Whither Pakistan?

As 2010 concludes, several outstanding issues continue to bedevil Pakistan. How they are managed in the year ahead will determine not only the country's immediate future and long-term prospects, but also the security of its region and, indeed, much of the world.

LAHORE – Pakistan remains the world’s never-ending question. As 2010 concludes, several outstanding issues continue to bedevil the country. How they are managed in the year ahead will determine not only Pakistan’s immediate future and long-term prospects, but also the security of its region and, indeed, much of the world.

It has been said – without exaggeration – that Pakistan faces an existential threat. The country has not defined a coherent approach towards those who are resorting to terrorism to advance their agendas, both within Pakistan and abroad. It remains uncommitted to the idea of denying sanctuaries on its territory to Taliban fighters battling American and NATO troops in Afghanistan. Relations with India have soured in recent months, because Pakistan’s government is once again lending diplomatic support to the insurgency in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Domestic terrorism in Pakistan has taken a heavy human and economic toll. It is no longer aimed at official support of United States-led anti-terrorism activities. Sunni Islamic extremists now target minority groups as well as other Muslim sects. Some 800 liberal and Sufi Islamic scholars have died in targeted killings by extremist groups who receive financial assistance from like-minded people in the Middle East, and some well-known and much-visited Sufi shrines have been bombed.

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