Strategic Forecasting, Inc. shares an article on Pakistan as well as a short podcast on the same subject
Stratfor Podcast on Pakistan 7th August 2008 – [audio:Stratfor_Podcast.mp3]
After some four months of disagreements over the fate of President Pervez Musharraf, the two main partners in Pakistan’s coalition government — the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz — announced Aug. 7 that parliament will begin impeachment proceedings against Musharraf on Aug 11. The same day, President Musharraf cancelled his trip to Beijing and threatened to dismiss parliament.
The phenomenon of presidents dismissing parliament is not a new one in Pakistan. In fact, it has long been an instrument through which the country’s military establishment has maintained the integrity of the state (and military primacy). But the Pakistan in which this was business as usual is a thing of the past. The parallel rise of democratic and jihadist forces during the eight years of Musharraf’s rule not only has resulted in Musharraf’s fall from grace, it has eroded the military’s hold over the state. Meanwhile, the unprecedented rise of external pressure from the United States, NATO and India is adding to the strain on the army, limiting its room to maneuver.
A new political environment has emerged in the country over the past 17 months preventing the army from simply stepping in and taking over in the event of a breakdown of the current order. Moreover, Musharraf’s management of the struggle against militant Islam has unleashed a jihadist insurgency in the country, further complicated by a worsening economic situation.
For these reasons, the army under new chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani is seen as favoring the status quo to avoid the risk of plunging the country into even greater chaos. Additional chaos, it is feared, could provide a good opportunity for jihadists to advance their war on the state. (A key factor thwarting the army’s ability to fight the jihadists effectively is the compromised state of the South Asian country’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate.)
Given that civilians have never really ruled on their own in Pakistan, and that now the military lacks the tools it long had, Pakistan has entered a new phase in its post-independence history. The political and security infrastructure that has kept Pakistan afloat is breaking down, and the country is headed into uncertainty. The only certainty is that things will never be the same in Pakistan, as the state’s guarantor has stumbled. This is not to say the country is headed toward irreversible implosion, but that the ties that bind are breaking.
Ultimately, the situation in Pakistan has reached the point where the army can no longer hold the state together, and needs the assistance of the civilian forces — which are weak to begin with. The dysfunctional nature of civilian institutions — which previously worked to the army’s advantage — now threatens the integrity of the state since the army has weakened. How the events play out in terms of the move to impeach Musharraf, especially the role of the army, will be critical indicators of Pakistan’s future trajectory.