Amidst the endless talk of “stabilising” Afghanistan and Pakistan—which the Bush administration conceives solely in terms of military force and aid, respectively—sight is lost of the fact that what both countries need is transformation. And there is no greater transformation needed in South-Central Asia than turning Pakistan into a state that will no longer be a threat to the stability and security of its neighbours and the world.
This, unfortunately, will not come about as a result of the Pakistani elections of February 18th. The poor showing of the religious parties yet again demonstrated that the threat of extremism emanating from the country comes not from the mass of the people but from its all-dominating military-security services complex. Yet the electoral exercise in and of itself can do nothing to force Rawalpindi to give up its stranglehold on the levers of national power, which it has all too often employed in state sponsorship of terror, even under “civilian rule”. The pressure for transformation, at least initially, must come from without.