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    Default Pakistan on the road to disintegration?

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    In the first few days of this year, Pakistan has witnessed one of the first political turmoil of recent times. Earlier this week, the Pakistan government was struggling to survive with its coalition partner pulling out and then one of the country's most dynamic and outspoken politicians -- Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer -- was assassinated by one of his bodyguards.

    In an interview to Council of Foreign Relations website, Stephen P Cohen, a leading expert on Pakistan, talks about the ongoing political crisis, Taseer's assassination, growing sense of insecurity in Pakistan, importance of China and more.

    On falling government and Taseer's assassination:

    The crisis in the Pakistan government and the Punjab governor's killing are symptoms of a deeper problem in Pakistan. There is not going to be any good news from Pakistan for some time, if ever, because the fundamentals of the state are either failing or questionable. This applies to both the idea of Pakistan, the ideology of the state, the purpose of the state, and also to the coherence of the state itself.

    Pakistan has lost a lot of its "stateness," that is the qualities that make a modern government function effectively. So there's failure in Pakistan on all counts. I wouldn't predict a comprehensive failure soon but clearly that's the direction in which Pakistan is moving.

    On Pakistan's possession of nuclear weapons:

    All United States policies toward Pakistan are bad, and some are perhaps worse than others. The US doesn't know whether levelling with Pakistan is going to improve things or make it worse. Hopefully, America won't make any more fundamentally wrong decisions in the future, but that may not prevent Pakistan from going further down the road to disintegration.

    Someone in the US state department was quoted in a WikiLeaks document that if it weren't for nuclear weapons, Pakistan would be the Congo. I would compare it to Nigeria without oil. It wouldn't be a serious state. But the nuclear weapons and the country's organised terrorist machinery do make it quite serious.

    On China's influence on Pakistan:

    China is Pakistan's major military supplier. Of course, it probably put the Pakistanis in touch with the North Koreans for missile technology. The Chinese have one concern in Pakistan and that is the training of Chinese militants and extremists inside of Pakistan. The Chinese have no problem with the Tiananmen Square-type of crowd control.

    When the Lal Masjid was blown up in Islamabad in 2007, it came after some ten Chinese were kidnapped and the Chinese complained publicly. The Pakistanis had ignored our protests about the mosque for many years. But they moved quickly when the Chinese protested, killing many women and children in the process.

    That was one of the turning points in President Pervez Musharraf's career, because that turned many militants against him. Before that time, he had either ignored or supported them, but after Lal Masjid, they became his enemy.
    ...being a human...



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