The military partnership with Pakistan is important to Saudi Arabia... [Given the close ties, Pakistan Foreign Minister Qureshi's initial remarks were] very out of character for Pakistan... [The threat to convene a meeting bypassing the OIC] would directly undermine Saudi Arabia's posture, and position, of leadership in the Muslim world... I think that [FO] statement, more than anything, suggests that Pakistan will not take the actions [the foreign minister] hinted at in his remarks and it suggests that the Saudi reaction - including on the [Pakistani army chief's] trip - has led Pakistan to delicately walk back Qureshi's comments. [The walk-back indicated Pakistan] does not have the option of [turning away from Saudi Arabia] in any significant way... Pakistan's expectations from the OIC and Saudi Arabia on Kashmir have now been tempered, and realism has set in on that front for Islamabad. This ties Pakistan's hands a bit on the issue of Kashmir's autonomy. As long as Pakistan doesn't push Saudi Arabia where it doesn't want to be pushed [on Kashmir], the two countries can get past the spat.
The Pakistani state does not have the ability to be authoritarian in terms of religion. It is the Islamic republic, but it is not a theocracy. It's a democracy with a very [...] complicated relationship with religion.
The clerics see people not going into the mosques physically as a manifestation of weakened power. [Their defiance of government orders was saying] look, our domain of control is the mosque and you cannot take this domain of control away from us.
This is a real test. Domestically, [the escalation of violence with India] is the first crisis of his administration. I feel that he is passing the test right now....the ball is in (India Prime Minister Narendra) Modi's court. Khan says Pakistan is done—it would take further action from India to re-escalate (violence).
Pakistan’s main extremist challenge in 2019 and beyond is no longer a violent insurgency waged by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, as it was a few years ago. Indeed, Pakistan’s new extremists are hardliners who do not (yet) engage in mass-casualty terrorist attacks, but in massive, disruptive protests over the issue of blasphemy. Over the last few years, they have been emboldened by the state’s lack of enforcement against them and the failure to publicly provide a credible counter-narrative.The fight against these extremists, more than any other, will define whether Pakistan changes course for the better.
"[Yet the PTI has the political capital to make a stand. It enjoys widespread support, credibility among Islamists, and unprecedented backing from the country’s most powerful institution, the army.] This was the time to push back."