Created in the aftermath of the partition of British India in 1947, Pakistan owes its creation directly to the fact that it is an Islamic state. Yet Pakistan has faced a number of serious problems from its inception with political violence with its neighbor and rival India, as well as an independence movement in the Bangladesh region. An explicitly Muslim country, Pakistan sways between the more secular version of democratic government and a more Islamicist regime based on Shari'a law. For example, democratically elected governments have been in place since 1985, but in October of 1999 when Pakistan's army declared a state of emergency, suspending the constitution and legislature, and appointed army chief Gen. Pervez Musharraf top authority of the nation. The army has ruled Pakistan for 25 of its 52-year history, and army takeovers have happened repeatedly. And after India detonated its first atomic device in 1997, Pakistan retaliated by also exploding a nuclear device. This nuclear capability coupled with the endemic political instability between India and Pakistan as focused in the disputed border areas of the Kashmir province have many people inside and outside the Asian subcontinent concerned for the future. Pakistan will clearly be in the forefront of world security concerns for the indefinite future.
Questions to keep in mind: How is Pakistan's history different than that of other Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia? What role does Islam play in the rivalry Pakistan has with India? What are the Islamic goals of the Kashmiri independence fighters? What is the position of the more secular leaders of Pakistan? What is the position of the more religious leaders of Pakistan? What is Pakistan's response to Western criticism of the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Pakistan? What does the recent coup d'etat by the military tell us about Pakistan's political scene right now? What can we expect in the future? How will Islam affect Pakistan's role in the region in the future?
Pakistani Coup Coverage at Yahoo!
Get a good overview here at Pakistan at 50. Here is also an excellent CNN section dealing with India, Pakistan and 50 years of independence. Read it thoroughly! Check out all links!
Check out these links dealing with the latest hijacking: Freed cleric vows to continue fight in Kashmir, India hijack-swap militant calls for holy war. Understand this.
These links deal with the latest governmental difficulties and atomic tests: "And now a nuclear-armed coup?", Pakistan and its Uncertain Future, Pakistan and Loss of Face, "TIME: A Strongman Shaken", "Can't Stop the Madness", "We're Not to Blame". TIME: Nawaz Sharif on Pakistan and India, ASIAWEEK: Would the real Gen. Pervez Musharraf please stand up?, Regional Arms Race? Pakistan's Dilemma,
Official Pakistan Page, Pakistan on Web, , Pakistan on Web, Pakistan - Home Page, Pakistan Online.
NPR: Pakistan/India Partition, India/Pakistan at 50, Pakistan Politics, Pakistan Nuclear Weapons, India Acquires Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Proliferation, Sharif Sells Out in Kashmir, India-Pakistan History, India-Paskitan talks.
Pakistan Terrorism -- NPR's Ted Clark reports that the United States now believes Indian charges that Pakistan's military supports the terrorist group that last month hijacked an Indian Airlines jet. The US belief raises the prospect that Pakistan could be put on a list of nations that are boycotted for supporting terrorism. (3:30)