Pakistan is a predominantly religious country

Pakistan and Afghanistan

Jochen Hippler

To person

Dr. sc. pol., born 1955; Private lecturer at the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF), University of Duisburg-Essen, Geibelstrasse 41, 47057 Duisburg. [email protected]

The war in Afghanistan is also weakening Pakistan. In fact, it is important to realistically assess the relationship between the violence in both countries if one wants to reduce the level of violence on both sides of the border.


The war in Afghanistan continues to attract public attention, so that the strategically far more important Pakistan is often neglected. The country has 170 million inhabitants, nuclear weapons, is itself unstable and a scene of political violence. Last year over 12,000 people were killed in political or military violence there. [1] Nevertheless, it is either ignored or viewed from the tactical point of view of how Pakistan can be instrumentalized as a helper in the Afghanistan war. It is only since Barack Obama took office as US President that this has begun to change in part, albeit occasionally in an unhelpful form. Indeed, it is important to realistically assess the connection between the violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan if one is to reduce the level of violence on both sides of the border.

It should not be overlooked that the violence in Pakistan has now reached war level, but that it does not affect the entire country, but rather reveals certain regional focuses. In addition, the causes and dynamics of violence vary greatly depending on the region. In Pakistan today there is not one violent conflict, but at least three, some of which are intertwined with one another, but some also have independent dynamics. Since this has already been explained in more detail elsewhere, [2] a short list is sufficient: (1) In Balochistan, due to a long-term disadvantage of the province, an uprising with an ethno-nationalist, anti-colonial coloration broke out Aims at equality or autonomy; (2) Since the mid-1980s, starting from Central Punjab, a violent, often terrorist, violent conflict between Sunni and Shiite extremist groups has developed, which has since been repeated again and again in other provinces or in the Northern areas flares up. These two sources of violence - as well as the now subsided ethnic civil war in the metropolis of Karachi - are in principle independent of the Afghanistan war, even if there are potential connecting points in all cases. This applies to Balochistan due to the strong Pashtun settlement along the Afghan border and in its capital Quetta; and it applies to the sectarian conflict because of the cooperation between Sunni extremists and the Pashtun insurgents in the northwestern province of Pakistan, who are also Sunni. This brings the focus of violence in the north-western province, which is closely linked to the war in Afghanistan.