The endlessly deepening crisis that is Pakistan

Ahmed Rashid in The New Republic, via Goatmilk:

Rashid200 Many factors are helping to spread extremism and its resulting wave of intolerance: the continuing American-led war in Afghanistan and its fallout in Pakistan; a bankrupt economy; a disastrously corrupt and incompetent government; the near-collapse of the public educational system; the fifth largest nuclear arsenal in the world, which is massively expensive to run and to keep safe, and which dictates the country’s foreign policy. But the most important cause of contemporary Pakistani extremism is the simple fact that for the past three decades the state itself has sponsored many of these groups, so as to further its foreign policy aims in Afghanistan or Indian Kashmir. The Pakistani state’s patronage of these militant groups, which has continued even after September 11, 2001, has helped to sustain Islamic extremism in south and central Asia. Is it surprising, then, that none of Pakistan’s neighbors or the West really trusts it?

The military is now partially trying to reverse this trend, but the path ahead is not looking bright. In April, the White House bleakly reported to Congress that “there remains no clear path toward defeating the insurgency in Pakistan, despite the … deployment of over 147,000 forces.” The report describes the situation as deteriorating rapidly along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, with no ability by the Pakistani army “to hold and build” in insurgency-hit areas. (A Pakistani government spokesman rejected the report, saying that it “should not be held accountable for the failings of coalition strategy in Afghanistan.”) Europe and the United States are particularly concerned about this situation because almost all the global terrorist plots uncovered recently have involved European citizens of Pakistani origin or in Taliban camps in Pakistan.

Apart from the Taliban insurgency, Pakistan faces another bloody separatist insurgency in the province of Baluchistan and the mayhem created by recent unexplained killings in Karachi.

More here.