Running Out of Everything: How Scarcity Drives Crisis in Pakistan


David Steven, Tuesday, May 3, 2011, Feature

While pessimism is not in short supply in Pakistan, other resources are increasingly scarce. This is driving the country toward a crisis characterized by interlocking economic, political and security dimensions, and has already brought the government close to fiscal collapse.

Yet the dangers are poorly understood. Few of the country's policy elite fully grasp how Pakistan's energy, food and fiscal challenges intersect, nor how quickly problems will spiral as the country's population grows. Meanwhile, the international community is equally fragmented and short-term in its outlook, still working through sector-based silos that leave it unable to see the big picture. With regard to Pakistan, the United States, along with other international actors, still lacks a coherent vision for what it can do to help build a more stable state. On the global stage, Washington has barely begun to address the impact that an era of higher and more volatile resource prices will have on countries such as Pakistan that are both fragile and strategically significant. ...