Political reformers in Pakistan have long argued that economic growth would bring about a decline in the militancy that today threatens to tear the country apart. While economic deprivation is undoubtedly a cause of political instability, recent history suggests that growth alone is not a solution.
That’s the lesson from a new book by Tufts University political economist Vali Nasr, Forces of Fortune: The Rise of the New Muslim Middle Class and What It Will Mean For Our World (2009). Capitalism is the best insurer of political stability, Nasr posits, but not all capitalisms are equal. To promote peace, growth must do more than simply reduce absolute poverty by expanding the proverbial economic pie. It must also curb inequality by expanding the middle class, and tie their success explicitly to the stability of the state.
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