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In the Name of God بسم الله

The Ominous Future of Pakistan

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U.S. experts: Pakistan on course to become Islamist state

Some Key Points:

1 - A growing number of U.S. intelligence, defense and diplomatic officials have concluded that there's little hope of preventing nuclear-armed Pakistan from disintegrating into fiefdoms controlled by Islamist warlords and terrorists, posing the a greater threat to the U.S. than Afghanistan's terrorist haven did before 9/11.

2 - "Pakistan has 173 million people and 100 nuclear weapons, an army which is bigger than the American army, and the headquarters of al Qaida sitting in two-thirds of the country which the government does not control," said David Kilcullen, a retired Australian army officer, a former State Department adviser and a counterinsurgency consultant to the Obama administration.

3 - "The implications of this are disastrous for the U.S.," he added. "The supply lines (from Karachi to U.S. bases) in Kandahar and Kabul from the south and east will be cut, or at least they'll be less secure, and probably sooner rather than later, and that will jeopardize the mission in Afghanistan, especially now that it's getting bigger."

4 - "The place is beyond redemption," said a Pentagon adviser who asked not to be further identified so he could speak freely. "I don't see any plausible scenario under which the present government or its most likely successor will mobilize the economic, political and security resources to push back this rising tide of violence.

5 - Civilian deaths in the drone attacks, the eight-year-old U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and U.S. support for Pakistan's former military dictatorship also have sown widespread ambivalence about the threat the insurgency poses and revulsion at fighting fellow Muslims.

6 - Many Pakistanis, however, dismiss such warnings as inflated. They think that the militants are open to dialogue and political accommodation to end the unrest, which many trace to the former military regime's cooperation with the U.S. after 9/11. Ahsan Iqbal, a top aide to opposition leader and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said the insurgency can be quelled if the government rebuilds the judicial system, improves law enforcement, compensates guerrillas driven to fight by relatives' deaths in security force operations and implements democratic reforms.

7 - Many U.S. officials, though, regard the civilian government of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari as unpopular, dysfunctional and mired in infighting. It's been unable to agree on an effective counterinsurgency strategy or to address the ills that are feeding the unrest. These include ethnic and sectarian hatreds, ineffective police, broken courts, widespread corruption, endemic poverty and a deepening financial crisis, they said.

8 - Pakistan's army, meanwhile, is hobbled by a lack of direction from the country's civilian leaders, disparaged for its repeated coups and shaken by repeated defeats by the militants. It remains fixated on India to ensure high budgets and cohesion among troops of divergent ethnic and sectarian allegiances, U.S. officials and experts said.

9 - Alarm rose in Washington this week after the parliament and Zardari agreed to impose Islamic law in the Swat district, where extremists have repelled several army offensives; closed girls' schools; and beheaded, hanged and lashed opponents and alleged criminals.

10 - The Taliban "have now become a self-sustaining force," ( :!!!:) author Ahmed Rashid, an expert on the insurgency, told a conference in Washington on Wednesday. "They have an agenda for Pakistan, and that agenda is no less than to topple the government of Pakistan and 'Talibanizing' the entire country."

11 - "The Punjabi elite has already lost control of Pakistan, but neither they nor the Obama administration realize that," the official said. "Pakistan will be an Islamist state — or maybe a collection of four Islamic states, probably within a few years. There's no civilian leadership in Islamabad that can stop this, and so far, there hasn't been any that's been willing to try."

12 - The plan hinges on the Pakistani army's willingness to put aside its obsession with Hindu-dominated India and focus on fighting the Islamist insurgency. It also presupposes, despite doubts held by some U.S. officials, that sympathetic Pakistani military and intelligence officers will sever their links with militant groups.

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Maisam Haider wrote: This country is in total shambles. It is doomed and beyond redemption. It's as if it is falling into a bottom-less pit of utter destruction.

Alas, I think you are correct. Things are going to get much, much worse in Pakistan before they start to get better.

In the words of Woody Allan (slightly modified to refer to Pakistan instead of the World):

More than any time in history, Pakistan faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that they have the wisdom to choose correctly.

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