Isobel Coleman

Democracy in Development

Coleman maps the intersections between political reform, economic growth, and U.S. policy in the developing world.

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Showing posts for "South Asia"

Women Leaders Under Attack

by Isobel Coleman
Shukria Barakzai campaigns for 2005 parliamentary elections in Kabul, August 22, 2005 (Courtesy Reuters/Zohra Bensemra). Shukria Barakzai campaigns for 2005 parliamentary elections in Kabul, August 22, 2005 (Courtesy Reuters/Zohra Bensemra).

In Afghanistan earlier this week, another female leader came under attack. Shukria Barakzai, an outspoken and high-profile member of Afghanistan’s parliament, narrowly escaped death when a suicide bomber rammed her armored car as she headed to work. At least three people were killed and many injured, but Barakzai escaped with only minor injuries. No stranger to death threats and assassination attempts, Barakzai has experienced several near misses during her many years as an activist and politician, and she readily accepts the personal risks she faces on a daily basis. Read more »

Democracy Can Still Deliver

by Isobel Coleman
A voter waits to cast his ballot in Bekkersdal, near Johannesburg, May 7, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) A voter waits to cast his ballot in Bekkersdal, near Johannesburg, May 7, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

Democracy is going through a rough patch. Freedom House reports that the number of democracies around the world has retreated in recent years. The frightening turbulence in countries struggling to transition to democracy such as Egypt and Thailand makes clear how difficult that process is. And with economic malaise persisting in many democracies while growth still surges in autocratic China, more than a few people wonder whether it’s even worth bothering with democracy and all its political dysfunctions. Can democracies effectively meet the aspirations of citizens in today’s complex world? Read more »

Afghans Vote for a New President

by Isobel Coleman
A man loads ballot boxes and other election materials on a donkey to be transported to polling stations that are not accessible by road in Shutul, Panjshir province, Afghanistan, April 4, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Ahmad Masood). A man loads ballot boxes and other election materials on a donkey to be transported to polling stations that are not accessible by road in Shutul, Panjshir province, Afghanistan, April 4, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Ahmad Masood).

Despite significant security concerns, Afghans went to the polls in droves on Saturday to elect a new president. An estimated 7 million voters, one-third of them women, cast ballots – a marked improvement over the 2009 elections in which only 4 million voted. Fraud and violence also occurred less than expected: while at least twenty people were killed across the country and numerous fraud complaints have been filed, there were no major attacks or allegations of foul play on the level of the 2009 election. Read more »

Guest Post: Daniel Markey on Reorienting U.S.-Pakistan Strategy

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, July 5, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Jason Lee). Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, July 5, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Jason Lee).

Since 9/11, U.S. policymakers have tended to consider Pakistan in the context of the war in Afghanistan and the counterterrorism campaign against al-Qaeda. This year, however, U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan will end. In addition, the security threat posed by international terrorism is increasingly diffuse, with al-Qaeda and its affiliates seemingly less dependent on safe havens along the Af-Pak border than they were in the past. In this context, an “Af-Pak” framework for U.S. strategy is no longer wise. Read more »

Why There Is “No Exit from Pakistan”

by Isobel Coleman
The Pakistan-Afghanistan border, 2011 (Courtesy Reuters/Naseer Ahmed). The Pakistan-Afghanistan border, 2011 (Courtesy Reuters/Naseer Ahmed).

Last week, my colleague Daniel Markey published his latest book: No Exit from Pakistan: America’s Tortured Relationship with Islamabad. The book is a timely, if sober, reminder that Pakistan is too big and too messy to fix, yet too strategic to ignore, much as some U.S. policymakers would like to. Read more »

Guest Post: Daniel Markey on No Exit from Pakistan

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
An internally displaced girl at a UN refugee camp outside of Islamabad, Pakistan, May 2009 (Courtesy Reuters/Faisal Mahmood). An internally displaced girl at a UN refugee camp outside of Islamabad, Pakistan, May 2009 (Courtesy Reuters/Faisal Mahmood).

This guest post is from my colleague, Daniel Markey, a Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations. Here he discusses his latest book: No Exit from Pakistan: America’s Tortured Relationship with Islamabad. Read more »

Challenges for Pakistan’s Prime Minister

by Isobel Coleman
Nawaz Sharif, incoming prime minister and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) political party, speaks to his party members, who were voted to political posts in the general election, during a function in Lahore on May 20, 2013 (Mohsin Raza/Courtesy Reuters). Nawaz Sharif, incoming prime minister and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) political party, speaks to his party members, who were voted to political posts in the general election, during a function in Lahore on May 20, 2013 (Mohsin Raza/Courtesy Reuters).

A few years ago on a flight from London to Karachi I sat next to one of Pakistan’s leading textile manufacturers who spent several hours discussing the sorry state of his business. The fact that his European clients will no longer visit the country because they view it as too dangerous was not even his biggest problem. His real issue is the constant blackouts his factories face due to a lack of reliable energy. “We can’t compete with the likes of Bangladesh and Vietnam,” he bemoaned. This is the tough economic reality that Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s newly elected prime minister, inherits. Read more »

Guest Post: Pakistan’s Democracy at a Dangerous Crossroads

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
Pakistan rangers stand on alert ahead of Pakistan's former President Pervez Musharraf's arrival from Dubai at Jinnah International airport in Karachi on March 24, 2013 (Athar Hussain/Courtesy Reuters). Pakistan rangers stand on alert ahead of Pakistan's former President Pervez Musharraf's arrival from Dubai at Jinnah International airport in Karachi on March 24, 2013 (Athar Hussain/Courtesy Reuters).

Pervez Musharraf, former general and president of Pakistan, returned to Karachi yesterday after years in exile to contest the country’s upcoming national election expected later this spring. As the election season heats up, many Pakistanis are expressing concern that the anticipated vote will be derailed for one reason or another. Imran Riffat, a former financial industry professional and longtime Pakistan observer, provides a guest post today arguing that Pakistan’s future would be best served by pushing forward with the democratic process, despite its limitations. Read more »

Guest Post: Support Process Over Personalities in Pakistan

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
mran Khan, cricketer-turned-politician and head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), is surrounded with supporters as he leads a peace march against U.S. drone strikes from Islamabad to South Waziristan, in Mianwali on October 6, 2012 (Ahsan Baloch/Courtesy Reuters). Imran Khan, cricketer-turned-politician and head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), is surrounded with supporters as he leads a peace march against U.S. drone strikes from Islamabad to South Waziristan, in Mianwali on October 6, 2012 (Ahsan Baloch/Courtesy Reuters).

Yesterday, my colleague Dan Markey published a compelling new CFR Policy Innovation Memorandum (PIM), Support Process Over Personalities in Pakistan. In it, he argues that the United States should avoid playing favorites as Pakistani leadership transitions unfold over the course of 2013, starting with parliamentary elections later this spring. I’ve asked him to write a guest post about the PIM. Read more »

Fawzia Koofi: A Leader for Afghanistan

by Isobel Coleman
Fawzia Koofi speaks during an interview in Kabul on April 12, 2012 (Mohammad Ismail/Courtesy Reuters). Fawzia Koofi speaks during an interview in Kabul on April 12, 2012 (Mohammad Ismail/Courtesy Reuters).

This week, I had the pleasure of hosting courageous Fawzia Koofi at the Council on Foreign Relations. Koofi is one of sixty-nine female members of Afghanistan’s 249-seat lower house of parliament. As she likes to note, she was elected to her seat by beating out a male candidate–above and beyond the quota system that preserves 25 percent of parliament for women. Elected as parliament’s first female deputy speaker, she plans to run for president in the 2014 elections. Read more »