Predicting Pakistan’s future is an impossible exercise. Its internal politics and external relations are far too uncertain and challenging, its susceptibility to extreme events too acute. But the international focus on the country and the fear that it is about to fall apart mean that scholars and journalists have developed an itch to try to foresee what is in store in Pakistan, and just how bad the world’s Pakistan problem can get.
But as The Future of Pakistan, a collection of essays edited by Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Stephen Cohen, shows, this is a futile exercise. The most analysts are willing to do is say that the country will, in the short to medium term, “muddle along”. No serious thinker wants to be the one to claim that Pakistan will become a failed state or splinter, or that it will be able to pull itself away from its current trajectory and somehow fix its economy, correct its civil-military imbalance, revise its policies regarding militancy, heal its internal fissures and create a more moderate society. Continue reading