Stephen Cohen summarizes some views on the future of Pakistan.
Another Five Years: More of the Same
The most likely future for Pakistan over the next five to seven years, but less likely than it would have been five years ago, is some form of what has been called “muddling through”, and what, in 2004, I termed as an establish-
ment-dominated Pakistan. The military will play a key although not always and not necessarily central role in state and political 73 Quoted in The News (Lahore), May 31, 2009.
74 “Mapping the Global Future,” Report of the National Intelligence Council’s 2020 Project Based on consultations with nongovernmental experts around the world (Washington, DC: National Intelligence Council, December 2004), p. 21.
decisions. This scenario could also include direct military rule. As several of the Bellagio participants have noted, it has not made much difference whether the military or the civilians are in power, since both had progressive moments, but each has also contributed to the long decline in Pakistan’s integrity as both a state and a nation.
In this scenario, the political system would be bound by certain parameters: the military might take over, but only for a temporary fix; it will neither encourage nor tolerate deep reform; and civilians will be content with a limited political role. The political system would be frozen in an intermediate, gray zone between full-fledged democracy and military autocracy. The state will always be in transition, but will never arrive ….