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05winter_haqqani

05winter_haqqani

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Published by: Shahzad Hanif Qureshi on Jan 19, 2012
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12/22/2012

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Husain Haqqani
The Role of Islam inPakistan’s Future
© 2004 by The Center for Strategic and International Studies and the MassachusettsInstitute of Technology
The Washington Quarterly
• 28:1 pp. 85–96.T
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Husain Haqqani is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for InternationalPeace in Washington, D.C.
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lthough listed among the U.S. allies in the war on terrorism,Pakistan cannot easily be characterized as either friend or foe. Indeed, Paki-stan has become a major center of radical Islamist ideas and groups, largelybecause of its past policies toward India and Afghanistan. Pakistan sup-ported Islamist militants fighting Indian rule in the disputed territory of  Jammu and Kashmir and backed the Taliban in its pursuit of a client regimein Afghanistan. Since the September 11 attacks, however, the selective co-operation of Pakistan’s president and military ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf,in sharing intelligence with the United States and apprehending Al Qaedamembers has led to the assumption that Pakistan might be ready to give upits long-standing ties with radical Islam.Nevertheless, Pakistan’s status as an Islamic ideological state is rooteddeeply in history and is linked closely both with the praetorian ambitions of the Pakistani military and the Pakistani elite’s worldview. For the foresee-able future, Islam will remain a significant factor in Pakistan’s politics.Musharraf and his likely successors from the ranks of the military will con-tinue to seek U.S. economic and military assistance with promises of reform,but the power of such promises is tempered by the strong links betweenPakistan’s military-intelligence apparatus and extremist Islamists.Pakistan’s future direction is crucial to the U.S.-led war on terrorism, notleast because of Pakistan’s declared nuclear weapons capability. The historicalliance between Islamists and Pakistan’s military has the potential to frus-trate antiterrorist operations, radicalize key segments of the Islamic world,and bring India and Pakistan to the brink of war yet again. Unless Pakistan’sall-powerful military can be persuaded to cede power gradually to secular ci-
 
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Husain Haqqani
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vilians and allow the secular politics of competing economic and regionalinterests to prevail over religious sentiment, the country’s vulnerability toradical Islamic politics will not wane. With the backing of the U.S. govern-ment, the Pakistani military would probably be able to maintain a façade of stability over the next several years but, bolstered by U.S. support, wouldalso want to maintain preeminence and is likely to make concessions to Is-lamists to legitimize its control of the country’s polity. The United States issupporting Pakistan’s military so that Pakistan backs away from Islamistradicalism, albeit gradually. In the process, however, the military’s politicalambitions are being encouraged, compromising change and preserving theinfluence of radical Islamists. Democratic reform that allows secular politi-cians to compete for power freely is more likely to reduce this influence.
 Weakness of the Pakistani State
The disproportionate focus of the Pakistani state since its independence in1947 on ideology, military capability, and external alliances has weakenedPakistan internally. The country’s institutions, ranging from schools anduniversities to the judiciary, are in a state of general decline. The economy’sstuttering growth is dependent largely on the level of concessional flows of external resources. Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP) stands at about$75 billion in absolute terms and $295 billion in purchasing power parity,making Pakistan’s economy the smallest of any country that has testednuclear weapons thus far. Pakistan suffers from massive urban unemploy-ment, rural underemployment, illiteracy, and low per capita income. One-third of the population lives below the poverty line, and another 21 percentsubsists just above it.Soon after independence, 16 percent of Pakistan’s population was liter-ate, compared with 18 percent of India’s significantly larger population. By2003, India had managed to attain a literacy rate of 65 percent, but Pakistan’sstood at only about 35 percent. Today, Pakistan allocates less than 2 percentof its GDP for education and ranks close to the bottom among 87 develop-ing countries in the amount allotted to primary schools. Its low literacy rateand inadequate investment in education has led to a decline in Pakistan’stechnological base, which in turn hampers the country’s economic modern-ization. With an annual population growth rate of 2.7 percent, the state of public health care and other social services in Pakistan is also in decline.Meanwhile, Pakistan spends almost 5 percent of its GDP on defense and isstill unable to match the conventional forces of India, which outspends Pa-kistan 3 to 1 while allocating less than 2.5 percent of its GDP to militaryspending.
 
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Pakistan’s military dominance can be traced back to the early years of itsstatehood. The partition of British India’s assets in 1947 left Pakistan withone-third of the British Indian army and only 17 percent of its revenues.Thus, the military started out as the dominant institution in the new state,and this dominance has continued over the years. Since Gen. Ayub Khanassumed power in 1958, ruling through martial law, the military has directlyor indirectly dominated Pakistani politics, set Pakistan’s ideological and na-tional security agenda, and repeatedly intervened to direct the course of do-mestic politics. On four occasions, despite theconstant rewriting of its constitution ostensi-bly to pave the way for sustained democracy,generals seized power directly, claiming thatcivilian politicians were incapable of runningthe country. Even during periods of civiliangovernment, the generals have exercised po-litical influence through the intelligence appa-ratus, notably the Interservices Intelligence(ISI) organization. The ISI plays a behind-the-scenes role in exaggerating political divisionsto justify military intervention. Partly due to the role of the military andpartly because of their own weakness, Pakistan’s political factions have oftenfound it difficult to cooperate with one another or to submit to the rule of law. As a result, Pakistan is far from developing a consistent system form of government, with persisting political polarization along three major, inter-secting fault lines: between civilians and the military, among different eth-nic and provincial groups, and between Islamists and secularists.The first crack in contemporary Pakistan’s body politic continues to bethis perennial dispute over who should wield political power. Musharraf hasdescribed Pakistan as “a very difficult country to govern”
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in view of itsmyriad internal and external difficulties. Musharraf’s view reflects the think-ing of the Pakistani military and is possibly self-serving. The military doesnot allow politics to take its course, periodically accusing elected leaders of compromising national security or of corruption. Repeated military inter-vention has deprived Pakistan of political leaders with experience governing,leading to serious lapses under civilian rule. Because the military periodicallyco-opts or fires civilian politicians, established and accepted rules for politi-cal conduct have failed to evolve. Issues such as the role of religion in mat-ters of state, the division of power between various branches of government,and the authority of the provinces are not settled by constitutional means orthrough a vote. The military does not let civilians rule, but its own rulelacks legitimacy in the eyes of the general public, creating an atmosphere of 
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slam will remain asignificant factor inPakistan’s politicsfor the foreseeablefuture.

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