Pakistan in 2013: Yes, it could get worse

This is the third in a series of entries looking at what we can expect in 2013. Each weekday, a guest analyst will look at the key challenges facing a selected country – and what next year might hold in store.

By Michael Kugelman, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Michael Kugelman is the senior program associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. You can follow him @michaelkugelman. The views expressed are his own.

Four years ago, the U.S. Congress announced the findings of a bipartisan investigation into weapons of mass destruction.

Chillingly, the study predicted a nuclear or biological attack by the end of 2013 – with a high likelihood that it would originate in Pakistan.

Could this prediction come true next year? The risk of Pakistani nukes falling into the wrong hands is certainly high. Last August, militants attacked an air force base near Islamabad thought to store nuclear weapons. Several weeks later, security officials acknowledged a “serious” threat from the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) to assault one of Pakistan’s largest nuclear installations. All this in a country where, according to an unsettling Atlantic report, assets are frequently exposed: “[N]uclear bombs capable of destroying entire cities are transported in delivery vans [by the military] on congested and dangerous roads.”

This potential nuclear nightmare will undoubtedly consume many minds. Yet the nightmare we should really be focusing on in 2013 is the one Pakistan’s already living – increasing sectarian strife, economic struggle, and general insecurity.

Various forms of violence afflict Pakistan, but 2012 was the year of the sectarian attack. This autumn, 150 members of the Shia Muslim minority were killed in a four-week span. By early December, nearly 400 had died in 2012 – the most since the 1990s. One prominent Pakistani commentator has described his country’s anti-Shia violence as “genocide unfolding before us.” Other religious minorities are besieged as well – especially Ahmadis, a Muslim sect most Pakistanis regard as heretical.

Expect this all to continue in 2013. State responses inspire little confidence; arrests are rarely made, and protection is scarcely provided. After the recent desecration of an Ahmadi cemetery, police promptly announced they would not provide security at such sites.

Yet the worst is still likely to come. Sectarian attacks are usually carried out by groups like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, but the TTP has asserted responsibility for some of the most recent ones – suggesting an emerging alliance between two of Pakistan’s most vicious Sunni extremist entities. This is an ominous development in a nation where, according to polling, 41 percent of Muslims don’t regard Shias as true Muslims.


6 replies

  1. The way Pakistanis are heading blind folded nothing good but worst can be hoped. That is a common sense.
    The only thing is that we the Ahmdis are by the grace of God granted a vision and a heart of a Momin. We have the mouth piece of God the Khalifa and Imam of the time among us to guide us. That is why we can see what could be the consequences of such an ignorance. And feel pain and sympathy for the sufferings of our beloved country and countrymen.
    Since long Jamaat has been warning them, cautioning them but Alas! all in vain. The care not to take heed and be saved. Our Second Khalifa Hadhrat Mirza Mehmood Ahmed RA said that Khalifa will be like a Talisman for Pakistan. As long as he is dwells here Pakistan will be saved from every atrocity.
    We and time is witness that since the Khalifa left Pakistan it never prospered. It is under every kind of threat and atrocity. you name one and it is there. Dangers are lurking on it from within and outside. Moral disaster, spiritual bankruptcy, socio economical collapse. You name one vice and it is there in its absolute form. May Allah have mercy on the nation. Amen
    So what can we do but keep on praying that may Allah have Mercy on this Nation. And open thier eyes so that they mays ee what theya re heading for.Amen

  2. Although, the article; Pakistan in 2013: Yes, it could get worse by Michael Kugelman, Special to CNN and gleefully refered to by Rafiq A. Tschannen in Muslim Times) is much more prejudicial than the usual anti-Pakistan garbage, western press dishes out time and again. Mr. Michael Kugelman could not refrain himself from repeating clichés and wishful thinking of USA decision makers, while talking about Pakistani nukes. For example, he states:
    1. Chillingly, the study predicted a nuclear or biological attack by the end of 2013 – with a high likelihood that it would originate in Pakistan
    2. The risk of Pakistani nukes falling into the wrong hands is certainly high
    It will be futile to answer all the nonsense from this article but I would restrict myself to the above two.
    1. The CIA and other Pentagon studies have refuted any such scenario. One can ask; Against whom and where would this perceived nuclear or biological attack would take place and why should Pakistan indulge in such reckless action.
    2. When it comes to the safety of Pakistani nukes, my simple answer is that if Pakistani nukes were so vulnerable to attack or being snatched, do not you think, USA, Israel and India would have made an effort to do so. The truth lies somewhere else.
    USA knows that few thousands Taliban – unprofessional, with no heavy weapons and no combat training, have no wish to take on world’s 7th largest army, which is top professional, heavily armed, including atomic weapons and with 180 million proud Pakistanis behind them. Besides, the CNN propaganda is because USA does not want a Muslim country to be a nuclear power. There are straight and simple cultural and religious motives behind this non-stop demonization of Pakistan. Someone should ask CIA and US military bosses; Are Pakistani nuclear weapons sitting in a basket like ripe bananas for anyone to come and take these home, much less primitive Taliban, who have no nuclear training, scientific knowledge and facilities to assemble the nukes and no means to use it. To me it is like assuming that USA nuclear bombs can fall in the hands of Ku Klux Klan or Right Extremist Militias in the country.

    Tribal areas constitute less than 2% of Pakistani territory of nearly 1 million square kilometers. Those areas have always been outside the government control since the British rule. I remember when Hillary Clinton stupidly remarked that Taliban are just 60 kilometer from Islamabad. It was such a foolish statement that he regretted it later. I wonder, why USA politicians and military commanders never think before they open their mouths and make fools of themselves.
    Yes, Pakistani governments may be corrupt and have failed in providing necessary facilities to its public but that does not mean Pakistan is not a functioning country. India has been always 8 times bigger than Pakistan but India did not suffer from the foolish policies of USA, when it attacked Afghanistan, drove millions of Afghans into Pakistan and forces it to spend 70 billion dollars against the so-called war on terror, which was also the net result of Afghan war. Before that Pakistan was developing fast with 7-8% development rate, with no violence and suicide attacks.
    So Mr. Rafiq A. Tschannen, next time please be more neutral in your passing USA propaganda to your readers. Opinions about Pakistan should be based on facts and not on religious and political agenda.

    • I would not say that I posted this article ‘gleefully’, but rather ‘sadly’. From my visits to Pakistan I also know that the majority of people are very noble. Unfortunately most of ‘the Noble ones’ do not have the courage. For instance how many refused to sign the silly declaration that you have to sign to obtain a passport? The Ambassador of Pakistan at the time of the introduction of this form was one of those with courage who did not sign, saying that ‘I do not believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian is the Imam Mahdi, but how do I know in future whether an Imam Mahdi will come’? – Yes, it is difficult to choose article for The Muslim Times. There are many biased ‘News sites’ out there in the web. Some are just plain anti-Muslim. The strangest one I found was one that was publishing its articles all over the world as a ‘paid advertisement’. They must have quite a budget!

  3. Dear Rafique
    I have said that so many times to the editorial staff of Muslim Times that you need to get your act together because to an ojbective reader like me, I find lots of your articles are anti-Pakistan or at least have neagtive stories about it. You may not agree with me but have a look yourself and count such articles. Compare these numbers with what “good news”, articles, you bring about Pakistan and you will come to the same conclusion. Pleasedo not tell me that every thing in Pakistan is about Ahmedis or minorities. A country of 200 millions peaceful people have lots of beautiful aspects, which deserve attention. Unfortunately and I do not blame you for that, you have a streak of punishing Pakistan in your editorial decisions because of what some brain dead extremists are doing to innocent Ahmedis there.
    This I find not only harmful for your journalistic credibility but also leaves Ahmedis vulnerable in the end. I wish that you go after those who deserve criticism and our scorn but do not go after Pakistan as a country, as a nation and as people.

    • Thanks Quraishy Sahib, I do think you have a point. It is so much easier to find ‘negative’ News rather than ‘positive ones’ (and not only about Pakistan). We shall try to improve, Inshallah.

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