Country Lead: Jacob N. Shapiro
Analysis of the various conflicts in Pakistan is directly relevant for the conflict in neighboring Afghanistan and can provide insights about the role of radical Islamism in the production of terrorism. Pakistan has used militant groups as proxies to execute its foreign policies in Afghanistan, Kashmir and the rest of India for decades. The militant landscape in Pakistan is extremely complex and populated by groups that vary in their sectarian commitments, targeting choices, theatre of operations, ethnicity of operatives, and political objectives. Since January 2009 alone, violent political organizations have killed more than 2,000 Pakistani civilians and injured at least 5,000 more. Political violence is clearly a massive problem for Pakistan, yet no reliable data exist on it before 2004.
With a diversity of insurgent and terrorist groups across different regions of the country, ESOC research on Pakistan has used public opinion surveys (with embedded experiments) to examine the variation in political support for militant groups. Results indicate that support is correlated with militant groups’ provision of social services and popular beliefs in the ideologies espoused by such groups and that violence under certain conditions has helped achieve these groups’ goals. ESOC data on Pakistan include public opinion survey data and efforts are underway to begin coding micro-level conflict data based on English and local language press sources. This latter project is a collaborative effort among researchers in Pakistan and the United States to develop a dataset on incidents of political violence in Pakistan since 1988. The data will be used to develop academic papers focusing on relationships between communities’ economic and development status and levels of terrorist activity.