by Patrick Appel

Ahmed Rashid checks in on Pakistani politics:

It is now a cliché to describe how a worsening economy and the lack of education and job opportunities have helped spawn Islamic extremism in Pakistan and elsewhere. Yet it is a trope worth repeating.

Pakistan's geopolitical assertiveness in the midst of all this chaos is a result of the military’s overwhelming power. It may be losing its hold on vast amounts of territory to the extremists, but it is taking control of Pakistan’s national security and foreign policy away from the government. As the country is now led by weak and widely considered to be incompetent and corrupt civilian rule with President Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of slain leader Benazir Bhutto, at the helm, the armed forces have found it relatively easy to carry out their own programs.

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