Washington: Pakistan is in a state of institutional failure, even if it is not a failed state now, a former US ambassador to Islamabad said today, noting that the nation`s powerful army is in no mood to usurp power.
"Pakistan is in a state of institutional failure. Its not a failed state, but you could argue it is a failing state. So these elections need to be well run and credible in their outcome," former US Ambassador to Pakistan Ryan Crocker told reporters during a conference call today ahead of the general elections in Pakistan in May.
Crocker who was the US Ambassador to Pakistan from 2004 to 2007 said that there are more extremist groups in Pakistan today than when he was there.
"They are targeting the Pakistani state, the military and civilians. We`ve seen the press reports of the ascendancy of the Taliban in Karachi, one of the world`s largest cities," he said.
In response to a question, Crocker said that Pakistan would continue to hedge its bets on the Taliban.
"The Pakistanis will hedge their bets on the Taliban unless or until they are convinced both of our intentions, along with those of the Kabul government, and our staying power," he said.
"We`ve been trying to signal both; that was one of the aims of our conclusion of the strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan, that runs until 2024, that President Obama signed in Kabul last May, not only a signal to Afghans that the US is here to stay this time, but to Pakistanis," he said.
From the point of view of US interests, he said, it does not matter that much who emerges in first place and who forms the next government as long as the process of getting them there is broadly seen as legitimate.
"I am a little less certain on this, but I don`t think there is much appetite in the Pakistani military to get itself involved in the electoral process, certainly not under current management. So as long as there is no widespread disorder, I would be reasonably confident that the military will keep its distance," Crocker said.
Daniel Markey, an expert on India, Pakistan and South Asia, said the Pakistanis are themselves deeply concerned about what the political outcome in Afghanistan is likely to be.
"They`re worried about this reconciliation process. They want to sit at the table. They want to influence the process," he said.