Pakistan: Ally or Adversary?

The Atlantic recently asked a group of foreign-policy authorities about Pakistan and its president, Pervez Musharraf
What type of government is most likely to eventually replace Musharraf’s?
63% Military dictatorship

“Musharraf has done well in putting in position like-minded men in the military and government who can fill in and continue his policies if he is assassinated.”

“A military dictatorship, but [one that] could be far more tolerant of jihadists.”

“The question is less what type of government—history supports the view that only the military has the strength to hold the dysfunctional Pakistani state together —and more what will be the orientation of that military government. Here the odds-on result is likely to be a government that listens even less to the United Stateson the issue of controlling the forces of terrorism in Pakistan. This will make the region far more dangerous, not because of terrorism per se, but because the Indians may decide that they cannot continue to live with a Pakistan that supports terrorism inside India.”

“Largely because the military is worried that an Islamic theocracy will take hold, they will move in with greater force to prevent it, not trusting democracy to get the job done.”

“The country is not ready for pluralist democracy and elections, if held, would likely lead to Islamist theocracy. The military, with tacit U.S. support, is likely to continue to dominate the government.”

“Military dictatorship, but the real danger is a further fusion of radical Islam and the Pakistani officer corps (these guys are not the secular defenders of the state found in Turkey’s military); avoiding this, rather than pushing for nonexistent democratic alternatives (remember the kleptocrat, and western darling, Benazir Bhutto?), should be the goal of American foreign policy to Pakistan. Let’s increase prosperity (through sectoral free trade deals, and intelligently applied aid), pluralism, and the building blocks of representation, and stop mouthing fatuous democratic slogans.”

“The military are too deeply entrenched to be replaced by a civilian Islamist group. What is dangerous is the fact that so many of the military are Islamists themselves and have had little if any association with the United States or the West, something that Musharraf’s generation had and that we have, within limits, benefited from.”

“No theocracy, God willing! ’Tis sad but true that military rule may be as good as it gets there.”

“The most likely replacement is some form of military government. A democratic government is by far the least likely.”

22% Democratic governance

“I believe the pressure is building for a return to civilian rule, although we are likely first to see some sort of hybrid military-civilian transitional arrangement.”

"What follows Musharraf will look like a democracy, but will exist at the pleasure of the military and within constraints it develops."

“Democracy with significant Islamist representation.”

15% Islamist theocracy

“[Since the government has] provided little for the people, the people will opt for the promise of salvation provided by the Islamists. The military may try to repress such extremism, but it is more likely to join it.”

“The greatest risk, and perhaps most likely outcome in the short term, is theocracy, but democracy in long term.”

“Probably either a military dictatorship or democratic governance, depending on whether he is assassinated or overthrown (in which case Islamist theocracy) or steps down of his own accord (in which case democratic governance). Then, if the successor government fails, Islamist theocracy could emerge.”

PARTICIPANTS (41): Kenneth Adelman, Ronald Asmus, Samuel Berger, Daniel Blumenthal, Max Boot, Stephen Bosworth, Daniel Byman, Warren Christopher, Richard Clarke, Eliot Cohen, William Cohen, Ivo Daalder, James Dobbins, Jay Garner, Leslie Gelb, Marc Grossman, John Hamre, Gary Hart, Bruce Hoffman, John Hulsman, Robert Hunter, Tony Judt, Robert Kagan, David Kay, Andrew Krepinevich, Charles Kupchan, John Lehman, James Lindsay, Edward Luttwak, Jessica Mathews, John McLaughlin, William Nash, Joseph Nye, Charles Pascual, Thomas Pickering, Kenneth Pollack, Joseph Ralston, Susan Rice, Wendy Sherman, James Steinberg, Anthony Zinni.

Not all participants answered all questions.

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