Pakistan’s reputation in the western public could not be worse: it is seen as “the world’s most dangerous country”, a sanctuary for Islamist terrorist groups such as al-Qaida. With its powerful military establishment and nuclear weapons, it is considered to be dangerously unpredictable. This view overlooks the many in Pakistan who work tirelessly for the causes of democracy, human rights and gender equality, frequently under very dangerous conditions. Despite numerous setbacks, Pakistan’s civil society has time and again managed to exert its influence on the country’s political development. The movement of judges and lawyers who took to the streets to protest the suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry and had him successfully reinstated is but one example.
This publication is designed to provide a differentiated view of Pakistan’s complex political processes and social challenges to a broad international audience. Authors from a variety of disciplines present their analyses of Pakistan’s deficits and shortcomings, as well as their ideas and visions for a more democratic and peaceful future. They also intend to give policymakers the means for a better understanding and cooperation with this difficult, yet fascinating country.
With contributions by Abbas Rashid, Rubina Saigol, Hasan Askari Rizvi, Kaiser Bengali, Pervez Hoodbhoy, Azmat Abbas, and Saima Jasam.