India-Pakistan: February 14, 2005

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A new CIA report predicts that Pakistan may well come apart in the next decade. Corruption and poor government are making Islamic radicalism more popular, especially in the Pushtun (northwest) and Baluchi (southwest) tribal areas. Most of the population is not tribal. In fact, about have the population is in one province, Punjab. When India and Pakistan were formed in 1947, Punjab was split, with about 70 percent of it going to Pakistan. The Indian portion, with better government and less corruption, has done more than twice as well as the Pakistani part (on a per-capita basis). India also has problems with tribal separatists (in the northeast), but in Pakistan the tribes comprise a larger portion of the population (at least ten percent.) It's expensive to fight the tribes, and the Baluchis are eager to take control of the lucrative natural gas fields operating in Baluchistan. The CIA report sees the country coming apart along ethnic lines, much like Yugoslavia did in the 1990s. This would create a Punjabi state, with at least half the population, plus  Pushtun and Baluchi states, plus one or two more. The big question is what would happen to Pakistan's nuclear weapons. The number of Islamic radicals in the military is expected to grow, making it more likely that Islamic terrorists could get their hands on a Pakistani nuclear weapon.  The Pakistanis dismiss the report, pointing out that, while they created the mess, they've also learned to deal with it, or at least live with it. 

 

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