Pakistan's Mubarak Moment

Raymond Davis

Shahid Javed Burki, the former finance minister of Pakistan, says publicly what everyone is saying privately; Pakistan hangs by a thread.  Burki, now the chairman of the Institute of Public Policy in Lahore, doesn’t mince words:

Pakistan’s domestic situation is becoming increasingly precarious. Indeed, serious questions are now being raised as to whether the country can survive in its present form.

Such questions stem from a growing fear that Islamist groups might once again make a serious bid to capture the levers of power in the country. If that is not possible because of the presence of a large and disciplined military, the Islamists might attempt to carve out some space for themselves in which to establish a separate system of governance more fully aligned with what they view as the principles of Islam.

Islamist groups’ previous attempt to create such a space was successfully countered by the military in 2009, when it drove insurgent forces from the sensitive district of Swat and the tribal agency of South Waziristan.

Today, however, Pakistan’s military may not be prepared to act with the force and conviction it showed last time. Its resolve to counter the Islamists’ growing influence has been weakened by two unfortunate events: the recent assassination of Salman Tasser, the governor of Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, and the deaths last month of two young men allegedly at the hands of an American official named Raymond Davis.

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