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Pakistan: Community Restoration (CoRe) Cluster — Monthly Dashboard, June 2016 — FATA - Complex Emergency 2016

7 hours 23 min ago
Source: Government of Pakistan, UN Development Programme Country: Pakistan

Total funding requirements: $ 22.7 million

Thematic areas: - Cash for work - Livelihood grants - Livelihood training

People in need: 2 million

People targeted: 1.1 million

Funding information: - Required: 22.7 million - Received: 9.9 million - Donors: DFID, OFDA, ERF/PHPF, Japan, ECHO - Funding gap: 12.8 million

CoRe objectives: Improve IDPs' self-sufficiency and resilience (targeting vulnerable families) in host and return areas, ensuring a smooth transition to longer-term recovery and development.

Greece: Greece data snapshot (28 Jun 2016)

11 hours 46 min ago
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Afghanistan, Algeria, Greece, Iraq, Pakistan, Syrian Arab Republic, World

Total arrivals in Greece (Jan - 28 Jun 2016): 158,214

Total arrivals in Greece during Jun 2016: 1,391

Average daily arrivals during Jun 2016: 50

Average daily arrivals during May 2016: 56

Estimated departures from islands to Mainland: 28

Dead and missing
272 dead - 152 missing (2015)
148 dead - 46 missing (6 June 2016)

Pakistan: Three people die, power supply goes haywire as city receives more showers

13 hours 3 min ago
Source: DAWN Group of Newspapers Country: Pakistan

KARACHI: The fresh rain system dropped “moderate to heavy showers” on Karachi for a second day on Wednesday and the city’s poor municipal infrastructure and vulnerable electric supply system responded erratically, as usual, leaving at least three more people dead, dozens of localities without electricity supply and several low-lying areas inundated. Three people and 18 goats died in lightning elesewhere in Sindh.

Though Sindh chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah presided over a meeting at CM House to address rain-related issues and plan measures to cope with the situation and ordered release of Rs476 million for desilting of all the 30 city nullahs, many said it was too late on part of the high-ups when the meteorological department had issued a downpour warning almost a month ago.

On Wednesday four people died in rain-related incidents in the metropolis, taking the death toll to six in the two-day rains.

According to Eidgah police SHO Naeemudin, a man in his mid-60s died from electrocution near the Civil Hospital Karachi. He said the shutter of a building had got connected with several live wires there and when the man touched it, he received an electric shock and died.

The SHO said the dead man was a member of the Sikh community but his identity could not be ascertained immediately. In another incident, a young man was electrocuted in the Sharifabad area. The police said Shafiq, 30, was working at his welding shop near the Karimabad crossing when he received an electric shock and died.

A teenage boy died from electrocution in Keamari. An official at the Jackson police station said the victim, identified as Osama Khan, died from electrocution while playing with friends in his lane during rain when he touched a nearby electric pole which had electric current passing through it.

In Tharparkar three men, aged from 18 to 45, were killed in separate incidents when they were struck by lightning during widespread rains. A herd of 18 goats also perished in a similar incident in Doonj village near Islamkot town. On Tuesday, two women and a youth were killed by lightning in the district.

Thick and dark clouds burst in the second half of the day and the rain spell continued for almost an hour with multiple breaks in Karachi. The met office called the fresh spell as a “moderate to heavy rainfall” and said the trend was likely to continue at least for another 24 hours.

“Maximum 43.4mm rainfall was recorded at Karachi airport,” said a weatherman. “In Nazimabad 32.4mm was recorded, 25mm in Gulistan-i-Jauhar, 17mm each in Masroor and Gulishan-i-Hadeed, 15mm each in the Sharea Faisal and Saddar areas and 12mm in Landhi. The trend is likely to continue on Thursday when the temperatures are expected to stay 37 and 39 degrees centigrade with 55 to 65 per cent humidity.”

Staff Eid holidays cancelled

The city administration told all the municipalities across the city to cancel the Eid holidays of their respective staff to face the emergency caused by the rains.

Officials said a communiqué had been sent to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), cantonments, district municipal corporations and district authorities in which they had been told not to allow Eid holidays to their staffs involved in emergency operations.

“All municipal, cantonments and district authorities are desired to put on high alert the manpower and available resources with them in view of the prevailing monsoon season and expected rains in Karachi,” said the communiqué also sent to the secretary of the local government department, 5 Corps Karachi, Pakistan Navy and HQ Southern Air Command, Pakistan Air Force.

“You are further advised not to extend any Eid holidays to employees involved in the [monsoon-related] operation,” said the official letter, adding that the instructions were issued in public interest.

Despite claims and announcement from the municipal and provincial authorities, the city life did not return to normality due to the rains though the drainage and sewage situation of major road links improved a little on Thursday because of efforts by the KMC and the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board.

Power and water woes

The power supply system, however, failed to show any sign of improvement as usual. Those consumers who did have electricity, however, complained of low voltage or not getting one or two phases. Water supply to Karachi was also disturbed thanks to the power disruptions at the Dhabeji, Gharo and Pipri pumping stations.

Many residents never saw power being restored since the first drops of rain fell a day ago on Tuesday. Some complained of no power for 30 hours, some for 24 hours.

Manzoor Yamin, a resident of U-Sector in Gulshan-i-Maymar said that power in his area could not be restored for over 30 hours. Mr John at Numaish also said that his area was left without power for as long. This was also the issue in residential areas closest to the commercial areas of the city, especially DHA. Others complained of power playing hide-and-seek in their homes.

And more rain on Wednesday caused the tripping of 140 of K-Electric’s 1,400 feeders. Of them some 20 could be brought back on track in a few hours by KE teams, who claimed to be on call without rest.

Very low voltage was reported by several consumers, especially those in Defence Housing Authority and Clifton, while many areas such as the DHA and Gulshan reported of being without one or two of their three phases. People there complained of being unable to operate their water pumps which need all three phases to run.

Power outages at Dhabeji also ended up damaging important equipment there, including pumps and machinery. Earlier, on Tuesday evening the first outage at Dhabeji after rainfall is said to have been accompanied by a loud explosion that according to the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board resulted in damaging the 72-inch diameter supply pipeline to Karachi.

The constant outages resulted in a shortfall of 260 million gallons of water for Karachi. Meanwhile, many of the city’s pumping stations including those at Bakrapiri, Paposh Nagar, Liaquabad, Sakhi Hassan, Safoora Goth, Joona Masjid and Niazi Chowk in Lyari were without power. Therefore residents have been requested by KWSB to conserve water during the uncertain situation.

On their part, the KE said that all of their tripped feeders had been restored to normal function by their technical teams by 9pm. “If there are still any complaints of no power from anywhere, it would no longer be part of any major breakdown and could be a local fault or power there might have been deliberately disconnected as a precautionary measure due to hook connection infested areas and water logging by KE,” a KE spokesman told Dawn.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2016

Pakistan: Impact Evaluation: Community Resilience in Malakand - December 2015

13 hours 35 min ago
Source: Government of Pakistan, Government of Saudi Arabia, UN Development Programme Country: Pakistan
Executive Summary

In the backdrop of military operations in 2009 and floods in 2010, Swat including the entire and Malakand Division faced huge devastation in terms of community infrastructure. UNDP, with its government counterparts, conducted a need assessment to assess the extent of destruction in Swat and district and launched the Community Resilience in Malakand Project (CR- Malakand) in the six tehsils of Swat with the financial assistance of Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Post Crisis Need Assessment (2010) identified 953 physical infrastructure schemes for rehabilitation component for which the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) provided financial support This component consumed 97% of the budget of the project while the remaining 3% was allocated to social capital strengthening.

The overall objective of the project was to ameliorate the living conditions in the areas of Swat district affected by disaster both manmade and natural; violence, turbulence and floods. The project was initiated in 2011 and is now in its fourth year of implementation. UNDP commissioned this study to assess the performance of the project in achieving its objectives and intended results.

In the absence of baseline survey and lack of a control group, the evaluation methodology is based on contribution approach (linking change from outputs to outcomes to impact) instead of attribution approach (measuring change by calculating difference between before-after and with-without project scenarios). Secondary research including project documents and a mixed method (quantitative and qualitative) approach was employed to better triangulate evidence. The mixed approach included questionnaire based sample survey of individual beneficiaries, Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with community groups (6), and Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) of community representatives, project staff, government staff, and local organizations (15). The survey covered a sample of 450 individual beneficiaries, equally divided between men and women. The field work was conducted in June 2015. The FGDs and KIIs were conducted after the individual beneficiary survey.

Overall performance of the project is assessed satisfactory. The assessment is based on performance against efficiency, effectiveness, relevance, sustainability and impact criteria. The project interventions are found to be highly relevant in the context of widespread destruction and damage caused by armed violence and floods. Interventions were based on multiple needs assessment reports prepared by UNDP (2009), PDMA PaRRSA and other stakeholders (2010). Judging by the low resistance to their implementation (4%) and a very high social acceptance (96% in high and moderate categories) it can be confidently stated that the project interventions were relevant to the lives of the respondents in particular and the community in general.

The most immediate outcome of the project included improvements in access to livelihood, administrative machinery, social facilities and public places (between 87% to 97% respondents). This included easier access to shops, farms, main market, schools and colleges, health facilities, mosques, and government administrative offices. Some survey respondents (5%) also mentioned improved access to police stations and courts. Women were more enthusiastic about access to health facilities. According to FGDs respondents, attendance of students and teachers, both male and female, in schools had registered improvement. The respondents maintained they were now frequently attending social gatherings. Majority of the FGDs' participants noted that transport cost and fares had almost halved after the rehabilitation work. During FGDs the respondents termed link roads vital in improving livelihoods, gaining access to educational and health facilities, and providing linkages with the local government institutions.

In terms of impact, almost all (99%) survey respondents believed the project accrued large benefits to their household incomes. Health was another key benefit (96% respondents). Female patients were ranked as the biggest beneficiaries. About 94% respondents believed persons with disabilities had also benefitted in terms of improved mobility. Respondents (60%) were extremely satisfied with the impact on peace, harmony, and violence prevention; another 37% said they were satisfied. No major negative unintended impact was identified by the respondents with few exceptions where minor disagreements about the leadership of Project Oversight Committees (POCs) were reported. On the positive side, people believed rehabilitation of schemes had generally led to cleaner environment and higher prices of property, two unanticipated positive outcomes of the project.

Good maintenance of infrastructure requires institutional arrangements, funds, and some technical expertise. The project expects community organizations to ensure maintenance of the CBI schemes. Community perceptions recorded in FGDs and the survey data show POCs and VOs/COs/PDCs are seen as bodies which will ensure maintenance of CBI schemes. In light of the local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the project may explore the possibility of handing over project interventions to village and neighbourhood councils along with involvement of line departments like works and services, agriculture, irrigation and others.

In terms of gender equity, the project seems to have benefitted both women and men although in different ways. Men got benefited from better and cheaper mobility and improved access to livelihood opportunities created by the rehabilitation schemes. Whereas, at the other end, females were ranked as most frequent beneficiaries in terms of improved access to health facilities.

For sustaining the benefits of the project we recommend that a maintenance plan be prepared and implemented for all the completed and to be completed CBI schemes. Also the completion of the election process for local governments in Khyber Pakhtunkwa opens more avenues of developing linkages with local communities/authorities for the project. The involvement of local governments will ensure repair and maintenance of the infrastructure along with sustainability for a longer period of time. Project interventions were implemented with sensitivity and with a view to promote peace. People seem to be satisfied with the interventions and it is clear that the project led to increased social cohesion by connecting and linking people and places. This can be expected to result in “peace dividend” in the future.

Pakistan: Pakistan - Severe weather (PMD, Government, Media) (ECHO Daily Flash, 29 June 2016)

29 June 2016 - 10:35pm
Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office Country: Pakistan
  • Heavy rain affected the city of Quetta (Balochistan province) on 27 June causing floods.

  • Local media report four people dead, over 20 injured, dozens of homes partially or fully damaged, traffic disruptions and power outages throughout the city, as of 29 June early morning (UTC).

  • Over the next 24 h locally heavy rain and strong winds may affect several parts of the provinces of Balochistan, Sindh, Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunhkwa, FATA, Islamabad, as well as the administrative division of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan: Nawaz allows Afghan refugees to stay in Pakistan for six more months

29 June 2016 - 8:30pm
Source: DAWN Group of Newspapers Country: Afghanistan, Pakistan

RAZA KHAN

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday granted an extension in the stay of registered Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan for a further period of six months — till December 31, 2016.

“Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of States & Frontier Regions shall immediately engage with UNHCR and Government of Afghanistan for gradual relocation of refugee camps in Pakistan to Afghanistan,” spokesperson for the prime minister said.

The prime minister issued the directive after seeing the 'Repatriation and Management Policy for Afghan Refugees', said PM Office media.

It is to mention that the validity period of the ‘Proof of Registration’ cards — that allow Afghan refugees to stay in Pakistan — was to expire on June 30, 2016.

But now, following the approval by the prime minster, the registered Afghan refugees can legally stay in Pakistan till December 31, 2016.

The PM’s spokesperson further said that in order to facilitate relocation and as a gesture of continued goodwill, Pakistan shall commit provision of free of cost wheat for the relocated camps in Afghanistan for a period of three years.

“Quantum of wheat shall be determined by a certified number of refugees returning from camps in Pakistan and authorised daily entitlement according to the standards of Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO),” the spokesman said.

It should be noted that this extension in stay is given only to those Afghans who are ‘Proof of Registration’ card holders and legally reside in Pakistan.

'Its time for Afghans to go back'

There are only 100,000 registered refugees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said provincial information minister Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani.

“We don't suggest any aggressive campaign against Afghan refugees, but we have been hosting them for the past 35 years and it is time they should go back to their country,” Ghani said.

Unregistered Afghans had become a major security issue for the government, he added. About 6,000 Afghans have chosen to return home from Pakistan in 2016, well below last year's figure of 58,211, the United Nations' refugee agency has said.

Registration cards allowing a temporary legal stay for Afghan refugees last received a six-month extension after they expired in December 2015.

Many Afghans have lived in Pakistan for decades and contribute significantly to its labour force. But Afghan refugee camps have become “safe havens for terrorists”, Pakistani foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz told a Pakistani television channel last week.

Pakistani federal minister for states and frontier regions Abdul Qadir Baloch also warned that Pakistan was not willing to host Afghan refugees indefinitely.

Visiting Pakistan last week, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said he had made the case to the government for extending the June 30 deadline.

'Recent incidents at Pak-Afghan border unfortunate'

Pakistan and Afghanistan expressed desire to work with each other for peace and development in the region and for making efforts for well being of people of both countries.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, during a meeting with Ambassador of Afghanistan Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal on Wednesday, reiterated Pakistan's resolve to forge cordial bilateral relations with the brotherly country having particular focus on building up economic cooperation, enhancing trade and promoting communication linkages.

During the meeting, the Afghan ambassador described the recent incidents at the Pak-Afghan border as unfortunate and expressed that the two countries would continue to maintain close contacts with a view to prevent such happenings.

During the meeting both sides expressed the mutual desire for working together for peace and development in the region and for making efforts for well being of people of both countries.

Greece: Recalling recent Lesbos visit, Ban urges European leaders to act with ‘compassion and foresight’ on refugee issue

29 June 2016 - 1:57am
Source: UN News Service Country: Greece, Iraq, Pakistan, Syrian Arab Republic, World

28 June 2016 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged European leaders meeting in Brussels today to act with “compassion and foresight,” and find humane solutions for refugees that not only uphold international law and protect human rights, but also save lives.

“We need to help human beings caught up in horrendous circumstances, which they had no role in creating and have no power to change,” the Secretary-General noted in an opinion piece published today in Belgian French-language newspaper, Le Soir, and other media outlets in Europe.

In the opinion piece, the Secretary-General looked back to his recent visit to the Greek island of Lesbos, which is where many refugees and migrants first arrive when entering Europe and where he saw and heard first-hand their plight at the island’s Kara Tepe and Moria locations.

“The waters were calm the day I visited. But not so long ago, the horizon was filled with flimsy, overcrowded boats making their way across cold and choppy waters. People arrived by the thousands, some still with shrapnel wounds from the fighting they had fled just days earlier,” he wrote.

“I spoke with Syrians, Iraqis, Pakistanis and others. I sensed immense gratitude for their temporary haven,” he added. “But I also saw simmering frustration at their uncertain futures, causing tensions within and beyond the facilities. As one person said, ‘it is the waiting that is killing everyone inside.’”

Mr. Ban highlighted that the people of Greece and Lesbos had responded “admirably” to the influx of so many people in need, adding that, “If tiny Lesbos can do so much, surely others can do more.”

In that vein, the UN chief urged world leaders to uphold their political, moral and legal obligations by taking the following five steps: relocate more people, protect people, provide more resettlement as well as humanitarian and complementary pathways for admission, fight xenophobia and hatred, and address the root causes of forced displacement.

“The situation is complex, yet simple, in its fundamentals: we need to help human beings caught up in horrendous circumstances, which they had no role in creating and have no power to change,” he wrote. “Large movements of people have occurred before and we have coped. With the world now richer than ever and more knowledgeable than ever, we should be able to cope better than ever, and do right for today’s and future generations.”

The Secretary-General also urged all world leaders to attend the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrantstaking place at UN Headquarters in New York in September, and for which the goal is a new global compact on responsibility-sharing for refugees and another one for safe, orderly and regular migration.

World: International Media Support (IMS) Annual Report 2015-2016

29 June 2016 - 1:46am
Source: International Media Support Country: Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen

Sustaining Independent Media in Times of Conflict

In a year where the greatest influx of refugees seen by Europe since World War II dominated headlines and pressured government aid budgets, I have been asked on several occasions why support to media development in conflict zones, humanitarian disasters and countries in the midst of democratic transition should be a priority.

The answer is of course that without access to reliable, relevant information, people are not empowered to rebuild their broken societies or to influence future development efforts. We know from more than a decade of support to independent media in conflict that reliable and trustworthy information is the one thing that people caught in instability, armed conflict or humanitarian disasters need. Their survival and their future livelihoods depend on it. Media often becomes polarised during conflict and may disseminate information that exacerbates rather than reduces tension. This is why access to information and support to ethical and professional journalism is so essential.

A Troubled Year for Independent Media

The attack on the French satire magazine Charlie­ Hebdo in January 2015 was the beginning of a severely challenging year for independent media across the world and those working to safeguard it. Conflict and government crackdowns on media and press freedom advocates in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus illustrate only how clearly critical voices are targeted by those wishing to curtail them.

Particularly in the Middle East, the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq and the massive displacement of people had a major impact on the media, shifting audiences and journalists to surrounding countries. Despite the harsh conditions, our partners per­severed. The award-winning Syrian Radio Rozana continued to broadcast to more than 200,000 online listeners inside and outside Syria with the help of 120 correspondents based inside Syria. In Iraqi Kurdistan, the first all-female staffed women’s magazine Zhin forged on, counterbalancing the ­region’s entrenched gender inequality through ­stories on female fighters battling Islamic State and stories on the lives of female refugees.

Encouraging Developments

IMS’ decade-long presence in the Middle East, Asia and Africa has proven that long-term support and building partnerships pays off. The fact that the IMS-founded Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) and the investigative journalism network SCOOP ­Russia continue to carry out high-quality, high-impact, cross-border journalism­ in two of the world’s most difficult regions is a testament to this. As they ­battle the propaganda machines of some of world’s most repressive regimes, our support contributes to keeping alive these pockets of independent and critical journalism. Further down the line, these agents of change will be key to driving forward democratic reform processes when the tide turns in favour of press freedom.

We also saw encouraging developments throughout the past year. The promise of democratically elected governments in Sri Lanka and Myanmar represent two of the most hopeful examples from a media freedom perspective. Our long-term presence in both countries where we have built trusted partnerships with the media has enabled us to contribute substantially to the countries’ media law reform processes. In both cases we have provided the new governments and media stakeholders with concrete recommendations for next steps of their respective media development reform processes in cooperation with UNESCO.

Locally Anchored Safety Mechanisms

In Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, working as a journalist became increasingly dangerous with targeted attacks by the Taliban and in the case of Bangladesh, a series of deeply worrying murders of bloggers and writers. Despite years of international attention to the grim situation of journalists, we, the international community, have still not adequately succeeded in developing the appropriate protection and safety mechanisms at a national level together with local stakeholders. 95 per cent of journalists killed are local journalists and for this we need sustainable local setups to ­address the ­issue of safety. Nurturing, building and sustaining locally anchored safety mechanisms for journalists – ­modelled in part by the IMS-founded, countrywide safety mechan­ism run by the ­Afghan Journalists’ Safety Committee – will therefore ­continue to be our way forward.

These safety mechanisms rely on the support and cooperation of as many relevant stakeholders as possible in a given country – including authorities and judicial institutions when possible, as our examples from Nepal and Afghanistan show. The UN Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity also provides a platform on which actors in the field of media can improve information sharing and the coordination of efforts.

In two of Africa’s poorest countries, Somalia and Niger, we are working with local partners to enable the media to become drivers of peace, reconciliation, accountability and citizen participation in the nascent democratic processes taking place. In Somalia, IMS and our Swedish partner, Fojo Media Institute spearheaded a five-year media support strategy for the Somali media sector – the first for the country. In Niger, our programme works to counter the influence of jihadists active in neighbouring countries.

A full section of this year’s annual report which spans from January 2015 to June 2016 is dedicated to our partners’ efforts to counter gender inequality in the media. The conspicuous absence of female voices in media hampers women’s ability to actively influence developments in society and we seek to actively address this issue in all aspects of our work.

Like many other organisations reliant on the support of Nordic governments, IMS was also affected by the decision of Nordic governments to reallocate funds from development aid to cover domestic costs related to the influx of refugees. However, as the achievements in this report show, we are proud of the difference that our determined partners and we continue to make for press freedom and independent media under the most difficult conditions imaginable everywhere in the world.

World: Annual Report 2015-2016

29 June 2016 - 1:46am
Source: International Media Support Country: Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen

Sustaining Independent Media in Times of Conflict

In a year where the greatest influx of refugees seen by Europe since World War II dominated headlines and pressured government aid budgets, I have been asked on several occasions why support to media development in conflict zones, humanitarian disasters and countries in the midst of democratic transition should be a priority.

The answer is of course that without access to reliable, relevant information, people are not empowered to rebuild their broken societies or to influence future development efforts. We know from more than a decade of support to independent media in conflict that reliable and trustworthy information is the one thing that people caught in instability, armed conflict or humanitarian disasters need. Their survival and their future livelihoods depend on it. Media often becomes polarised during conflict and may disseminate information that exacerbates rather than reduces tension. This is why access to information and support to ethical and professional journalism is so essential.

A Troubled Year for Independent Media

The attack on the French satire magazine Charlie­ Hebdo in January 2015 was the beginning of a severely challenging year for independent media across the world and those working to safeguard it. Conflict and government crackdowns on media and press freedom advocates in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus illustrate only how clearly critical voices are targeted by those wishing to curtail them.

Particularly in the Middle East, the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq and the massive displacement of people had a major impact on the media, shifting audiences and journalists to surrounding countries. Despite the harsh conditions, our partners per­severed. The award-winning Syrian Radio Rozana continued to broadcast to more than 200,000 online listeners inside and outside Syria with the help of 120 correspondents based inside Syria. In Iraqi Kurdistan, the first all-female staffed women’s magazine Zhin forged on, counterbalancing the ­region’s entrenched gender inequality through ­stories on female fighters battling Islamic State and stories on the lives of female refugees.

Encouraging Developments

IMS’ decade-long presence in the Middle East, Asia and Africa has proven that long-term support and building partnerships pays off. The fact that the IMS-founded Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) and the investigative journalism network SCOOP ­Russia continue to carry out high-quality, high-impact, cross-border journalism­ in two of the world’s most difficult regions is a testament to this. As they ­battle the propaganda machines of some of world’s most repressive regimes, our support contributes to keeping alive these pockets of independent and critical journalism. Further down the line, these agents of change will be key to driving forward democratic reform processes when the tide turns in favour of press freedom.

We also saw encouraging developments throughout the past year. The promise of democratically elected governments in Sri Lanka and Myanmar represent two of the most hopeful examples from a media freedom perspective. Our long-term presence in both countries where we have built trusted partnerships with the media has enabled us to contribute substantially to the countries’ media law reform processes. In both cases we have provided the new governments and media stakeholders with concrete recommendations for next steps of their respective media development reform processes in cooperation with UNESCO.

Locally Anchored Safety Mechanisms

In Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, working as a journalist became increasingly dangerous with targeted attacks by the Taliban and in the case of Bangladesh, a series of deeply worrying murders of bloggers and writers. Despite years of international attention to the grim situation of journalists, we, the international community, have still not adequately succeeded in developing the appropriate protection and safety mechanisms at a national level together with local stakeholders. 95 per cent of journalists killed are local journalists and for this we need sustainable local setups to ­address the ­issue of safety. Nurturing, building and sustaining locally anchored safety mechanisms for journalists – ­modelled in part by the IMS-founded, countrywide safety mechan­ism run by the ­Afghan Journalists’ Safety Committee – will therefore ­continue to be our way forward.

These safety mechanisms rely on the support and cooperation of as many relevant stakeholders as possible in a given country – including authorities and judicial institutions when possible, as our examples from Nepal and Afghanistan show. The UN Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity also provides a platform on which actors in the field of media can improve information sharing and the coordination of efforts.

In two of Africa’s poorest countries, Somalia and Niger, we are working with local partners to enable the media to become drivers of peace, reconciliation, accountability and citizen participation in the nascent democratic processes taking place. In Somalia, IMS and our Swedish partner, Fojo Media Institute spearheaded a five-year media support strategy for the Somali media sector – the first for the country. In Niger, our programme works to counter the influence of jihadists active in neighbouring countries.

A full section of this year’s annual report which spans from January 2015 to June 2016 is dedicated to our partners’ efforts to counter gender inequality in the media. The conspicuous absence of female voices in media hampers women’s ability to actively influence developments in society and we seek to actively address this issue in all aspects of our work.

Like many other organisations reliant on the support of Nordic governments, IMS was also affected by the decision of Nordic governments to reallocate funds from development aid to cover domestic costs related to the influx of refugees. However, as the achievements in this report show, we are proud of the difference that our determined partners and we continue to make for press freedom and independent media under the most difficult conditions imaginable everywhere in the world.

Pakistan: Dry dams, leaky pipes and tanker mafias – Karachi's water crisis

29 June 2016 - 1:04am
Source: Guardian Country: Pakistan

Pakistan’s largest city is struggling to deliver water to residents amid a shortfall and claims of state mismanagement

Sabrina Toppa in Karachi

"There’s nothing here,” says Farzana Khatoun, surveying the dry expanse of land before her. “We don’t even have enough water to wash up for prayer, do our laundry or wash our dishes.” Khatoun cannot simply turn on a tap and expect water to gush out; her home is not connected to the water pipelines of Karachi, the sixth most water-stressed city in the world.

Karachi – home to more than 20 million people – is currently meeting just 50% of its total water requirement, according to officials from the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB). The city needs 1.1bn gallons of water daily but can only supply 550m gallons per day (MGD). Meanwhile, Karachi’s population growth rate of 4.5% per annum means that nearly a million newcomers – economic migrants, refugees and internally displaced people – enter the city every year, further stressing the already-limited water supply.

Read the full story at the Guardian.

Pakistan: Over 2,000 Afghan refugees arrested in Peshawar: KP police

29 June 2016 - 12:56am
Source: DAWN Group of Newspapers Country: Afghanistan, Pakistan

Ali Akbar

PESHAWAR: In a crackdown launched against illegal settlers, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) police have arrested over 2,000 Afghan refugees in Peshawar.

The KP provincial government had set June 30 as a deadline for Afghan immigrants to get themselves registered in Pakistan.

With the deadline nearing its end, KP police began a crackdown against settlers avoiding registration in the provincial capital Peshawar.

According to the KP police, search operations are underway and over 2,000 illegal Afghan refugees have been arrested so far.

"Around 950 illegal Afghan immigrants were arrested from Cantonment area, 350 from Peshawar city and 700 Afghanis have been arrested from the city’s rural areas," police said, adding that the arrests have been made during operations carried out over the past month.

Moreover, at least 400 Afghan settlers have been deported to Afghanistan, police said.

‘KP cannot bear burden of Afghan refugees anymore’

KP government spokesman Mushtaq Ghani said the province cannot bear the economic burden of Afghan refugees anymore.

"We cannot bear the load of more than three million Afghanis in the province," he told Dawn on Tuesday.

Ghani said if federal government wished to extend the stay of Afghan settlers then it needs to establish refugee camps and shift the immigrants from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Punjab.

"After June 30, all Afghan refugees will be restricted to their camps and will not be allowed to move freely in the province," he said.

Pakistan: Technical Advisory Group reviews Pakistan’s progress towards polio eradication

28 June 2016 - 10:59pm
Source: Government of Pakistan Country: Pakistan

Islamabad: 28 June 2016 - The Technical Advisory Group met in Islamabad today to deliberate on the progressive efforts to stop transmission of the polio virus in Pakistan.

TAG members listened to detailed analyses by the federal and provincial Emergency Operations Centre Coordinators on the progress made, opportunities, and the remaining challenges towards achieving the ultimate goal of eradication.

The Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, briefed the meeting of the implementation of the National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) in the past year. “We as partners are now deeply intertwined as we push towards Zero. We will succeed or fail together, but failure is not an option. The Government of Pakistan will remain committed to achieving our collective goal of polio eradication and thanks all our partners for their technical, financial and political support as we approach a significant milestone in global health,” Ms Farooq said.

In his opening remarks Mr. Muhammad Ayub Sheikh, Secretary, Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination said ”substantial progress has been made this year evidenced by a continued sharp decline in recorded polio cases and increasing number of negative environmental samples across Pakistan. This progress has been built on a very solid foundation of overwhelming political commitment and support, strengthened programme performance and broad community acceptance. We remain on track to interrupt transmission and are fully aware of the remaining challenges and the appropriate strategies and plans to overcome these obstacles.” Mr Sheikh added.

The TAG meeting brought together polio eradication experts from the government of Pakistan, lead implementing partners including, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), senior representatives from across the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) and representatives of key donor countries.

The National Coordinator of Emergency Operations Centre, Dr Rana Safdar, emphasized that the programme seeks to build on the momentum of the last year as it enters what is hoped to be the last low transmission season. He further outlined the overriding priorities for the National Emergency Action Plan for 2016-2017 through ensuring all children are vaccinated especially the most young in our most high risk districts, detection of every signal of the polio virus and any emerging immunity or performance gaps; and to respond rapidly, aggressively and comprehensively to every significant event with implications for interruption of the wild polio virus.

WHO Representative to Pakistan Michel Thieren said “It is imperative that all efforts be made, not only at technical and operational levels, but also at political and administrative levels, to redress those pockets of failure, which will seriously hamper our capacity to win this last battle.”

UNICEF Representative to Pakistan, Angela Kearney, said “UNICEF remains fully committed to play its role as a GPEI partner under the leadership of the Government of Pakistan, and that all efforts will be made to support front-line workers, and their immediate supervisors, who have knocked on doors and vaccinated almost 300 million children during the past campaign season. But there remain areas where we can and must do better – the effective deployment of local, female, well-trained, supervised and motivated staff on the doorstep targeting zero missed children remains the critical determinant of success,” Ms Kearney said.

Chair of the International PolioPlus Committee, Michael K. McGovern, said Rotary International remains committed in the pursuit of the major public health milestone for both Pakistan and the world.

“We have been involved in the polio eradication mission for a long time. We will continue to work with the Government of Pakistan and all partners to see that polio transmission stops in Pakistan this year,” he added.

The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) was established to review progress towards polio eradication in specific countries, assess implementation of previous TAG recommendations, discuss planned activities and issue recommendations to address constraints facing national programmes in achieving their targets. TAG meetings are attended by country-specific TAG members, national representatives and partner organizations, both international and regional.

Serbia: UNHCR Serbia Update, 23 - 26 June 2016

28 June 2016 - 2:39pm
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Hungary, Pakistan, Serbia, Syrian Arab Republic, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, World

HIGHLIGHTS AND STATISTICS

  • Some 26% of an estimated 300 irregular arrivals per day were encountered/assisted by UNHCR and partners near entry points, including 45% arriving from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and 55% from Bulgaria.

  • The number of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants resting in Belgrade every day rose above 1,000 with about half encountered/assisted in the city centre and up to 530 sheltered by the Serbian Commissariat for Refugees and Migration (SCRM) in Asylum Centre (AC) of Krnjaca.

  • Around 660 asylum-seekers, predominantly women and children from Afghanistan and Syria, were daily awaiting re-admission into the EU at the border with Hungary. Some half were waiting outside the Hungarian “transit zones” at the border crossing of Kelebija and Horgos I, while up to 291 where sheltered by the SCRM in the Refugee Aid Point (RAP) of Subotica.

  • As a result, close to 1,000 asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants out of an estimated 1,800 in the country at any one time, were sheltered in governmental facilities (below chart refers). While those centers on-route (i.e. close to Belgrade or Subotica) were occupied beyond capacity, those at the periphery/Western borders remain of limited utility and empty.

  • During the reporting period, 250 persons expressed intent to seek asylum, bringing the total in June to 1,002, and the year 2016 to 4,399 (statistics courtesy of the Ministry of Interior).

SOUTH

Up to 140 refugees/migrants, including 115 new arrivals from fYR Macedonia, were accommodated in the Reception Centre (RC) in Presevo.

The Red Cross, UNICEF, Caritas, Indigo, BCM, ATINA, Grupa 484, Humedica, DRC, Care, MSF, REMAR, ADRA, Save the Children, SOS Children Villages, Philanthropy, Border Free and Youth for Refugees assisted them.

The UNHCR-supported Public Health and the Humedica clinic provided over 295 medical treatments. The UNICEF/DRC/CSW child friendly space/mother and baby corner hosted up to 47 children and 18 women daily.

EAST

On 24 June, a group of 22 teenage boys from Afghanistan arrived via Bulgaria. The Zajecar police alerted the Centre for Social Work and the group was assisted by Sigma Plus, Red Cross and Indigo.

On 26 June, authorities apprehended a group of 24 refugees/migrants being smuggled near the town of Bor, while another group of 34 were found in a truck near Ostovica that had been involved in an accident. All 34 refugees/migrants, including seven Afghan children, were taken to hospital in Nis, none were in critical condition. According to the media, the smuggler and driver managed to escape.

BELGRADE

UNHCR and partners encountered/assisted some 500 refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in the city centre. They were mainly new arrivals from Afghanistan, Syria or Pakistan. Between 60 and 130 stayed at night in parks near the bus or train station while up to 530 were sheltered by the authorities and assisted by Caritas in Krnjaca AC.

The Asylum Info Centre facilitated many referrals, including access to asylum procedures, accommodation to Krnjaca AC and medical services. UNHCR/DRC doctors treated 133 patients, while MSF, Refugee Aid Miksaliste and Divac Foundation assisted with food and other aid.

NORTH

On average, over 660 asylum seekers were present close to the Hungarian border every day. With no modus-operandi of admission and waiting yet established between Hungarian and Serbian authorities, the situation at the border remains potentially explosive, leading to frustration and tensions amongst asylum-seekers and too many dangerous irregular crossings.

Around 310 asylum seekers, predominantly women and children, stayed for days or weeks in difficult conditions outside the “transit zones” at Kelebija and Horgos I border crossings. Garbage collection and cleaning of toilets were improved, though a garbage container in Kelebija is still lacking.

UNHCR, HCIT, UNICEF, IOM, MDM, MSF and the Red Cross provided humanitarian assistance including water, food, non-food aid, medical assistance as well as legal and other counselling at the two border crossings with Hungary. World Vision and HELP contributed with fruits and food.

The SCRM sheltered up to 291 refugees/migrants, in the Refugee Aid Point (RAP) of Subotica, pitching an additional 25 tents on its grounds.

Over 100 refugee/migrants were encountered on a daily basis in and around Subotica on their way to the border. HCIT as well as BCM, Divac Foundation and other agencies aided the most needy.

113 asylum seekers were admitted into Hungarian “transit zones”, i.e. around 30 per day.

Pakistan: Polio this week as of 21 June 2016

28 June 2016 - 2:19pm
Source: Global Polio Eradication Initiative Country: Afghanistan, Pakistan

On 24 June, stakeholders of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative including member states and donors are gathering in Geneva at the meeting of the Polio Partners Group to review progress and discuss the trivalent to bivalent oral polio vaccine switch, transition planning and the financial resources urgently needed to see eradication through to the end.

The knowledge, skills and infrastructure built to end polio are helping to make dramatic progress on improving children’s health more broadly. In this factsheet discover how the eradication infrastructure is expanding the reach of health services, improving disease surveillance and building health worker capacity. By planning now, we can keep the world polio-free and ensure that the investments made in ending polio have a broad and lasting impact on children’s health and development, long after polio is gone.

Pakistan: WFP Pakistan Country Brief, May 2016

28 June 2016 - 1:05pm
Source: World Food Programme Country: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia

Highlights

  • Ms. Prerana Issar, WFP’s Global Director of Human Resources (HR) and Mr. David Kaatrud. Regional Director for Asia conducted field visits to Pakistan in May 2016.

  • The process of return of IDPs to FATA continues. To date 158,000 families have returned to their areas of origin which constitutes 73 percent of the planned returns of 2015 and 26 percent of the planned returns of 2016.

  • WFP continues its relief food assistance to displaced and returnee populations in the country’s north-west, complemented by livelihoods, nutrition and education support in the region alongside other targeted districts across Pakistan.

Pakistan: Pakistan: Technical team arriving to assess efforts against polio

28 June 2016 - 8:41am
Source: DAWN Group of Newspapers Country: Pakistan

SLAMABAD: A six-member delegation from the Technical Advisory Group (TAG), a body which advises Pakistan on polio eradication, reached Pakistan on Monday in order to seek a report about the country’s performance in eradicating polio.

Though it has made a lot of efforts in 2016, the presence of polio reservoirs in small pockets is still a big challenge for the country.

During its two-day visit, the delegation led by TAG Chairman Dr Jean Marc Olive will hold meetings with representatives of federal and provincial governments and with around 120 health experts in the country. On June 29, the delegation will give recommendations for future measures.

TAG delegations visit Pakistan twice a year and hold meetings with health authorities. During the visit in January, TAG teams concluded that the goal of interrupting transmission of the virus was achievable but at risk unless there was further reduction in the immunity gaps, especially in core reservoirs.

A number of critical recommendations were given including strengthening focus on core reservoirs, identifying specific action plans for poor performance districts, using lessons learned from community-based vaccination to improve the performance of mobile teams and more focused and sustained involvement of leadership, particularly of deputy commissioners.

TAG had recommended that further improvements to community surveillance and environmental surveillance would be important for improved detection of transmission in the coming months.

Talking to Dawn, Head of National Emergency Operations Centre Dr Rana Safdar said that during reports about polio campaigns held during the low transmission season from September to May will be presented in the meeting.

“Nine campaigns were held during the low transmission season. The delegation will be told that all environmental samples have been found negative which is good news,” he said.

If the polio virus is found in sewerage water, the sample is deemed positive. Samples of sewerage water of an area are the basic parameter of a campaigns success. A polio case can be reported in any city because of the frequent movement of people.

The presence of the polio virus in sewerage water also shows that the immunity level of the children of the area has decreased and that they are at risk of the disease.

“There are small pockets of the polio virus in Karachi, northern Sindh which is Larkana and Sakhar, some areas of the Bannu division in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Quetta. These areas need more attention,” Dr Safdar said.

“After giving them a detailed report, we will seek advice from TAG about what we need to do to completely eradicate the virus,” he added.

In reply to a question, Dr Safdar said that the fencing of the border with Afghanistan can play a major role in the eradication of the polio virus in the country, which only prevails in two countries.

“However, we cannot take this issue up with TAG because it does not deal with international borders,” he said.

Dr Safdar said the number of polio cases has reduced in the current years with only 12 cases emerging this year, which is 60pc less that the same time last year. Other strategies like the expansion of community based vaccination and health camps have helped with enhancing community ownership of the programme, he added.

Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2016

Pakistan: Pakistan: Balochistan: Caught in the Fragility Trap

28 June 2016 - 7:02am
Source: US Institute of Peace Country: Afghanistan, Pakistan

Published: June 27, 2016
By: Ali Dayan Hasan

Although reports indicate an improvement in its overall security, Balochistan remains the most fragile province in contemporary Pakistan. This brief examines both the efficacy and motivations behind the state’s recent actions to end persistent conflict in the province.

Summary

  • The province of Balochistan is riven by multiple cyclical conflicts and is the most fragile in Pakistan.
    The complicity of politicians, government officials, and security personnel in criminal activity has created a nexus among criminality, militancy, and terrorism.

  • With significant new Chinese investment on the horizon, a tentative but notable shift in state attitudes toward criminality and conflict has occurred. The operational capacity of sectarian militant groups has been degraded, and unprecedented initial steps have been taken to address paramilitary corruption.

  • However, policy realignments continue to be determined primarily by Pakistan’s military establishment in light of its strategic priorities. Political negotiations between the state and Baloch nationalist groups have stalled.

  • While the overall security situation has improved, the rights and needs of Balochistan’s people, and the underlying fault lines that trigger conflict, remain unaddressed.

Fragility

Fragility is borne from a combination of economic, political, institutional, and societal factors (often self- and mutually reinforcing) and is characterized by (1) a high level of insecurity and continuing violence, organized violence, and conflict; (2) weak institutions; and (3) poor governance or the lack of equitable delivery and distribution of public goods and services. The circular nature of the defining factors lies at the “heart of the concept of the fragility trap.” Perhaps the most definitive aspect of fragility—and one that links it to conflict—is institutional weakness or lack of political and performance legitimacy.

State fragility, however, is not an either-or situation and instead “varies along a continuum of performance, as well as across areas of state function and capacity.” The broader terminology of situations of fragility better captures the concept and is defined as periods when states or institutions lack the capacity, accountability, or legitimacy to mediate relations between citizen groups and between citizens and the state, making them vulnerable to violence.

Situations of fragility are also encapsulated in the concept of the “parallel state,” where there is “existence of a clandestine nexus between formal political leadership, self-serving factions within the state apparatus, organized crime, and/or experts in violence.” Fragile situations are also marked by the coexistence of both formal and informal institutions, with competing claims to power. The formal state is weakened or operates with informal or competing rules of the game.

Violence or the threat of outbreak of violence in fragile situations is often averted due to an “elite pact,” enforced through coercion and patronage among “holders of political, military, or economic power.”5 The motivation in such instances is largely “the wish to contain violence and to secure the property and economic interests and opportunities of pact members.” While such elite pacts maintain the peace through renegotiation, they are unable to eradicate the threat of violence and, unless accompanied by “transformation in state-society institutions and better governance outcomes,” remain susceptible to the “same stresses that precipitated fighting in the first place.” Hence, the vicious cycle of violence becomes more difficult to break or escape over time.

The Balochistan Situation

Balochistan is the most fragile province in contemporary Pakistan. The Pakistani state has chosen to govern Balochistan by striking alliances with willing tribal/political elites in return for access to the state’s resources of power and patronage. The breakdown of these elite pacts invariably culminates in violent uprisings against the state, which, in turn, are suppressed by the military and foster a new cycle of violence followed by another elite pact. These ongoing cycles define Balochistan’s fragility trap.

Balochistan’s conflicts have multiple fault lines: the principal conflict between the state and nationalists (the military and armed militant groups); inter- and intra- tribal feuds and clashes; and ethnic and sectarian conflicts, as a consequence of the militarized state’s policy of Islamicization. These situations have, over the years, provided cover for increasing organized violent crime. The conflict situation is further complicated by the involvement of several foreign states with an economic or political stake in the mineral-rich province.

Multiple Conflicts

Nationalist

Lack of control over natural resources and the dominance of the central government have been a constant theme in Balochistan nationalist grievance discourse and a trigger for conflict; critically, in recent years, so has the lack of provincial control in matters relating to development of the Gwadar Port in southern Balochistan. Additionally, grievances related to political victimization and state oppression persist. Since 2005, human rights organizations have recorded numerous serious human rights violations by security forces: extrajudicial executions, torture, enforced disappearances, forced displacement, and excessive use of force. In turn, Baloch nationalists have sporadically attacked government installations, buildings, and security force personnel.

Sectarian

Sectarian militancy and violence in Balochistan, part of the wider sectarian conflict in Pakistan, have risen exponentially over the last decade. The prime targets of sectarian violence in Balochistan have been the Shia community, particularly the Shia Hazaras, at the hands of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which identifies as an anti-Shia, anti-Iran militant group. In recent years, Pakistani authorities have also accused LeJ, in collaboration with the Pakistani Taliban, of masterminding armed attacks on Pakistani state targets; although there has also been a complex and contradictory but close historical relationship between the state and the LeJ both in Balochistan and beyond.

Ethnic

Since the beginning of the latest armed insurgency in 2006, dozens of non-Baloch people have been threatened, attacked, and killed by Baloch nationalists.Hundreds of teachers—especially ethnic Punjabis and Urdu-speakers, known as “settlers” in the province—have sought transfers out of Balochistan, bringing the education system to near collapse. Punjabi settlers are not the only ethnic group to have come under attack; in May 2015, more than twenty Pashtun laborers were taken off two Karachi-bound buses at gunpoint and shot.

Criminality and Violence

Balochistan’s multiple conflicts have created an enabling environment for criminal elements and groups to cement their presence and activity in the province. Members of threatened ethnic groups, government personnel, and local nongovernmental and foreign aid workers are frequently kidnapped for ransom. Such episodes have played a significant role in spreading terror and restricting travel and movement within Balochistan.

Approximately one-third of drugs from Afghanistan, the region’s major producer, are smuggled via the coastal region of Balochistan. According to the United Nations (UN) Office on Drugs and Crime, approximately $30 billion worth of drugs are smuggled from Afghanistan via Pakistan to other countries.Similarly, there is a substantial market for smuggling arms and weapons from Afghanistan into Balochistan and on to other parts of Pakistan. Balochistan is also the principal route for smuggling migrants from Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Iran to destinations in Europe and beyond.

There have been long-standing allegations of connivance and complicity by government and security agencies in these criminal activities,which fuels a thriving parallel and underground economy and contributes to a nexus between criminality and terrorism.

Breaking the Fragility Trap

Between 1972 and 2013, political governments attempted—without any enduring success—to address Balochistan’s grievances, improve the level of socioeconomic development and governance, and break the cycles of violent conflict by introducing institutional reforms. Notable measures included the raising of provincial status within a federal structure defined by the 1973 Constitution; greater control over provincial affairs and resources and an increased share in divisible financial resources according to the Aghaz-e-Huqqooq-e-Balochistan, the Seventh National Finance Commission (NFC) Award (2009); and provincial autonomy according to the 18th Amendment to the Constitution (2010).

Since 2013, Pakistan’s strategic and economic imperatives have been spurring the state to significantly alter Balochistan’s fragility matrix to the advantage of a new set of clients and patrons. The game-changer appears to be the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—a 3,000 km network of roads, railway, and pipelines running from Balochistan’s Gwadar Port to China’s Xinjiang region and linked Chinese investment in Pakistan energy and other sectors—formally announced in April 2015.
The importance Pakistan has attached to this initiative is evident by the military’s creation of a special security division (comprising well over ten thousand troops) for the protection of Chinese personnel associated with CPEC.20 In January 2016, the Pakistani navy announced an increase in surveillance at Gwadar Port and the raising of a “special Marine Battalion…for [the] security of Gwadar, Chinese engineers, and delegates visiting the port.”

Recent actions to defuse the other “hot” conflicts, both sectarian and nationalist, have to be understood in the context of Pakistan’s absolute strategic prioritization of CPEC and Balochistan’s centrality to the latter.

Sectarianism

LeJ leader Malik Ishaq was killed in a police shootout in July 2015. Earlier, Usman Saifullah Kurd, the LeJ Balochistan chief, was killed by security forces in February 2015. The killings of Kurd and Ishaq signal a shift in the Pakistani security force’s relationship with the LeJ, and there has been a decline in attacks on Shia Hazaras in Balochistan as the organization struggles to cope with the loss of its leadership and the Pakistani state’s shift away from a policy of strategic ambivalence. For the CPEC to move forward, the LeJ’s criminal activities cannot continue unchecked. Further, the ending of UN sanctions on Iran and the economic advantages inherent therein also bode ill for the organization’s utility to Pakistan’s transforming strategic and economic interests. However, the LeJ is not anywhere near being eliminated in Balochistan or beyond.

Baloch Separatism

The Balochistan provincial government (June 2013–December 2015), led by Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch, initiated a new round of clandestine negotiations with Baloch rebel leaders. On August 5, 2014, it was reported that several major Baloch insurgent groups had agreed to negotiate with the Pakistani state. On August 27, Brahamdagh Bugti, leader of the separatist Baloch Republican Party, announced his party would drop calls for independence if “the Baloch people agree.” The provincial government welcomed this olive branch, and in November, Bugti claimed to have met the chief minister, Malik Baloch, several times.However, while a Balochistan government source claimed that agreement was reached on 90 percent of the issues, Bugti insisted that the chief minister had no authority to negotiate with him. The military concurrently intensified its actions against intransigent militants, depriving the chief minister of any meaningful negotiating authority. Malik Baloch left office in December 2015 as part of a coalition agreement with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party, and the momentum on these negotiations appears to have since stalled.

Criminality

There has recently been a tentative but significant shift in state attitudes toward the nexus between criminality and conflict. The Frontier Corps (FC), the lead security agency in Balochistan, has been consistently accused of involvement in smuggling and corruption. The military’s traditional response has been of angry denial and little or no tolerance for allegations that the FC’s corruption, incompetence, and links to extremist groups has exacerbated the security crisis. However, one day after Pakistan’s army chief, General Raheel Sharif, declared a causal relationship between corruption and terrorism on April 19, 2016, the military appeared to acknowledge the same within its own ranks in Balochistan. In an unprecedented shift, the military leaked the names of six senior officers dismissed from service for corruption in Balochistan. These included Lieutenant General Obaidullah, head of the FC from 2010 to 2013, Major General Ejaz Shahid, his successor, and three one-star generals.

Beyond the FC, in May 2016, the National Accountability Bureau arrested Balochistan’s finance secretary for corruption, recovering $7.25 million from his home. And earlier, in fall 2015, investigations were begun against senior police officers accused of myriad corrupt practices, including smuggling oil from Iran. The economic opportunities offered by the end of international sanctions on Iran and the security imperatives of CPEC necessitate a legalizing of cross-border trade. However, it is unclear whether these measures are indicative of a sustained policy for dismantling the nexus between state institutions, criminal mafias, and militant groups.

Movement Forward or Yet Another False Start?

Evidently, multiple realignments have taken place in Balochistan over the last three years. But these realignments continue to be determined primarily by the strategic and economic priorities of Pakistan’s military establishment rather than as a consequence of a broader political compact for peace in the province.

While there are some indications that the overall security situation has improved, the rights and needs of Balochistan’s people remain unaddressed. Citizens continue to live with a sense of heightened insecurity, rattled by persistent violence. Comparative levels of social and economic development remain abysmally low, and the perception of deprivation, exploitation, and political alienation remains alarmingly high.

Hence, as of now, the underlying fault lines remain unaddressed. The transfer of governance responsibility and increased financial resources under the eighteenth constitutional amendment and seventh NFC award, respectively, continue to be impeded by the state’s poor reach and lack of organizational structure in the province. The resultant absence of citizen confidence in formal state institutions complicates the pursuit of sustainable peace.

Even if some level of peace in Balochistan can be achieved by state co-option of significant tribal leaders, militant groups, and criminal elements, and by the killing of those who refuse to be co-opted, it is highly unlikely that this tried, tested, and failed process will do anything to end the cycle of violence or break the fragility trap.

Pakistan: Crisis Response Bulletin, June 27, 2016 - Volume: 2, Issue: 26

28 June 2016 - 4:50am
Source: Alhasan Systems Country: Afghanistan, Pakistan

-Govt refuses to give Rs 7bn for flood warning system upgrade WASA prepared to face monsoon challenge
-Conference highlights government’s apathy towards Thar
-There's no adequate preparation against rains: official
-NDMA launches campaign to minimise losses during floods, says Asghar Nawaz
-Pakistan neither isolated nor desperate for talks with India
-Keep safe: Security tightened ahead of Youmi-Ali
-Thousands make a statement against terrorism at Amjad Sabri’s funeral
-Army ready to confront terrorism, extremism, cleanse Pakistan of menaces: COAS
-UN urges Pakistanis not to label Afghan refugees 'terrorists'
-Anti-polio drive in FRs Tank, DI Khan, SWA from today
-NADRA launches drive for re-verification of CNICs
-Only two Pak universities among top 200 Asian institutions

Pakistan: Pakistan: Multi-Hazard Vulnerability and Risk Assessment (MHVRA) (as of 27 June 2016)

28 June 2016 - 4:33am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Pakistan

Pakistan: Pakistan: Districts Affected by Major Emergencies (2005 - 2015)

28 June 2016 - 4:12am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Pakistan