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Final Research Report


First Narrative Report, Q1-2012

The Final Report, Sep 2015


with the support of United States Institutes of Peace
(LINK http://www.usip.org/publications/usip-grant-supports-radicalization-study)

Statement of Need

Pakistan is facing an unprecedented level of terrorist violence. In 2008, a total of 2,148 terrorist, insurgent and sectarian attacks were reported across Pakistan, killing 2,267 people and injuring 4,558. The highest number were reported from NWFP (1,009), followed by Balochistan (682) and the Tribal Areas (385). Terrorist violence claimed 10,123 lives last year with 23,608 dying over the past 6 years, 7,325 of them civilians. The annual fatalities have been rising exponentially, from 189 in 2003. The armed offensive by the military in South Waziristan hopes to dismantle the stronghold of the Tehrik-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella group representing various tribal loyalties throughout the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Afghan border, with ties to foreign groups. Conflict in this region has already cost over $2 billion and displaced nearly 1/3rd of FATA’s 3.5 million strong population. The backlash to this operation culminated in an attack on Army headquarters in Rawalpindi, and numerous suicide attacks on civilian targets, most recently a massive blast in Peshawar which claimed over a hundred lives. Experts believe these attacks originate from NWFP (Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa), FATA, and the former Malakand Division which serve as centers of support for terrorist elements.

It is widely theorized that misgovernance creates an enabling environment for radicalization and the growth of extremist behavior. Governance assistance has been prioritized in the US led Global War on Terror, for which Pakistan serves as a font-line ally. President George Bush blamed poverty, lack of education, hopelessness and failed governments for creating conditions that could be exploited by terrorists. Similarly, then-UK Prime Minister Blair argued that “poverty and instability leads to weak states, which can become havens for terrorists”. President Obama’s top counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan called attention to the “broader political, economic, and social conditions in which extremists thrive” to address “upstream factors that fuel extremism”, including basic needs and legitimate grievances of ordinary people for prosperity, education, dignity and worth, and security. This argumentation is mirrored in policy discourse in Pakistan. At a recent seminar on terrorism, Pakistani politicians, religious leaders, and senior military and intelligence officials agreed that poverty, illiteracy, social and economic injustices were the root causes of terrorism. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister remarked at the recent Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, that economic deprivation, political injustice, and denial of fundamental rights created conditions that were exploited by terrorists to radicalize youth. Analysts have blamed the inadequate government response to natural disasters, including the October 5th earthquake as well as the ongoing nationwide floods, for allowing extremist organizations to step into the vacuum and enhance support and goodwill among local populations. Think-tanks have urged the government of Pakistan to launch governance interventions for socio-economic development, cultural development, education reform, legal and judicial reform, and political integration to counter terrorism. The Shaheed Bhutto foundation, an independent think-tank, conducted consultative workshops attended by hundreds of FATA representatives as part of their ‘Mainstreaming FATA’ project. Participants included tribal leaders, parliamentarians, lawyers, academics, youth, journalists, intellectuals, political party leaders, and current and former military and civil officials. They cited various aspects of misgovernance as driving conflict and unrest in the region. These included poor service delivery (particularly health and education), lack of investment in infrastructure and industry, corruption, lack of democratic representation, unresponsive judicial system, and poor law and order situation.

However, these policy assumptions appear divorced from empirical research at the international and national levels. At the international level, empirical support for links between misgovernance and radicalization is ambiguous. On the one hand studies find that terrorist activity is increased by economic underdevelopment, economic under-performance, political repression, weak governmental capacity, regime instability, and inadequate social welfare policies. On the other hand, researchers find that such factors of misgovernance are not significant determinants of terrorism and radicalization. At the national level, academic research is mostly limited to newspaper articles and opinion pieces. Academic research that does exist lacks methodological rigor and/or policy relevance.

The misgovernance-radicalization nexus in Pakistan remains largely unexplored. This is despite the growing recognition among analysts and practitioners that the connection between misgovernance and radicalization exists and is detrimental to the objectives of both governance and counter-terrorism efforts. This is also despite the fact that both misgovernance and radicalization have assumed crisis proportions in Pakistan, representing grave threats to the security, stability, and development of the country. A review of existing literature reveals key knowledge gaps that must be filled to inform policy discourse and improve knowledge among policymakers for resolving conflict, building peace, and promoting post-conflict stability and development.

Project Context

Pakistan is in the grip of an escalating terrorist insurgency. Terrorist attacks are believed to originate from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP) province and the former Malakand Division (MD). It is widely theorized that misgovernance may create an enabling environment for radicalization and the growth of extremist behavior. However, empirical research on the link between misgovernance and radicalization is sparse, ambiguous, methodologically unsound and/or focused on academic rather than policy considerations.

Project Description

Surveys will be conducted from a sample of 3200 adults in 3 randomly chosen Agencies/Districts each from FATA, MD and KP, to explore the link between misgovernance and radicalization, in December, 2011. Next, 9 Focus Group Discussions will be conducted with public service providers in each of the 3 regions which will share survey results with government stakeholders to gain insights into the supply-side dynamics of misgovernance. Findings will be disseminated through a Preliminary Report at the interim stage in February, 2012 and through a Final Report in September, 2012.

Project Objectives

The project aims to: broaden policy options from military solutions to political, economic, and social interventions; bolster the intellectual capital for informed debate among practitioners and academics; enhance the knowledge required to resolve conflict and build peace; promote post-conflict stability and development in areas cleared of insurgent presence. The target audience for research products includes government officials, civil society, media, academia, and donors, providing a deeper understanding of the misgovernance-radicalization nexus in its policy dimensions.

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