The Death of Pakistan?

This is a watershed moment for Pakistan. Will it survive the current maelstrom of challenges that it faces – exemplified by the recent assassination of Governor Salmaan Taseer of Punjab by one of his bodyguards, an Islamic zealot – or will it founder on a theocratic path leading back centuries in time?

NEW DELHI – This is a tipping point for Pakistan. Will it survive the current maelstrom of challenges – exemplified by the recent assassination of Governor Salmaan Taseer of Punjab by one of his bodyguards, an Islamic zealot – or will it capsize? For the world, Pakistan’s fate is an urgent, perhaps even an existential, question. After all, Pakistan is a nuclear-armed, terrorist-spawning regional power.

The roots of Pakistan’s instability run deep. Following World Wars I and II, the European powers and the United States sat around distant tables and fabricated frontiers, giving birth to Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia – and thus to most of the of the Middle East’s current ills. The region’s new map was based on the assumption that the fundamentals of “Muslim Asia” could be transformed by introducing the Western nation-state system. Instead, what formed was a region of entities that have largely failed to cohere as nations.

In 1947, the Indian sub-continent, too, was vivisected in much the same way, with a religion-based entity carved out of it: Pakistan. Of course, it is pointless at this stage to re-examine that tragic folly. The consequences of partition, however, remain: Pakistan has not yet been able to evolve an administratively credible government. Indeed, if Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s founding father, had been right that Muslims are a separate nation, Bangladesh would not have broken away from it, and the country’s relations with its neighbor Afghanistan would be free of intrigue and violence.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in;
  1. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

    The Brexit Surrender

    European Union leaders meeting in Brussels have given the go-ahead to talks with Britain on post-Brexit trade relations. But, as European Council President Donald Tusk has said, the most difficult challenge – forging a workable deal that secures broad political support on both sides – still lies ahead.

  2. The Great US Tax Debate

    ROBERT J. BARRO vs. JASON FURMAN & LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS on the impact of the GOP tax  overhaul.

    • Congressional Republicans are finalizing a tax-reform package that will reshape the business environment by lowering the corporate-tax rate and overhauling deductions. 

    • But will the plan's far-reaching changes provide the boost to investment and growth that its backers promise?

    ROBERT J. BARRO | How US Corporate Tax Reform Will Boost Growth

    JASON FURMAN & LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS | Robert Barro's Tax Reform Advocacy: A Response

  3. Murdoch's Last Stand?

    Rupert Murdoch’s sale of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets to Disney for $66 billion may mark the end of the media mogul’s career, which will long be remembered for its corrosive effect on democratic discourse on both sides of the Atlantic. 

    From enabling the rise of Donald Trump to hacking the telephone of a murdered British schoolgirl, Murdoch’s media empire has staked its success on stoking populist rage.

  4. Bank of England Leon Neal/Getty Images

    The Dangerous Delusion of Price Stability

    Since the hyperinflation of the 1970s, which central banks were right to combat by whatever means necessary, maintaining positive but low inflation has become a monetary-policy obsession. But, because the world economy has changed dramatically since then, central bankers have started to miss the monetary-policy forest for the trees.

  5. Harvard’s Jeffrey Frankel Measures the GOP’s Tax Plan

    Jeffrey Frankel, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a former member of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, outlines the five criteria he uses to judge the efficacy of tax reform efforts. And in his view, the US Republicans’ most recent offering fails miserably.

  6. A box containing viles of human embryonic Stem Cell cultures Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

    The Holy Grail of Genetic Engineering

    CRISPR-Cas – a gene-editing technique that is far more precise and efficient than any that has come before it – is poised to change the world. But ensuring that those changes are positive – helping to fight tumors and mosquito-borne illnesses, for example – will require scientists to apply the utmost caution.

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now