Poll Question: Do you think that the deadly Taliban attack on an Afghan army base in Mazar-i-Sharif raises serious questions on the capacity of Afghan forces in the light of recent regional developments?

The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) recently generated an online poll to assess public opinion pertaining to the capacity of Afghan forces in dealing with internal turmoil the country is facing. This can be accredited to poor governance, corruption, and weak rule of law in Afghanistan. Since the disputed 2014 presidential election, friction between the two halves of the “National Unity Government” has prevented the government from implementing widely supported reforms, notably against corruption. This has deepened public discontent and questions over the government’s legitimacy.
Had the deadly Taliban attack on Afghan army base in Mazar-i-Sharif raised questions on its capacity to deal with terrorism?

A majority of 74.07% of the respondents expressed that the attack raised serious questions on the capability of Afghan armed forces in dealing with Afghan Taliban. Furthermore, it also raised questions on the effectiveness of the presence of foreign forces on Afghan soil. While 7.41% viewed it as a part of the normal course of happenings which does not make a big difference. However, only 17.6% of the respondents had no clear idea on the matter.

The general security architecture implies fundamental problems for the Afghan state. The three major security institutions, the army, the police and the intelligence service, have overlapping competences and responsibilities. They have units that have been structured, trained and equipped for internal use and the fight against the insurrection movement. In addition, all three are in addition to the insurgency control also police were tasked and have domestic, intelligence-working departments. This is the cause of considerable rivalries that have long since extended to a struggle for resources, recognition and – against the backdrop of foreseeable budget reductions – a long-term existential right. The Afghan security forces have been facing significant challenges, in particular regarding operational capacity. Shortcomings in the areas of command and control, leadership and logistics, and high attrition rates, have a significant impact on morale, recruitment and sustainability.

The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) recently generated an online poll to assess public opinion pertaining to the need of strengthening navy’s capacity after operationalization of Gwadar Port. Challenges lie beside opportunities. In order to provide safe maritime environment, the maintenance of good order at sea becomes imperative. The need is further augmented in the wake of increased sea trade due to CPEC. Pakistan Navy is focusing to bring in qualitative as well as quantitative enhancements to ensure safe maritime trade.

A majority of 76.5% of the respondents expressed that Pakistan Navy should strengthen its capacity to cope with the challenges CPEC is likely to face. While 5.9% viewed the current capacity as sufficient to deal with any possible threat, a mere 17.6% of the respondents had no clear idea on the matter.

In the changing dynamics of global architecture, the sea politics is getting complex with more focus on commercial activities and economic prosperity. Gwadar port is the warm water and deep sea port of Pakistan. It sits astride the busiest Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and holds two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves. The port holds great strategic and economic significance for Pakistan. It is third important deep sea port of Pakistan after Karachi and Qasim ports. It is located at the cross junctions of international sea shipping and oil trade routes. Gwadar can act as an international trade hub for Pakistan. Gwadar port would connect three regions, i.e. Central Asia, South Asia and Middle East. It would open new job opportunities and help in the development of Baluchistan. Pakistan would be able to explore minerals, hydrocarbons, oil and gas resources of CARs. The port will attract foreign investment and tourism. It would provide foreign reserves and free trade zones and special economic zones (SEZ) that would help in the economic prosperity of Baluchistan and Pakistan. It would help to increase Pakistan’s trade and commercial activities particularly in Baluchistan province, so provincial grievances will be addressed.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a framework of regional connectivity. CPEC will not only benefit China and Pakistan but will have a positive impact on the regional countries like Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asian Republics, and even Russia. The enhancement of geographical linkages having improved road, rail and air transportation system with frequent and free exchanges of growth and people to people contact, enhancing understanding through academic, cultural and regional knowledge and culture, activity of higher volume of flow of trade and businesses, producing and moving energy to have more optimal businesses and enhancement of co-operation by win-win model will result in well connected, integrated region of shared destiny, harmony and development. CPEC is journey towards economic regionalization in the globalized world. It founded peace, development, and win-win model for all of them. The Corridor is hope of better region of the future with peace, development and growth of economy.

Before analyzing the poll result, it is important to understand the significance of the sixth census. Though efforts were made in 2008 and 2010 to hold the census, however, the deteriorating law and order proved to be the impeding factors, among others. The sixth census officially began on 15 March 2017 after the break of nineteen years, which would survey the demographics changes in order to reorganize the country in the political, economic and social aspects.

The Center for Pakistan and Gulf Studies generated an online poll to assess public opinion on the implication of the sixth census. According to the result of this poll, 73.68 percent of the participants seem optimistic about the census and its role in regulating the unregistered populations in addition to alleviating the law and order across the country. However, 10.53 appear to disagree with the estimated benefits or expected goals of the census and 15.78 percent of the respondents showed reluctance to give an opinion.

Poll Question:Do you think the result of the sixth census in Pakistan can improve the law and order situation by updating the national database on unregistered population?

Bearing in mind, the primary purpose is to count the number of people in order to assess the future growth and formulate the development policies. However, if one delves deeper, the implications are more than the reported possibilities. As the political representation and resources allocations are based on the accurate statistics. This means that if the census is done in accordance with the standards, it could prove to be a source of national cohesion for the federation of Pakistan. The relation of the census with the law and order situation may not be direct, however, the absence of good socioeconomic indicators are directly responsible for not only aggravating the grievances of the people, but the unregistered population is likely to get involved in criminal activities, in addition to the resurging terrorist attacks.

The concern of national political parties is another factor which needs to be addressed by the government. For instance, the displacement of the Baloch and Pushtun population to relatively secure provinces of the Pakistan is viewed as matter reservations due to the demographic shift of the provinces. Similarly, a large segment of the population does not have the computerized national identity cards (CNIC) in Sindh and other provinces. Additionally, the impact of the census on the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award and the redistribution of the elected seats are significant issues.

Nevertheless, the challenges for the transparency and accuracy of the national census may threaten the process of accomplishing the desired goals. Hence, the weaknesses of the census and concerns of the national political parties should be taken into consideration.

The Center for Pakistan and Gulf Studies generated an online poll to assess public opinion on the impact of the recently launched operation ‘Radd-ul-Fassad’ in the wake of the new wave of terrorist attacks across Pakistan.

Critics have openly questioned the need for launching another operation, especially given the incomplete and haphazard implementation of National Action Plan. Interestingly, according to the result of the poll, a majority-72.5%-holds the view that operation Radd-ul-Fassad will prove to be effective for curtailing the new resurge in the terror attacks, while 18.2% think to the contrary. Additionally, 9.1% of the participants seem undecided. This implies that there is a need to take into confidence the undecided segments of the society in order to effectively accomplish the goals of this operation.

The main aim of launching the operation is to counter the residual and latent levels of terror threats, in addition to building on the accomplishments of the military operations launched previously. Specifically, this operation will focus on ensuring broad spectrum security in the province of Punjab, with, an emphasis on de-weaponization in the country and continuation of National Action Plan, as integral parts of the new military operation.

Broadly speaking, such operations have arguably attained some of their declared objectives; however, one limitation of such military operations is that they remain focused on achieving short-term goals rather than concentrating on eliminating the problems. Concerns must be addressed to make the operation Radd-ul-Fassad a success.