April 27th, 2009
03:44 PM ET

Pakistan isn’t falling

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/04/27/pakistan.taliban.talks/art.pakistan.afp.gi.jpg caption="Peter Bergen says with all of its problems, Pakistan isn't in danger of being taken over by religious militants."]

Peter Bergen
CNN National Security Analyst

In the past few weeks as the Pakistani Taliban have marched ever closer to the capital, Islamabad, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has sounded the alarm about the threat posed by the militants, who she said in congressional testimony pose "a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world."

Some media commentators have even warned that the populous, nuclear-armed state might fall into the hands of the religious zealots.

This is hyperventilation. Pakistan has myriad problems - its economy is tanking; its political leadership is feckless; its military is not trained or equipped to fight a domestic insurgency; and the Taliban now can control the lives of millions of Pakistanis. But none of this means that Pakistan is in danger of becoming a failed state or that the religious militants are about to take over the country.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Pakistan • Peter Bergen
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. prosanto, Phoenix

    For 50 years, America pretended and looked the other way while Pakistan, an Islamic Republic, neuclearized itself against a secular democratic Republic, India. During this period Pakistan opened hundreds of Madarsas with Saudi Oil money to radicalize the population. Now, America should accept their hand in creating this international menace.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:21 am |
  2. ashish

    Peter B doesn't know what he is talking about. He is comparing apples to oranges. The reason why Pakistan didn't fail in the past, even after fighting 3 wars with India and tonnes of domestic insurgencies, is because it was either ruled by an iron fist (dictators), or it was united against a common enemy (India).

    Pakistan got it wrong from Day 1. They never focussed on moderate religious values, inclusiveness, respect for human rights, gender equality, commercialization etc. Now Pakistan may become a failed state, because the cry-wolf tactic against India is not that much working, and the dictator was ousted sometime ago. Now they have a weak democratic government, but a very powerful fundamentalist force called Taliban.

    There is only one way they can get out of it in the short term. The country needs to go back to military rule and Taliban needs to be crushed with an iron fist.

    In the long run, its not state, but people have to decide what they would like to see Pakistan becoming. There are too many divisive forces within the country and citizens have to say 'enough is enough' and start liking each other. That is the only way to practice healthy democracy.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:09 am |
  3. steven harnack

    kudos to peter bergen! probably the most intelligent voice out there amid all of the hysterical doomsayers.i fervently hope he has a direct line to obama's ear.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:08 am |
  4. DW

    Peter Bergen knows better. Pakistan is a failed state and is an epic enter of terrorism. No amount of financial aid, military aid, economic aid can rescue this country. Wake up USA and embrace the reality.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:54 am |
  5. valwayne

    Lets hope Peter Bergen is right, but with the Taliban in control of large chunks of the country and moving closer and closer to the capital it doesn't look very good. We keep hearing that the Pakistani army is well trained and reasonably well equipped, but they don't seem able to control the Taliban, or worse, willing to control the Taliban. It would be great to hear about the lawyers and journalists struggling for a more open and accountable society, but they'd better be able to pick up a gun and help the army to defeat the Taliban or they will be among the first to be butchered!

    April 28, 2009 at 12:36 am |
  6. Cleopaktra

    American administration & the rest of the western world have succeeded in taking a step further to erase Pakistan off the face of earth. Talibans' old name was "Mujahideen" who were created by CIA to do their dirty work against Russia; now the same Mujahideen aka Taliban are a threat to the world because of Bush administration's policies. Obama's government is following the same path and is doing these drone attacks as a result of which one innocent person, in those poverty ridden areas, dies in a family; the rest of the family gets recruited by Taliban. How are Americans ever going to be "safe" if their own tactics backfire?

    April 28, 2009 at 12:34 am |
  7. Chitral Cheetah

    This line of thought is reminiscent of Nixonian optimism prior to the 1971 dismemberment of Pakistan. With the rapid and silent Talibanization of the Armed forces Pakistan is being eaten from within.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:32 am |
  8. Sayed Asgharie

    While I agree with the assessment made in this blog, I would like to point one cultural fact that exists in that region, and that's, there is a strong love and devotion to Islam. There is nothing wrong for loving one's religion, however when a nations like Pakistan and Afghanistan are ready to do anything for their religion, and their enemy is using the banner of the religion to unite their foot soldiers, it is a sure blue print for a disaster, unlike any other. Remember that Afghans had a very high success rate against the Russian Invasion of the 80's but could not stand a chance against Taliban in the 90s. It is important to point out that the Taliban were much poorly equipped and poorly trained compared to the Russians. The simple fact remains that the Taliban used the name of Islam to invade Afghanistan while the Russians did the opposite. Much is the same in Pakistan when it comes to devotion to Islam.
    Further to my point, suicide bombing did not exist during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (I don’t recall any, as a matter of fact) and yet it is one of the most commonly used weapons in that region today. What changed was that some Mullah made it lawful to take one’s life for their cause – fighting the infidel. During the Afghan-Soviet war of 80’s there was not need to attack the enemy in this manner and it was considered “un-Islamic” to take one’s life.
    If Pakistani Government is serious about defeating the Taliban in that country, on top of socio-economic and political education, they have to use Islamic scholars and Mullah to educate people about the wrong doings of the Taliban and deem any Taliban actions un-Islamic. Only then there is a chance to defeat for the Taliban.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:13 am |
  9. Maqbool Aliani

    Pakistan has been falling since it was created. We witnessed its breakup in 1971 and there is no guarantee of Balkanization of Pakistan. Pakistan has serious internal contradictions which is the fundamental reason for its failure. Saying Pakistan is not a failed state is like saying US economy is not in recession. Besides the real threat is not from Talibans but their supporters in intelligence agencies and military.

    April 27, 2009 at 11:55 pm |
  10. lkm

    "This is hyperventilation. Pakistan has myriad problems — its economy is tanking; its political leadership is feckless; its military is not trained or equipped to fight a domestic insurgency; and the Taliban now can control the lives of millions of Pakistanis. But none of this means that Pakistan is in danger of becoming a failed state or that the religious militants are about to take over the country."

    Sure sounds like a failed state to me.

    April 27, 2009 at 11:48 pm |
  11. Frank

    Nawww! Nuthin' ta wurry about! Forgive me folks, I jest. Here's a little tip from your uncle Frank; Be afraid, be very afraid. Without U.S. intervetnion (which isn't likely under Obama), the current governemnt of Pakistan (our ally, remember) will fall within six months. Then things will really get rockin'.

    April 27, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  12. Dan from St Louis

    Mr. Cooper

    You have discribed it best yourself! But at this point it may be 50/50. Hope you are on the right side of the 50/50.

    April 27, 2009 at 11:03 pm |
  13. papau

    Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst, has missed the point of what is happening. The Pakistani Intel Service has run a successful overthrow of the Pakistani Military – and the Taliban despite those poor poll results Mr Bergen mentions now rule millions in a min-state 60m miles from the capital – with the ability to take the largest city in the area – Peshawar – and indeed they already nearly rule Peshawar as the six tankers supplying fuel to NATO forces in Afghanistan that were gutted this week, and the guard that sustained injuries from "suspected Taliban" proves, all with the help of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). As Bill Roggio pointed out on 12/24/08, the Pakistani intel service was behind terror plots against India, as shown when Indian police detained three Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed operatives planning to execute an attack in Jammu and Kashmir, and showed how the three operatives trained in a terror camp outside of the military garrison city of Rawalpindi that is operated by Mufti Abdul Rauf, the brother of Jaish-e-Mohammed leader and founder Masood Azhar, after two Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency operatives named Hamzala and Osama provided the Jaish operatives with visas and plane tickets to Bangladesh while they were in Karachi.

    Why is CNN allowing this mis-information to be an official op-ed?

    April 27, 2009 at 11:01 pm |
  14. Raman

    Pakistan is not failing – The enterprise is alive and thriving. In fact it has raised the stakes higher by holding the gun against its forehead to milk Uncle Sam for more dollars. It is interesting that the Taliban pitch increased in frequency when Uncle Sam wanted to audit Pakistan for future fincial bail-outs (aid that is). Pakistan and AIG have one core commonality – Milking Uncle Sam.

    April 27, 2009 at 10:59 pm |
  15. abida

    Hillary Clinton is absolutely right, all these Talibans are the offsprings of those Mujahideen who helped USA to crush USSR. They are martial men, great fighters unafraid of death. Rather they wish to play life and death all the time. They are pakistanis, they belong to the those areas which are adjacent to Afghanistan. Their culture is almost the same.
    They need to straighten up the directions because they follow the faith of midevil ages, quite a bit narrow minded.
    Do you know what a Talib means? It simply means a Student and religous students are generally called Talib. Taliban is the plural.
    because I am originally from that region so I know the culture and traits.
    It is a great tradegy that those Harmless students are now a potential threat to peace and involved into insurgency.
    I request President Obama to set up a commission to investigate the root cause for all that insurgency and hatred in that area.

    April 27, 2009 at 10:53 pm |
  16. Naveed

    Like the Pakistani government you too are in state of denial..

    April 27, 2009 at 10:52 pm |
  17. Fred

    Thank goodness we have a journalist to tell us it will all be ok in Pakistan *roll eyes*.

    April 27, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  18. rm west

    Thank you! First intelligent comment I have read so far.

    April 27, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  19. earle,florida

    Very honest report Mr Bergen,my hats off to CNN...

    April 27, 2009 at 7:33 pm |
  20. Annie Kate

    I hope a leader emerges soon that will throw the Taliban and al Queda out of the country and take back the ceded lands that the Taliban now controls. Hopefully, if no one country will give the Taliban and al Queda sanctuary then both will wither away.

    April 27, 2009 at 6:57 pm |
  21. Michelle - St Augustine, FL

    The question is not that the Taliban wants pakistan because i dont think they do. It is does ask if the taliban want to go into India to join with the large sharia/ shiite population there given there history. The aggreement between pakistan and the Taliban is mute now anyway

    April 27, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  22. LaMar Bias

    This whole problem would simply go away if you would legalize drugs, and stop letting religious whack kos control the laws. The opium trade is feeding the Taliban.

    April 27, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  23. Amreen

    I'm sorry but all this rhetoric is a painful reminder of what we as americans have a history of doing..We build up all this chaos and build up the emotions of the people promoting fear and then we go in and try to take over other countries...this is what we did with Iraq and that is what it seems we are getting ready to do in Pakistan. Hillary Clinton I'm sorry to say is a wanna be who has nothing better to do than to make herself look important. Why is it that her speech presented to Pakistanis paints a different picture than what she promotes to us. Pakistan has survived many coups and dictatorships and 3 wars with India who is much better equipped then the cave dewelling Talibans and God willing Pakistan will still survive anything that these so called religious fenatics have to throw its way. What we as the Americans have to do is to support Pakistan in its need right now and not promote scare and chaos which is what Ms. Clinton seems to be doing

    April 27, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  24. Mike in NYC

    This reads like something straight out of Langley.

    Then again, maybe it is.

    April 27, 2009 at 4:04 pm |