(3) Joining Chindia,
(4) the Great Game, and
(5) a South Asian Confederation. The most familiar and likely are based on the pendulum of rule by the military and rule by landlord/politicians. However, what is needed is to move from the more likely and less desirable futures to a process of anticipatory democracy where the citizens of Pakistan consider, create and commit to building their preferred future.
While the assassination of Benazir Bhutto certainly plunged Pakistan into one of its works crisis in decades, the recent successful elections appear to have brought hope back again. The extremist parties did poorly, and even with a low turn out and election violence, it appears that the latest cycle of military rule is over.
Yes, much remains unresolved. Certainly as Nathan Gardels argues in his article, "Bhutto's elimination a big boost for al-Qa'ida," the West did lose track of the prize, focusing on Iraq instead of on Islamabad. It is in Pakistan where the future of the Islamic world lies. In addition to the Afghanistan Taliban, there is now a Pakistani Taliban. Nuclearization continues. Civil society is still vulnerable to internal and external shocks. Can politicians create a secular democratic Pakistan? Or will the politics of Jihadism continue, with Kashmir returning as the battle front?
While these issues are important in understanding Pakistan's future, we often forget the deep archetypes and structures (inner symbols and external patterns) in Pakistani politics. These delimit what is possible.
Syed Abidi's Doctoral dissertation at the University of Hawaii, titled Social change and the Politics of Religion in Pakistan made the observation that Pakistan's political system can best be understood as a pendulum between civilian rule and military rule.
The first stage was from 1947-1958 and was characterized by the Parliamentary system with the dominant class interest...