Perils of Pakistan in Global Forecast: the Top Security Challenges of 2008
November 14, 2007
The news from Pakistan during much of 2007 revolved around an extended crisis. President Pervez Musharraf's decision in March to suspend the country's chief justice unleashed a wave of protest that shook the foundations of his government. His heavyhanded response to subsequent events reinforced the impression that he had lost much of his support among the Pakistani people. The United States, grateful for his support in the war on terrorism but frustrated at the continuing insurgency in Afghanistan and its apparent support from border regions in Pakistan, worked hard to rescue Musharraf's government by facilitating an alliance between him and Pakistan's largest nonreligious political party, Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP).
The important questions about Pakistan's future, however, go beyond the drama of Benazir Bhutto's return to Pakistan and even beyond the issue of who will head its government. Pakistan's army has had a terrible year but remains the country's biggest single political actor. The government and the army are on the receiving end of an unprecedented spike in extremist violence, both in the troubled tribal areas and elsewhere in the country. Pakistan's relations with its neighbors are still troubled and have great mobilizing power in the country's domestic politics. These issues all affect the Pakistani state's fundamental ability to govern.
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