Dysfunction of an Ideological State: Pakistan's Recurrent Crisis in Historic Context

Hussain Haqqani
Content Type
Working Paper
Centre for International Peace and Security Studies
In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Pakistan's President Musharraf has taken on the mantle of a leader dedicated to transforming his country from an Islamic ideological state to a moderate Muslim country. Are Musharraf's policies really aimed at changing Pakistan's direction or are they simply part of an effort to salvage a critical policy paradigm adopted by Pakistan's militaryled oligarchy since the country's early days? The author defines the core elements of Pakistani grand strategy by focusing on a policy tripod: the emphasis on Islam as an element of national policy empowered the new country's religious leaders; the inflexibility in relations with India and the belief that India represented an existential threat to Pakistan justified maintaining a large military which, in turn, helped the military assert its dominance in the country's life, and finally; the search for foreign allies who could pay for the country's defense and economic growth resulted in Pakistan's alliance with the West, especially the United States. If Pakistan does not transcend the dynamic created by an ideology defined by the mosque and an overly dominant military, it runs the risk of becoming a failed state with nuclear weapons.
Conflict Resolution, Religion, Terrorism
Political Geography
Pakistan, India, Asia