Pakistan’s security predicament

Religion, economics or geopolitics?

Authored by: Masooda Bano

The Routledge Handbook of Security Studies

Print publication date:  November  2009
Online publication date:  December  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415463614
eBook ISBN: 9780203866764
Adobe ISBN: 9781135239077


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Faced with the choice of standing ‘with or against’ the US in the autumn of 2001, then-president General Pervez Musharraf announced a u-turn on Pakistan’s two-decades old policy of training and supporting the mujahideen – a process in which Pakistani intelligence agencies have been actively involved since the Soviet–Afghanistan war. But despite active cooperation with the US through the provision of extensive logistical support, intelligence-sharing and the implementation of numerous counter-insurgency measures within the country (Cohen and Chollet 2007), seven years later, Pakistan was ranked as ‘the world’s most dangerous place’ (The Economist 2008; Moreau and Hirsh 2008). Its tribal belt, and increasingly the whole of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), is reportedly slipping out of state control and becoming a focal point for the gathering of Muslim militants from across the globe. Pakistan today therefore has the unique status of being criticized as a rogue state and praised for being on the front line of the ‘war on terror’ at the same time (Cohen 2004). The US policy towards Pakistan remained an important electoral concern in the 2008 US presidential elections (Rafique 2008). On the one hand, it is feared that the country’s nuclear weapons might fall in the hands of Islamic militants, who could use them for potentially devastating acts of political violence; on the other, the rise in militancy arguably threatens the survival of the Pakistani state.

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