On April 19, The New America Foundation welcomed Hassan Abbas, Professor at Columbia University, and Sameer Lalwani, Research Fellow on the Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative, for a discussion on militancy and politics in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Abbas highlighted the fact that there is a disconnect between Pakistan’s political leaders and the public. Pakistanis voted for progressive forces, but instead of creating new progressive policies that the people had elected them to enact, the government was in a state of crisis management. However, when it comes to insurgencies, charismatic leaders are the binding agents that hold them together. Therefore, successfully stopping an insurgency means metaphorically decapitating its leader.
Pakistan’s military is a capable and modern force, in large part due to its turn of approach in 2008-2009. During that time, the military began the process of accumulation of knowledge, such as best practices. Moreover, there is a bottom- up transfer of information within the military.
In a joint U.S.- Pakistani poll, the people of Pakistan expressed opposition to cooperating with the United States. The poll also revealed that the economy was the primary issue motivating the public and that there was a willingness to challenge extremism within the country.