Reversing Pakistan’s Descent: Empowering its Middle Class

Pakistan is not, today, a failed state. However, for the first time since I started focusing on South Asia, in the past eight or so years, there is a real possibility that it could become one. Pakistanis must take full responsibility for this state of affairs. Their unwillingness to do so, and attempts to shift blame to the United States, India, and others, is evident. The United States does hold some of the blame; its actions have at a minimum permitted, and perhaps even promoted, Pakistan’s deterioration. Still, Pakistan has the resources, both natural and human, the experience, and the background to lift itself up if it chooses to do so. Its friends, including the United States, need to implement policies to help.

The solution to reversing affairs in Pakistan is, first and foremost, that both Pakistanis and Americans need to recognize that Pakistan needs to take responsibility for its own problems. This needs to be reinforced not just by words but by deeds on the part of the United States and other friends of Pakistan. The United States needs to support and encourage those within Pakistan who hold similar aims and objectives as the United States. A strategy to do so will require the United States to fundamentally rethink its policies, priorities, and partners in Pakistan, in the course of which—most importantly—it must turn to the middle class.