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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: Pakistan's Riddles

Council on Foreign Relations

October 23, 2007
Prepared by: Jayshree Bajoria

Serious questions loom over Pakistan’s efforts to return to a democratic form of government as its inability to rein in violent militants and its dissident security institutions grow increasingly apparent. The suicide bomb attacks targeting former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on her return from an eight-year exile merely underscore a pattern: The government appears unable to control (BBC) the extremist elements or enforce its laws within its borders.

Calling Pakistan the world’s most dangerous country, Newsweek International writes it has everything Osama bin Laden could ask for: political instability, radical Islamists, abundance of young anti-Western recruits, secluded training areas along the northern border with Afgahnistan, and access to state-of-the-art electronic technology. Blaming the government for the current crisis, the article says “Pakistani leaders created the Islamist monster that now operates with near impunity throughout the country.” In the past, the country’s intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), with the help of the CIA, played a role in recruiting, training, and arming many of the militant groups who now are threatening the stability in the country and the region. This backgrounder points out ISI has long faced accusations of meddling in its neighbors’ affairs—be it supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan or the militants in India-administered Kashmir.

Pakistan’s army, too, has frequently undermined democracy in the country through coups and executions of elected leaders. In the last eight years under Musharraf, the army has also gradually expanded its control over civil society and the private sector. Pakistan is fast deteriorating (FT) into what experts perceive as a failed state, with militants expanding their control from the tribal areas—historically out of the center’s fold—toward the gravity of power in cities such as Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi.

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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.

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