Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Admitting extremist Islamists into the electoral process -- groups that have not reconciled with the state and do not subscribe to the constitution or to democracy itself -- will pave the way for an even more deadly cycle of violence. If a small fringe group can force the resignation of the justice minister for not being religious enough, Pakistan's future looks grim. A genuine opposition that could be a counterweight to these machinations -- a strong middle class, modern democratic political parties, a vibrant civil society, robust human rights groups, and free media -- barely exists.
The international community is worried because there is a growing domestic political crisis in this nuclear-armed nation that is fueled by extremists at home and by a foreign policy that involves harboring insurgent groups, which has become unacceptable to the world as well as to Pakistan's neighbors in South Asia. President Donald Trump and NATO have clearly signaled they will no longer tolerate the Pakistani army's alleged duplicity -- that while it fights those terrorists who threaten the state of Pakistan, it shelters outside groups like the Afghan Taliban, which does its fighting elsewhere. Pakistan's response is to accuse the Americans of looking for scapegoats, having lost the war in Afghanistan.
The Pakistani "miltablishment" -- a name coined by the weekly Friday Times that describes the alliance between the army, its all-powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), the senior judiciary, the government bureaucracy, and some politicians -- is now deeply at odds with itself. A power vacuum has developed into which has stepped a bewildering array of Islamist extremists. The future of Pakistan itself is at risk.
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