When the colony of British India was partitioned into one predominantly Muslim state (present-day Pakistan and Bangladesh) and one predominantly Hindu state (present-day India) in 1947, communal riots and massive refugee flows followed. Pakistan quickly became embroiled in a border conflict with India; a state of affairs that dominated the country’s first 60 years as a sovereign state. Fluctuating between democratic politics and dictatorships, Pakistan has also experienced intra-state armed conflict, with the eastern provinces succeeding to form Bangaldesh in 1971 and the Baluchistan area fighting for independence. Other intra-state conflicts have largely been over the form of governance in Pakistan and several violent crises (with ethnic, territorial, political or religious divides) are currently occurring. The country is currently experiencing two active wars; one limited war with India and one full-scale intrastate conflict with Islamist militant groups. Pakistan and India’s conflict over international power, resources and specifically the Kashmir region, escalated in 2014. On an intra-state level, fighting began in 2007 between the Pakistan government (supported by the USA) and armed groups that promoted the removal of the Pakistani state and the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in its place. Despite an ongoing peace dialog, the conflict over national power and the orientation of the political system has left more than 3,600 people dead and has raged for eight years. Islamist militant groups involved include al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Islam (LI), Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Haqqani Network, and, most prominently, the Tehrike-Taliban (TTP) and its newly emerged splitter groups.

Peace attempts

Before the situation escalated again in 2014, the previous clash between India and Pakistan had ended in 2003 through a ceasefire, but the issue was not resolved. With a limited war breaking out last year, tensions between the two countries were higher than they have been in ten years. In 2014, the Pakistani Prime Minister expressed his desire to overcome the mutual distrust of both countries by fostering peace, however, India called off foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan due to Pakistan's High Commissioner meeting with a Kashmiri separatist leader. Pakistan's Foreign Office urged India to allow the UN military observer group UNMOGIP to visit their side of the Line of Control (LoC), which India refused.

On an intra-state level, peace talks have been equally unsuccessful, with several attempts failing to stop the Pakistani government’s conflict with Islamist militant groups. Throughout the course of 2014, several groups split off the umbrella organization TTP because of internal disagreements over peace negotiations with the government. Public backlash against the Taliban after an attack that killed 134 children in late 2014 and a violent attack on a public bus in May, 2015, has raised some hopes that the country’s government might escalate its approach against violent extremism.

The UNHCR is also active in Pakistan, attempting to assist with refugee and IDP issues.