http://www.nbr.org - NBR - The National Bureau of Asian Research

Pakistan: A State Under Stress

John H. Gill

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Pakistan faces two critical near-term regional security issues: bilateral tensions with India and the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Developing and sustaining Pakistan’s progress toward political moderation and economic modernization looms as an equally important security challenge in the medium term. The most direct threats to Pakistan stem from internal problems. Violent Islamists with a variety of domestic, Afghan, Kashmiri, and millenarian agendas undermine the state, endanger its citizens, and threaten its neighbors. Disturbing social indicators compound the growing radicalism and rising anti-American sentiment. Pakistan’s future will therefore rest upon its ability to defeat the forces of extremism and to direct its resources toward pressing domestic issues such as education, rule of law, poverty, and population growth. The international community can help by supporting the rebuilding of Pakistan’s civil society and governing institutions, but Pakistan’s behavior on issues relating to terrorism, proliferation, and democracy will be crucial in determining the level of external assistance that is available.