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Julian SchofieldMichael Zekulin

Appraising the Threat of Islamist Take-Over in Pakistan

28 mars 2007

Julian Schofield et Michael Zekulin. « Appraising the Threat of Islamist Take-Over in Pakistan », Notes de recherches du CEPES, no. 34, mars 2007.

The concurrent proliferation of nuclear weapons and rise of militant pan-Islamic terrorism have made observers concerned about the threat of a Jihadist take-over in Pakistan. Such an anti-Western and militantly Islamic regime, armed with nuclear weapons, would be in a position to spread nuclear weapons technology and terrorism throughout much of Asia. However, we argue that the probability of extremist religious groups obtaining control in Islamabad is very low. This paper does not dispute the growing organization, funds and influence of militant Jihadist and non-militant Islamist movements in Pakistan, but asserts that the military, particularly the army, is too well organized and equipped to be infiltrated or overthrown. Our argument proceeds by surveying three possible scenarios, all inspired by false-analogies : a Jihadist revolution, an Islamist electoral victory, and a Jihadist coup from within the military. They draw on historical demonstration effects, that have worried outside observers, but none of which applies well to Pakistan : the Iranian revolution, the electoral victory of the Islamists in Algeria, and the Islamist Egyptian soldiers who assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. We conclude that despite what appears to be a vibrant environment for such an occurrence, a Jihadist or a non-militant Islamist takeover in Pakistan is currently remote.