Pakistan’s Tipping Point

Pakistan’s moment of political truth is fast approaching. On May 11, some 40-50 million voters will elect a new national assembly – and the result, preceded by a spike in extremist violence, is likely to reverberate far and wide.

LAHORE – Pakistan’s moment of political truth is fast approaching. On May 11, some 40-50 million voters will elect a new national assembly. The outcome, preceded by a spike in extremist violence, is likely to reverberate far and wide.

Pakistan’s homegrown terrorist groups know that the country is at a tipping point, and are attacking candidates and voters who favor a secular state. Hundreds of people have already been killed, and more will undoubtedly die before Election Day, targeted because, if these groups prevail, they would push what is sometimes called the “idea of Pakistan” to its logical – and extreme – conclusion.

Some 70 years ago, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s founding father, launched the movement to create an independent state for the Muslims of British India. The British colonial administration finally acquiesced, creating a country out of Muslim-majority areas. The population of what is now Pakistan was about two-thirds Muslim; the remainder were mostly Hindus and Sikhs.

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