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Is Pakistan a Failed State? An Assessment of Islamist Ideals, Nationalist Articulation and Ground Realities

In drafting its Middle East policy, the Trump administration appears to depart from the soft power rhetoric of the Obama years, seemingly favoring a more hawkish, hard power approach to dealing with America’s most important interests in the region: the defeat of ISIS and the containment of Iran. While many regional partners hope for a radical U.S. foreign policy shift after years of perceived American disengagement, Trump seems to be constrained by path dependency. He inherits a region in turmoil, a public adverse to regional military engagements for peripheral interests, and a major strategic discrepancy between ambition and capability. Consequently, the new White House will be forced to continue Obama’s policy of delegation and multilateralism.

Is Pakistan a Failed State An Assessment of Islamist Ideals


The Times of India noted in an article published in February 2005 entitled “Pak Will Be Failed State by 2015” that: 

Forecasting a “Yugoslavia-like fate” for Pakistan, the U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in a jointly prepared Global Futures Assessment Report have said “by year 2015 Pakistan would be a failed state, ripe with civil war, bloodshed, inter-provincial rivalries and a struggle for control of its nuclear weapons and complete Talibanisation.”1

The chorus of Pakistan being a failed state was followed by many “experts.”2 But the view has been challenged by others.3 In this essay we examine Pakistan’s historical foundation and its state of affairs today.

Pakistan today stands at a crossroads of history. Prior to the British rule in India, Islam was spread by means of Arab merchants and Sufi teachers and many Muslims came with invading armies from the West and Central Asia. Muslims established political domination in India and during over thousand years of Muslim rule not only Muslims flourished in India, the majority Hindu community too participated and benefitted from the economic growth of the country. However, a distinct Muslim identify consciousness began to take root during the European colonial rule of the Indian sub-continent which began around the middle of the 18th century. This awareness emerged partially in response to the Orientalist/Christian missionary attack on Islam and partially due to the high probability of domination of Hindu Brahmanism in

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