Pakistan is viewed in U.S. foreign policy debates almost entirely in terms of the terrorist
threat posed by the growing Islamist forces there to the international community, to
Afghanistan, and to the stability of the Pakistani state. This single-minded focus ignores
a broader and more fundamental issue that cuts across the struggle between Islamist
and secular forces: whether the multi-ethnic Pakistan federation, torn by growing
tensions between a dominant Punjabi majority and increasingly disaffected Baluch,
Sindhi and Pashtun ethnic minorities, can survive in its present form without basic
political and economic reforms.
The Center for International Policy, with support from the Ploughshares Fund,
sponsored an expert study on “Ethnic Minorities and the Future of Pakistan” to assess
the grievances of the minorities, the posture of the Pakistan central government toward
them, past and present, and the impact of U.S. policies on how Islamabad has managed
ethnic tensions, especially the armed Baluch insurgency in the southwest and Pashtun-
Punjabi tensions that are exploited by Islamist forces in the Pashtun tribal areas
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