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Pakistan’s Road to Disintegration?

Interviewee:
Stephen P. Cohen, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Interviewer:
Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor

In the first few days of this year, Pakistan’s coalition government was thrust into crisis after losing a coalition partner, and then a top politician–Punjab Governor Salman Taseer–was assassinated. A leading expert on the country, Stephen P. Cohen, says these incidents are symptoms of the profound problems tugging the country apart. “The fundamentals of the state are either failing or questionable, and this applies to both the idea of Pakistan, the ideology of the state, the purpose of the state, and also to the coherence of the state itself,” Cohen says. “I wouldn’t predict a comprehensive failure soon, but clearly that’s the direction in which Pakistan is moving.” On a recent trip, he was struck by the growing sense of insecurity in Pakistan, even within the military, and the growing importance of China. …
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