Pakistan’s Missing Middle Class

Pakistan’s Missing Middle ClassIn most countries, it is the middle class – the bourgeoisie – who form the bulwark against radicalism because of their vested interest in property, business and the country’s institutions. In Pakistan, what middle class there is, and there isn’t much, is fragmented and almost irrelevant, which spells danger. Only 17.33 percent of the population…

Karachi: Burning and Dying

The spate of violence that has engulfed Karachi, Pakistan's chaotic commercial and economic hub, has come to resemble in many ways the lawlessness of the tribal areas, giving it the dubious distinction of being known as the world's most dangerous megacity. Armed gangs operate with impunity and without fear of detention, holding hostage the city,…

Pakistan’s Lawless, Impoverished Northwest

The rugged, lawless region lying across the North Western frontier of Pakistan under the name Federally Administered Tribal Areas, universally called FATA, is known as the "hub of terrorism" in a country that itself is almost ungovernable and too often in the grip of terror. It is perhaps Pakistan's least developed and most ignored region?hence…

Pakistan’s Uneducated Children

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai's speech at the UN in New York calling for "free, compulsory education all over the world for every child" is a reminder that back in her home country several million children are out of school, exploited for their labour, and/or abused. The most recent annual State of Pakistan's Children report, published…

Balochistan: Ignored and In Trouble

To understand the long-running and fast-growing insurgency in Balochistan, Pakistan's desperately poor western province, it is necessary to look at Islamabad's near-fatal economic and governmental negligence over what is geographically the country's largest and economically richest province in terms of natural resources. Balochistan is Pakistan's smallest province by population. But contrary to its territorial share…

Democratic Transition in Pakistan

The national elections in Pakistan last month were surprisingly successful, with turnout of 55.02 percent, the largest since 1970 and a victory for democracy in that the voters refused to buckle under to the intimidation of radical Islamists who threatened violence. The election meant the first civilian transfer of power after the successful completion of…

US Drones Kill Innocent Civilians, Crisis Group says

In a critical report issued today, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said the US Central Intelligence Agency's secretive drone strike program has killed significant numbers of Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders but has also caused the deaths of scores of innocent civilians. The ICG put the blame for the deaths of innocent civilians "in part…

Pakistan Fighting Forces Refugees to Flee

Around 40,000 residents of Pakistan's Tirah Valley, close to the border with Afghanistan, have fled their homes after renewed fighting in the last few weeks, according to the Disaster Management Authority in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FDMA). Most of the refugees from the Khyber Agency are heading towards Kohat, Hangu and Peshawar districts in…

How Drone Strikes Hamper Humanitarian Aid

Aid workers say drone strikes in rural parts of Afghanistan are affecting humanitarian and advocacy work. In places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, strikes by unmanned planes flying in the US's secretive drone program are increasingly affecting humanitarian operations, aid workers say. The issue will be increasingly relevant in coming years, as drones become an ever…

How best to serve Pakistan’s 750,000 IDPs?

Residents escaping the latest round of fighting in Khyber Agency in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) say they did not even have time to bury their dead before leaving their homes in the Tirah valley. They are the latest of hundreds of thousands of people who have fled their homes in the tribal belt…