A senior Pakistani official resigned Aug. 28 in the aftermath of violence that has gripped the country’s largest city, Karachi, and has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people in recent months. The resignation and the violence bode ill for both civilian rule in the country and for the country’s need to combat extremism and terrorism.
Analyst Kamran Bokhari explains how the continuing violence in Karachi aggravates matters for a weakened Pakistan and its implications for NATO’s efforts to withdraw from Afghanistan.Read more: Dispatch: Pakistani Instability and the Violence in Karachi | STRATFOR
The resignation of Mirza speaks volumes about the problems that Pakistan has in terms of civilian governance and its efforts to combat violent extremism. Karachi is gripped in a frenzy of violence that is being perpetrated by militias affiliated with various political parties, rival political parties representing rival ethnic groups and ideological political forces. So if political parties that are responsible for civilian governance in the country are running their own militias then that does not bode well for the ability of the state to try and disarm religious extremists who have been waging a vicious insurgency in the country for the past four years.
The inability of the federal and the provincial governments to bring an end to the violence in Karachi has led to a sharp decrease in public confidence towards the government and civilian rule. There have been open demands and calls upon the army to step in, some actually going so far as to asking the army to get rid of the civilian government, while others in a more measured way have said that the army needs to be brought in to restore law and order in the city because the police and the paramilitary forces have failed. It becomes very difficult for a democratically elected government to combat extremism and terrorism when those same democratic forces are running their own militias in the country’s largest city, which happens to be the economic hub of the nation.
The situation in Karachi, which doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon, comes at a time when the United States and the international community needs Pakistan to move towards stability, political stability, that can bring the economy back online so that they can be able to combat extremism and terrorism, which will provide for the conditions in which NATO can withdraw its forces from neighboring Afghanistan. But so long as Pakistan is mired into insecurity and political instability, that goal will likely remain elusive.Read more: Dispatch: Pakistani Instability and the Violence in Karachi | STRATFOR