Susbscription-only StratFor, one of the leading private strategic-intelligence firms, makes a bold prediction: Pakistan is on its way to failed statehood. Now, there’s been a lot of loose talk in the U.S. for years about Pakistan’s lack of viability as a state for a long time, but central Asia experts tend to discount that as media blathering. The Pakistani military has proven — brutally — that it really is able to control the country, and isn’t about to let things get out of hand: after all, as a recent book called Military Inc. documents, the military runs major aspects of the Pakistani economy.
But StratFor says that even with many of those caveats in place, the indicators point to increased instability. Let’s test the limits of fair-use:
Islamabad… has lost control of large parts of the Pashtun-dominated northwestern areas along the border with Afghanistan to Taliban forces. Furthermore, the use of suicide bombings has allowed these forces to reach beyond their strongholds and strike with impunity at the core of Pakistan, including the country’s main urban centers. Accompanying the rapidly deteriorating security situation has been political instability, which has only grown after the Feb. 18 elections. As Stratfor predicted, the elections — which the country’s main opposition won by a landslide — failed to quell the political unrest that severely weakened not only Musharraf’s hold on power but also the army’s. Musharraf’s regime has been replaced by a civil-military hybrid which lacks the willingness and/or ability to take on the threat posed by Islamist extremism and militancy. The fact is that the civilian government and the country’s military establishment appear to be losing control of the situation. … [snip]
Stratfor extensively has addressed Pakistan’s intelligence problem which enables militant activity and prevents the state from doing much about it. The problem is actually far larger than an intelligence failure: We are told that many of Pakistan’s senior and military officials are caught up in Pakistani society’s conspiracy theories about the causes of the growing chaos in the country. In other words, there is national lack of acknowledgement that the country is being torn apart by religious extremism.
What is even worse for Pakistan is that its jihadist problem is a geopolitical issue rather than a strictly political one. This means that the Pakistanis cannot deal with it at a time of their choosing. This would explain the United States’ increasingly aggressive attitude in dealing with the situation. U.S. airstrikes in the country’s tribal badlands have become an almost daily occurrence, and it is only a matter of time before Washington escalates its unilateral military operations deeper into Pakistani territory. …
Pakistan appears to be spinning out of control. It is difficult to say with any clarity what will happen in another year, other than that there do not appear to be many arrestors to counter the current trend toward anarchy — even if the military steps in.
Emphasis in the original. I’ll have more later this week on the unraveling of Pakistan and Afghanistan.