US report identifies prospects, pitfalls Pakistan may face in near future


A new US report on Monday saw Pakistan facing a mix of prospective and precarious scenarios in the next couple of decades – ranging from a sustained economic growth built on regional cooperation to instability from militant trends in the region.
The report, Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, which is a publication of the National Intelligence Council, weighs in on Pakistan’s internal problems including militancy and economic reforms as well as the impact of its relations with India.
The authors of the report, which is published every four years, view Pakistan-India economic relations being critical to stability of the South Asia.
In a hopeful outlook, they say the Pakistani economy could grow on sustained basis if efforts aimed at normalization of trade between the two nuclear neighbors move forward.
“In a Turn-the-Corner scenario, sustained economic growth in Pakistan based on the gradual normalization of trade with a rising India would be a critical
factor,” says the report.
An improved economic environment would produce more opportunities for youth entering the workforce, lessening the attractiveness of militancy and containing the spread of violence, the authors of report say of Pakistan’s economic possibilities. Intra-regional trade would also be important in building trust between India and Pakistan, slowly changing threat perceptions and anchoring sectors with vested interests in continuing economic ties, it argues.
The report projects a strong economic engine in India could lay down new foundations for prosperity and regional cooperation in South Asia.
“Over several decades, Pakistan would grow into a relatively stable economy, no longer requiring foreign assistance and IMF tutelage.”
Suspicions of India would, however, persist in military circles; even so, both nuclear-armed countries could find means to coexist in order to avoid threatening the growing economic ties, it says.
At the same time, authors of the report make it clear that positive and optimistic scenario would need Islamabad to pursue tax reforms and improve governance that spur new industries, jobs and more resources for modern education in Pakistan. A collapse in neighboring Afghanistan would probably set back any such civilian-led agenda, reinforcing security fears and retrenchment, the report cautions.
“Pakistan’s large and fast-growing nuclear arsenal in addition to its doctrine of “first use” is intended to deter and balance against India’s conventional military advantages. India worries about a second Mumbai-style terrorist attack from militants backed by Pakistan. A major incident with many casualties and Pakistani fingerprints would put
a weakened Indian Government under tremendous pressure to respond with force, with the attendant risk of nuclear miscalculation.”
Dr Mathew J Burrows, Counselor to the National Intelligence Council, noted at a National Press Club briefing that as long as the underlying reasons for disputes and tensions including Kashmir persist, the two countries face the risk of a standoff. The report also mentions the possibility that India could withhold Pakistan’s share of water from Kashmir mountains in the case of a tension-filled scenario.