Pakistan’s International Relations and Military Collaborations – 2024 Report

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Pakistan’s geopolitical stance is significantly shaped by its strategic partnerships and military collaborations. Situated in South Asia, Pakistan navigates complex relationships with neighboring countries and major global powers, balancing its military, economic, and diplomatic priorities. This document provides a detailed overview of Pakistan’s international relations, focusing on military projects, collaborations for the purchase or sale of weapons, missiles, and cybersecurity initiatives. It highlights the nations with which Pakistan has closer relationships and potential alliances in the event of war.

Military Alliances and Collaborations

China

Strategic Partnership and Economic Investments

China is considered Pakistan’s closest ally, significantly influencing the bilateral relations through substantial military and economic collaborations. One of the cornerstone projects that exemplify this relationship is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a major part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. CPEC involves heavy investments in Pakistan’s infrastructure, aiming to enhance economic interconnectivity and regional importance.

Military Projects and Joint Ventures

  • JF-17 Thunder Fighter Jet: The JF-17 Thunder is a prominent symbol of Pakistan-China defense collaboration. It is a lightweight, multi-role combat aircraft jointly produced by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and Chengdu Aerospace Corporation (CAC) of China. Designed to be cost-effective, the JF-17 serves as a modern replacement for older models like the Mirage III/5 fighters. Since its induction, the JF-17 has been actively used by the Pakistani Air Force and has also seen exports to other countries​ ​.
  • Naval Collaboration: China has agreed to supply Pakistan with eight modified diesel-electric attack submarines, planned to be delivered by 2028. This $4-5 billion deal involves vessels likely based on the Type 039 and Type 041 Yuan-class submarines. These submarines are part of a broader effort to strengthen Pakistan’s naval capabilities, essential for maintaining strategic balance and security in the region​.

Naval Exercises and Interoperability

China and Pakistan regularly conduct joint naval exercises to enhance interoperability between their naval forces. These exercises are part of the broader strategic military cooperation aimed at boosting both countries’ defensive capabilities and preparedness. Such maneuvers not only strengthen mutual capabilities but also showcase the depth of the military relationship between the two nations​.

Broader Implications and Strategic Significance

The deepening military ties between China and Pakistan serve multiple strategic purposes. They are seen as a counterbalance to regional rivalries, notably with India, and are crucial in maintaining regional security dynamics. Moreover, these collaborations help Pakistan modernize its military capabilities, which is critical given the evolving security challenges in South Asia.

Overall, the military collaboration between China and Pakistan underlines the strategic alliance that significantly impacts regional security architecture. This partnership not only enhances Pakistan’s defense capabilities but also strengthens China’s influence in the South Asian region.

U.S.-Pakistan Military Relations: Arms Sales and Aid

Complex Relationship Dynamics

The relationship between Pakistan and the United States has been historically complex, characterized by periods of close cooperation and times of strain. This relationship has heavily revolved around geopolitical strategies, particularly concerning Afghanistan and counter-terrorism efforts. The U.S. has recognized Pakistan as a significant counterterrorism partner, which has influenced the dynamics of military aid and arms sales between the two nations.

Military Aid and Arms Sales

  • F-16 Fighter Jets: The F-16 fighter jets have been a crucial element of U.S. military support to Pakistan. This support has included both the sale of jets and a sustained effort to maintain and upgrade these critical assets. Most recently, in 2022, the U.S. approved a $450 million F-16 fleet sustainment program. This package is intended to support Pakistan’s capability to meet current and future counterterrorism threats by maintaining its F-16 fleet, which is critical for air-to-ground combat operations​​.
  • Terms of Engagement: The support includes technical and logistics services, such as participation in various F-16 support programs like the Aircraft Structural Integrity Program and the International Engine Management Program. These programs are essential for ensuring the operational readiness and longevity of the F-16s within the Pakistan Air Force​​.
  • Geopolitical and Strategic Implications: The arms sales and military aid to Pakistan are not just about enhancing Pakistan’s military capabilities but also about maintaining interoperability with U.S. and partner forces. These efforts are aligned with the broader U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives, which include stability in the region and effective counterterrorism operations. The relationship, however, has had its challenges, particularly regarding the perception and reality of Pakistan’s actions against militants within its borders​.

Impact and Future Outlook

The continuation of military aid and arms sales, such as the F-16 sustainment deal, reflects an ongoing but cautious relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan. While these deals enhance Pakistan’s military capabilities, they also underscore the strategic need for the U.S. to maintain an ally in the region capable of advancing mutual interests in counterterrorism and regional stability. The evolution of this relationship will likely continue to depend on broader geopolitical dynamics, including Pakistan’s relations with neighboring countries and its role in regional security.

Turkey

Turkey and Pakistan have been enhancing their military ties through various key collaborations and initiatives. Their partnership primarily revolves around significant projects like the TAI T-129 ATAK attack helicopters and the MILGEM-class corvettes, which symbolize the deepening military cooperation between the two countries.

  • TAI T-129 ATAK Helicopter: Turkey has been engaged in discussions with Pakistan to sell T-129 ATAK attack helicopters. These negotiations have been ongoing, with both parties expressing a strong interest. The T-129 is particularly noted for its performance and the integration of Turkish electronics and munitions, supplied by companies like Aselsan and Roketsan​.
  • MILGEM-class Corvettes: The MILGEM (National Ship) project involves the construction of Ada-class corvettes, designed for anti-submarine warfare and equipped with advanced weaponry and sensors. Pakistan plans to build some of these ships locally at the Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works. This project underscores the mutual commitment to not only enhancing military capabilities but also supporting domestic defense industries through technology transfer and local production​.

These initiatives are part of a broader strategy to foster indigenous defense production capabilities within both nations, reflecting their shared objectives to strengthen military and technological capabilities through bilateral cooperation. The relationship also includes mutual training programs and the potential collaboration in future defense projects, such as the next-generation fighter aircraft TAI TFX, which could further integrate the defense industries of both countries​.

Overall, these collaborations are pivotal for both Turkey and Pakistan as they aim to enhance their strategic military capabilities and reduce reliance on external suppliers by boosting local defense manufacturing.Top of Form

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan share a strategic military and economic relationship, anchored by their mutual interests and shared Islamic heritage. This relationship has been particularly evident in the military domain where Pakistan has consistently provided support and expertise to Saudi Arabia.

Historically, Pakistan has played a crucial role in supporting Saudi Arabia during regional conflicts. For instance, Pakistani pilots operated Royal Saudi Air Force jets during the conflict with Yemen in 1969. Additionally, Pakistan has been involved in the training of over 8,200 Saudi armed forces personnel since 1967 and has participated in joint military exercises, showcasing a robust security partnership between the two nations​)​.

In terms of troop deployment, there has been a longstanding presence of Pakistani military personnel in Saudi Arabia. The current deployments primarily focus on training and advisory roles, confined within Saudi borders as per the agreements between the two countries. This includes a contingent of Pakistani troops who perform their training and advisory mission while stationed in Saudi Arabia, under a 1982 military cooperation agreement​​.

Moreover, the economic ties between the two countries are also significant. Saudi Arabia has been a key supporter of Pakistan’s economy, with investments and aid that have been crucial, especially during financial crises. From 2018 to 2022, Riyadh’s support to Pakistan exceeded $22 billion, indicating a deep financial interdependence. This economic support is critical as Pakistan navigates its balance of payments crisis and seeks to attract more foreign investment to stabilize its economy​​.

Overall, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is multifaceted, encompassing military cooperation, economic aid, and geopolitical alignment, which serves the strategic interests of both nations.

Strategic Ally: Saudi Arabia, with its economic influence and shared Islamic heritage, maintains a robust partnership with Pakistan. Pakistan, in turn, has often provided military support and expertise to Saudi Arabia.

Military Engagements:

  • Troop Deployment: Pakistan has historically sent troops to Saudi Arabia for training and security purposes.
  • Arms Sales: Pakistan sells military equipment and shares expertise in various defense sectors.

Strengthening Cybersecurity Alliances: Pakistan’s Collaborative Efforts with China and Russia

In the digital era, national security extends beyond physical boundaries, encapsulating the cyberspace where much of today’s warfare and espionage are taking place. Recognizing the critical role of cybersecurity in safeguarding national interests, Pakistan has embarked on significant collaborations with global powers like China and Russia to fortify its cybersecurity infrastructure. This article explores these partnerships in detail, providing a comprehensive overview of the initiatives and their strategic contexts.

Pakistan and China: Deepening Cyber Defense Capabilities

Pakistan’s relationship with China has been a cornerstone of its foreign policy for decades, with collaborations spanning various sectors. In recent years, this partnership has increasingly focused on cybersecurity, an area that has gained prominence due to the escalating cyber threats worldwide.

Cyber Defense Cooperation

China, known for its advanced technological landscape, has played a pivotal role in aiding Pakistan to enhance its cybersecurity measures. The cooperation includes the establishment of cyber defense mechanisms designed to shield Pakistan’s critical infrastructure from potential cyber-attacks and espionage activities. This collaboration is facilitated through both governmental agreements and the involvement of tech giants from both countries.

The assistance from China is multifaceted, encompassing both technology transfer and skill development. Chinese experts are involved in training Pakistani cybersecurity personnel, enhancing their ability to manage and respond to cyber incidents. Moreover, China has provided Pakistan with sophisticated cybersecurity technologies, including advanced encryption techniques and intrusion detection systems, which are crucial for protecting sensitive information and maintaining national security.

This partnership not only strengthens Pakistan’s cybersecurity but also aligns with China’s broader strategic interests in the region, particularly under the umbrella of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The security of digital infrastructure is paramount for the success of such significant economic initiatives, making cybersecurity an essential area of cooperation.

Russia: A Growing Partnership in Cybersecurity

While Pakistan’s relationship with Russia has been historically complex, recent years have seen a warming of ties, with both nations seeking to explore new areas of cooperation, including cybersecurity.

Emerging Relations and Cyber Initiatives

The thaw in relations between Pakistan and Russia can be attributed to shifting geopolitical dynamics and mutual interests in various sectors, including defense and technology. Cybersecurity has emerged as a key area of this newfound partnership, with discussions focused on joint ventures that could enhance mutual security against growing cyber threats.

Russia’s expertise in cybersecurity is well acknowledged globally, with its capabilities in cyber warfare and defense being among the most sophisticated. Engaging with Russia allows Pakistan to leverage this expertise to bolster its own cybersecurity framework. The discussions have reportedly covered areas such as cyber threat intelligence sharing, joint cyber operations, and development of secure communication channels.

These initiatives are still in the early stages, but they represent a significant shift in Pakistan’s foreign relations and its approach to national security. By aligning with Russia in the cyber domain, Pakistan not only diversifies its strategic partnerships but also enhances its defenses against an increasingly complex array of cyber threats that it faces both regionally and globally.

Strategic Importance of Cybersecurity Collaborations

The collaborations with China and Russia are indicative of Pakistan’s proactive approach to addressing the challenges of modern warfare and espionage. Cybersecurity is no longer just a technical domain but a strategic one that plays a crucial role in national defense.

The partnerships are also reflective of the broader strategic calculations by Pakistan, considering the evolving international security landscape. With cyber threats becoming more sophisticated and frequent, collaborating with technologically advanced nations such as China and Russia is a pragmatic strategy for Pakistan. It not only enhances its cybersecurity capabilities but also strengthens its geopolitical standing by aligning with major global powers.

Continual Evolution of Cybersecurity Strategies

As the digital landscape evolves, so too must the strategies to protect it. Pakistan’s cybersecurity collaborations are dynamic and will continue to evolve as new threats emerge and technologies develop. These partnerships are crucial not just for the defense against immediate threats but also for the long-term resilience of Pakistan’s national security infrastructure in the cyberspace.

The ongoing efforts between Pakistan, China, and Russia underscore the importance of international cooperation in cybersecurity. Such collaborations are vital for establishing a robust defense against the cyber threats of tomorrow, ensuring that nations can protect their critical assets and maintain their sovereignty in the face of evolving digital challenges.

Potential Allies for Pakistan in the Event of Military Conflict

In the geopolitical chessboard, alliances play a pivotal role in shaping the outcomes of military conflicts. Pakistan, situated in a complex regional environment, has cultivated relationships that could prove crucial in the event of war. This section delves into the potential allies that Pakistan may rely upon, analyzing the strategic ties and mutual interests that bind them.

China: A Stalwart Ally with Strategic and Economic Bonds

China stands out as Pakistan’s most reliable ally, underpinned by a longstanding relationship that transcends mere diplomatic ties to include deep military and economic linkages. The alliance is fortified by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which signifies an investment of billions into Pakistan’s infrastructure. This economic interdependence is complemented by a robust military relationship, with China being a major supplier of weaponry and technology to Pakistan’s armed forces.

In any potential conflict, especially one involving India, China’s role is expected to be significant. The Sino-Indian rivalry, marked by border disputes and strategic competition in Asia, positions China as a counterbalancing force to Indian influence. In such scenarios, China could provide both direct military assistance and economic support to Pakistan, leveraging its considerable resources to alter the strategic landscape in favor of its ally.

Islamic Countries: Diplomatic and Logistical Support

Pakistan’s relationships with key Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Turkey also play a strategic role in its defense architecture. These countries share bonds with Pakistan that are rooted in cultural, religious, and economic ties. Each of these relationships carries implications for military support in varying capacities.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE

Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have historically maintained close ties with Pakistan, marked by cooperation in economic and military domains. These Gulf states have provided financial aid to Pakistan and have engaged in joint military exercises, reflecting a degree of military interoperability. In the event of a conflict, while direct military involvement from these nations might be limited due to their strategic interests and international relations, logistical and diplomatic support could be significant. This support might include the provision of military hardware, intelligence sharing, or diplomatic backing in international forums, which can be crucial for shaping international opinion and securing further support.

Turkey

Turkey’s relationship with Pakistan is another cornerstone of Islamabad’s foreign relations, characterized by mutual respect and shared strategic interests. The military cooperation between the two countries has deepened over the years, with joint exercises and defense production collaborations. Turkey’s growing defense industry and its strategic position at the crossroads of Europe and Asia make it a valuable ally for Pakistan. In a conflict scenario, Turkey could provide critical support in the form of advanced military technologies, strategic intelligence, and diplomatic advocacy within NATO and other international bodies.

The potential for support from these allies in the event of a military conflict is shaped by a complex interplay of geopolitical interests, historical ties, and strategic calculations. While China’s support might be more pronounced in scenarios involving India, the role of Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Turkey would likely hinge on the nature and scale of the conflict. Each ally brings unique strengths to the table, from economic leverage to military capabilities and diplomatic influence, underscoring the multifaceted nature of Pakistan’s alliance network.

Pakistan in Crisis: A Tumultuous 2023 of Economic Hardship, Political Unrest, and Security Challenges

In 2023, Pakistan faced a confluence of crises across economic, political, and security spheres, revealing the culmination of years of inadequate policies that exacerbated rather than mitigated national issues. The year marked a profound period of turmoil, impacting the socio-political fabric and economic stability of the nation, leaving policymakers and citizens alike grappling with unprecedented challenges.

Economic Crisis: Inflation and Debt

The economic landscape in 2023 was dominated by severe inflation, setting new records for hardship. Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves plummeted to their lowest levels in almost a decade, and the burden of external debt servicing reached its zenith. Throughout the fiscal year 2022–2023, the economy contracted by a staggering $33.4 billion, while per capita income saw an 11% decrease, illustrating the depth of the economic downturn. The situation nearly pushed Pakistan to the brink of default.

Relief came only in July when Islamabad secured a crucial loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, the conditions attached, primarily austerity measures, further aggravated inflation, impacting all strata of society. Remarkably, this economic strain drove a mass exodus of skilled workers, including 900,000 professionals like doctors and accountants, seeking better opportunities abroad, thereby intensifying the brain drain dilemma.

The economic distress can be attributed to a mix of internal mismanagement and external pressures. The global pandemic disrupted supply chains, and the conflict in Ukraine escalated global commodity prices. Domestically, flawed trade policies that favored traditional sectors like textiles, which struggled to compete globally, and heavy reliance on costly fuel imports, compounded the crisis. Structural reforms remained elusive as stakeholders, including government bodies, business sectors, and the military, resisted necessary changes that would ensure long-term economic stability.

Political Turmoil and Government Instability

The year also witnessed severe political instability, marked by ongoing conflicts between former Prime Minister Imran Khan and the military leadership. This political saga continued from 2022, following Khan’s controversial removal from office through a no-confidence vote, which he alleged was orchestrated by the then-Army Chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Asim Munir’s succession as the Army Chief in November 2022 provided an opportunity for reconciliation, yet Khan escalated his criticism, particularly after surviving an alleged assassination attempt. 2023 saw the intensification of this political conflict, culminating in Khan’s arrest on May 9, which triggered widespread protests and attacks on military installations. Despite a Supreme Court order for his release, the crackdown on his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), intensified, leading to another arrest in August and a subsequent jail sentence totaling 24 years on charges Khan decried as politically motivated.

The military’s dominance over politics cast a long shadow, sidelining not only Khan and PTI but also delaying national elections and installing a compliant caretaker government. The return of Nawaz Sharif from self-exile and his reconciliation with the military hinted at a potential political reshuffling, highlighting the perennial power dynamics that define Pakistani politics.

Security Concerns: The Shadow of Terrorism

Security issues were significantly pronounced in 2023, with terrorist activities increasing by 70% from the previous year, primarily orchestrated by the Taliban-aligned Pakistani Taliban (TTP). The increase in terrorism paralleled the instability in Afghanistan post-Taliban resurgence in 2021, with Islamabad unable to leverage influence over the Taliban to curb the TTP’s activities. A drastic measure to expel Afghan refugees in an attempt to pressure the Taliban not only failed but also sparked a significant humanitarian crisis.

Economic Stabilization in Uncertain Times: Pakistan’s Interim Government and the Path to Elections

In the complex web of political and economic challenges, Pakistan’s interim government has played a crucial role in maintaining stability as the nation awaits its upcoming elections in February 2024. This article provides an exhaustive analysis of the current economic, fiscal, and monetary conditions in Pakistan, exploring the factors that have influenced these dynamics and the implications for the near future.

Political Backdrop and Election Framework

The National Assembly of Pakistan was dissolved on August 9, 2023, paving the way for elections scheduled for February 8, 2024. This move, initially mired in controversy due to exceeding the constitutional limit of 90 days for holding elections post-dissolution, was defended by the Election Commission. The need to extend the period was attributed to the redrawing of constituency boundaries, a task necessitated by the 2023 Census. This period of transition is overseen by a caretaker government, which has been instrumental in implementing policies aimed at stabilizing the economy.

Economic Overview

Despite the adversities of the past year, including significant floods and inconsistent policy measures, Pakistan’s economy has shown signs of resilience. The fiscal year 2023 saw a slight contraction in GDP by 0.2%, which was less severe than anticipated. The ongoing fiscal year (FY24) has witnessed a modest recovery, with the first quarterly GDP growth estimated at 2.1%. This growth was largely driven by a notable 5.1% increase in agricultural output, which helped mitigate the weaker performance in industrial and service sectors.

Detailed Economic Indicators Analysis

GDP and Domestic Demand

The latest report from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics in November 2023 marked the first publication of quarterly national accounts, a significant step towards greater transparency in economic management. The agricultural sector’s strong rebound is particularly noteworthy, as it compensates for the tepid growth in industrial output (2.5%) and services (0.8%).

Foreign Exchange Market Dynamics

Post-approval of the Stand-By Arrangement (SBA), the rupee experienced fluctuations, primarily due to speculative activities and smuggling concerns along the Afghan border. The authorities’ stringent measures in border enforcement and strengthening financial governance helped the rupee stabilize through mid-October. However, recent trends indicate a weakening, with the currency returning to its end-June levels. The elimination of the open market premium and the autonomy in import transaction processing have been positive developments, though challenges in accessing foreign exchange persist.

Inflation Trends and Monetary Policy

Inflation, a critical concern for the populace, saw a decline from 38% in May to 26.8% in October 2023, before climbing back to 29.2% following significant adjustments in gas tariffs. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has maintained the policy rate at 22% since late June 2023. The decision reflects an effort to curb inflationary pressures through restrictive fiscal policies and controlled supply measures, projecting a potential easing in the second half of FY24.

Banking and Financial Sector Health

The banking sector’s exposure to sovereign assets has increased markedly, signaling growing risks amidst contracting private sector credit. Nevertheless, the capital adequacy ratios of banks remain robust, although vulnerabilities persist, particularly in the microfinance sector, which has been severely impacted by the floods of 2022.

Fiscal Developments and Public Expenditure

The fiscal landscape has shown improvement, with the primary deficit narrowing and revenue collection exceeding projections. This fiscal prudence is critical in maintaining economic stability and ensuring that government spending aligns with strategic priorities. The execution of public sector development programs, although delayed, is expected to gain momentum in the coming quarters.

Energy Sector Reforms

The energy sector, a significant contributor to the circular debt, has seen concerted efforts to address inefficiencies and financial leakages. The recent adjustments in power and gas tariffs are aimed at reducing the fiscal burden while protecting low-income households. These measures are essential for the sustainability of energy supply and financial health of the sector.

Below is a detailed scheme table based on the comprehensive economic data provided. This table encapsulates the key metrics and developments in various sectors of Pakistan’s economy during the fiscal years FY23 and FY24, reflecting the interim government’s management, economic activity, foreign exchange conditions, inflation rates, monetary policy, external conditions, banking sector dynamics, fiscal developments, and energy sector reforms.

CategoryIndicatorFY23FY24 Q1Details/Notes
Political ContextDissolution of National AssemblyAugust 9, 2023Elections scheduled for February 8, 2024
Caretaker Government RoleContinues till electionsFocused on economic stability and financial pressures
Economic ActivityGDP Growth-0.2%2.1% yoyStrong recovery in agriculture (+5.1% yoy)
Sectoral GrowthAgriculture: strong; Industry: +2.5%; Services: +0.8%Agricultural recovery offsets weaker sectors
Foreign Exchange MarketExchange Rate StabilityRupee stabilized, then weakenedInfluenced by SBA approval, speculation, smuggling
FX Market InflowsImproved through mid-October, weakened recentlyStrong initial inflows; later pressure on rupee
Inflation & Monetary PolicyHeadline InflationPeaked at 38% in May, then 26.8% in October29.2% in NovemberIncrease due to gas tariff hike
Policy Rate22% since late June 202322%Maintained to manage inflationary pressures
External ConditionsCurrent Account Deficit0.7% of GDP (US$2.2 billion)0.9% of GDP (US$0.9 billion)Improvement due to lifting of import restrictions
Gross ReservesUS$4.5 billion (June)US$7 billionSupported by official inflows and FX purchases
Banking SectorSovereign Exposure48% of assets (end-FY21)55.3% at end-September 2023Increased risk but improved capital adequacy
Non-Performing Loans (NPLs)7.7%Provisioning at 95.5%
Fiscal DevelopmentsPrimary Deficit/Surplus-1.3% of GDP+0.4% of GDPImproved fiscal position due to strong revenue performance
Energy SectorCircular Debt (CD)5¼% of GDP at end-FY23Power CD at PRs 2.5 trillion due to under-recoveries
Tariff AdjustmentsSignificant increases in November 2023Focus on reducing circular debt, protecting low-income households

Pakistan’s External Debt Servicing Challenges in FY24

In the financial year 2024 (FY24), Pakistan faces significant economic hurdles as it grapples with substantial external debt servicing obligations. The total amount due for this fiscal year is a staggering USD 24.5 billion, which includes USD 3.5 billion in interest payments and slightly over USD 21 billion in principal repayments. This situation places Pakistan in a precarious position, highlighting the urgent need for robust financial strategies and international cooperation.

External Debt Repayment in Detail

As of the first four months of FY24 (4MFY24), Pakistan has made significant strides in managing its external debt obligations. A total of USD 4.3 billion has been repaid, comprising USD 3.2 billion towards the principal and USD 1.1 billion for interest. Despite these efforts, the country still faces a daunting outstanding balance of USD 20.1 billion, divided into USD 2.3 billion in interest (markup) and USD 17.8 billion in principal.

Debt Rollover and Net Repayments

A critical component of Pakistan’s debt management strategy is the rollover of its debts. Approximately USD 12.3 billion of the outstanding amount is expected to be rolled over, with most agreements already in place. After accounting for these rollovers, the net amount due for repayment stands at around USD 5.5 billion. The ability to roll over such a significant portion of the debt provides some relief, but it also underscores the recurring nature of Pakistan’s debt challenge.

Impact on Foreign Reserves

The fiscal pressures from high debt repayments are compounded by other economic challenges, including reduced export revenues and a decrease in external financial flows. These factors contributed to a substantial reduction in Pakistan’s foreign exchange (FX) reserves, which plummeted to USD 4.5 billion by the end of June 2023. This decline in reserves poses a severe risk to the country’s financial stability and its ability to meet future external obligations.

The Role of International Monetary Fund (IMF)

In these turbulent times, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has played a crucial role in stabilizing Pakistan’s economic situation. The initiation of a new 9-month Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) by the IMF has acted as a critical support mechanism. This program, along with financial inflows from several bilateral countries, has led to a modest improvement in Pakistan’s reserves. The successful and timely completion of the IMF’s remaining reviews within this program is deemed essential for sustaining and securing the country’s external account.

Bilateral and Multilateral Support

Pakistan’s economic stability is heavily reliant on continued support from key multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, the IMF, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). These institutions play a pivotal role not only in providing financial assistance but also in facilitating the country’s long-term economic reforms. The additional funding secured from these entities is crucial for Pakistan, particularly for its reconstruction efforts and overall economic recovery.

Economic Recovery and Development Efforts

Looking ahead, the quantum of additional funding from international partners will significantly influence Pakistan’s economic recovery trajectory. The support from multilateral agencies will not only provide the necessary financial backing but also bring technical expertise and structural reform plans that are vital for sustainable development.

Exhibit: Expected inflows and outflows during FY24Exhibit: Expected inflows and outflows during FY25
InflowsOutflowsInflowsOutflows
USD bnUSD bnUSD bnUSD bn
IMF SBA3,00Repayments8,00IMF3,00Repayments10
KSA New Deposit2,00Bond1,00KSA New Deposit2,00CAD4,6
KSA Rollover3,00CAD3,90KSA Rollover3,00KSA Rollover3
UAE Rollover2,00KSA Rollover3,00UAE Rollover2,00UAE Rollover2
China Rollover4,00UAE Rollover2,00China Rollover4,00China Rollover4
China Swap4,00China Rollover4,00China Swap4,00China Swap4
Multilateral5,00China Swap4,00Multilateral5,50KSA New Deposit Rollover2
UAE New Deposit1,00  UAE New Deposit Rollover1,00UAE New Deposit Rollover1
IDB1,00  Commercial Rollover2,50\ 
Multilateral (Geneva)1,00  FDI2,00 
Commercial2,50  Euro Bond/Sukuk1,00  
FDI1,50  Commercial (New)2,50 
New IMF – First Tranche1,00      
Total Inflows31,00Total Outflows25,90Total Inflows32,5Total Outflows30,6
SBP Reserves (Jun’23)4,45SBP Reserves (Jun’24)9,55  
Expected SBP Reserves Position (Jun’24)9.55Expected SBP Reserves Position (Jun’25)11.45
Source (s): SBP, AHL ResearchSource (s): SBP, AHL Research

Pakistan’s Humanitarian Crisis: Addressing Climate Change, Food Insecurity, and Malnutrition

Pakistan is facing a multifaceted humanitarian crisis exacerbated by climate change, food insecurity, and persistently high malnutrition rates. In 2022, the country was devastated by catastrophic floods that affected millions, leading to significant loss of life and infrastructure. This article delves into the intricate challenges Pakistan faces in the humanitarian sector and explores the urgent need for comprehensive solutions to alleviate the suffering of vulnerable populations.

Climate Change Impact and Disaster Prone Status

Pakistan’s susceptibility to climate change makes it one of the most disaster-prone countries globally. The impacts of climate change, including frequent floods and extreme weather events, have intensified in recent years. The catastrophic floods in 2022 affected approximately 33 million people, with over 1,100 fatalities, highlighting the scale of the humanitarian crisis.

Post-Flood Challenges and Limited Access to Services

A year after the floods, many districts continue to grapple with limited access to essential services. The loss of infrastructure has exacerbated pre-existing inequities, particularly affecting vulnerable children who face increased risks of hunger and disease outbreaks. Despite ongoing humanitarian efforts, sustained support is crucial in the hardest-hit districts to address the lingering impacts of the floods.

Food Insecurity and Malnutrition

Pakistan struggles with severe food insecurity, with approximately 16% of the population lacking access to essential services, including healthcare and nutrition. This situation is further complicated by limited fiscal space in the government’s budget and a surge in inflation rates, leading to reduced purchasing power for many households.

Geographical Concentration of Vulnerable Populations

The most vulnerable populations, including those facing food insecurity and malnutrition, are concentrated in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Sindh Provinces. Children are particularly at risk due to the long-term consequences of malnutrition, such as stunted growth, developmental issues, and weakened immune systems.

Afghan Refugee Crisis and Additional Strain

Pakistan hosts approximately 3.7 million Afghan refugees, with a significant percentage being children. This influx of refugees adds to the strain on essential services, especially in provinces already grappling with high levels of poverty and humanitarian challenges. The implementation of the Illegal Foreigners Repatriation Plan is expected to further impact displacement and intensify existing humanitarian burdens.

UNICEF’s Critical Funding Requirements for 2024: Addressing Humanitarian Needs in Pakistan”

In 2024, UNICEF has set forth a funding request of $135.6 million to address the pressing humanitarian needs of over 5.5 million individuals in Pakistan, including 3.4 million children. This funding is essential to respond effectively to ongoing crises, including the aftermath of the 2022 floods and the ongoing support required for Afghan populations residing in Pakistan. The funding allocation is strategically designed to target key areas such as water and sanitation, health and nutrition services, education, and protection measures, encompassing a range of interventions to safeguard vulnerable populations.

Background and Context

The year 2022 witnessed devastating floods in Pakistan, exacerbating an already challenging humanitarian situation. The aftermath of these floods has left millions in dire need of assistance, particularly focusing on basic necessities such as safe water, sanitation, and essential health services. Furthermore, the presence of Afghan refugees in Pakistan adds another layer of complexity to the humanitarian landscape, requiring sustained support to ensure their well-being and access to critical services.

Funding Allocation Overview

Of the total funding requested by UNICEF for 2024, a significant portion of $35 million is earmarked specifically for the Afghan refugee response. This allocation underscores the commitment to address the unique needs of refugee populations, including access to healthcare, nutrition services, education, and protection measures. Additionally, the funding will support interventions aimed at enhancing water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities, vital for preventing the spread of diseases and ensuring basic hygiene practices.

Key Areas of Intervention

  • Health and Nutrition Services: A substantial portion of the funding will go towards providing essential health services to millions of people, including vaccinations, maternal and child healthcare, and treatment for common illnesses. Nutrition support programs will also be bolstered to address malnutrition and related health concerns.
  • Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH): Access to safe water and sanitation facilities is critical for public health, especially in post-disaster scenarios. UNICEF’s funding will enable the provision of clean water sources, hygiene kits, and sanitation infrastructure to prevent waterborne diseases and improve overall hygiene practices.
  • Education: Education is a fundamental right for children, yet many are deprived of this opportunity due to various challenges. UNICEF’s funding will support formal and nonformal education initiatives, ensuring that hundreds of thousands of children have access to quality education, thereby reducing the risk of school dropouts and improving future prospects.
  • Protection and Social Services: Vulnerable populations, including children, require protection from various forms of violence, exploitation, and abuse. The funding will enable the implementation of protection programs, including psychosocial support, legal assistance, and community-based initiatives to promote child rights and well-being.

Impact and Potential Benefits

Full funding of UNICEF’s 2024 requirements will have a transformative impact on the lives of millions in Pakistan. It is projected that 1.3 million people will gain access to safe water and sanitation facilities, 5 million individuals will receive essential health and nutrition services, and 180,000 children will have access to formal or nonformal education. This represents a substantial step towards reaching 15% of children in critical need of life-saving humanitarian support in the country.

The Escalating Security Crisis in Pakistan: A Comprehensive Overview

The security landscape in Pakistan has seen a marked escalation in volatility during the World Watch List (WWL) 2024 reporting period. This heightened state of insecurity is significantly influenced by the complex political dynamics in the region, particularly the power shift in neighboring Afghanistan to the Taliban regime. The repercussions of this shift have reverberated across the border into Pakistan, manifesting in an increased frequency and intensity of militant attacks. This article delves deeply into the multifaceted security challenges faced by Pakistan, examining the internal and external factors that contribute to the ongoing crisis.

Surge in Militant Attacks

Since the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, Pakistan has experienced a sharp increase in suicide attacks, which are primarily orchestrated by radical Islamic groups such as the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP). A particularly harrowing incident occurred on January 30, 2023, when a suicide bomber, disguised in a police uniform, infiltrated a mosque within a police compound in Peshawar and executed a devastating attack that claimed the lives of over 100 individuals (Reuters, 2 February 2023). The frequency of such attacks, especially against law enforcement in urban settings, has notably increased, further destabilizing the nation.

The incident not only shocked the Pakistani populace and security forces but also highlighted the persistent threat posed by factions within the TTP, despite the group’s official denial of involvement. Intelligence and security analysts suspect that a splinter faction of the TTP, known as Jamat-ul-Ahrar, was responsible for this heinous act. This group had previously conducted a deadly attack on All Saint’s Church in Peshawar in September 2013, killing at least 127 Christians, showcasing their long-standing capability and intent to target civilians (Jamestown Foundation, 6 May 2022).

The Delicate Balancing Act with the Afghan Taliban

The relationship between the Pakistani government and the Afghan Taliban has historically been complex and fraught with challenges. While Pakistan has attempted to leverage certain Taliban factions as proxies to advance its strategic interests in Afghanistan and against India, this relationship has become increasingly strained. The emergence of the TTP as a more formidable force has introduced additional complexities into Pakistan’s security paradigm. Observers have noted that the TTP has gained what is described as “strategic depth,” which significantly complicates the Pakistani authorities’ efforts to manage or mitigate the threat posed by these groups (CTC Sentinel, May 2023).

The Refugee Crisis and Its Implications

One of the strategies employed by Pakistan in its attempt to exert influence over Afghanistan involves the repatriation of Afghan refugees. Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees for decades, and the current policy of pushing back these refugees underlines the growing tensions and the humanitarian issues at play. This action not only presents immense social and economic challenges for Afghanistan but also reflects the harsh realities faced by these displaced populations, further exacerbating the regional instability.

Targeted Assassinations and Internal Threats

The security issues are further complicated by targeted assassinations of key militant leaders, which sow confusion and mistrust within the militant ranks. For instance, the killing of a high-ranking TTP member in Nangarhar, Afghanistan, on January 9, 2022, has left the group uncertain about its safety and operational stability in its supposed safe havens (Jamestown Foundation, 28 January 2022). No group claimed responsibility for this act, highlighting the murky nature of intra-militant dynamics and the covert operations likely involved.

The Growing Challenge of Sectarian and Ethnic Militancy

Apart from the TTP and ISKP, Pakistan faces significant threats from ethnically motivated separatist groups like the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA). The BLA has been increasingly active, with attacks reaching their highest levels since 2018. These attacks not only target security forces but also aim at disrupting the significant Chinese investments in the region, particularly those associated with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The attack on April 26, 2022, by a female suicide bomber at Karachi University, which resulted in the deaths of three Chinese teachers and their driver, underscores the international dimensions of Pakistan’s security challenges (BBC News, 27 April 2022).

The Plight of Religious Minorities

The security scenario in Pakistan is grim for religious minorities like Christians, who frequently find themselves at the crosshairs of militant groups. The lack of effective protection measures, coupled with a security apparatus more inclined to appease local power brokers than enforce law and order, leaves these vulnerable groups exposed to violence and persecution. The judiciary, although slightly more effective, often acts too late to make any meaningful change, especially for those who have been wrongfully imprisoned or targeted (Jamestown Foundation, 14 April 2023).

An Escalating Conflict: Pakistan’s Surge in Terrorism and Counterterrorism in Early 2024

In the first quarter of 2024, Pakistan faced a significant challenge as it grappled with an alarming rise in terrorism and counterterrorism activities. The country witnessed 245 such incidents, resulting in a tragic tally of 432 fatalities and 370 injuries. This article provides a comprehensive analysis of the situation, focusing on the regional dynamics, the actors involved, and the broader implications of this surge in violence.

Regional Focus: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan

The provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan, both of which border Afghanistan, emerged as the epicenters of this turmoil. These regions accounted for over 92% of the fatalities and 86% of all terror-related incidents. KP alone witnessed 51% of the deaths, while Balochistan suffered 41% of fatalities in the reported period.

The Nature of the Attacks

The types of attacks varied widely, ranging from targeted killings and ambushes to large-scale bombings. Militant organizations claimed responsibility for less than 20% of the total casualties, indicating a worrying trend of unattributed or possibly factional internal violence. Among the perpetrators, a new militant group named Jabhat Ansar al-Mahdi Khorasan (JAMK), affiliated with the Gul Bahadur group, notably emerged during this period.

The Surge in Violence in Balochistan

Balochistan, in particular, saw a dramatic 96% surge in violence compared to the previous periods. This included high-profile attacks on government and private properties, and even attacks targeting foreign nationals, as evidenced by a suicide attack on a convoy of Chinese engineers in the Shangla district of KP. This attack resulted in the deaths of five Chinese nationals and a local driver, highlighting the risks to international cooperation projects in the region.

Impact on Civilians

Civilians bore the brunt of this wave of violence, with 154 civilian deaths accounting for 36% of all fatalities. This represented a 17% increase in civilian and security official fatalities from the last quarter of 2023. The escalation in civilian casualties underscores the growing indiscriminate nature of the conflict, affecting an increasingly broad spectrum of the population.

Terrorist Group Dynamics

Interestingly, some previously active terrorist groups such as Tehreek-i-Jihad Pakistan (TJP), Lashkar-i-Islami (LI), and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LeJ) did not claim any attacks this quarter. In contrast, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Islamic State group, or Daesh, were responsible for several incidents. This shift in activity could suggest internal realignments or changes in tactical approaches among these groups.

Insurgent Claims and Targets

The insurgent groups Balochistan Liberation Army, Baloch Liberation Front, Baloch Raaji Ajoi Sangar, and Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army were particularly active, claiming 18 attacks that caused 42 fatalities and 40 injuries. Their targets predominantly included high-profile government and security installations such as the Gwadar Port Complex, Mach Jail, and the Turbat Naval Base, indicating a strategic focus on undermining state infrastructure.

Sectarian Violence

The report also noted an uptick in sectarian violence, with incidents affecting all religious communities. The Ahmadis suffered the most, with nine fatalities. This aspect of the violence highlights the complex interplay of religious, ethnic, and political factors fueling instability in Pakistan.

Government and Security Response

The Pakistani government and security forces have been actively engaged in counter-terrorism operations, which have themselves been a significant part of the reported incidents. These operations, while necessary from a security standpoint, have also raised concerns about human rights and the potential for further escalating violence. The effectiveness of these responses remains a critical area of focus, as the state seeks to regain control and ensure the safety of its citizens.

As Pakistan continues to navigate through these turbulent times, the international community remains watchful. The impacts of this violence extend beyond the immediate loss of life and injury; they pose significant challenges to regional stability, economic development, and the broader geopolitical dynamics of South Asia. The resilience and response of Pakistan’s government and security services in the coming months will be pivotal in shaping the future trajectory of this conflict.

Image : Pakistan yearly fatalities –  *Data since March 6, 2000, ** Data till , April 17, 2024

Fragile Ballots: The Impact of Terrorist Exploitation on Pakistan’s Electoral Process

In the intricate landscape of Pakistan’s politics, the electoral process has become a recurrent target for terrorist factions, seeking to undermine the democratic foundations through violence and propaganda. The recent general elections in Pakistan, held in February of this year, exemplify the vulnerabilities of electoral processes in regions plagued by terrorism. This comprehensive analysis delves into the tactics employed by terrorist groups to disrupt the elections, examining their implications for democracy in Pakistan and suggesting strategies to fortify electoral integrity against such threats.

CategoryDetails
Election DateFebruary 2023
Pre-election AttacksTerrorist groups started anti-election campaigns months before polling day, increasing violence as the election approached.
Propaganda MethodsOnline (Telegram, Rocket.Chat, X [formerly Twitter]), offline (graffiti, flyering), publication (27-page booklet by ISKP titled ‘Proofs of Disbelief in Elections’).
Primary Groups InvolvedIslamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), Islamic State Pakistan Province (ISPP)
Main TargetsPolitical figures, election offices, voters; specific targeting of JUI-F by ISKP due to ideological differences.
Major Incidents– Suicide bombing at JUI-F convention in Bajaur on July 30, 2023 (56 killed). – Bombing at PTI rally in Sibi on January 30, 2023 (4 killed, 6 injured). – Assassination of Rehan Zeb in Bajaur.<br>- Bombing of two election offices in Balochistan on election day (30 killed, many injured).<br>- 43 attacks by BLA on election day in Balochistan.
Voter Turnout ImpactDeclined from 52.1% in 2018 to 47.6% in 2023 due to increased attacks and security threats.
Polling Station SecurityIn Balochistan: 5,028 total polling stations; 961 normal, 2,337 sensitive, 1,730 highly sensitive.
Internet and Mobile ServicesSuspended in sensitive areas on election day to prevent terrorist communication, though attacks still occurred.
Election Day Incidents51 terrorist attacks across the country; 12 killed and 39 injured. Polling stations taken over, ballot tampering reported.
Post-Election ScenarioThe attacks reflect the challenges in maintaining democracy in regions with active terrorist threats and highlight the need for robust counterterrorism measures and election security protocols.
Counterterrorism RecommendationsImprove monitoring of online platforms, increase physical security at sensitive locations, develop community-based counter-radicalization programs.

This table consolidates the data into a structured format, allowing for an easier understanding of the complex dynamics at play and facilitating discussions on countermeasures and policy implementations.

Anti-Election Propaganda and Terrorism: A Dual Threat to Democracy

As Pakistan geared up for its general elections in early 2023, a surge in militant activity became noticeably apparent. Various terrorist organizations, including the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), and the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), launched a coordinated campaign against the electoral process. Their strategy was multifaceted, leveraging both digital and traditional media to spread their anti-democratic messages.

The Digital and Physical Manifestations of Propaganda

The ISKP, known for its ruthless tactics and extremist ideologies, took a prominent role in the anti-election campaign. By August 2023, the group had published a 27-page booklet titled ‘Proofs of Disbelief in Elections’ through its media wing, Al-Azaim Foundation for Media Productions and Communications. Distributed on platforms like Rocket.Chat and X (formerly Twitter), the booklet aimed to dissuade participation by painting the electoral process as antithetical to Islamic principles.

This digital dissemination was complemented by physical acts of propaganda. Across cities in Pakistan, ISKP sympathizers plastered walls with posters urging a boycott of the elections. These messages were not limited to urban centers; rural areas also saw a proliferation of graffiti and flyers, predominantly in Pashto, Urdu, and Balochi, signaling a targeted campaign to reach a diverse linguistic audience.

Simultaneously, the BLA and BLF, both advocating for the secession of Balochistan from Pakistan, focused their efforts on disrupting the electoral proceedings through direct threats and calls for boycotts. Their involvement in the Baloch Raji Ajoi Sanghar (BRAS) alliance, formed in 2018, underscored a unified separatist front against the perceived imposition of Pakistani governance through parliamentary means.

Escalating Violence as Elections Approached

The propaganda efforts of these groups were a prelude to more sinister activities as the election drew nearer. On July 30, 2023, a devastating suicide bombing orchestrated by the ISKP targeted a political convention of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) in Bajaur, killing 56 individuals. The choice of target was indicative of the complex interplay of ideological and political rivalries, with JUI-F’s affiliations with the Afghan Taliban drawing particular ire from the ISKP.

Other political entities were not spared. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) suffered a bomb attack during a rally in Sibi, Balochistan, which resulted in casualties and underscored the omnipresent threat of violence. The election period also witnessed the assassination of Rehan Zeb, an independent candidate, further exacerbating the climate of fear.

Election Day: A Culmination of Fears

The actual day of voting on February 2023, was marked by widespread violence and interference. Despite heightened security measures, including the temporary suspension of internet services in sensitive areas, terrorist groups executed numerous attacks across the country. In Balochistan alone, the BLA claimed responsibility for 43 attacks, significantly disrupting the electoral process.

The repercussions were immediately evident. Voter turnout plummeted to 47.6%, a stark decline from the 52.1% recorded in 2018. This decrease was not merely a statistic but a tangible manifestation of the terror and uncertainty that had gripped the electorate. The pervasive attacks and the resultant low turnout highlighted the efficacy of terrorist strategies in sowing discord and distrust towards the electoral process.

Strengthening Democracy Against Terrorist Exploitation

The events surrounding Pakistan’s recent elections present a grim reminder of the challenges facing fragile democracies in maintaining the sanctity of their electoral processes. The dual threats of propaganda and physical violence by terrorist organizations not only jeopardize the immediate safety of the populace but also pose long-term challenges to democratic stability and governance.

To counter these threats, a multipronged approach is essential. Enhanced security measures, rigorous monitoring of both physical and digital spaces, and international cooperation are critical components. Additionally, addressing the socio-economic grievances that often fuel support for terrorist groups can diminish their influence and disrupt their recruitment pipelines.

Image: ISKP’s Al-Azaim media released a Pashto magazine aiming to discredit Pakistan’s general elections.

Image: ISKP’s poster on a wall in Bajaur tribal district threatening to carry out attacks on election targets.

Image : BLF’s graffiti on a wall urging the Baloch people to boycott elections.

Targeted Shadows: India’s Alleged Extrajudicial Campaign in Pakistan

In an unsettling revelation that marks a potential escalation in regional hostilities, allegations have surfaced suggesting that the Indian government has orchestrated up to 20 assassinations in Pakistan since 2020. These claims come amidst wider accusations, including those from Canada, asserting Delhi’s role in the murders of dissidents abroad. This detailed examination delves into the operations and implications of India’s alleged actions, based on interviews with intelligence officials and documents shared by Pakistani investigators.

Overview of Allegations

According to both Indian and Pakistani intelligence operatives, India’s foreign intelligence agency, the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), directly controlled by the office of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, began executing assassinations abroad as a strategic component of its national security policy post-2019. The timing coincides with Modi’s campaign for a third term, suggesting a possible link between these external operations and internal political dynamics.

Operations and Tactics

The Guardian reports that the alleged assassinations were executed by unknown gunmen and mostly targeted individuals associated with terrorism residing in Pakistan. These claims are substantiated by detailed documentation, including witness testimonies, financial records, and communication intercepts, which outline RAW’s direct involvement. Notably, the increase in these killings in 2023 has been linked to the activation of Indian intelligence sleeper cells, primarily based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Trigger Event

The strategic shift in RAW’s operational focus is reported to have been catalyzed by the Pulwama attack in 2019, where a suicide bomber killed 40 Indian paramilitary personnel. This event profoundly impacted India’s counter-terrorism strategy, pivoting towards preemptive strikes on perceived threats abroad, particularly in Pakistan, to “get to the source” of the terror threats.

International Comparisons

The operations draw uncomfortable parallels with practices by other nations known for extrajudicial actions abroad, such as Israel’s Mossad and Russia’s KGB. Discussions within RAW, following the global fallout over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents, reportedly influenced the Indian approach, with some officials advocating a similarly assertive stance.

Counterclaims and Denials

India’s Ministry of External Affairs has categorically denied these allegations, labeling them as “false and malicious anti-India propaganda.” This stance was reiterated by India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who emphasized that such targeted killings do not align with government policy.

Target Profiles and Operations in Detail

Notable among the alleged targets was Zahid Akhund, a pseudonym for a convicted Kashmiri terrorist. In one detailed account, a RAW handler is said to have orchestrated Akhund’s assassination by engaging with him under the guise of a journalistic inquiry before coordinating his murder through Afghan nationals.

Financial and Logistical Aspects

The operations are described as being financially and logistically complex, with significant funds transferred through Dubai to pay local criminals or impoverished Pakistanis to carry out these hits. Sleeper cells in the UAE played a pivotal role in planning and executing these assassinations.

Political and Strategic Implications

These developments have significant implications for Indo-Pak relations, which are already strained by historical conflicts and ongoing disputes over Kashmir. The allegations, if proven true, could potentially escalate tensions further and affect India’s diplomatic relations globally, particularly with countries like the USA and Canada, which have taken a strong stance against extrajudicial killings.

Reactions and Regional Security Dynamics

The response from the international community has been cautious, with countries weighing the geopolitical and strategic implications of these allegations. The accusations could potentially influence the security dynamics in South Asia, prompting regional powers and global stakeholders to reassess their strategies and alliances.

The alleged extrajudicial killings by India in Pakistan, if substantiated, represent a severe and concerning development in regional security. They reflect a potentially drastic shift in policy that could have long-lasting repercussions for South Asia’s stability and for India’s position on the global stage. As the international community continues to scrutinize these claims, the need for transparent investigations and accountability remains critical in preventing further escalation and ensuring justice and stability in the region.

Pakistan’s Ascent to the Stars: A Comprehensive Overview of the National Space Program

Pakistan’s journey into the cosmos is a testament to the visionary ideals of its founding fathers, aimed at exploring and harnessing the vast expanse of space for national development and security. The Pakistan Space & Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), established in the early 1960s, has evolved significantly, reflecting the country’s increasing reliance on space technology and its applications. This detailed account explores the history, current initiatives, and future trajectory of Pakistan’s space endeavors.

The Genesis and Evolution of SUPARCO

The inception of SUPARCO dates back to 1961, shortly after the epoch-making launch of Sputnik-1 by the Soviet Union in 1957. Inspired by these global advancements, Dr. Abdus Salam, a Nobel Laureate and the then scientific advisor to the President of Pakistan, advocated for the establishment of a national body to coordinate space research. Initially formed as a committee, SUPARCO was tasked with conducting scientific studies of the upper atmosphere using sounding rockets. This initiative bore fruit in 1962 when Pakistan launched its first sounding rocket, Rehbar-1, making it the third Asian nation and the tenth worldwide to achieve such a feat. This early success underscored the foresight of Pakistan’s leadership in pursuing space research as a strategic goal.

In 1981, SUPARCO was elevated to the status of a commission, broadening its mandate to include more comprehensive research and development in space science. This expansion was not just in scope but also in the technological sophistication of its projects. The 1980s and 1990s saw SUPARCO undertake ambitious projects, such as the development and launch of Pakistan’s first indigenous satellites, Badr-1 in 1990 and Badr-B in 2001. These were pivotal in setting the foundation for more advanced endeavors, such as the launch of the communication satellite PAKSAT-1R in 2011 and the remote sensing satellites PRSS-1 and PAKTES-1A in 2018.

National Space Policy: Framework for the Future

The formulation of the National Space Policy by the Government of Pakistan marks a significant milestone in the country’s space program. It is designed to maximize the benefits derived from space technology across various sectors of the economy. This policy is not only about enhancing technological capabilities but also about integrating these advancements into the broader socio-economic framework of the country.

The National Space Policy encompasses all aspects of space activities, including civil, commercial, and national security dimensions. It aims to ensure that space technology is a central element in achieving Pakistan’s National Vision and the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. Critical to this vision is the policy’s flexibility, which allows for periodic updates to keep pace with both national and international developments in space technology.

Integration of Space Technology in National Development

One of the most forward-looking aspects of the National Space Policy is its directive to the Planning Commission of Pakistan to incorporate space technology in all facets of national development. This directive spans numerous sectors, including agriculture, urban planning, mineral exploration, and water and power management. By leveraging satellite data and space-based applications, Pakistan aims to enhance governance, improve efficiency, promote transparency, and reduce operational costs.

This integration strategy is evident in the national five-year plans, where space technology plays a pivotal role in project implementation and resource exploitation. The focus is on creating a synergy between space technology applications and national development objectives, thereby ensuring that the benefits of space technology permeate all levels of the economy.

Rationalizing National Space Policy in Pakistan

As the regional power dynamics evolve with India’s expanding space capabilities, Pakistan faces pressing imperatives to formulate and implement a coherent national space policy. Such a policy would not only address immediate national security concerns but also position Pakistan to responsibly engage with the burgeoning domain of outer space activities. The urgency for this strategic recalibration stems from several key concerns directly influenced by developments in India’s space program.

Addressing the Diplomatic Influence of India’s Space Achievements

India’s advancements in space technology have significantly boosted its diplomatic stature on the global stage, allowing it to forge strategic partnerships and collaborations. This growing influence poses a strategic challenge to Pakistan, which finds itself geopolitically and technologically isolated in the context of space capabilities. A robust Pakistani space policy would help articulate a clear stance and strategy, enabling Pakistan to engage more effectively with international space forums and potentially mitigate India’s diplomatic advantages.

Dual Use of Space Technology: A Security Paradigm

The shift in India’s space endeavors towards dual-use technologies, particularly those that enhance military capabilities such as the ASAT systems, represents a direct strategic challenge to Pakistan. The development of such technologies underscores the militarization of space and introduces new elements of strategic instability. By crafting a national space policy, Pakistan can prioritize the development of similar capabilities or defensive countermeasures, ensuring that it remains secure in a rapidly changing space security environment.

International Obligations and Space Governance

The third pivotal concern for Pakistan is the international aspect of space activities. With the increasing prevalence of space operations, the international community is intensifying its focus on the governance of space activities, including issues of space debris, weaponization of space, and the peaceful use of outer space. Pakistan’s engagement in space without a coherent policy might lead to international censure or diplomatic difficulties, especially in incidents like India’s ASAT test which have broader implications for global space governance.

By establishing a clear and comprehensive national space policy, Pakistan can address these concerns effectively. This policy should not only focus on developing indigenous space capabilities but also on crafting diplomatic and legal strategies to engage with the global space community. Such a policy would enhance Pakistan’s stature and influence in international forums, ensure compliance with international space laws, and promote responsible behavior in the space domain.

Strategic Steps for Policy Implementation

  • Capacity Building: Invest in space technology education and infrastructure to nurture domestic expertise and innovation in the space sector.
  • International Collaboration: While maintaining strategic ties with China, Pakistan should also explore new partnerships that can offer technological and diplomatic benefits in the space arena.
  • Regulatory Framework: Develop a regulatory framework that aligns with international norms and protects national interests, focusing on sustainability and peaceful use of outer space.
  • Public and Private Partnership: Encourage the involvement of private sectors in space technology to foster innovation, reduce costs, and accelerate the development of space capabilities.

Military Use of Indian Space Activities: Strategic Implications and Regional Security Concerns

In the complex domain of international security, the utilization of space technology for military purposes represents a significant evolution in strategic capabilities. India, as an emerging space power, has increasingly focused on the development and deployment of space assets to enhance its military effectiveness and strategic reach. This development has considerable implications for regional security, particularly concerning India’s relationship with Pakistan.

India’s Strategic Space Capabilities

India’s foray into the militarization of space has been marked by substantial advancements in satellite technology and associated infrastructure. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), in collaboration with the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), has effectively deployed a constellation of satellites serving various strategic military functions. As of the latest updates, at least 15 satellites are designated for exclusive military use. These satellites provide critical capabilities in areas such as border surveillance, naval navigation, and secure military communications.

Satellite Deployment and Military Utility

  • Border Surveillance: Satellites such as RISAT-1 and the SAT-2 series have been pivotal for India’s border security operations. These high-resolution satellites enhance India’s capability to monitor border activities, manage infiltration attempts, and maintain situational awareness along its extensive land borders.
  • Naval Navigation and Maritime Security: The Indian Navy utilizes satellites like GSAT-7A to improve its operational communication and navigation capabilities across the Indian Ocean region. Such assets are crucial for the navy’s blue-water operations and maritime domain awareness, enabling effective control over India’s maritime approaches.
  • Advanced Communication Networks: The Indian Air Force benefits from satellites like GSAT-9, which provide secure and robust communication channels. These systems are vital for the coordination of aerial operations and real-time data relay across vast distances, enhancing the operational effectiveness of the air force.

Targeted Surveillance: The Cartosat Series

The Cartosat series of satellites, particularly tasked with monitoring activities along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), underscores the targeted nature of India’s space-based surveillance. These satellites offer high-resolution imagery that is critical for India to keep a watchful eye on economic and military developments between its two strategic adversaries, Pakistan and China.

The ASAT Weapon Development

A significant turning point in India’s military space strategy was its successful Anti-Satellite (ASAT) missile test conducted on March 27, 2019. Named ‘Mission Shakti’, this test demonstrated India’s capability to kinetically kill satellites in orbit, marking a dramatic shift in its space policy.

Mission Shakti: Implications

The successful test of the ASAT missile not only provided India with a strategic counter-space capability but also signaled its readiness to engage in space deterrence. The test involved striking a live satellite in a Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which resulted in the creation of about 400 pieces of debris, raising concerns about space sustainability and the safety of other space assets.

International and Regional Reactions

The international response to India’s ASAT test was mixed. While the United States and some other countries did not formally condemn the test, it sparked significant reactions from China and Pakistan, both emphasizing the need to prevent the weaponization of space. This incident further strained India’s already tense relations with Pakistan, which perceives India’s enhanced military capabilities as a direct threat to its national security.

Pakistan’s Countermeasures and Dependency on China

Pakistan’s capability in space technology significantly lags behind India’s, both in terms of quality and quantity of satellites. The existing Pakistani satellites offer limited military utility, and in the absence of a robust indigenous space program, Pakistan relies heavily on its strategic partnership with China. China’s advanced satellite technology and its willingness to support Pakistan underline the strategic dependency that Pakistan has towards China in balancing India’s space-faring ambitions.

Strategic Recalibrations Required

The increasing capabilities of India in the realm of military space operations necessitate a significant recalibration of Pakistan’s policy and strategic orientation towards space. The dependency on China, while beneficial, does not substitute for the need for Pakistan to develop its own comprehensive space capabilities to ensure national security and regional stability.

India’s dynamic expansion into military space technologies fundamentally alters the strategic landscape of South Asia. The developments discussed herein not only enhance India’s defensive and offensive capabilities but also complicate the regional security paradigm, pushing Pakistan to seek new measures in a rapidly evolving arena of space-based warfare.

The Evolution and Strategic Dimensions of India’s Space Program

The development of space technology in India, compared to its counterpart China, presents a compelling narrative of ambition, innovation, and strategic foresight. India’s journey into space began modestly yet with significant foresight during the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957–1958, an era that marked the beginning of the Space Age with the launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union. India’s participation in IGY under the guidance of pioneering scientists like Vikram Sarabhai set the stage for the establishment of the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) in 1962, followed by the launching of the first Nike-Apache sounding rocket from the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) in 1963.

Foundational Steps: The Genesis of India’s Space Endeavors

The formation of INCOSPAR and the subsequent initiation of rocket launches from TERLS represent more than just technological milestones; they signify a visionary leap inspired by the global scientific movement of the time. The commitment to leveraging space technology for national development was evident early on, led by Dr. Vikram Sarabhai’s belief in the potential of space technologies to advance societal goals. This vision was in congruence with then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s emphasis on science and technology as instruments of modernization and national building.

Developmental Focus: Space Technology for National Growth

From the outset, India’s space program uniquely emphasized the civilian and developmental uses of space technology, distinguishing it from many other nations where space efforts were often driven by military and strategic imperatives. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), established in 1969, took this ethos forward by focusing on applications in communications, meteorology, and remote sensing. The launch of the Indian National Satellite (INSAT) system in 1983 and the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellite program in 1988 were pivotal in this regard, enhancing capabilities in tele-education, telemedicine, disaster management, resource monitoring, and more.

A Shift Towards Exploration: Achievements in Lunar and Martian Missions

The narrative of India’s space program took a dramatic turn with its foray into space exploration. The successful launch of Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 marked India’s entry into lunar exploration, laying the groundwork for more ambitious missions such as the Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan) in 2013, which positioned India as the first Asian nation to reach Martian orbit. These missions not only underscored India’s growing technological prowess but also reflected a broader shift towards harnessing space exploration as a symbol of national prestige and technological independence.

Military Dimensions: Enhancing Strategic Capabilities

While maintaining its focus on development-oriented applications, recent years have seen a significant pivot in India’s space program towards enhancing its strategic and military capabilities. This shift is evidenced by the articulation of space power in the 2017 Joint Doctrine of the Indian Armed Forces, which highlights the importance of space as a domain for future military operations. The development of anti-satellite (ASAT) capabilities, demonstrated by the successful ASAT test in March 2019, further signifies India’s intent to secure its space assets and enhance its military capabilities.

Organizational and International Collaborations

The evolution of India’s space program is also marked by significant organizational developments aimed at integrating space capabilities across the military spectrum. The establishment of the Integrated Space Cell and the tri-service Defense Space Agency (DSA) are steps toward operationalizing India’s space assets for defense purposes. Moreover, strategic partnerships, like the agreement with the United States for accessing high-quality satellite data, underscore the program’s international dimension, enhancing the accuracy of India’s missile systems and other strategic assets.

Project NETRA and Future Trajectories

Looking ahead, initiatives such as Project NETRA (Network for Space Objects, Tracking, and Analysis) highlight India’s proactive measures in space situational awareness. These efforts are crucial for protecting India’s space infrastructure and maintaining operational readiness in an increasingly contested outer space environment.

A New Era in Space: The Pakistan-China Partnership and Its Impact on Regional Connectivity and Development

The strategic partnership between Pakistan and China in the field of space technology has marked a significant milestone in Pakistan’s aspirations to become a major player in the global space arena. This collaboration has led to several successful satellite launches, which are pivotal in enhancing communication, remote sensing capabilities, and overall technological advancement in the region. This detailed exploration delves into the specifics of these projects, their broader implications, and the vision that propels Pakistan towards achieving self-reliance in space technology by 2040.

The Genesis of the Pak-China Space Cooperation

The collaboration between Pakistan and China in space technology commenced with the agreement to manufacture Pakistan’s first communications satellite, Paksat-1R. This agreement was formalized in March 2009 between Pakistan’s Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) and the China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC). The partnership was a strategic move, aligning with Pakistan’s broader goals of enhancing its communication infrastructure and expanding its space capabilities.

Launch and Capabilities of Paksat-1R

Paksat-1R was launched on August 11, 2011, from China’s Xichang Satellite Launch Center. This satellite was designed to provide a range of services including broadband internet, digital television, and tele-education, covering not only Pakistan but also extending its reach to South and Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and East Africa. The satellite plays a crucial role in bridging communication gaps and enhancing the accessibility of information and technology across these regions.

Establishment of Satellite Ground Stations

Integral to the success of Paksat-1R was the establishment of Satellite Ground Stations (SGS) in Pakistan, which was also facilitated by China. These ground stations are critical in managing the operations of the satellite, ensuring the effective delivery of services to the designated regions. The infrastructure supports the command and control, data reception, and processing of satellite operations, making it a cornerstone of Pakistan’s growing space technology apparatus.

Advancing Remote Sensing Capabilities: PRSS-1 and PakTES-1A

In addition to communication satellites, the partnership also emphasized the development of Pakistan’s remote sensing capabilities. On April 20, 2016, SUPARCO and CGWIC signed a contract for the development and launch of the Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite (PRSS-1) System. The significance of PRSS-1 lies in its ability to provide critical data for various applications including agriculture, climate monitoring, urban planning, and disaster management.

Launch of PRSS-1 and PakTES-1A

The PRSS-1, along with the Pakistan Technology Evaluation Satellite-1A (PakTES-1A), was launched on July 9, 2018, from China’s Jiuquan Satellite Centre. Notably, PakTES-1A was indigenously designed and developed by engineers at SUPARCO, showcasing the growing technical expertise within Pakistan’s space sector. The dual launch not only demonstrated the technical collaboration between Pakistan and China but also marked a significant achievement in Pakistan’s capacity to utilize space technology for earth observation and technological evaluation.

Space Vision-2047: Elevating Pakistan’s Ambitions to New Heights

In the vast arena of global space exploration, Pakistan has steadily emerged as a key player, demonstrating a resolute commitment to harnessing the power of space technology for national development. Space Vision-2047, a forward-looking initiative, reflects Pakistan’s long-term strategy to integrate space technology into its developmental plans, addressing critical issues such as climate change, disaster management, and water scarcity. This extensive analysis delves into the milestones of the program, its current applications, and its strategic significance for Pakistan’s future.

The Genesis of Space Vision-2047

The foundation of Space Vision-2047 was laid during the nineteenth meeting of the National Command Authority (NCA) in July 2014, under the leadership of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Initially dubbed the National Space Program 2040, the initiative was later renamed to commemorate the centennial of Pakistan’s independence, thereby embedding a deeper nationalistic and strategic importance into the program. The renaming to Space Vision-2047 not only extended the timeline but also expanded the scope of the ambitions set forth by Pakistan in the realm of space exploration and technology application.

Achievements Under the Space Vision-2047

Since its inception, Space Vision-2047 has catalyzed significant advancements in Pakistan’s space capabilities. Some of the key milestones include:

Development of Solid-Fuel Rockets

Pakistan has made substantial progress in the development of solid-fuel rockets, which are crucial for a range of applications from satellite launches to strategic defense capabilities. These advancements signify Pakistan’s growing expertise and self-reliance in rocket technology.

Launch of Communication and Remote Sensing Satellites

The program has successfully launched several satellites, including geostationary orbit communication satellites and low-Earth orbit experimental satellites. These satellites play vital roles in enhancing Pakistan’s capabilities in communication, earth observation, and scientific research.

Applications in Key Sectors

Space Vision-2047 has been instrumental in leveraging space technology for practical applications across various sectors such as agriculture, disaster management, and water resource management. The use of satellite data has become a cornerstone in addressing some of Pakistan’s most pressing challenges including environmental monitoring, mapping, and disaster response.

Tackling Environmental and Natural Challenges

One of the critical areas where Space Vision-2047 has demonstrated substantial impact is in the management of environmental and natural disasters:

Climate Change and Disaster Response

Pakistan, being particularly vulnerable to climate change, faces severe risks of droughts, famine, and extreme weather events. The program has emphasized the development of remote sensing satellites that provide vital data for monitoring weather patterns and enhancing the country’s disaster response capabilities.

Locust Invasion Response

In January 2020, Pakistan declared a national emergency due to a severe locust invasion. SUPARCO, along with the Space Application Centre for Response in Emergency and Disasters and the UN-SPIDER Regional Support Office, utilized satellite imagery to effectively identify locust habitats and assist in the coordination of mitigation efforts.

Water Scarcity Issues

With predictions of becoming water-scarce by 2025, Pakistan faces significant challenges in water management. The anticipated launch of PAKSAT MMI-38 in 2024 is set to enhance capabilities in monitoring and managing water resources, thus aiding in addressing the imminent threats of water scarcity.

Economic Implications and Strategic Autonomy

Despite these advancements, Pakistan’s dependency on foreign satellites and technologies, particularly from China, poses a significant economic and strategic challenge. Currently, Pakistan spends approximately $35-45 million annually to access foreign satellite services. This dependency underscores the critical need for Pakistan to bolster its domestic space research and satellite development to reduce reliance on foreign technology and to retain more of its spending within the national economy.

Astronautic Ambitions and Beyond

Highlighting the ambitious nature of the Space Program 2040, Pakistan announced plans on October 25, 2018, to send its first astronaut into space by 2022, with assistance from China. This endeavor is not just a milestone in human spaceflight for Pakistan but also a strategic move to foster technological transfer and expertise in human space exploration.

The strategic partnership between Pakistan and China in space technology has yielded substantial dividends for Pakistan, significantly advancing its capabilities in communications and remote sensing. These developments are not just technological achievements but are also critical in addressing a range of socio-economic challenges through improved connectivity and data-driven decision-making. As Pakistan continues on its path towards self-reliance by 2040, the foundation laid by these initial projects and the ongoing collaboration with China will undoubtedly play a crucial role in shaping the future of Pakistan’s space endeavors, potentially transforming it into a significant player in the global space community.


APPENDIX 1 – Digital 2024: The State of Digital Trends and Behaviors in Pakistan

As we delve into the digital landscape of Pakistan in 2024, it is evident that the country is experiencing a transformative digital era. The acceleration in digital adoption is reshaping how the populace interacts with technology, impacting social behaviors, economic opportunities, and even the educational sector. This comprehensive analysis aims to explore various facets of digital trends in Pakistan, providing a snapshot of internet usage, mobile connectivity, social media dynamics, and the implications of digital growth on the broader societal framework.

Demographic Overview

Pakistan’s population stood at 242.8 million in January 2024, marking a 2.0 percent increase from the previous year. The demographic breakdown reveals a youthful population with a median age of 20.7 years, indicative of a potentially tech-savvy generation poised to drive the future digital economy. The gender distribution is nearly balanced with 49.6 percent female and 50.4 percent male. Interestingly, a significant portion of the population, 61.8 percent, resides in rural areas, which presents both challenges and opportunities for digital penetration.

Internet Penetration and Usage

In early 2024, Pakistan reported 111.0 million internet users, equating to a 45.7 percent penetration rate. This represents a substantial 27.1 percent increase in internet users over the past year. Despite this growth, a significant portion of the population, approximately 54.3 percent, remains offline, highlighting a digital divide that needs bridging.

Mobile Connectivity

The total number of mobile connections in early 2024 was 188.9 million, covering 77.8 percent of the population. This indicates a high level of mobile penetration, which serves as the backbone for internet access across the country. However, there was a slight decline of 1.8 percent in mobile connections compared to the previous year, suggesting market saturation or economic factors influencing mobile subscriptions.

Social Media Usage

Social media usage has become a critical indicator of digital engagement in Pakistan. As of January 2024, there were 71.70 million social media users, accounting for 29.5 percent of the total population. The demographic data shows a predominance of male users (74.1 percent) compared to female users (25.9 percent), reflecting gender disparities in digital access. The data also reveals that a considerable portion of the internet user base, 64.6 percent, engages with social media platforms.

Platform-Specific Insights

  • Facebook: In early 2024, Facebook’s potential advertising reach was 44.50 million users in Pakistan. The platform’s growth reflects a 19.3 percent increase year-over-year, demonstrating its continued relevance in the social media landscape.
  • YouTube: YouTube maintained a steady user base, with an ad reach equating to 29.5 percent of the total population. The platform is a popular choice for both entertainment and educational content.
  • Instagram: Instagram showed significant growth, with a user base of 17.30 million in early 2024, marking a 33.6 percent increase from the previous year. This growth highlights the platform’s rising popularity, especially among younger demographics.
  • TikTok: TikTok’s dramatic growth continues, with its ad reach increasing by 229 percent year-over-year. This platform appeals particularly to the younger audience and is reshaping content consumption patterns in Pakistan.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn’s presence also grew, with a user base increase of 29.0 percent, reaching 12.00 million members by early 2024. This platform is crucial for professional networking and career development.
  • Snapchat: Snapchat reached 30.21 million users, reflecting a 17.5 percent growth. Its visual and ephemeral content continues to attract a young audience.

Challenges and Opportunities

While the digital landscape in Pakistan is evolving rapidly, several challenges persist, including digital literacy, infrastructure disparities, and gender digital divide. However, these challenges also present opportunities for policymakers, businesses, and civil society to collaborate on initiatives that promote inclusive digital growth.

The state of digital in Pakistan in 2024 is one of dynamic change and significant potential. As digital technologies become increasingly integrated into everyday life, understanding these trends is crucial for stakeholders across all sectors. Continued investment in digital infrastructure, along with targeted initiatives to overcome the digital divide, will be key to harnessing the full potential of Pakistan’s digital future.


APPENDIX 2  – The Eclectic Approach to Understanding China’s 2007 ASAT Test: Strategic Imperatives and Broader Implications

On January 11, 2007, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China marked a significant milestone by conducting a successful Anti-Satellite (ASAT) test. The test involved a direct-ascent kinetic kill vehicle launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, which successfully destroyed the defunct FengYun-1C (FY-1C) Chinese weather satellite. This event positioned China as the third nation capable of conducting such a test, following the United States and the Soviet Union. However, the test was not just a demonstration of China’s growing technological capabilities; it also sparked considerable international debate due to its paradoxical nature relative to China’s stated positions on space weaponization, as well as the substantial amount of space debris it generated.

Strategic Rationale: Countering U.S. Space Superiority

From a strategic perspective, analysts like Tellis argue that China’s decision to conduct the 2007 ASAT test was driven by the necessity to counterbalance the United States’ military space superiority. This approach is rooted in offensive realism which posits that great powers are perpetually in a struggle for power and security. The growing dependence of the United States on space-based assets, which are integral to its military operations, presents a potential vulnerability—often referred to as the “Achilles Heel.” In the context of escalating tensions over regions like Taiwan, the capability to disrupt or destroy space-based assets provides a significant asymmetric advantage to China.

Deterrence and the Space Arms Race

Another dimension to understanding China’s motivations comes from analysts Lieggi and Quam, who suggest that the development of counterspace capabilities by China serves as a deterrent against potential offensive actions by the United States. This perspective is framed within the broader discourse of preventing a space arms race. At the time, the administration under President George W. Bush was perceived to be moving towards further weaponization of space, including plans for space-based missile defense systems which could potentially undermine China’s nuclear deterrent. This perception fostered a security dilemma, where actions taken by one state to enhance its security cause reactions from other states, which, in turn, lead to a cycle of tensions and hostility.

Internal Dynamics and Decision-Making

The ASAT test also highlighted complexities within China’s internal decision-making processes. The delayed acknowledgment of the test by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs raised questions about the level of coordination and approval within China’s bureaucratic and military structures. This scenario hints at possible factionalism between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the PLA, or at the very least, a lack of communication. Further, the incident underscored ongoing challenges in civil-military relations during Hu Jintao’s tenure as Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), suggesting that while the PLA was not entirely rogue, it operated with a degree of autonomy from civilian oversight that was substantial yet not absolute.

Technological Maturity and Organizational Interests

Kulacki and Lewis provide a different lens, focusing on the technological maturity of the ASAT program, which had been in development since the mid-1980s. This perspective suggests that the decision to conduct the test was driven as much by internal pressures to demonstrate technological achievements as by strategic considerations. Moreover, high-profile military space capabilities, such as ASATs, are not only strategic assets but also tools for enhancing the prestige of the military and its leaders within the national and party hierarchy.

National Identity and Prestige

The test is also reflective of broader themes of national identity and prestige. ASAT capabilities serve as symbols of modernity and technological advancement, reinforcing China’s status as a major world power. This is particularly poignant in the context of the CCP’s use of space achievements to bolster national unity and legitimacy.

In conclusion, China’s 2007 ASAT test serves as a complex case study that intertwines elements of strategic necessity, internal bureaucratic dynamics, and the broader implications of space technology on national security and identity. An eclectic approach to analyzing such incidents provides a multi-faceted understanding of the motivations and implications of actions in the increasingly contested domain of space. This approach not only elucidates the specific case of China but also offers insights that could be applicable to similar actions by other nations, notably India, as it advances its own space capabilities.


APPENDIX 3  – The Case of India’s 2019 ASAT Test

On March 27, 2019, India marked its entry into the elite group of nations capable of conducting anti-satellite (ASAT) warfare by successfully intercepting a low Earth orbit satellite using the Prithvi Defence Vehicle Mark-II (PDV MK-II). Launched from the Kalam Island missile complex, the interceptor targeted the Microsat-R, a military satellite manufactured by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and previously placed in orbit by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in January 2019. This mission, named Mission Shakti, confirmed India as the fourth nation to achieve this capability, following the United States, Russia, and China.

The ASAT test was significant not only for its demonstration of India’s burgeoning space capabilities but also for its political underpinnings and implications. It was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an unprecedented live television broadcast, where he declared the mission a substantial national achievement that underscored India’s newfound status as a “global space power.” According to Modi, the initiative was driven by the imperative to bolster national security and technological progress, emphasizing that the test was not aimed at any other nation. This statement aimed to mitigate international concerns, particularly by clarifying that the test occurred at a sufficiently low altitude (283 km) to ensure any resultant space debris would re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere shortly, thereby not posing a prolonged risk to other space assets.

The Global and Regional Context

India’s ASAT test did not occur in a vacuum but was a response to evolving regional security dynamics, particularly with China. The test was widely viewed as a strategic move to counterbalance China’s growing military capabilities in space, highlighted by its own ASAT test in 2007. Former Indian Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal noted that the development of ASAT technology serves as a deterrent, helping to “redress the India-China strategic balance.” The Indian military and DRDO had expressed interest in such capabilities long before Mission Shakti, indicating a strategic shift towards the militarization of space in response to Chinese advancements.

Furthermore, the test reflected the complex security trilemma in South Asia, involving India, China, and Pakistan. The evolving security landscape, marked by India’s concerns over Chinese and Pakistani capabilities, has driven India to pursue advanced technological thresholds to ensure its strategic autonomy and security.

Domestic Politics and Bureaucratic Influences

Beyond the international and regional implications, domestic factors also played a crucial role in the timing and execution of Mission Shakti. The decision to proceed with the ASAT test was closely tied to the domestic political climate in India, particularly with the impending general elections in 2019. Critics argued that Prime Minister Modi utilized the test to galvanize nationalist sentiment and bolster his electoral prospects amidst heightened national security concerns, especially following increased tensions with Pakistan.

Additionally, the role of India’s bureaucratic agencies, particularly the DRDO and ISRO, was instrumental. These organizations have historically pursued technological advancements to strengthen India’s defense and space capabilities, often pushing the political envelope to sanction ambitious projects. Reports suggest that the DRDO had developed the necessary technology for the ASAT test as early as 2012, but awaited political approval, which came with Modi’s administration.

National Identity and International Norms

Mission Shakti also intersected with India’s broader national identity and its quest for international prestige. India has consistently sought to project itself as a modern, technologically advanced nation, capable of indigenous high-tech achievements. This pursuit aligns with its post-colonial narrative and civilizational heritage, which seeks recognition and respect on the global stage.

In conducting the ASAT test, India also aimed to position itself as a responsible space-faring nation. Despite the inherent risks associated with space debris, the test was designed to minimize long-term debris, reflecting an awareness of the broader implications for space safety and sustainability.

Strategic Implications and Future Prospects

The successful completion of Mission Shakti has significant implications for international security, especially in the realm of space. It signals a shift towards the potential weaponization of space and highlights the necessity for international dialogue and regulation to address the challenges posed by such capabilities. For India, the test is not merely about technological prowess but also about securing a seat at the table in future international negotiations on space security and ASAT regulations.

In conclusion, India’s 2019 ASAT test, while a technological triumph, encapsulates the multifaceted dynamics of national security, political strategy, and international diplomacy. As India continues to navigate its path as a major space and military power, its strategies will likely influence global norms and the future of outer space activities.


APPENDIX 4 – Pakistan  – Terrorist, insurgent and extremist groups

Pakistan  – Terrorist, insurgent and extremist groups
Proscribed Terrorist/Extremist  GroupsActive Terrorist/Insurgent GroupsInactive Terrorist/Insurgent Groups
Sipah-e- Sahaba Pakistan (SSP)Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)Lashkar-e- Omar (LeO)
Tehreek-e- Nafaz-e- Shariat-e- Mohammadi (TNSM)Hizb-ul- Mujahideen (HM)Jamaat-ul- Fuqra
Lashkar-e- Jhangvi (LeJ)Harkat-ul- Ansar (HuA, presently known as Harkat-ul Mujahideen)Nadeem Commando
Sipah-e- Muhammad Pakistan (SMP)Harkat-ul Mujahideen (HuM, previously known as Harkat- ul-Ansar)Popular Front for Armed Resistance
Tehreek-e- Jaferia Pakistan (TJP)Al BadrMuslim United Army
Lashkar-e- Toiba (LeT)Jamait-ul- Mujahideen (JuM)Harkat-ul- Mujahideen Al-alami (HuMA)
Jaish-e- Mohammad Mujahideen E-TanzeemLashkar-e- Jabbar (LeJ)Al Jehad
Rabita TrustHarkat-ul- Jehad-al- Islami (HUJI)Ummah Tamir-e- Nau
Al-Rashid TrustMuttahida Jehad Council (MJC)Islami Inquilabi Mahaz
Tehrik-e- Jehad-e- IslamiAl BarqAl Mustafa Liberation Fighters
Tehrik-e- Nifaz-e- Fiqar JafariaTehrik-ul- MujahideenAhrar-ul-Hind (AH)
Islamic State/Islamic State of Iraq and Levant /Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/Daish (ISIS)Jammu & Kashmir National Liberation ArmyAnsarul Islam (AI)
Al QaedaPeople’s LeagueLashkar-e-Balochistan (LeB)
Abdullah Azam BrigadeMuslim Janbaz ForceSindhudesh Liberation Army (SLA)
Al QaidaKashmir Jehad ForceSunni Tehreek (ST)
Al Rahmah Welfare Trust OrganizationAl Jehad Force (combines Muslim Janbaz Force and Kashmir Jehad FGhazi Force (GF)
Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) Ex-SSPAl Umar MujahideenAfghan Taliban United
Al Harmain FoundationMahaz-e- AzadiMuslim Mujahideen
Amar bil Maroof Wa Nahi Anil Munkir (Haji Namdaar Group)Islami Jamaat-e- TulbaMuslim United Army
Anjuman-e- Imamia Gilgit BaltistanJammu & Kashmir Students Liberation FrontNadeem Commando
Ansar-ul-lslamIkhwan-ul- MujahideenPopular Front for Armed Resistance
Ansar-ul-HussainIslamic Students LeagueTariq Gidar Group (TGG)
Balawaristan National Front (Abdul Hameed Khan Group)Tehrik-e- Hurriat-e- KashmirTehrik-e- Jehad-e- Islami
Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA)Muslim MujahideenTehrik-e- Nifaz-e- Fiqar Jafaria
Balochistan Liberation United Front (BLUF)Al Mujahid ForceTanzeem-ul-Islami-ul-Furqan (TIF)
Balochistan Musalla Defah Tanzeem (BMDT)Baloch Republican Army (BRA)Ummah Tamir-e- Nau
Balochistan National Liberation ArmyJamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA)
Balochistan Raaji Ajoi-R-Sangar (BRAS)Lashkar-e-Islam (LI)
Balochistan Republican Army (BRA)Haqqani Network (HN)
Baloch Republican Party AzadBalochistan Liberation Front (BLF)
Baloch Student Organization Azad (BSO-A)Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT)
Balochistan Waja Liberation ArmyTariq Gidar Group (TGG)
Balochistan United ArmyJama’at-ul-Dawa al-Quran (JDQ)
Daish/ISIL/IS/ISISUnited Baloch Army (UBA)
East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement (ETIM)Baloch Liberation Army (BLA)
Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF)Tanzeem-ul-Islami-ul-Furqan (TIF)
Haji Namdaar GroupTaliban
Hizb-ul-TahrirBaloch Republican Guards (BRG)
Hizb-ul-Ahrar (HuA)Baloch Liberation United Front (BLUF)
Islamic Jihad Union (IJU)Baloch Republican Guards (BRG)
Islam MujahidinHaqqani Network (HN)
Islamic Students Movement of Pakistan (ISMP)Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT)
Islami Tehreek Pakistan (Ex TJP)Sindhudesh Liberation Army (SLA)
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)Sunni Tehreek (ST)
Jaish-e-Islam
Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM)
Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM)
Jamaat-ul-Dawa (JuD)
Jameet-ul-Ansar
Jamaat-ul-Furqan
Jundullah
Khana-E-Hikmat Gilgit Baltistan, Gilgit
Khair-un-Naas International Trust (Splinter Group of Jamaat-ul-Dawa (JuD)
Khuddam-ul-lslam (Ex-JeM)
Lashkar-e-lslami
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi – Al-Alami (LeJ-A)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)
Markaz Sabeel Organization, Gilgit
Millat-e-lslamia Pakistan (Ex SSP)
Muslim Students Organization (MSO) Gilgit
Pak Turk International CAG Education Foundation
Peoples Aman Committee (PAC)
Sipah-i-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP)
Sipah-i -Sahaba Pakistan (SSP)
Shia Tulaba Action Committee, Gilgit
Tanzeem Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, Gilgit
Tanzeem Naujawana-e-Ahle Sunnat (TNA), Gilgit
Tariq Geedar Group (TGG)
Tahafuz Hadudullah
Tehreek-e-Azadi-Jammu & Kashmir (TAJK)
Tehrik-e-Jaffria Pakistan (TJP)
Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammad (TNSM)
Tehreek-e-lslami
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
Tehreek Nafaz-e- Aman
Tehrik-e- Taliban Bajaur (TTB)
Tehrik-e- Taliban Swat (TTS)
Tehrik-e- Taliban Mohmand (TTM)
313 Brigade
Balochistan
Al QaedaBalochistan Liberation Front (BLF)Lashkar-e-Balochistan (LeB)
Balochistan Bunyad Parast ArmyUnited Baloch Army (UBA)Tanzeem-ul-Islami-ul-Furqan (TIF)
Al QaidaBaloch Republican Guards (BRG)
Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA)Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT)
Balochistan Liberation United Front (BLUF)Sindhudesh Liberation Army (SLA)
Balochistan Musalla Defah Tanzeem (BMDT)
Balochistan National Liberation Army
Balochistan Raaji Ajoi-R-Sangar (BRAS)
Balochistan Republican Army (BRA)
Baloch Republican Party Azad
Baloch Student Organization Azad (BSO-A)
Balochistan Waja Liberation Army
Balochistan United Army
Daish/ISIL/IS/ISIS
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA)
Jundullah
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi – Al-Alami (LeJ-A)
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Al QaidaHaqqani Network (HN)Afghan Taliban United
Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) Ex-SSPHizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT)
Ansar-ul-lslam
Daish/ISIL/IS/ISIS
East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement (ETIM)
Haji Namdaar Group
Hizb-ul-Tahrir
Hizb-ul-Ahrar (HuA)
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA)
Jundullah
Lashkar-e-lslami
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi – Al-Alami (LeJ-A)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)
Sipah-i-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP)
Sipah-i -Sahaba Pakistan (SSP)
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
Tehrik-e- Taliban Bajaur (TTB)
Tehrik-e- Taliban Swat (TTS)
Tehrik-e- Taliban Mohmand (TTM)
Pakistan Occupied kashmir
Azad Kashmir
Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM)Muslim Mujahideen
Jamaat-ul-Dawa (JuD)Muslim United Army
Tehreek-e-Azadi-Jammu & Kashmir (TAJK)
Gilgit-Baltistan
Anjuman-e- Imamia Gilgit Baltistan
Khana-E-Hikmat Gilgit Baltistan, Gilgit
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi – Al-Alami (LeJ-A)
Markaz Sabeel Organization, Gilgit
Sipah-i-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP)
Sipah-i -Sahaba Pakistan (SSP)
Shia Tulaba Action Committee, Gilgit
Tanzeem Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, Gilgit
Tanzeem Naujawana-e-Ahle Sunnat (TNA), Gilgit
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
Punjab
Al Qaida
Al Rahmah Welfare Trust Organization
Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) Ex-SSP
Al Harmain Foundation
Daish/ISIL/IS/ISIS
Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF)
Hizb-ul-Tahrir
Hizb-ul-Ahrar (HuA)
Islamic Jihad Union (IJU)
Islam Mujahidin
Islamic Students Movement of Pakistan (ISMP)
Islami Tehreek Pakistan (Ex TJP)
Jaish-e-Islam
Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM)
Jamaat-ul-Dawa (JuD)
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA)
Jameet-ul-Ansar
Jamaat-ul-Furqan
Jundullah
Khair-un-Naas International Trust (Splinter Group of Jamaat-ul-Dawa (JuD)
Khuddam-ul-lslam (Ex-JeM)
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi – Al-Alami (LeJ-A)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)
Millat-e-lslamia Pakistan (Ex SSP)
Rabita Trust
Sipah-i-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP)
Sipah-i -Sahaba Pakistan (SSP)
Tariq Geedar Group (TGG)
Tahafuz Hadudullah
Tehreek-e-Azadi-Jammu & Kashmir (TAJK)
Tehrik-e-Jaffria Pakistan (TJP)
Tehreek-e-lslami
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
313 Brigade
Sindh
Al QaidaHizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT)Sunni Tehreek (ST)
Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) Ex-SSPSindhudesh Liberation Army (SLA)Tehrik-e- Nifaz-e- Fiqar Jafaria
Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA)Ummah Tamir-e- Nau
Daish/ISIL/IS/ISIS
Hizb-ul-Tahrir
Hizb-ul-Ahrar (HuA)
Jundullah
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi – Al-Alami (LeJ-A)
Peoples Aman Committee (PAC)
Sipah-i-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP)
Sipah-i -Sahaba Pakistan (SSP)
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA)

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