‘In just 3 yrs, Islamist Pak will dump West’January 14, 2010
London: Pakistan is likely to become a more Islamist state and increasingly anti-American in the coming years, complicating US efforts to win its support against Islamist militants, a report released on Tuesday said.
The report, which looks at Pakistan over a one-to-three year time horizon, rules out the possibility of a Taliban takeover or of it becoming the world’s first nuclear-armed failed state. “Rather than an Islamist takeover, you should look at a subtle power shift from a secular pro-Western society to an Islamist anti-American one,” said Jonathan Paris, who produced the report for the Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank.
Paris forecasts that Pakistan is most likely to “muddle through”, with its army continuing to play a powerful role behind the scenes in setting foreign and security policy. “Speculation of a Taliban takeover dramatically overestimates the willingness of the political and military elites to surrender power to the Taliban,” says the report, the result of months of research on the outlook for Pakistan.
Paris, who also works for the Atlantic Council of the US, nonetheless sees Pakistan slipping away from the west at a time when Washington needs its support in Afghanistan. “US and UK leverage over Pakistan is not growing. It is decreasing. Pakistani society is moving toward anti-Americanism and toward more sharia law,” says Paris.
The rising influence of Islamist political parties and of militant groups in its Punjab province will slowly transform Pakistan by exploiting local grievances. “The danger for the army, and for Pakistan generally, is not Talibanisation but Islamisation from Punjabbased militants and their allies,” the report says.