Vendors sell fruit under lights lit by batteries in Lahore, Pakistan, on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. Millions of people across Pakistans major cities were plunged into a blackout prompted by a power grid failure, dealing another blow to the nation already reeling from surging energy costs. Photographer: Betsy Joles/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Vendors sell fruit under battery-powered lights during a blackout due to a power grid failure in Lahore, Pakistan, on Jan. 23, 2023. Photo: Betsy Joles/Bloomberg via Getty Images

THE LAST YEAR has brought Pakistan to the brink. A series of rolling disasters — including catastrophic flooding, political paralysis, exploding inflation, and a resurgent terror threat — now risk sending a key, if troubled, global player into full-blown crisis. If the worst comes to pass, as some experts warn, the catastrophe unfolding in Pakistan will have consequences far beyond its borders.

“This is a country of 220 million people, with nuclear weapons and serious internal conflicts and divisions,” said Uzair Younus, the director of the Pakistan Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center. “The world didn’t like the outflows of refugees and weapons that came from countries like Syria and Libya. In comparison, Pakistan is magnitudes larger and more consequential.”

“If the economy remains in a moribund state, and there are shortages of goods and energy leading to a political crisis on the streets of major cities, that would also allow the Pakistani Taliban and other terrorist groups to begin hitting at the government more directly,” said Younus, who is also vice president of the Asia Group, a strategic advisory firm. “We could see a significant weakening of the state and its capacity to impose order.”

It is hard to overstate the difficulty of Pakistan’s current situation. An unfortunate string of recent events combined with chronic mismanagement has created a potentially mortal threat to Pakistan’s political system.

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