John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C. and the Council on Faith and International Affairs held a forum on Wednesday titled "Pakistan's 'Islamist' Frontier: Emerging Trends in Islamic Politics and U.S. Policy Options Toward Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP)"
Joshua T. White, a graduate student in South Asia Studies at SAIS lived for 10 months in Peshawar in 2005-6, and recently returned to the Frontier to conduct research on the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and the dynamics of Islamic politics. He presented a preliminary report based on new field research, and suggested new directions for U.S. policy in the region.
Joshua White’s research focused on how Islamist parties engage in Pakistan’s political process, their behavior, the nature of Islamist politics and how United States responds. He uses Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal as an example.
Josh White explains who Islamists are. He says Islamists is an imperfect term, an imperfect shorthand and what he means by Islamists is that they are committed to an ideology which seeks to enact a program of political Islam based on religious law.
He spoke about the expansion of safe havens and counter insurgency dynamics in the settled areas as well as FATA – Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the North West Frontier Province. Mr. White says and that expansion is a threat to both Pakistan and USA. He suggests USA should have a policy of containment of those safe havens.
C. Christine Fair, senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation and Marvin G. Weinbaum, scholar-in-residence at the Middle East Institute also participated in the forum.