The interplay between the internal settings and the external environment of a state is critical to determining its place in world politics. While Pakistan is no exception, there are two features that set it apart from many others. One is the country’s reputation as a state that has shuttled painfully between quasi-democratic rule and military dictatorship at a fl uctuating pace and intensity, with Islam as a central reference of national identity and unity. The other is the terrifying dichotomy — of the country’s position as both a source of ideological extremism, aiding and spawning various terrorist groups, as well as a central player in fi ghting these phenomena. The fi rst feature has dominated Pakistan’s history ever since its creation in 1947, whilst the second one has become the country’s modus operandi since the early 1980s and, more specifi cally, since the tragic events of 11 September 2001.