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Pakistan

Bonded labour has been outlawed in Pakistan and most other affected countries in line with UN conventions on human rights. However, according to the 2014 Global Slavery Index, 2,058,200 people are enslaved in Pakistan.

 

In Punjab and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkwa, the shrinking mainstream (which now basically consists of the Punjabi urban middle to upper class with its influence into the rural areas and fragmented like-minded elements in the Seraiki belt and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) is facing a grave identity crisis. The level of their failures — economic, security and terrorism oriented — and obvious mistakes have become too high to be conscionable even by themselves. 

 

Moreover, up to the East Pakistan debacle, the army was secular. Mr Bhutto was a case of someone outside the mainstream gaining control of the power structure; thus he faced a lot of criticism and was executed for his temerity.

 

This must be why the security establishment made a grand announcement last week that the militant group that carried out the sectarian attack in Shikarpur had been identified. 

 

Nearly two months after the Peshawar attack, it is unclear if Pakistan’s direction has changed. The unprecedented grief and anger over the tragedy has now given way to business as usual.

 

The hawks will say that the government has been left with no choice given the recent ‘provocations’ of Indian military personnel. But even if one was to take at face value the claims that ‘they’ are causing all the mischief, border skirmishes have a long history, and getting overly worked up about them is a case of much ado about nothing.

 

In 2015, the major foreign  policy challenge Pakistan is beset with is how to halt the downward spiral of its regional importance. Pakistan feels it has been demeaned by the second visit of US President Barack Obama to India in January this year. 

 

After the Peshawar incident, banned terrorist outfits have been on the back foot in the wake of the counterterrorist response but if the recent attacks on imambargahs are any indication, we might have to face a very different kind of monster quite soon.

 
  Faced with multiple, grave challenges since 2005, Pakistan has shown more resilience against collapse than many countries facing lesser problems. This does not make Pakistan eternally collapse-proof, but does mean that collapse prophecies should include stronger evidence-based analysis.
 

The meteoric rise of the Islamic State (IS) has transformed the Middle East’s political landscape and indeed that of the wider Islamic world. It is exceedingly difficult for such a movement to gain traction in Pakistan for a variety of reasons.

 


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