Whither Pakistan? A five-year forecast
By Pervez Hoodbhoy, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 3 June 2009
■ U.S. government officials and media outlets have exaggerated how close Pakistan is to collapse.
■ That said, the speed of Pakistan's societal decline has surprised many inside in the country who have long warned of the effects of religious extremism.
■ The first step toward calming the situation--Pakistan's political leadership and army must squarely face the extremist threat, something they've finally begun to do.
First, the bottom line: Pakistan will not break up; there will not be another military coup; the Taliban will not seize the presidency; Pakistan's nuclear weapons will not go astray; and the Islamic sharia will not become the law of the land.
That's the good news. It conflicts with opinions in the mainstream U.S. press, as well as with some in the Obama administration. For example, in March, David Kilcullen, a top adviser to Gen. David Petraeus, declared that state collapse could occur within six months. This is highly improbable.
Now, the bad news: The clouds hanging over the future of Pakistan's state and society are getting darker. Collapse isn't impending, but there is a slow-burning fuse. While timescales cannot be mathematically forecast, the speed of societal decline has surprised many who have long warned that religious extremism is devouring Pakistan.
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