The Fierce Pressures Facing Pakistan

Ahmed Rashid in the New York Review of Books:

ScreenHunter_1127 Apr. 09 14.56The single worst legacy of military rule since the 1970s, the time of the loss of East Pakistan—now Bangladesh—has been a ruinous foreign policy that has made enemies out of most of Pakistan’s neighbors owing to the safe havens that Islamic extremists from these countries have carved out in Pakistan. It is well known that such havens exist in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and Balochistan, but they are also located in many other parts of the country, from Lahore near the Indian border to the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan.

Because of its fear of India, Pakistan has been turned into a garrison state with a persisting paranoia about being surrounded by hostile countries and dominated by a demanding, belligerent United States. Yet the Pakistani army is the seventh-largest in the world with some 642,000 soldiers, 500,000 reserves, and an arsenal of 120 nuclear weapons.

Still, since September 11, 2001, the army has often been ineffectual. Pakistani extremists have killed up to 30,000 Pakistani civilians and 15,000 members of the Pakistan military. Pakistan is living in the midst of a partially self-created bloodbath of terrorism that is more comparable to Iraq and Nigeria than to India or Bangladesh.

More here.