MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports"

Pakistan: A Potential Jihadist State?

Bruce Riedel joined Andrea Mitchell to discuss the deteriorating situation in Pakistan.

ANDREA MITCHELL, host: There are mounting concerns today that the security conditions in Pakistan are deteriorating. Predictions even that Pakistan could become a jihadist state. And the war in neighboring Afghanistan is, of course, of grave concern to the Obama administration, the Taliban and al Qaeda insurgents posing an increasing threat.

Bruce Riedel, senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, recently completed an interagency review of policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan for the Obama White House. He joins us now, here in New York. Thanks so much for joining us Bruce.

First, Pakistan. You have talked about the risks there -- that it could even become a jihadist state. A weak central government, divisions among the political leaders. How do we rely on President Zardari , after all these meetings in Washington last week, who has so little popular support -- approval ratings of perhaps 10 percent.

BRUCE RIEDEL: That's right. Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world today. Nowhere else in the world do you have the combination of Islamic extremism, terrorist groups with a global reach, nuclear weapons, and nuclear proliferation.

We have tried the route of a military dictator. That's how we got where we are. We now need to try to strengthen the civilian government. It has lots of warts, but we gotta work with it. The Congress should pass the economic legislation to get economic aid to Pakistan and we should increase military assistance for counterinsurgency.

If you don't like what we've got now, think about what the alternative is: A jihadist state in Pakistan, the second largest Muslim country in the world, with the fastest growing nuclear arsenal. If you don't want that, we gotta work with what we got today.

Watch the full interview »