Can Pakistan free itself from polio?

A Pakistani health worker gives a child a polio vaccine in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, 8 April 2014. Pakistan’s beleaguered battle to eradicate polio is threatening a global, multi-billion dollar campaign to wipe out the disease worldwide. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sanchita Bhattacharya, Institute for Conflict Management

In February this year, Pakistan’s ambassador Masood Khan told a UN panel that his country, under Nawaz Sharif, hopes to eradicate polio in 2014. How realistic is this goal?

There are only three countries where the polio virus (officially, poliomyelitis) remains endemic: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Read more…

Hard times force Pakistan to privatise

Pakistani activists shout anti-government slogans during a protest against the state of Pakistan’s economy in Karachi on 16 March 2014. Nawaz Sharif is eager to carry out privatisation to receive an IMF bailout. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sajjad Ashraf, NUS

On returning to power after 14 years in 2013 the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government led by Nawaz Sharif faced a bankrupt economy. While mostly caused by an abysmally low tax-to-GDP ratio, the public sector enterprises (PSEs) had also haemorrhaged US$25 billion over the previous five years.

Sharif remains desperate for immediate IMF support to keep Pakistan afloat. Read more…

Pakistan from hope to despair in 2013

A Pakistani man walks in front of a truck featuring a picture of Prime Minister Nawaz Shairf in Islamabad on December 17, 2013. The Sharif government has struggled to woo investment in the energy sector to boost the economy which has averaged growth of about 3 per cent over the past five years, insufficient to significantly improve living standards or fully absorb a growing labour force. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sajjad Ashraf, NUS

When the new chief justice of Pakistan took oath of office on 12 December 2013 Pakistan completed an historic changeover during a year that saw the first civilian government in 67 years complete its constitutionally mandated term. 2013 also saw Pakistan get a new prime minister, president and chief of army staff. Perhaps no other country has experienced such a total change of its constitutional officers within a calendar year. Read more…

Can Pakistan stop its people funding terrorism?

Author: Sanchita Bhattacharya, New Delhi

In October, as Muslims observed the holy festival of Eid-ul-Adha, Pakistani terrorist groups made profits. People are encouraged to make ‘religious donations’, which often make their way to terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba and its front organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Read more…

India must engage Pakistan’s middle class

Malala Yousafzai (C), the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban after campaigning for girls education, stands between British former Prime Minister Gordon Brown (L) and university Principal Professor Timothy O'Shea  as she receives an honorary masters degree from the University of Edinburgh during the first Global Citizenship Commission meeting at the university in Scotland on October 19, 2013 (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tridivesh Singh Maini, New Delhi

All too often, India’s strategic approach to Pakistan is pulled in opposite directions by polarised sections of the establishment.
Over the last decade or so, whenever New Delhi has reached out to Pakistan, a section of the strategic community — mostly retired diplomats, army officers and some analysts — say talking to Islamabad is a pointless exercise and India should disrupt all forms of engagement until terrorism stops emanating from Pakistani soil. Read more…

Nawaz’s first 100 days

Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters on Friday 27 September 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sajjad Ashraf, NUS

After assuming power to begin a record third term, 14 years after his ouster in a 1999 military coup, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has recently completed 100 days in office. Read more…

Australian help in Pakistan cannot be military

Pakistani security officials inspect the damaged vehicle of Ibrahim Jatoi, an election candidate of National Peoples Party, after a suicide bomb attack, in Shikarpur, Sindh province, Pakistan (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sandy Gordon, ANU

As Australia winds down in Afghanistan after a 12-year war, the new defence minister, David Johnson, has reportedly stated that Australia needs to keep its counter-insurgency skills honed, including for possible use in Pakistan.

It is not clear whether Mr Johnson means a limited role in advising Pakistan on counter-insurgency or envisions a more robust involvement in maintaining stability. Read more…

Pakistan’s dismal education prospects

Pakistani children peek under a curtain that hides the residence inside a home of a poor neighborhood in Mingora, in the Swat Valley, Pakistan. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sanchita Bhattacharya, New Delhi

The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child recently published a report noting that Pakistan has the world’s second-largest number of children out of school, while in April 2012 UNICEF indicated that some 20 million Pakistani children, including an estimated 7.3 million of primary school age, are not in school.

This phenomenon is one of the by-products of terrorism and insurgency in Pakistan today. Yet the full explanation is even more complex, given that both the state and society of Pakistan have descended into utter chaos. Read more…

Pakistan’s education conundrum

Pakistani children listen to their teacher, not pictured, at their school in a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Ameena Ghaffar-Kucher, University of Pennsylvania, and Ayesha Awan, Lahore, Pakistan

With 70 per cent of its citizens under the age of 35, Pakistan has one of the youngest populations on the planet, yet the country has not been able to enjoy the demographic dividend that a young population can bring.

This is largely because of the sorry state of Pakistan’s education system and the failure of successive governments to provide even basic education for all: Read more…

Pakistan’s water woes

A Pakistani youth makes his way into the water, while he and others swim in a polluted stream to cool off. Pakistan is facing a significant water shortage, in part because of contamination of its streams and ground water. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sajjad Ashraf, NUS

While energy shortages, economic stagnation, terrorism and religious intolerance remain in the spotlight, water shortages pose one of the most significant threats to Pakistan. Regrettably, the Pakistani discourse on the subject remains in a state of delusion and is thus misdirected. Read more…

Leaving Pakistan–India trade barriers up ties political progress down

A group of Indian fishermen sits on the ground after their release from a prison as they show their temporary travel documents while crossing into India through India-Pakistan Wagah border near Lahore, Pakistan, 24 August 2013. Pakistan recently announced that it would not consider conferring most favoured nation status on India. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Pravakar Sahoo, Institute of Economic Growth

The recent announcement by Pakistan’s finance minister that most favoured nation (MFN) status to India will not be considered is an additional blow to India-Pakistan relations.

While improved trade relations could significantly enhance political ties between the two countries, and this announcement makes it more likely that bilateral relations will continue to languish at current low levels. Read more…

A new power play: economic diplomacy and state autonomy in India

Employees work on a 132kv overhead electricity line along the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar Highway in Ahmedabad on 26 June 2013. India’s border states are leading the push to export electricity to Pakistan and Bangladesh. (Photo. AAP)

Author: Tridivesh Singh Maini, New Delhi

India is seriously contemplating the export of electricity to Pakistan and Bangladesh in a bid to reach out to its neighbours through ‘power diplomacy’.

The Indian states of Punjab and Tripura played a pivotal role in convincing New Delhi to do so, which raises the issue of whether state governments in India should have greater autonomy when it comes to managing its economic affairs. Read more…

Pakistan’s new prime minister shows extremism wins elections

Pakistani protesters from the United Citizen Action torch a US flag during a protest in Multan on June 8, 2013 against US drone attacks in Pakistani tribal areas. Islamabad summoned an American diplomat on June 8 to protest over the latest US drone strike which killed seven people in northwest Pakistan, the foreign ministry said. The missile attack in the restive North Waziristan tribal district on June 7 was the first since Nawaz Sharif was sworn in as prime minister. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Vidya S Sharma, Melbourne

The war on terror is ‘not our war’. ‘Pakistan’s sovereignty must be respected’. These slogans sum up the anti-American strategy of Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan in Pakistan’s elections. It worked. Since Sharif won Pakistan’s elections in May 2013, three minor parties and more than 20 independents have joined his party (the PML-N). Read more…