Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

Pakistan seen drifting away from the west


american flagPakistan is likely to drift further away from the west in the years ahead as pressure from Islamist groups and anti-Americanism undermine the traditional moorings of the secular pro-western elite, according to a report just released by the Legatum Institute. 

The report rules out the possibility of a Taliban takeover or of Pakistan becoming a failed state, predicting it is most likely to ”muddle through” with the army continuing to play a powerful role behind the scenes in setting foreign and security policy. “Rather than an Islamist takeover, you should look at a subtle power shift from a secular pro-Western society to an Islamist anti-American one,” said Jonathan Paris, the author of the report.

I recommend reading the full report, which examines the outlook for Pakistan in a one to three-year time horizon on a range of issues from the economy to security to relations with the United States, India and China. It also lays out factors to watch in the tremendously complex interplay of influences which will determine the direction for Pakistan in the coming years. You can read the full report here (pdf).

Pakistan has been down the Islamist road before, particularly during the Zia years.  And public opinion turned against the hardline Islamist practices of the Taliban when they occupied the Swat valley last year.  But while people may be willing to argue against the Taliban, it is less clear that society as a whole will resist the creeping Islamisation wrought by Islamist political parties and militant organisations, particularly in Punjab province, unless the state can deliver economic growth along with a reliable and speedy legal system.