Dr. Emma Hooper, Project Director Sources of Tension in Afghanistan & Pakistan: A Regional Perspective

Juan Garrigues, Senior Associated Research Fellow, CIDOB


This Mapping Document draws on ten expert papers commissioned under the CIDOB project “Sources of Tension in Afghanistan & Pakistan: A Regional Perspective” (STAP RP), together with the analytical outputs of project round table seminars and in-region research (September 2011-November 2012); and interviews with a wide range of stakeholders in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Europe over the same period. The document schematically summarizes policy research findings on the sources of tension with regional implications that affect Afghanistan and Pakistan; and identifies the interests of, and related “red lines” for, the five main implicated regional powers: India, Iran, Russia, China and Saudi Arabia.

A crossroads appears to be approaching in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As Western powers rapidly disengage from a divided Afghanistan, Afghan political and security institutions will either successfully maintain stability, or the country will move into a new era of conflicte and chaos. Under either of these scenarios, the robustness of the institutions created by the 2001 Bonn accord will be put to the test. Meanwhile, Pakistan is confronting a challenging social and political transformation of its own. Whether its civilian institutions can truly address the fundamental issues facing the country and its identity, and avoid a national crisis that could shake its core foundations, is still to be determined.

Indeed, the very sources of tension that have for many years defined the internal dynamics of both countries are once again in flux. While tensions surrounding governance, social and economic issues, the conflicte in Afghanistan, ethnicity and sectarianism, radicalisation and militancy have defined the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan and with the rest of the region throughout the last decade, the nature of these tensions is rapidly changing, as are the stances of actors who define them.

In both countries, state institutions have been strained in responding to these challenges. Furthermore, bilateral confrontations have characterised the public facade of their mutual relations. However, in parallel, the past years have also seen increasing political, commercial and people-to-people ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan. A growing realisation on the extent of the challenges at hand and their interconnected nature with the region’s stability, has led to increased dialogue and interaction between a range of concerned actors and communities.


About the Author

Dr. Emma Hooper is Project Director and a founding member of the STAP RP project team, based in Madrid. She is a Senior Research Fellow Associate at CIDOB. She is a specialist in South Asia and the Middle East, with a degree in Middle Eastern History from the School of Oriental & African Studies, London, and a PhD from the London School of Economics. She has worked as an Independent Consultant for the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the UN, the OECD and bilateral government aid programmes, including in the areas of governance, socioeconomic development and poverty reduction. She has taught business strategy at EADA business school in Barcelona; and teaches courses on international relations at the Instituto de Empresas, Madrid. She has lived in seven countries on four continents, including Kuwait, Lebanon, and Pakistan, where she was based full time from 2004-2008.

Juan Garrigues is a former Research Fellow of CIDOB, and a founding member of the STAP RP project team. He was a former Foreign Policy Advisor to the Office of the Prime Minister of Spain, and is currently a Special Advisor to the Dialogue Advisory Group in Amsterdam. He graduated in International Politics from the University of Virginia; and has a Master’s in International Studies from the Complutense University of Madrid. He was a researcher in the Area of Peace and Security in FRIDE, Madrid; a Project Manager in CITpax, and has worked in the Department of Political Affairs of the Secretariat of the United Nations. He has extensive on-the-ground experience as a long and short-term electoral observer (in Bosnia, Niger and Aceh, Indonesia); and worked with the NGO ACTED in Afghanistan. His main areas of interest are conflict mediation, peacekeeping operations,crisis management and fragile states, including Afghanistan and Libya. He iscurrently Special Adviser to the Dialogue Advisory Group, Amsterdam.