Author: Jayshree Bajoria, Senior Staff Writer
Pakistan may be even more vulnerable than Egypt (The News) to popular discontent, with higher inflation, unemployment, and external debt, much of it exacerbated by the devastating flood of 2010 that crippled an already teetering economy. Many Pakistanis are sympathetic (PressTV) to the anger over corruption, surging food prices, and lack of jobs driving Egypt’s protests.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani rules out the likelihood of an uprising such as those in Egypt and Tunisia. “Our institutions are working and democracy is functional,” Gilani says (Daily Times).
Huma Yusuf, a Pakistan scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, says it is unlikely Pakistanis will unite against a common cause. “Decades of manipulative politicking under military regimes have fractured civil society (Dawn) and factionalized politics,” she writes. “We will always see ourselves through an ethnic, sectarian, or socio-economic lens before we see ourselves as Pakistani.” The murder of Pakistan’s Governor Salman Taseer by his own security guard in January, and support for Taseer’s assassin among many Pakistanis, exposed some of these growing divisions.
Like Egypt, Pakistan is an important strategic partner whose stability matters even more for U.S. national security interests, in neighboring Afghanistan as well as in U.S. efforts to confront al-Qaeda. But U.S.-Pakistan relations have been strained following the detention of a U.S. diplomat on possible murder charges. The Washington Post reports the Obama administration has suspended all high-level dialogue with Pakistan.
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