Over the past decade, violence has become endemic in many parts of Pakistan. This report examines the trajectory of violence and the range of conflicts in six troubled regions. The authors conclude that if existing socioeconomic conditions persist and the state continues to fail to deliver public services, justice, and security, Pakistan could face further escalation of violence and lawlessness.

Summary

  • Over the past decade, Pakistan has experienced a significant rise in violence in terms of frequency, scope, and magnitude. The origins and intensity of violence vary regionally and involve both longstanding conflict actors and new groups.
  • Violence is most concentrated along the Afghan border in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Other regions of Pakistan lying along the border with Afghanistan, including Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan, have also experienced a significant escalation in violence. This escalation is in part a result of the nexus between sectarian militants and terrorist outfits.
  • In Sindh, most of the violence is concentrated in Karachi, which witnessed a tenfold increase in violence between 2006 and 2013. The security landscape there has become increasingly complex over the years with the addition of many types of actors, including sectarian militant groups, terrorist outfits, political parties, and criminal gangs.
  • The scale, scope, and magnitude of violence in Balochistan, the largest province in Pakistan in terms of territory, remain unprecedented and unabated. Sectarian and terrorist activities targeting the Shia Hazara community have compounded the eff•ects of a high intensity conflict between a secessionist insurgency and the military that has been under way in the province since 2006. Balochistan also provides safe haven to the Quetta Shura, a key Afghan Taliban group headed by Mullah Omar.
  • For the past decade, Punjab has experienced the least violence of any province in Pakistan. However, the province is increasingly a breeding ground for terrorist and militant recruits engaged in violence in other regions.
  • Given the diverse and broad spectrum of conflicts affl™icting Pakistan, it is important to analyze and address each conflict in its own context and plan for comprehensive state stabilization and peacebuilding processes entailing both short- and long-term measures.

About the Report

Over the past decade, Pakistan’s domestic security landscape has become increasingly volatile and complex. An examination of the incidence of violence during this period reveals a multiplicity of conflict actors, varying patterns of violence in different regions, and an unprecedented number of casualties. This report, sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace, maps recent conflict trends in Pakistan and explores the trajectory of violence in the provinces—namely, Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Paktunkhwa, and Balochistan—and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Gilgit-Baltistan and draws from a variety of Pakistani and international sources to present as comprehensive a picture as possible.

About the Authors

Saira Yamin, a conflict resolution scholar-practitioner and development worker, is associate professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Honolulu. Her research focuses on peace and conflict; South Asia; and women, peace, and security. Salma Malik is assistant professor at the Department of Defense and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan. She specializes in the areas of war, arms control and disarmament, and South Asian affairs. The views expressed in this report are those of the authors alone. They do not represent those of any government or organization they are affiliated with or necessarily reflect the views of the United States Institute of Peace.

Related Publications

Toward a Kashmir Endgame? How India and Pakistan Could Negotiate a Lasting Solution

Toward a Kashmir Endgame? How India and Pakistan Could Negotiate a Lasting Solution

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

By: Happymon Jacob

Kashmir has once again emerged as a major flashpoint between South Asia’s nuclear-armed rivals, India and Pakistan. The Indian government’s August 2019 withdrawal of statehood status for the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir region intensified disaffection among separatists and the Kashmiri public. This report explores the strategies India and Pakistan have adopted toward Kashmir in the year since August 2019, and examines a potential road map for resolving the Kashmir conflict.

Type: Special Report

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Coronavirus Pandemic Puts Police in the Spotlight in Pakistan

Coronavirus Pandemic Puts Police in the Spotlight in Pakistan

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

By: Zoha Waseem; Adnan Rafiq

Police in Pakistan have found themselves in an unprecedented situation since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year. Under-resourced and poorly trained, they have struggled to ensure compliance with public health restrictions—such as lockdowns and social distancing—against a backdrop of Pakistan’s overarching governance challenges. With only outdated legal frameworks and conventional training and education to rely on, the police have largely responded to violations with corporal punishment, detentions, and arrests—actions that have been reported by the media and widely condemned.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Health

View All Publications