News / Middle East

    Multiple Political and Security Shocks Rattle Pakistan Stability

    People look at the remains of a passenger minibus near Hungu in Pakistan's northwest province, 17 Jan 2011.
    People look at the remains of a passenger minibus near Hungu in Pakistan's northwest province, 17 Jan 2011.

    The recent assassination of the governor of Pakistan’s most populous province delivered another shock to a country reeling on multiple fronts.  Pakistan is struggling to maintain stability while trying to cope with a shaky economy, wobbly politics, and emboldened domestic terrorism.  

    Pakistan remains beset by security, economic, and political troubles that have caused leading analysts to voice deep concern about the country’s stability.

    Governor of Punjab province Salman Taseer speaks to the media in Islamabad (File Photo - 28 Mar 2009)
    Governor of Punjab province Salman Taseer speaks to the media in Islamabad (File Photo - 28 Mar 2009)

    Terrorist activity inside Pakistan continues to grow, as evidenced by the recent assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, allegedly by one of his own handpicked bodyguards. The economy is in a shambles as key economic reforms were put on hold, placing more than $3 billion in International Monetary Fund bailout money in jeopardy.  The governing coalition briefly disintegrated, reuniting only when the ruling Pakistan Peoples’ Party rescinded an unpopular increase in fuel prices and put off plans for tax reform.

    Stephen Cohen of the Council on Foreign Relations says Pakistan’s woes do not necessarily mean the country is on the verge of collapse, but adds that there are very worrisome trends.

    "It’s not necessarily on the road to disintegration," he said. "But all of the trend lines are negative. I can’t think of many positive ones.  And, of course, the floods and the assassinations and the sectarian violence and the bad economy contribute to this."

    The Pakistan terrorist threat has captured most of the world headlines. More than one analyst has described it as a “Frankenstein monster,” referring to the fictional scientist who created a new being but found he could not control it.  The army and in particular the military-run Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI, are widely reported to have trained, financed, and armed militant groups as a way of maintaining influence in Afghanistan and waging proxy war on India.

    Supporters of the Sunni Tehreek religious party hold placards in support for Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the gunmen detained for the killing of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, in Hyderabad, 09 Jan 2011.
    Supporters of the Sunni Tehreek religious party hold placards in support for Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the gunmen detained for the killing of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, in Hyderabad, 09 Jan 2011.


    Former CIA officer Bruce Riedel says the Pakistan army is fighting militants in six of the seven tribal areas, taking casualties and imposing serious costs on the jihadists. But at the same time, he adds, other jihadists, particularly those rattling India, are openly tolerated in Pakistan.

    "It is this unique and complex situation in which Pakistan is both victim and patron of terror that is so unique today," said Riedel. "You add the worst natural disaster in the country’s history, extreme economic problems, and extraordinarily poor governance together and you have the makings of a potential disaster."

    Riedel, who has just written a new book on the nexus between Pakistan, the U.S., and the global jihad, says Pakistan remains a country with high democratic aspirations, despite an intermittent string of military rulers and floundering civilian governments.

    "Pakistan is a country in which the yearning for democracy has pushed the dictators out of office over and over again," he said. "Unfortunately for the Pakistani people, the civilian leaders they’ve often got have not lived up to the hopes of the Pakistani people, and that’s as true today as it has been on so many occasions in the past."

    But the worst thing the U.S. and the West could do, he adds, would be to resort to the expedient of encouraging the army to step in yet again to fix things.

    "Whatever else we do, don’t undermine the democratically elected civilian leadership of Pakistan," said Riedel. "The politicians we are dealing with are weak, corrupt, and, more often than not, ineffective.  But they are the best of bad alternatives."

    But the economy is still foundering.  The country is recovering from the recent destructive floods, electric power outages are widespread, prices are rising, and inflation is hovering at over 15 per cent - all of which, analysts say, are further fueling anti-government sentiment.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora