Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) –The Journey so far
Starting from scratch on January 10, 2006, Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) has covered a lot of distance in the year 2006. In fact, if one looks over the shoulder, one realizes that, how so much could be achieved in such a short time. The institute, after overcoming its teething problems very quickly, has now become a significant player in the world of strategic thinking and policy initiatives. The limited resources, the lack of manpower in the beginning did not deter its progress on the path of peace initiatives and conflict analysis. Withstanding fierce competition, today, the institute has not only carved out its own small space but also has started to make waves in the realm of think tank community in Pakistan.
The interesting times through which the entire region of South, East and Central Asia is passing through nowadays have acted as a catalyst for the institute on the path to progress. The institute set out carrying commitment to provide in-depth understanding and objective analysis of regional and global issues, PIPS provides a forum to international strategic thinkers to play an active role in understanding and researching real and perceived threats to regional and global peace and security. So far, PIPS has not wavered from its commitment.
The journey so far could have been far rough and bumpier, had it not been for the dedication and guidance of its patron, directors and rest of the team. The respect and vision the personality of its patron Khaled Ahmed carries, proved vital in identifying the areas and scope of this think tank. The insight of its director Amir Rana, author of several books on region’s major conflict zones, helped shaping up the goals and objectives the institute sets out to achieve. PIPS joint director, Mubasher Bukhari, a renowned journalist, and rest of the team dedicates itself in disseminating the agenda of policy analysis and research studies on the regional and global strategic issues such as conflict and development, political violence, religious extremism, ethnic strife, terrorism – including state terrorism, economics, governance and democracy, foreign relations, and cultural learning of policy-making processes.
The institute, which is not even one-year old so far, has completed work on two books that are set to go to print in the month of January, 2007 with two more in the pipeline for publication in January or February. The first book Al-Qaeda warriors deals with the dimensions of multi-faceted war on terror. This is an untold tale of holy and unholy wars in Afghanistan and on the borders of Pak-Afghan borders. Authored by Amir Rana and renowned counter-terrorism expert, Dr. Rohan Gunaratna, the book tracks down the history of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants and their fight against the Pakistan and US coalition forces inside Afghanistan and on the tribal border areas of Pakistan. The book offers and in depth analysis and understanding of complex war-time phenomenon of resurging militancy in southern and border areas of Afghanistan and also encompasses the intricacies involved in the tribal nomenclature inside Pakistan. It traces back the alliance between the foreign warriors and Pakistan’s tribal society and its impact not only on the geo-strategic interests of regional and global players but also its impact on the social and political fabric of Pakistan’s polity.
The second book ‘Arabs in Afghan Jihad’, authored by Mubasher Bukhari and Amir Rana, is a marvelous chronological chart of Arabian warriors’ involvement in their Jihad against the Soviet Union and then their fight against the US. It backtracks the footprints of these warriors right from their area of origin to the midst of international Jihad. The book also talks about Saudis role in Afghan Jihad and also the role of Arabian charities organizations in funding this Jihad. Of, course the book also envisages Osama bin Laden’s highly sophisticated network of Jihadis and its sponsors.
The other two highly informative publications are on Pakistan’s volatile border province of Balochistan and Northern areas. The book on Balochistan, jointly authored by Mubasher Bukhari, Amir Rana and Mujtaba Rathore, is a comprehensive study on Balochistan that traces its historical roots of the conflict right from the province’s decision to join the federation of Pakistan and the tribes involved in making that decision. The history of armed conflicts in the provinces and rough contours of its political infrastructure are also discussed in length. The economy of this province and its history of friction with the central government along with the major local players get special mention in the book. Finally, the book discusses the strategic importance of Balochistan and how the area is developing in to a playground for regional and global powers.
The second book in the pipeline deals with Northern Areas of Pakistan. The areas political landscape, its strategic importance, its economy, the interest of regional powers in the area and its future potential are discussed in great length. Surely a package of information never disseminated in this detail before by any of the publishers or think-tanks.
PIPS goes on Web
Apart from the in-depth and minutely analysed works in the shape of books, PIPS is managing web portals (www.pips.com.pk & www.san.pips.com.pk ) that carry a range of thought-provoking articles on various issues relating to regional peace and security. The PIPS web portal is simply a package of information covering diverse issues facing the region and Pakistan. Latest developments on Pak-India peace process with Kashmir being a focal point, the rise of Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s border areas, the analysis of ever-volatile situation in Nepal, the anatomy of two-party rule in Bangladesh and politics of violence in the country, Sri Lanka’s brush with old problem of Tamil Tigers and its latest dimensions, an eye on Jihadis activities both inside Pakistan and in Afghanistan and finally the security situation in Pakistan are elaborately discussed. The portal is hit with policy makers and opinion leaders in Pakistan and the region.
PIPS has built partnerships with a Beijing-based Chinese think tank, Ethnic Minority Groups Development Research Institute of Research Development Center (EMGDRI-RDC) and Institute of Strategic Studies (IDSS), Singapore in 2006.
PIPS and EMGDRI are working jointly to understand regional and domestic conflicts in South and Central Asia, focusing on terrorism, political violence, sectarian divides and economic and strategic developments in the regions. PIPS and EMGDRI initiated two extensive research studies on Balochistan and Northern Areas in 2006 and both publications will be available soon in English and Chinese languages.
PIPS Director Muhammad Amir Rana visited EMGDRI twice this year and gave presentations on changing strategic scenario in Central and South Asian regions. During his visits, the two sides singed an MOU for scholars exchange program. EMGDRI Director Mr.Zhao Shuqing and Senior Fellow Ms.Wanghong will be visiting PIPS campus in January 2007. Their visit will further strengthen ties and level of cooperation between the two institutes.
The Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS) has forged a partnership to collaborate with the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR), the largest terrorist research and training centre outside the western world. ICPVTR is a specialist centre of the Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. During his visit to Singapore in December, 2006, PIPS Director Muhammad Amir Rana formalized a program to exchange scholars between PIPS and ICPVTR. Each year, ICPVTR will provide a terrorist research award for a Pakistani scholar to study for a Master of Science in Strategic Studies in Singapore. PIPS will invite two ICPVTR analysts to spend a short period in Pakistan for a short period every year. PIPS research analyst, Khuram Iqbal, will be the first PIPS scholar at ICPVTR in 2007-08.
In 2006, PIPS also joined The Council of Asian Terrorism Research (CATR), a consortium of academic and research institutes as a member, which is a landmark for a new-born organization like PIPS. PIPS is working with CATR to develop the diverse expertise and perspectives that exist across the region to form new approaches.
PIPS is also honored to have hosted several distinguished scholars, journalists, analysts and diplomats around the world during 2006.
Apart from imparting information on regional and global issue, PIPS also caters for orientation workshops for its employees and opinion leaders. The workshops are focused to improve the level of information on politics and security situation of the region it focuses on. It also educates its participants on various conflict areas, their history and their future course.
In the year to come, the PIPS wants to consolidate whatever it has achieved so far despite having a very limited financial resources. Besides, books on conflict and strategic policy issues, the institute would carry on with its range of web articles on various aspects of South Asian peace and security. Countries like, Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh would remain a special focus of the web articles. Some leading names in policy and strategic writings would find space on the PIPS web. The interesting scenarios developing in and around Pakistan and South Asia would be dealt with extensive research and insight.
Apart from an eye on South Asia, the institute is lining up its research on central Asia and far East Asia – the regions that continue to affect decision making processes in Pakistan and capitals around the world. Afghanistan remains the key in the backdrop of war on terror and resurgence of Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the country.
Internal conflicts such as Balochistan and tribal areas would also be covered in an in-depth manner. The scope and ever-changing dimensions of NATO-led war on terror in Afghanistan would get a priority in research as the history of the conflict tells us that whatever happens in Afghanistan, has a direct bearing on the internal situation of Pakistan.
Overall, the institute seeks to expand its area of activity and venture into areas of holding dialogue among Pakistani and regional stakeholders over the issues of strategic importance. Next year would see a lot of intra-regional dialogues hosted by the institutes. Also the institute would strengthen the partnership it has with other institutes across Asia.
In the coming months, PIPS aims at an in-depth study on growing radicalization in Pakistan.