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April 30th, 2009 at 9:49 am

Farzana Shaikh: The Vacuum That Rules Pakistan

Making Sense of PakistanFarzana Shaikh, author of the forthcoming Making Sense of Pakistan, recently argued in a recent op-ed in The Independent that “there is now an almost fateful inevitability that a major terrorist attack in the UK will carry a Pakistani imprint.”

The threat of Pakistani terrorists acting abroad became more pronounced with the recent arrest of 11 Pakistani nationals suspected of a terrorist plot. However, despite the evidence of Pakistani nationals as terrorists, the government of Pakistan has been slow, particularly in the eyes of Western government, to contain the threat of terrorism.

In her op-ed, Shaikh lays out some of the political and historical complexities that shape Pakistan’s response or lack of response to terrorism, including its traditional enmity toward India and its mistrust of the West. However, Shaikh also suggests that Pakistan will not be able to “do more” about terrorism until it clarifies its relationship with Islam. She writes:

Ultimately, however, Pakistan’s capacity and willingness to “do more” to meet the terrorist challenge will depend neither on political arrangements at home nor on the material support of allies from abroad. Rather it will depend on the country’s confidence to project an identity grounded in a clearer vision of the state’s vexed relationship with Islam, which has left it prey to deep divisions, for it is this vacuum that has rendered it vulnerable to the forces of extremism. And it is these that now endanger both the state of Pakistan as well as the security of its neighbours and the wider international community.

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