The Future of Pakistan

The Future of Pakistan

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 311
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  • Book Info
    The Future of Pakistan
    Book Description:

    With each passing day, Pakistan becomes an even more crucial player in world affairs. Home of the world's second-largest Muslim population, epicenter of the global jihad, location of perhaps the planet's most dangerous borderlands, and armed with nuclear weapons, this South Asian nation will go a long way toward determining what the world looks like ten years from now.The Future of Pakistanpresents and evaluates several scenarios for how the country will develop, evolve, and act in the near future, as well as the geopolitical implications of each.

    Led by renowned South Asia expert Stephen P. Cohen, a team of authoritative contributors looks at several pieces of the Pakistan puzzle. The book begins with Cohen's broad yet detailed overview of Pakistan, placing it within the context of current-day geopolitics and international economics. Cohen's piece is then followed by a number of shorter, more tightly focused essays addressing more specific issues of concern.

    Cohen's fellow contributors hail from America, Europe, India, and Pakistan itself, giving the book a uniquely international and comparative perspective. They address critical factors such as the role and impact of radical groups and militants, developments in specific key regions such as Punjab and the rugged frontier with Afghanistan, and the influence of -and interactions with -India, Pakistan's archrival since birth. The book also breaks down relations with other international powers such as China and the United States. The all-important military and internal security apparatus come under scrutiny, as do rapidly morphing social and gender issues. Political and party developments are examined along with the often amorphous division of power between Islamabad and the nation's regions and local powers.

    Uncertainty about Pakistan's trajectory persists.The Future of Pakistanhelps us understand the current circumstances, the relevant actors and their motivation, the critical issues at hand, the different outcomes they might produce, and what it all means for Pakistanis, Indians, the United States, and the entire world.

    Praise for the work of Stephen P. Cohen

    The Idea of Pakistan: "The intellectual power and rare insight with which Cohen breaks through the complexity of the subject rivals that of classics that have explained other societies posting a comparable challenge to understanding." -Middle East Journal

    India: Emerging Power: "In light of the events of September 11, 2001, Cohen's perceptive, insightful, and balanced account of emergent India will be essential reading for U.S. foreign policymakers, scholars, and informed citizens." -Choice

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2181-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Bruce Riedel

    Pakistan is a country of growing, indeed crucial, importance to the United States and to the rest of the world. Three years ago President Barack Obama called me a few days after his inauguration and asked me to chair an urgent interagency review of policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said that no issue on his foreign policy agenda was more important than the fate of Pakistan, which he rightly has described as the epicenter of the global terrorist threat today. Two years later Obama would send American SEAL commandoes into Abbottabad, Pakistan, to kill al Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  5. 1 Pakistan: Arrival and Departure
    (pp. 1-69)

    How did Pakistan arrive at its present juncture? Pakistan was originally intended by its great leader, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, to transform the lives of British Indian Muslims by providing them a homeland sheltered from Hindu oppression. It did so for some, although they amounted to less than half of the Indian subcontinent’s total number of Muslims. The north Indian Muslim middle class that spearheaded the Pakistan movement found itself united with many Muslims who had been less than enthusiastic about forming Pakistan, and some were hostile to the idea of an explicitly Islamic state.

    Pakistan was created on August 14,...

  6. 2 Pakistan’s Future: Muddle Along
    (pp. 70-81)

    The future of Pakistan is one of the greatest challenges before the international community. It is a country of 169 million people, projected to grow to between 250 and 335 million by 2050, which would make it the fourth-or fifth-largest country in the world.¹ It is riven by internal differences and external worries. It is also wracked by terrorism and, in places, by civil war. Worse still, it has nuclear weapons, which, if they fall into the wrong hands, could lead to regional if not global catastrophe. Where is Pakistan likely to be in the next ten years? I argue...

  7. 3 Radicalization, Political Violence, and Militancy
    (pp. 82-90)

    “May you live in interesting times,” goes an old saying often attributed to the Chinese. While many people use the phrase casually to describe events in many countries, for Pakistan “interesting times” are almost a constant fact of life. Despite its brief history, Pakistan has seen many interesting times. With attention focused on militancy in the last few years, the country is increasingly viewed as a hub of both local and regional militant groups, and tags such as “the most dangerous place in the world” and “breeding ground par excellence for global jihadists” are increasingly attached to it. Various militant...

  8. 4 Addressing Fundamental Challenges
    (pp. 91-106)

    Pakistan’s problems are as well-known as they are numerous. Pakistan is both the source of terrorists operating throughout the region and beyond (some of which enjoy explicit state sanction) and increasingly the victim of terrorist groups that have emerged from its erstwhile proxies. Despite its mooring as a parliamentary democracy, the state has been dominated by the army, which has governed Pakistan directly or indirectly for most of the state’s existence. While democracy has never fully taken root, authoritarianism has never garnered widespread legitimacy. Thus the army always comes to power through the connivance and acquiescence of the broad array...

  9. 5 Looking Ahead
    (pp. 107-121)

    Pakistan should be confident of its own abilities and optimistic about its future, given its size, location, and the qualities of its people, who now number over 170 million. So should the rest of the world, given that Paki stanis have been successful wherever they have gone and in whatever endeavor they have undertaken. Yet it is not only scholars and political analysts who are convinced that Pakistan faces an uncertain future; many Pakistanis too are worried about the destiny of their country.

    What explains this phenomenon, when much smaller and weaker countries appear far more confident about themselves and...

  10. 6 The China Factor
    (pp. 122-133)

    Of the factors shaping Pakistan’s future, its relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the most enigmatic but possibly one of the most important. This chapter offers a brief overview of that relationship, whose importance is likely to increase in years to come as Pakistan’s domestic order remains unstable and its relations with the West enter a new round of “ups and downs.”

    The Pakistan-China partnership was born at the height of the cold war, when the two countries were in opposite camps. The political systems in the two countries, one an Islamic republic and the other an...

  11. 7 Factors Shaping the Future
    (pp. 134-149)

    The list of negative factors that make Pakistan’s future uncertain at best is long and depressing. Moreover, those factors, which are both complicated and interrelated, are relieved by almost no potential strengths that seem realistic. The few positive factors are mostly double edged: the so-called “demographic dividend,” if not accompanied by a large investment in public education and reform of the educational curriculum as well as by a significant and sustained increase in the economic growth rate, makes the long-term prospects for the economy far less sanguine and the prospects for social upheaval and Islamization far more likely; the free...

  12. 8 The Clash of Interests and Objectives
    (pp. 150-157)

    Pakistan’s future appears to be a spaghetti bowl of different interests and objectives: depending on what assumptions are made, different future scenarios unfold. Adding to the confusion is the fact that politics in Pakistan tends to be entirely short term, aimed at tactical advantage rather than strategic placement. As a result, Pakistan’s economic future has become a matter of great concern— affected as much by what has happened in the past decade as by the emerging demographic shifts, which pose a huge challenge to the country— while offering tentative hope at the same time.

    In 2009, the World Bank released...

  13. 9 Still an Uncertain Future
    (pp. 158-171)

    Predicting the future is best left to soothsayers, palmists, and astrologists. However, since so-called analysts can’t resist that temptation, they tend to attach several clauses of exceptions and conditions to safeguard their predictions against unexpected outcomes.

    I would not like to attempt to predict the future of any people. To do so about Pakistan, beset with its myriad problems and many intangible factors, is an almost impossible challenge. However, since that is the objective of this conference and I have no alternative but to make an honest attempt, I intend to begin with the positive, negative, and intangible and unpredictable...

  14. 10 Visualizing a Shared India-Pakistan Future
    (pp. 172-181)

    The religious extremism encouraged by the Pakistan army has turned into a double-edged sword. To some extent it did hurt the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s and India after 1989, but it now hurts Pakistan more than India.

    The consolidation of the presence of al Qaeda and its associates; the deepening of the roots of the Afghan Taliban in Pakistani territory; the growth of the Pakistani Taliban, called the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), in Pakistani Punjab and the tribal belt; and the ideological Talibanization of India-specific terrorist organizations such as the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) and of growing sections of youth...

  15. 11 At the Brink?
    (pp. 182-198)

    Pakistan’s uncertain future is a widely shared cause of concern at the international level. That concern raises strong doubts about the long-term capacity of the Pakistani state to effectively fulfill its obligations: managing ethnic and religious conflict, guaranteeing internal peace and stability, and providing economic opportunities to youth. Internal failures would make it difficult for Pakistan to fulfill its responsibilities toward the international community as well, thereby further accentuating internal problems.

    Pakistan’s viability is not an entirely new concern. The issue was first raised before Pakistan was established. When the All-India Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan as a separate homeland...

  16. 12 Security, Soldiers, and the State
    (pp. 199-214)

    Social scientists consider themselves lucky when they can adequately explain an important social phenomenon ex post facto. Crystal-balling the future, however, is a perilous undertaking, not least because it involves making somewhat static extrapolations from a highly dynamic social world that often unfolds contingently and without much forewarning. Any forecasting of the future can at best be a cautiously probabilistic estimate, subject to history’s many twists and turns.

    The question that this chapter seeks to answer calls for such peeping into the future: what will Pakistan look like in five to seven years? It is safe to argue that it...

  17. 13 Looking at the Crystal Ball
    (pp. 215-224)

    It is a truism that there can be no adequate understanding of Pakistan without a knowledge of its past. If that is true of the present, it must also be true of any attempt to look into the future. But where in Pakistan’s complex historical narrative should one make a start?

    Perhaps in the period of the great movement toward politicized religion led by Zia ul-Haq, so effectively supported by the CIA, in the 1980s? This would encompass two of Pakistan’s four experiences of military rule, the to-ing and fro-ing of elected but scarcely democratic governments, the development and proliferation...

  18. 14 Regime and System Change
    (pp. 225-235)

    When a country continually experiences the ebb and flow of crises, as is the case with Pakistan, its future becomes more difficult to chart. Challenges to Pakistan’s economy, constitutional order, political integration, and national security leave open a wide range of potential outcomes. During its sixty-four-year history, the country has experienced the trauma of wars, territorial dismemberment, loss of top leaders, economic shocks, and more. Yet little appears to change. The political, economic, and social establishment that was ensconced decades ago is still largely intact. Whatever the regime, military authority continues to eclipse civilian rule in critical policy areas, and...

  19. 15 Population Growth, Urbanization, and Female Literacy
    (pp. 236-248)

    The first glimmer of light appears, seeping through the darkness. Dawn is finally breaking after what has felt like a very long, dark night. The warmth of a new day engulfs those who awake early. As the lilting a capella voice, gently yet firmly, eases into one’s sensibilities, it intones the sanctity of the day, declaring the greatness of God. Hope soars. Gradually, that voice is joined by others, from other mosques, calling the faithful to prayer. But that lone voice gets drowned out by others using loudspeakers, creating a cacophony of now indistinct sounds whose timings are just off...

  20. 16 The Perils of Prediction
    (pp. 249-256)

    Predicting Pakistan’s future is risky business. Just a few years ago, no one would have expected the emergence of a robust Lawyers’ Movement, challenging the Musharraf government and agitating for judicial independence. Few would have predicted the rise of a bafflingly multifaceted Taliban movement in Pakistan’s western frontier that brought together a wide array of Pashtun and Punjabi militants. And who could possibly have predicted an outbreak of deadly rioting in the historically peaceful Hazara division in the newly named Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province? Clearly one should have humility when gazing into the future, particularly with respect to a country country...

  21. 17 Youth and the Future
    (pp. 257-283)

    Hardly anyone questions the importance of Pakistan to future global security. Pakistan’s importance is tremendous, and it has spurred voluminous research. However, most studies are narrowly focused on immediate concerns regarding Pakistan’s role in the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and in battling militancy within its territory. This microscopic focus is of little value in understanding Pakistan’s potential trajectory beyond three to five years. Virtually no one has attempted to understand the perceptions and outlook of the real custodians of Pakistan’s future— that is, its young generations. This is an obvious void, because it will be the orientation of Pakistani youth,...

  22. 18 Afterword
    (pp. 284-296)

    Just before and after 9/11, the official and establishment Pakistani narrative was that the country could, with outside assistance, surmount its economic difficulties, take its rightful place as an ally of the West, and become an anchor of the moderate branch of the Islamic world. Pakistan would be a bridge: the gateway to modernity for other Muslims and a gateway to Islam for the West.¹ This was also the view of the George W. Bush administration, which had begun to rebuild relations with Islamabad.

    That optimistic narrative has recently been challenged by gloom-anddoom scenarios that portray Pakistan as an already...

  23. Contributors
    (pp. 297-298)
  24. Index
    (pp. 299-312)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 313-314)