires that “steps shall be taken to ensure full participation of women in all spheres of national life”. The Pakistan air force leads the way in the fulfillment of that objective. Nothing makes me prouder as a Pakistani than to see a strong, young Pakistani woman in uniform serving the nation as a fighter pilot. The Pakistan army too has made great strides in ensuring women’s participation in the fighting force of the country. However, representation in these forces is not enough to ensure that society will not discriminate against women. The key to women’s protection is to empower them economically. Here, Pakistan lags behind most of the world with only three percent women in corporate leadership positions. As with so many countries in Europe and in India, it is time that Pakistan mandated a compulsory representation of women on boards of directors of companies incorporated under Pakistani law. If Pakistan were to make it mandatory for all companies to have at least one third of its directors from amongst women, it would go a long way in ensuring that women become active participants in national life. We need more women as business leaders and economic movers and shakers. Till this happens, women will remain crushed under the weight of a patriarchal and misogynist society, treated as mere hieroglyphs of family izzat and male honour, to be broken down by threats of rape and violence.

Unless we ensure that women are taken as comrades and equal partners in every sphere and every walk of life, we will continue to remain victims of the evil customs that have plagued us. Imagine a Pakistan where women were as strong and powerful as men. There would be no end to the progress such a country would make. This is the Pakistan we should all work towards.

Yasser Latif Hamdani is a lawyer based in Lahore and the author of the book Mr Jinnah: Myth and Reality. He can be contacted via twitter @therealylh and through his email address


Is Pakistan Bold Enough To Give Sex-Offenders The Death Penalty?

By Sana Hameed Baba

August 24, 2015

A recent verdict of the Lahore High Court (LHC) has laid appropriate emphasis on the award of both criminal and civil compensation for rape victims. In the contemporary judgment of Nadeem Masood vs The State, Justice Anwarul Haq, while invoking Section 376 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), not only sentenced the convict to 20 years of imprisonment but also ordered the offender to pay compensation of Rs0.1 million to the victim and another one million rupees to the child born out of the rape.

This judgement, however, comprises part of the population of less than five per cent of Pakistan’s rape cases that actually result in a conviction and came to a resolve after almost five years.

Following the amendment to the controversial Zina Ordinance 1979, and PPC through the Protection of Women (Criminal Law) Amendment Act 2006, section 376 PPC states that,

“(1) Whoever commits rape shall be punished with death or imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 10 years or more than 25 years and shall also be liable to fine.

(2) When rape is committed by two or more persons in furtherance of common intention of all, each of such persons shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life.”

Despite the laws being extensively revised, no one can safely conclude that the modifications have led to a measurable decrease in incidents of rape across Pakistan – the Kasur sexual abuse scandal can be cited as supporting evidence to this claim. One cannot also place reliance on the reported rape cases statistics available as majority of the rape cases go unreported. Experts in the field have suggested that reported cases are but the tip of the iceberg and actual cases may be significantly higher.

Nevertheless, we can certainly concur that notwithstanding the offence of rape being punishable by fine, imprisonment, and even death penalty, the punishments would only act as a deterrent to rape if they are consistently and effectively enforced over a period of time.

The abovementioned ruling of Nadeem Masood vs The State is a rare case in point that not only indemnified the victim, but also the child born as a result of the rape with supporting citations from the Hadith and Indian and Bangladeshi case precedents – albeit the ballpark figures awarded as compensation must undoubtedly be questioned as ‘appropriate’ or not, as no amount of money can underwrite the physical and psychological damage suffered by a rape victim and Rs1 million is certainly not enough to raise a child.

The compromised law enforcement for rape victims in Pakistan has generally been attributed to its patriarchal set-up and socio-cultural norms which have given birth to a complex and rather inaccessible legal and procedural framework for seeking justice in such cases. The reluctance to report rape cases is not only a consequence of protecting family ‘honour’ but also the convoluted legal procedures involved that ultimately result in delayed, reconciliatory or no justice at all – even ‘justice delayed is justice denied’.

Judgments such as Nadeem Masood vs The State must be applauded and highlighted time and time again in the media. However, such decisions are relatively painless wins for Pakistan’s law enforcers as these are single individuals accused. Where there is more than one accused in a rape case, for example gang rapes, the courts have been reluctant to award a sentence, as the prescribed penalty is death or imprisonment for life. Take for example the Mukhtaran Mai case, where those accused of the gang rape were eventually acquitted. The disinclination from judges to apply capital punishment in rape cases has also severely handicapped the spirit behind the extortionate punishment, that is, prevention of sexual abuse.

Additionally, the wearisome chain of command involved in pursuing a rape case (from the police to various authorities to lawyers to judges) in a male-dominated culture is itself a discouragement to even initiate a First Information Report (FIR). In the absence of expectation of a fair treatment from the subordinate hierarchical avenues, the onus lies on the chief authority, judges, to implement laws impartially but rigorously.

Many have cited lack of education, sexual frustration, and laws as reasons behind a crippled justice available to rape victims. While it could take centuries to rid Pakistan (for that matter the world) of patriarchy and high testosterone levels in men (pun intended), with the judges having been armed with a largely apt technical legal structure for rape laws in Pakistan as an aftermath of Protection of Women (Criminal Law) Amendment Act 2006, the ball is now in the judges court to enforce an accountable justice system for rape victims by taking bold and daring decisions and put into effect punishments that reflect the spirit of the law – even if it means a death penalty.

A Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) student at BPP London and member of Lincoln's Inn. She has been actively involved in youth led initiatives for Pakistan in the United Kingdom and tweets @Sana_H_Baba.


Karachi: Uncertain Gains

By Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

August 24, 2015

On August 10, 2015, Pakistan Rangers in Sindh stated that the first stage of the ongoing 'targeted action' in Karachi, the provincial capital, had been completed. On September 4, 2013, the Federal Cabinet had empowered the Rangers to lead the 'targeted action' with the support of the Police, against criminals involved in the "four heinous crimes of target-killing, kidnapping, extortion and terrorism". The Federal Minister of Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, laying emphasis that this was to be a 'targeted action' or 'exercise', rather than an operation, had announced that a committee headed by the provincial Chief Minister Syed Qim Ali Shah would "manage, administer and control" the action.

The August 10, 2015, statement by the Rangers did not provide any data related to the 'targeted action'. An earlier July 8, 2015, release, however, claimed that, since the launch of the 'targeted action' on September 5, 2013, the Rangers had carried out 5,795 operations during which they had apprehended 10,353 suspects and recovered 7,312 weapons and 348,978 rounds of ammunition. The Rangers also traded fire with suspected criminals, engaging in a total of 224 'encounters', in which 364 suspected criminals were killed and another 213 were arrested. The Rangers had also arrested 82 abductors and in the process secured the release of 49 abducted persons from their captivity. In addition, a total of 826 terrorists, 334 'target killers', and 296 extortionists were arrested during this period.

These actions, according to the Rangers' release, led to an improvement in the security environment in the city. Incidents of bank robberies, which had become a menace in the city, had fallen from 29 cases in 2013 to 19 in 2014, and seven in 2015. Similarly, regarding extortion, the report claimed that 1,524 cases were reported in 2013 as compared to 899 cases in 2014 and 249, thus far, in 2015.

Further, according to a report compiled by the Sindh Police and submitted to the Provincial Home Department on July 21, 2015, 971 people were murdered in the first half of 2015, as compared to 2,075 people in the corresponding period of 2014, a decline of 53.2 per cent. The report also claimed that, since January 2015, some 479 suspects, including 133 allegedly associated with al Qaeda and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), were killed in 'police actions'. Of these, 98 belonged to TTP, 11 to al Qaeda, six to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and one to Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP).

Partial data compiled by the Institute for Conflict Management (ICM) confirmed that terrorism-related fatalities in the city had decreased considerably. In the period since the start of the 'targeted action' on September 5, 2013, Karachi recorded 2,143 terrorism and target killing related fatalities, including 1,260 civilians, 675 terrorists/criminals and 208 Security Force (SF) personnel (data till August 23, 2015). During the corresponding period prior to the start of the action, there were 3,099 fatalities including 614 civilians, 234 terrorists/criminals and 251 SF personnel. However, major incidents (each involving three or more fatalities) which are also an indicator of the security environment, more than doubled. As compared to 140 major incidents recorded in the period of 'targeted action', there were 66 such incidents during the corresponding period prior to the launch of 'exercise'. However, the majority of such major incidents in the 'targeted action' period involved the killing of terrorists/criminals by SFs.

Nevertheless, the situation in Karachi remains grave, with more than one civilian fatality per day. According to partial ICM data, a total of 282 civilians were killed in the first 235 days of the current year. If total fatalities, including civilians, SFs and terrorist/criminals are taken into consideration, daily fatalities stand at 2.38 (541 fatalities in 235 days). Indeed, Sindh Police data reflects a more alarming situation, indicating that analysis of the first six months "shows that average murders reported in 2015 are 2.7 per day as compared to 5.7 murders per day in 2014 [for the same period]".

Recent incidents reflect how insecure the city remains. On August 12, 2015, armed assailants shot dead four Police personnel in an ambush within the precincts of Korangi Zaman Town Police Station in Karachi. One passerby also sustained injuries in indiscriminate fire by the militants. On July 8, 2015, three unidentified bullet riddled bodies of men aged between 25 years and 30 years were found from Al-Noor Society in Surjani Town area of Gadap Town.

Serious concerns are being voiced regarding the 'targeted action', including widespread allegations of indiscriminate and extrajudicial executions, sweeping human rights' violations, and political executions. Zohra Yusuf, the Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), on November 20, 2014, observed, "We consider every suspect's killing in police shootout as extrajudicial as one always remains doubtful about the authenticity of that action. It's so unfortunate that our system is battling against the criminals or suspects on the same conventional methodology." She also referred to a "number of complaints" received by HRCP from families of people who went missing; many of them were later found shot dead in different parts of the city or declared killed in encounters.

Significantly, questions have also been raised about the abuse of the 'targeted action' against political rivals. Thus, lawmakers from Pakistan's fourth-largest party, the opposition Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), on August 12, 2015, resigned from Parliament and the Sindh Assembly in protest over the crackdown allegedly targeting party supporters in Karachi. The decision applied to 24 Members of the National Assembly (Lower House of Parliament), eight senators in the Senate (Upper House of Parliament), as well as 51 members in the Sindh Provincial Assembly, drawn from MQM. MQM was in alliance with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the Sindh Government. While PPP, with 92 seats, retains a majority in the 168 seat Assembly, the withdrawal of 51 MQM legislators will make it much less representative.

However, Jahangir Mirza, former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Sindh, who held the office from January 2, 2006, to April 14, 2007, argued, "Nobody can defend extrajudicial killings. [But] in a condition where the criminal justice system is not delivering and criminals have the protection of (political) parties, what does one expect from the police?" He asserted that extrajudicial killings can never be addressed until the criminal justice system is reformed and policemen associated with action against criminals are not threatened or victimized in case of a change of guard in the corridors of power.

Moreover, the continued presence of multiple terrorist groups, in addition to a substantial TTP presence, is worrisome. Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), al Qaeda's South Asia chapter, has emerged as a new threat. Indeed, on September 14, 2014, AQIS claimed responsibility for the September 6, 2014, attack on the West Wharf Naval dockyard in Karachi that left a sailor and three attackers dead. More worryingly AQIS disclosed that the attack was carried out entirely by serving Navy personnel. On September 14, 2014, authorities arrested three Navy officials involved in an attack from the Lak Pass area of Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan. Recently, five AQIS militants, including its Karachi 'chief' Noor-ul-Hasan alias Hashim alias Bhai Jan alias Babu Bhai and his 'deputy, Usman alias Irfan alias Abdullah, and another cadre, Ibrahim alias Rafiq alias Awais, were killed in an encounter in the Khairabad area of Orangi Town on April 14, 2015.

The abrupt emergence of Islamic State (IS, formerly Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham, ISIS) in Karachi has set off alarm in the city. The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of the Sindh Police had found the involvement of the group in the murder of prominent Pakistani women's rights activist Sabeen Mahmud on April 24, 2015, in Karachi. Further, IS had claimed responsibility for the May 13, 2015, Safoora Goth carnage in the Gulshan Town area of Karachi, that killed 45 Ismaili Shias travelling in a chartered bus. The attackers left an IS pamphlet at the incident site before fleeing on motorcycles. Earlier, a woman, identified as Debra Lobo, a US national and the Vice-Principal of the Jinnah Medical and Dental College's student affairs wing, was shot at and injured on Shaheed-e-Millat Road in Jamshed Town on April 16, 2015. According to Police sources, leaflets of IS claiming responsibility for the attack were found at the incident site.

While claiming on August 10, 2015, that the first stage of the ongoing 'targeted action' in Karachi, had been completed, the Pakistan Rangers added,

[We] are well prepared to start Stage 2 from Aug 14th 2015 till the time it is successfully completed. Stage 2 will be more severe than Stage 1 as the main task is to hunt down Land Grabbers, Target Killers, Extortionists, Kidnappers, Terrorists to Justice. Pak Rangers Sindh is committed not to spare any criminal. If you have information or if you are a victim yourself than please do not hesitate to contact Pakistan Rangers Sindh through email or telephone numbers. Do not worry even if the criminals are very powerful because Pakistan Rangers Sindh are more powerful by the will of Allah. Credentials of the complainant will be kept highly confidential.

The first stage of the 'targeted action' has clearly impacted on the will and capacity of the terrorist-criminal nexus in Karachi, which had flourished for years under political protection. It has, however, also raised serious questions, not only of legitimacy and justice, but also of sustainability, as new actors with wider networks and a deeper agenda of state destabilization enter the beleaguered city to fill up the vacuum. With state legitimacy at an extraordinary low across Pakistan, the eventual outcome of brutal and often extralegal and indiscriminate state action remains entirely unpredictable.

Tushar Ranjan Mohanty is a Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

Source: South Asia Intelligence Review


Pakistan’s Growing Gender Gap

By Rukhsana Shah

August 24th, 2015

In 2013, Pakistan ranked 135th out of 136 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index Report of the World Economic Forum. In 2014, eight more countries were included in the report, but Pakistan remained second last at 141 out of 142 countries. It is significant that Pakistan ranked at 112 in 2006, the first year of the report, and since then, its position has been steadily deteriorating every year.

Even in the ‘Political Empowerment’ sub-index of the GGGI report, Pakistan had slipped from 64th place in 2013 to 85th in 2014 due to the weakening of women’s position in parliament. In comparison, Bangladesh was at 68th position, while Rwanda and Burundi ranked as seventh and 17th respectively. These three are low-income countries, while Pakistan is rated as a low middle-income country.

The main purpose of the GGGI is to provide a framework for measuring gender-based disparities in different countries and tracking their progress in four key areas: access to economic opportunities, political representation, education facilities and health services. Since the first global gender gap index in 2006, about 80pc of countries have managed to reduce their gender gaps. On the other hand, there are a few countries that have either made no progress, or are even falling behind their previous rankings.

The situation in the country is steadily deteriorating for women who continue to be sidelined in mainstream economic activities.

In Pakistan, the situation is steadily deteriorating: women remain sidelined from mainstream economic activities mainly due to the dominant religious and patriarchal ideology that continues to confine, subjugate and violate their space despite their having equal rights under the Constitution. The percentage of female employment in the non-agricultural sector in Pakistan was last measured at 13.2pc in 2013 by the World Bank. Needless to say, this percentage is abysmally low. It is also one of the 10 lowest-performing countries on the GGGI sub-index of ‘Economic Participation’ and one of the three countries with the lowest percentage of firms with female participation in ownership.

Before the 18th Amendment, the ministry of women development, social welfare and special education used to work on issues related to the improvement of women’s status in society, and implemented the global agenda of CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) and the Beijing Platform for Action in conjunction with forums such as the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the Commonwealth, UNIFEM and UNDP. During its existence from 1979 to 2010, the ministry took many initiatives designed to improve women’s access to education, health and legal services, and enhance their participation in the political economy of the country.

For example, it was on the recommendations of this ministry that the principle of reservation of seats for women in the National Assembly and the provincial assemblies was revived and their representation ensured in the local bodies. The First Women Bank Ltd was established with the ministry providing credit lines for micro-credit facilities for women to set up bakeries, boutiques, beauty parlours, catering centres, tuition centres, grocery stores, and poultry, dairy and fish farming. Women study centres were established at various universities, while skill development centres, women’s polytechnics, computer centres, literacy centres, crisis centres for women in distress, child care centres and working women’s hostels were set up in different parts of the country.

Subsequent to devolution, the ministry was dissolved and its functions transferred to the provinces which do not appear to have the capacity or political will to develop an alternative narrative to the rampant obscurantism proliferating throughout the country. The state needs to emerge from its stupor to stop this shameful slide of half of its population into the dark ages, keeping in view not only global requirements, but also its own economic imperatives.

In order to improve outcomes for the women of Pakistan, the government needs to create a new organisational mechanism on the pattern of World Economic Forum’s gender parity task forces for Turkey, Japan and Mexico to reduce national gender gaps in three years. These task forces comprise members of the government from the relevant ministries of gender, human rights, law or population welfare in each country, and representatives of private-sector organisations and corporations. This composition allows for greater dialogue between the government and the private sector to discuss the rationale behind reducing gender disparity, developing a common vision and aligning all stakeholders in a well-articulated policy framework, so that realistic targets can be set, strategies chalked out, and benchmarks introduced for mobilisation, accountability and impact.

The recommendations of the Gender Parity Group are available for any country that wishes to improve the status of women in their own national interest. These are based on best practices such as women-focused education and health initiatives, mentoring and training women for high-level professional positions, flexible working hours, salary parity, career planning, etc that can be implemented through government policy, legislation and private-sector support. Top-down approaches towards promoting women’s leadership have also been very successful. For example, in Norway, public-listed companies are required to have 40pc women on their boards.

Some top-down policy measures can be taken immediately by the government in Pakistan, such as announcing high job quotas in the civil service, accelerated promotions, nominations to high-profile positions in the public sector, and making it mandatory that women are represented in greater numbers on the boards of private-sector companies, banks, chambers of commerce and industry and other similar institutions. The private sector should also be urged to ensure that women are adequately represented in the employment force, including the supply and distribution chains of manufacturing companies.

These measures, though only skimming the surface, will nevertheless increase women’s visibility, generate confidence, create role models and provide increased space for leveraging their access to education and health, the other sub-indices which are critical prerequisites for inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

Rukhsana Shah is a former federal secretary.