In 2019, Pakistan faced political and economic turmoil—and the headwinds of instability show no signs of abating. In the early months of 2020, Pakistan’s fraught situation will only become more turbulent as it confronts tensions between the U.S. and Iran, sharpening battle lines between political parties, and widespread economic pain caused by inflation and austerity measures. Meanwhile, simmering tensions with India and uncertain Afghan peace talks further complicate Islamabad’s foreign policy with its neighbors. With Pakistan facing crises at home and abroad, the coming year will prove pivotal for the nation’s future.

On January 27, USIP convened a group of experts to help decipher Pakistan’s tumultuous landscape and assess the year ahead. This conversation explored several key implications for U.S. policy as well, including the state of civil-military relations following the army chief’s extension, prospects for Pakistan’s economic future and whether early signs may portend a recovery, and the ongoing challenges posed by the situation in Kashmir. Experts also examined what analysts and practitioners alike should look for as they gauge Pakistan’s stability and anticipate its policy choices throughout 2020.

Continue the conversation with #PakistansYearAhead.

Speakers

Cyril Almeida
Visiting Senior Expert, U.S. Institute of Peace

Sahar Khan 
Adjunct Scholar, Cato Institute

Joshua White
Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies

Uzair Younus
Non-Resident Fellow, Atlantic Council

Zachary Constantino, moderator
Visiting Expert, U.S. Institute of Peace

Latest Publications

Could Algeria’s Referendum Lead to Democratic Progress or Uphold Status Quo?

Could Algeria’s Referendum Lead to Democratic Progress or Uphold Status Quo?

Thursday, October 29, 2020

By: Thomas M. Hill

Algerians took to the streets in February 2019 to protest the re-election bid of longtime authoritarian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Those protests—which came to be known as the Hirak movement and resulted in Bouteflika’s resignation in April of that year—evolved quickly to calls for a fundamental overhaul of the country’s political system. Few real changes have been made since. This Sunday, Algeria will hold a referendum on constitutional amendments to ostensibly bolster the country’s democracy. But, the Hirak says the constitutional changes do not go far enough. USIP’S Tom Hill looks at why the constitutional amendments have stirred tension with the opposition, the movement’s struggles to coalesce behind specific demands, and the role of Algeria’s military and floundering economy in the transition.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Is China Getting Serious About Crime on the ‘Belt and Road’?

Is China Getting Serious About Crime on the ‘Belt and Road’?

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

By: Jason Tower; Jennifer Staats

As China’s leading foreign policy project, its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) should be easy to understand. Yet since its inception in 2013, the BRI has remained remarkably opaque. The government publishes no criteria for approving BRI projects or comprehensive lists of authorized ones. Consequently, a range of Chinese investors—including some linked to organized crime—claim an association with the signature program of China’s leader, Xi Jinping. In host countries, this free-riding identification can threaten governance and stability, while further damaging the international community’s ability to check the spread of related criminal activity.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment; Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Final Report and Recommendations of the Senior Study Group on Peace and Security in the Red Sea Arena

Final Report and Recommendations of the Senior Study Group on Peace and Security in the Red Sea Arena

Thursday, October 29, 2020

By: Senior Study Group on Peace and Security in the Red Sea Arena

Between May 2019 and September 2020, the United States Institute of Peace convened a bipartisan senior study group to consider the factors that have reshaped the Red Sea arena. The study group determined that, in recent years, the geopolitical and geo-economic dynamics of the Horn of Africa have become tied to the Middle East and broader Indian Ocean in a manner unprecedented in the last century. However, U.S. strategy in this evolving environment has struggled to keep pace with these interconnected, complex, and transregional dynamics and to account for the region’s increased relevance to U.S. interests. The final report of the senior study group defines U.S. interests within a hierarchy of priorities to assist policymakers in calibrating diplomatic, development, humanitarian, and security interventions and provides recommendations for defending and advancing these interests.

Type: Report

Global Policy

Kathleen Kuehnast on the 20th Anniversary of UN Resolution 1325

Kathleen Kuehnast on the 20th Anniversary of UN Resolution 1325

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

By: Kathleen Kuehnast, Ph.D.

Two decades after the passage of the landmark resolution on women, peace and security, USIP’s Kathleen Kuehnast points to the 86 countries that have taken action to address the unique experience of women in conflict as proof of progress, but says that getting women more involved in peace processes is “a long game … it is difficult to find room for women at any table.”

Type: Podcast

Gender; Global Policy

Afghan Peace Process Tests Women Activists

Afghan Peace Process Tests Women Activists

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

By: Belquis Ahmadi; Matthew Parkes

More than a month after Afghan peace talks formally began, the effort to end the war in Afghanistan is stalled, and no one faces higher stakes than Afghan women. The attempt at negotiations has snagged on preliminary issues, the Taliban have escalated their attacks, and all sides are watching the evolution of the U.S. military role in the country. Afghan women’s rights advocates say the moment, and the need for international support, is critical. U.S. officials have noted how U.S assistance can be vital in supporting women’s rights, a principle that can be advanced at a global donors’ conference next month.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Gender; Peace Processes

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