Pakistan: Hollow State

John Robb calls Pakistan a “hollow state.”  Dan Nexon says it’s in a state of “civil war.”  Aryn Baker says “the nuclear-armed nation of 165 million is on the verge of inexorable collapse.” And Robert Oakley believes its president is “incompetent and corrupt.”

In my New Atlanticist piece, “Pakistan Nearing Collapse,” I argue that all of those assessments are accurate.

Given the country’s history, one expects the military to take over governing any time now.  But it’s not precisely clear what will be left to govern.

And there doesn’t appear much we can do about it.

AP Photo.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    The description that rings true to me is that Pakistan is a government without a country.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    BTW IIRC we are giving the Pakistani government something like $500 million a year in what might variously be called aid, transit fees, or a bribe. Presumably, the Pakistani government will continue to exist as long as we keep sending money and there’s somebody there to receive it.

    I wonder if we’ll keep sending money when the government controls little but the capitol.

  3. Oldcrow says:

    The difference between now and previous military takeovers is then the military was secular and westernized that is not true now the Pakistan military is now chock full of fundamentalists that sympathize or outright support the Taliban view of what the PAK government should look like. So a military take over will accelerate the radical take over.

  4. Brett says:

    The difference between now and previous military takeovers is then the military was secular and westernized that is not true now the Pakistan military is now chock full of fundamentalists that sympathize or outright support the Taliban view of what the PAK government should look like.

    I don’t know if I’d go that far. As Ahmed Rashid points out in his books (he’s a well-known Pakistani journalist), there’s been a long-standing pro-Islamist, fearful-of-US culture in the Pakistani Officer Corps that goes back at least to the days of the dictator Zia (and probably further back), and which is only being diluted in recent years.

    As for Pakistan, I think it depends on how close the Taliban get to Islamabad. My prediction is that they’ll be on the very doorstep of the capital sometime in the next four years, but that they won’t be able to take it, at least not for a while. Then again, considering how 12,000 Pakistani troops got their asses kicked by 3,000 Taliban fighters, maybe I’m being optimistic.

    I hope I’m being realistic. The fall of Islamabad would really lead to a rapid deterioration of the situation, particularly since India would have a hard time holding back in such a situation.

  5. Tlaloc says:

    Tlaloc’s first rule of the News:
    Any day that the word “Pakistan” shows up in a headline is a day I reach for the Tums.

    This has been my policy for many years now and it’s really never let me down.

  6. Tlaloc says:

    I put Pakistan way way ahead of Iran and North Korea combined, in terms of countries I think will start something bad.