Exploring the potential of the private sector to contribute to peacebuilding in Pakistan

This report summarises our learning from year one of the Plural Business Partnerships for Peace in Pakistan (PBPP) on the potential role of business as a peacebuilding constituency in Pakistan.

Conflict divides in Pakistan have widened in recent years in the context of increasingly contentious state–citizen relationships, and a society polarised along regional, communal and sectarian lines.

Some communities have become subject to the influence of potentially violent radical elements, and peace is increasingly fragile among others. In addition, safe spaces for plural voices that advocate for peace within civil society are limited, in part a reflection of intensified conservatism and withdrawal from negotiated settlement within society itself.

These conflict risk factors are compounded by a stalling economy that has seen a reversal in economic growth, threatening further under-development and instigating social unrest.

The business sector in Pakistan, as elsewhere, has an intricate and complex relationship with peace and conflict. Research undertaken by International Alert in Pakistan shows that businesses across the country are suffering heavily from a loss of physical and social capital resulting from conflicts. In extreme cases, this is leading to the relocation of businesses away from areas affected by conflict – and even out of the country altogether. Yet, businesses can also contribute to conflicts because of their failure to consider the impact of their practices on communities.