Armed violence is now flaring on several fronts in Pakistan: the government is fighting the Taliban in the West, militant groups in the Punjab region are collaborating on attacks in the East, and everyday Pakistanis are caught in the middle. And in Washington, President Barack Obama is deciding whether to escalate the war next door in Afghanistan. To make sense of the increasingly perilous situation, NEWSWEEK’s Andrew Bast talked to former CIA officer Bruce Riedel, who is now a senior fellow at the Saban Center, part of the nonprofit Brookings Institution. Excerpts: Stability in Pakistan is an elusive reality. But can we put this in perspective? How bad is it? This is the worst political violence we’ve seen in Pakistan in decades. You say that without qualification? Unqualified. The only time that was worse was in 1971, when half the country broke apart in a civil war. But in practical terms, all of that political violence took place in what is now Bangladesh. We’ve never seen levels of political violence in the cities of Pakistan itself of this caliber since partition in 1947. Our correspondent reports that violence today stems not just from Waziristan in the west […]

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