Drivers of Long-Term Insecurity and Instability in Pakistan: Urbanization

Drivers of Long-Term Insecurity and Instability in Pakistan: Urbanization

Drivers of Long-Term Insecurity and Instability in Pakistan: Urbanization

Drivers of Long-Term Insecurity and Instability in Pakistan: Urbanization

Synopsis

Already one of the most urbanized nations in South Asia, Pakistan is projected to have a majority of its population living in cities within three decades. This demographic shift will alter Pakistan's politics and threaten its stability, but the political and security implications of Pakistan's urbanization remain underanalyzed. This report examines urbanization as a potential driver of long-term insecurity and instability, with particular attention to the cities of Karachi, Lahore, and Quetta. Drawing on demographic trends, election results, and survey data, the authors conclude that urbanization may fuel anti-American sentiment and help recruitment by transnational Islamist groups (but not necessarily Islamist political parties) in the short term. Urbanization is also likely to increase popular demand for political reform in Pakistan. In the near future, a Pakistani government more directly accountable to its electorate might be less willing to cooperate with the United States in unpopular security policies. In the long run, however, a Pakistani government more responsive to its citizens could be a better security partner for the United States. By spurring Pakistani policymakers to focus on provision of good governance and public services rather than on scapegoating external actors, political reform may eventually help reduce anti-American attitudes.

Excerpt

Pakistan is already one of the most urbanized nations in South Asia, and a majority of its population is projected to be living in cities within three decades. This demographic shift is likely to have a significant impact on Pakistan’s politics and stability, but the political and security implications of Pakistan’s urbanization remain underanalyzed. This report provides a brief examination of urbanization as a potential driver of long-term insecurity and instability, with particular attention to the cities of Karachi, Lahore, and Quetta.

This report should be of interest to researchers investigating topics including South Asian security, political developments in Pakistan, and the sociopolitical effect of urbanization. the research and analysis contained in this report reflect the political situation through June 2014: As this document was prepared for publication, the late-summer protests led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan and cleric Muhammad Tahir-ul Qadri held the potential to alter the political balance in Pakistan—but at the time of publication, the outcome of these protests remained in doubt.

The research underlying this report was sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy and conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the rand National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community under Contract W91WAW-12-C-0030.

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