Crisis Guide: Pakistan - Council on Foreign Relations
Tensions over U.S. attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas, and concerns about stability after recent floods, highlight Pakistan's importance to U.S. policy in the region. This interactive guide examines the roots of Pakistan's problems and offers paths to a solution.
This summary is part of “Crisis Guide: Pakistan,” published on CFR.org. - It may be viewed at www.cfr.org/pakistanguide
Pakistan represents one of the world's most troubling states in crisis. It is home to an array of terrorist groups that pose threats to international security and, increasingly, to Pakistan itself. It possesses a nuclear arsenal of about seventy to ninety weapons that is rapidly growing, and in the wake of growing instability, could become vulnerable to militants. Bordering a conflict-ridden Afghanistan and poised on a seemingly permanent war footing against India, what happens inside Pakistan's borders matters deeply to the region and the wider world.
The considerable global efforts to pacify and stabilize Afghanistan ultimately rely on Pakistan's cooperation. Its tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan serve as safe havens for militants battling U.S. and international troops across the border. In the 1980s, along with the United States and Saudi Arabia, Pakistan's army and its military intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), helped foster many of these groups in the fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. But following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on U.S. targets carried out by al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistan vowed to sever ties with these groups and support the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan. However, experts say some of these relationships remain alive as Pakistan plans for the day when the U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan go home. Pakistan's army and intelligence services are also expected to play an important mediating role in any political settlement between the Afghan government and insurgent leaders.
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