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  • Technorati: graph / links

    Is Pakistan ‘failing’?


    by Sunny on 8th May, 2006 at 5:44 am    

    Pakistan has sharply moved up the list of ‘failing states’ according to a new study.

    The report - compiled by the US Foreign Policy magazine and the US-based Fund for Peace think-tank - ranked 146 nations according to their viability.

    Judged according to 12 criteria, including human flight and economic decline, states range from the most failed, Sudan, to the least, Norway.

    The second annual “failed states index” was based on “tens of thousands of articles” from different sources gathered over several months in 2005 and reviewed by experts, its authors said.

    Zak is not too happy, unsurprisingly.

    Given that Pakistan recently had to deal with a huge earthquake, and is still facing internal turmoil, this is not surprising. Even the Danish cartoons controversy nearly got out of hand.

    There are many differing opinions on the issue but my feeling is that this list is typically blind to events on the ground. In the comments of Zak’s post, DrPak writes:

    I can go a step further and say that those living outside Pakistan don’t have the same appreciation of the changes that are taking place under Musharraf as those living in it. I was living here when Nawaz Sharif was systematically subjugating every pillar of power that dared opposed him. I remember vividly his attack on the press and how The News newspaper was delivered to our house as just a single one page because the government had cut off their paper supply. In those days, we were really worried about where the country was going. People were fully aware of how bad the economy was.

    Under Musharraf, while there have been few changes for poor people, there is no doubt a revolution within the country’s economy that will eventually reach out to the poorer segments of the population. No one today (in Pakistan) believes Pakistan might collapse economically and turn into a failed state. This danger was acutely felt however in Nawaz Sherif’s last months.

    One can argue that despite the attempts by religious parties Musharraf has successfully, albeit slowly, managed to liberalise the country. The media is much freer, the economy is doing well, and there are much better relations with India. The two don’t even spit at each other over cricket.

    How is it possible to make a judgement based on foreign news reports when most western journalists are only interested in the area if bombs are going off or America is openly killing its citizens?

    No doubt much of Pakistan’s instability comes from its intelligence service ISI interfering in foreign affairs (notably supporting the Taliban). But if Musharraf can steer it away from that, and establish a democracy that does not have to answer to the mullahs, then the country can have a bright future.

    Admittedly, it is a big if. But talks of the country ‘failing’ are surely much exaggerated.



      |     |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: Pakistan, South Asia




    33 Comments below   |  

    1. risc — on 8th May, 2006 at 9:30 am  

      Just coming back from PK I can confidantly say it was better than my previous visists. Usuual problem of dodgy politics but other than that a lot of progress. Opening up of markets, genuine competition, spring in peoples step as oppurtunties to make real money.

    2. soru — on 8th May, 2006 at 10:18 am  

      The problem with that list is it seems to be more ‘bad places to live’ than ‘failed states’. For example it counts major human rights abuses as a signifier of a failed state, whereas a true failed state can’t even get it’s act together to oppress anyone.

      That means North Korea is listed above your average african country, which is obviously wrong.

    3. al — on 8th May, 2006 at 11:09 am  

      sunny

      I dont lie the new web design . too bland . i would’ve done something with a pickle and created a logo . .

      Report : could do better .

    4. calculator — on 8th May, 2006 at 12:09 pm  

      t is surprising that Pakistan has jumped from 34th position to the 9th. Obviously, this does indicate that things are sliding downhill in Pakistan rather fast.

      This downhill slide especially on law and order is not surprising if one goes by the reports in the Pakistani media. Notwithstanding this BBC news does cause alarm.

      The administrative posts in Balochistan is going abegging! The hapless Pakistan PM has doled out “bribes” in a manner of speaking to lure bureaucrats to go to Baluchistan. The allurement has taken the form of 50% pay hike, promotions, air ticket for self and family twice a year to their home, a plum posting of one’s choice if one can hang around for 3 years etc etc!

      The above allurement is a clear indication of the strife and chaos that has permeated Pakistan. Journalists are not allowed to enter NWFP and it is a closed house. The Shias are getting browned off in NA. Chitral has had problems. In Sind villages have been razed. It is only in the Punjab that the situation is business as usual. But then Punjab is not Pakistan, or is it?

      It does not bring cheer in the least that Pakistan is in such a sorry state, Instead, it worries since it is India’s neighbour and a turbulent Pakistan is dangerous for India. After all, to divert Pakistanis from their woes, there is always the placebo of whipping up an anti Indian hysteria. The massacres in Doda maybe a harbinger of evil tidings. Therefore, it does not portend well.

      A wind de la mort seems to be blowing across Pakistan. We all must see how best we can salvage the situation so that Pakistan returns to even keel.

    5. Rohin — on 8th May, 2006 at 12:18 pm  

      This all seems a bit silly. I pay more heed to Pakistanis who tell me what it’s like there, just like I get my information about India from Indians living there. Sitting in London it’s hard to get a ‘feel’ for what a country’s like, there’s a palpable air of change in many countries that you can’t detect from outside.

      In Pakistan-related news: Mushie!

    6. Sunny — on 8th May, 2006 at 2:24 pm  

      I agree, I don’t see how North Korea can look so stable. There are mass famines going on in the country and the President only survives by a huge intelligence / repression operation. At least Musharraf has lots of popular support.

    7. Amir — on 8th May, 2006 at 3:24 pm  

      Okay
      To begin with: Pakistan has a problem. A big problem. During the 11-year reign of General Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s, the dictator decided that he needed allies, since he had squashed political dissent and opposition parties. He found them in the local fundamentalists, who became his political comrades. With the aid of Saudi financiers and functionaries, he set up scores of madrasas throughout the country. The Afghan war, meanwhile, attracted religious zealots, eager to fight godless communism. These jihadis came mostly from Saudi. And without the House of Saud’s money and men, the Taliban would not have existed, nor would Pakistan have become a hornet’s nest for religious psychos. Zia’s embrace of Islam brought him a kind of legitimacy, but it has eroded the social fabric of Pakistan.

      Tantalizingly, however, I am optimistic. Wherever Moslem fundamentalists have been involved in day-to-day politics – Bangladesh, Indonesia, Turkey, Algeria – their luster has worn off. People have realized that the streets still have to be cleaned, government finances have to be managed and education attended to. The mullahs can preach, but they cannot rule. The few Arab regimes that have tried a ‘mixed’ approach – such as Jordan and Morocco – allowing some dissent within the system (while retaining their secular(ish) character), are faring much better. Pakistan is trying to adopt a similar approach. If countries do more to include the fundamentalists in the system, they will stop being seen as distant heroes and will be viewed instead as local politicians.

      In Iraq, already, the religious parties have lost seats since the last election.
      Amir

    8. Jay Singh — on 8th May, 2006 at 3:59 pm  

      Ordinary Pakistanis detest the Jihadi spouting type of fundoo. They will always be marginal to the fate of Pakistan because they will never be elected. In fact whenever there has been an election in the mainstream of Pakistan the fundoos have never got a large vote. The army is the problem - they propagated the fundamentalists but people who talk as if Pakistan is at threat of Taliban style takeovers dont know what they are chatting about - Pakistan cannot be compared with Arab countries. Completely different people and mindset.

    9. Refresh — on 8th May, 2006 at 4:11 pm  

      Amir, there is a huge chunk which is actually missing in your analysis.

      Zia was important in the fight between one superpower and another. Which directly worked against the interests of the people of Pakistan. And he wasn’t the first.

      The radicalisation was needed (as did the growth in the number of these madrassas) to generate the fodder for the ’superpower’.

      Surely the lesson is India got it right - do not align yourself with anyone. Pave your own way.

    10. Refresh — on 8th May, 2006 at 4:49 pm  

      BTW, lets not fall into the trap of abusing madrassas per se. Traditionally they have been, sometimes the only, source of education for the poor.

      So let me add subversion of madrassas at the door of Zia and ‘the superpower’.

    11. Zak — on 8th May, 2006 at 6:50 pm  

      Hey compared to DrPak I was positively backing the failed states article! The illustrious Pat Buchanan (I speak with sarcasm in case you don’t know me) once said it’s dangerous to be Americas enemy..but it is fatal to be it’s ally (this quote should cite Israel as an honourable exception of course)..I think that reflects the conundrum that Musharraf has put Pakistan in..

      I don’t think there are restrictions on foreign journalists visiting NWFP..FATA (the tribal areas yes but hell the locals are prisoners as well!)

      One specific reason for American complaints is that Pak policy has not shifted as dramatically as the yanks want..the US boots on the ground doing 6 month rotations want to get in smash everything up and maybe (big maybe) get Osama leave a mess behind and get out..Pakistans right wing establishment is playing another game..they target Al Qaeda and foreigners leave the Taliban behind as there trump card in Afghanistan..that way there old policy of strategic depth and their orthodox brand of Islam still hangs around..’nuff said..

      p.s Thanks for the plug (is anyone watching that Bush, Mush hota hai thing?)

    12. Expose — on 8th May, 2006 at 9:48 pm  

      Pakistan clearly enjoys a massive comparative advantage in producing terrorists etc.
      And until this advantage dissipates, expect, Pakistan to be straddling failure

    13. Sajn — on 8th May, 2006 at 10:34 pm  

      Curiously one of the indicators used to rate the “failed state” is the number of people fleeing from said country. Given that Pakistan is ranked higher than Afghanistan, you would expect to see millions of Pakistanis fleeing to Afghanistan rather than the millions of Afghanis who refuse to leave Pakistan for their relatively better off country.

      Or is this just another load of American tosh?

    14. Sunny — on 9th May, 2006 at 1:40 am  

      It’s a load of American tosh to me. Most Pakistani friends who have been there and back have spoken positively of the country rather than say it has been repressive or going backwards. There is optimism in the air, which I think is far more important than anything.

      PP writer Fe’reeha was there recently so maybe she can shed more light if she is around…

      Refresh:
      Surely the lesson is India got it right - do not align yourself with anyone
      Only to a certain degree. The Soviet Union was still India’s friend and America was seen as the enemy despite the Non-Aligned Movement. Where it has gotten the country over the long term, I’m not sure. But I believe they’ve fared better because no govt has been able to foster religious fanatics. The BJP did for a while but got chucked out. Unless you get the streets cleaned and the people richer it doesn’t matter, people can’t eat religion to survive despite what the mullahs say.

    15. mirax — on 9th May, 2006 at 6:12 am  

      Anyone read Peter Preston’s scathing article in CiF about this? What did you think?

      For me it raised curiousity about the depth of support for Musharraf in the country. It seems apparent enough that the middle- classes welcome the economic liberalisation and the relative political stability. But how long can this continue? Is Mushie capable of taking Pakistan to the next level- ie some sort of democratic government? Does he enjoy enough popular support to be truly elected into office?

    16. DAtley — on 9th May, 2006 at 4:56 pm  

      Jay Singh wrote>“Ordinary Pakistanis detest the Jihadi spouting type of fundoo. They will always be marginal to the fate of Pakistan because they will never be elected.”
      Not sure if pakistan will have genuine election.
      Ever since its founding the binding idea was that
      ISLAM IS IDENTITY.
      Which has later changed into ISLAM IS EVERYTHING.
      but reality was when founded was punjabi and pukhtoons screwing others.
      Sindhis joined in when it was bengalis getting F;ed up
      the ass, and now are crying themselves.
      The reason that there never will be a representational
      government is that punjabis are insecure ethnic group.
      Watching pakistani TV is educational.
      For eg on AryDigital, PTV and all you here punjabis saying
      “musharraf is bad, but not that bad.”
      when issue turns to bangladesh Every one denies that
      the west pakistan ever did any thing wrong.
      Its so interesting that no one from Balochistan,Gilgit,Northern Areas Even NWFP now is not shown.

      Another interesting fact is when you look at pakistans total patent submission, and contrast that with religious discussions in media.
      why patent submissions, well its arbitary but easy to count
      you can aswell include scholarly articles in world class journals….Its dismal.
      If a country was less fundoo and more scientific
      than many arabs countries the picture would be different
      8 patents are filed by pakistan/year…Less than jordan.
      (much worse when you scale for population)
      If it was a truely less fundoo culture it would be doing
      less fundoo things, like working on improving energy efficiency of things, but its not.

      Like it or not pakistan for the near future is going to
      ping pong between fundoos and pseudo representation(should
      be read as representation engineered done to keep baloch, +northern areas and Non religious folks out)
      And oh yeah as if these problems were not enough
      just add kashmir and meddling in internal affairs
      of afghanistan into it.

    17. Sajn — on 10th May, 2006 at 12:08 am  

      Does the General enjoy popular support? Only in comparison to the “religious” parties and his stooges such as the Chaudhrys. I am afraid that the General would not be guaranteed a victory in a free and fair election against BB.

      Not sure if that is good or bad for Pakistan because while he has done some good things, he is also responsible for allowing or building the fallacy that the “religious” parties enjoy the kind of support that would command the level of political representation they have managed to achieve during his tenure.

    18. DAtley — on 10th May, 2006 at 5:07 am  

      >>”Does the General enjoy popular support? Only in comparison to the “religious” parties and his stooges such as the Chaudhrys. I am afraid that the General would not be guaranteed a victory in a free and fair election against BB.”
      I doubt it, Again you have to factor Punjab.
      BB is an wierd character only half sindhi, other half
      being kurdish speaks horrible punjabi/sindhi barely acceptable urdu. Her qualifications are that she was born in a family of ‘high’ acheivers. she managed to win one election b/c she was daughter of the man responsible for splitting east and west pakistan, creating enemies inside the military, who ended up
      getting himself killed. Her brother did create nuisance for zia through means now called terrorism. He too has had an interesting fate. Her husband screwed the countries coffer…and now she wants a 2nd term.
      Frankly neither sharif/bb would be acceptable to punjab. This is the only reason general sahib is in power.
      International attitude is as bush in bush-mush vid said, “vardi utare na utare sannu ki”.
      The reform is happening its just a matter of …

    19. mirax — on 10th May, 2006 at 6:06 am  

      “vardi utare na utare sannu ki”.

      Bush said that? Really? The cretin can barely string together an English sentence.

      Now what the hell does it mean?

      Sajn, thanks for the reply. It is not good to know that BB and her party are still in the running. What is her support base? Apart from the sindhi serfs that is?

    20. DAtley — on 10th May, 2006 at 6:41 am  

      “Bush said that? Really? The cretin can barely string together an English sentence.”
      Its from the parody “bush mush hota hai.”
      in it mussharraf asks bush if he minds if he would remain the head, and bush’s response was what do i care.

    21. John Browne — on 10th May, 2006 at 8:03 pm  

      I don’t know about Pakistan failing.

      However the EU is definitely a failing state.

      The facts:

      1. Millions of babies aborted annually.
      2. Population extinct within 100 years (birth rate too low).
      3. Growth going down.
      4. Euro a shambles.
      5. Pensions getting worthless (echos of 1930s Germany).

      Time the UK left and joined an economically right wing group of countries (USA, South America, Philipines, Lithuania and Poland) that have a similiar belief systems to our own
      - Catholic!

      John

    22. Sunny — on 10th May, 2006 at 10:24 pm  

      Maybe the Pope’s hatred of contraception is being funded by companies would prefer people to have more babies so as not to put corporate and govt pensions into the red?

    23. John Browne — on 10th May, 2006 at 10:54 pm  

      Sunny,
      Lol… That is a bit unfair.
      The pope was world famous for coming out against contraception in the 1960s. 1964 Was the peak year of the “Baby Boom” so it was hardly said to aid Western Economic policy.

      The Baby Boomers will be retiring in about 15 years time. This will cause a dramatic shift in power away from Europe. We’ll be a mere shadow of our former economic power. 15 years to go. the clock is ticking.

      John

    24. Sunny — on 10th May, 2006 at 11:47 pm  

      Ahhh, economic power is overrated I think. Surely there are too many humans on this planet anyway?

      There was a great article in the Economist a few years ago (A Christmas edition I believe) where this guy wrote an article saying the best gift human kind could provide was not have babies at all. Voluntarily end humankind. Unfortunately no one took heed of the article :(

    25. xyz — on 10th May, 2006 at 11:58 pm  

      “There was a great article in the Economist a few years ago (A Christmas edition I believe) where this guy wrote an article saying the best gift human kind could provide was not have babies at all. Voluntarily end humankind. Unfortunately no one took heed of the article.”

      Humans are the species most adept at re-generating populations in the fastest time after widespread losses due to disasters, genocides and the like. No fear of extinction for us. We’re adept at doing the extincting.

    26. DAtley — on 11th May, 2006 at 3:02 am  

      “I don’t know about Pakistan failing.

      However the EU is definitely a failing state.”

      Well EU is probably going to have to stepback…
      But it probably isnt a dead idea.
      Anyways the US and EU will diverge even further.
      EU will need a better understanding amongst member
      state, and one big factor in that is just why
      had we been killing each other//

    27. Sajn — on 11th May, 2006 at 10:10 pm  

      Mirax, I think some of the views stated here are too simplistic and/or based upon the individuals own prejudices.

      Despite what some would say, the PPP does actually have a NATIONAL following. Sindh is obviously their homebase but probably the major factor over the last 15-20 years has been the breaking down of the traditional powerbases. PPP has made inroads into both Punjab and the NWFP. Similarly the Muslim League has made inroads into Sindh and the NWFP. Balochistan is still something of a problem for both the main parties but given time I think that will change as well.

      On a side note, the MQM recently declared it’s intention of building a national powerbase just like the PPP and ML.

    28. Zak — on 12th May, 2006 at 1:31 am  

      True Saj..there are parts of the Frontier that are nicknamed mini-Larkana (the Bhutto heartland)..the party has been hit hard though by defections..Nawaz Sharif on the other hand his party is in ruins at the moment.

    29. mirax — on 12th May, 2006 at 11:46 am  

      #27 Thanks for the info, Sajn. To hear someone like Raz, who utterly loathes BB and Shariff (with good reason, I’m sure!), you’d think that the PP was a spent force…

    30. Sid — on 12th May, 2006 at 11:52 am  

      PP is a spent force? Not if this new HTML look and feel has anything to do with it. PickledPolitics Zindabad!

    31. raz — on 12th May, 2006 at 12:06 pm  

      Just for you, my dear mirax, Benazir’s funniest bullshit yet:

      http://www.ibnlive.com/news/pakistan-wanted-to-attack-us-bhutto/10154-2.html

    32. mirax — on 12th May, 2006 at 12:15 pm  

      Raz, I’m not a BB fan.Rest easy!

      >>Benazir’s funniest bullshit yet:

      The poor woman needs to stay in the news, what?

      #30 meant PPP, of course. Don’t want to doom Sunny’s new mission on PP before it’s even taken off ;-)

    33. Sajn — on 12th May, 2006 at 10:12 pm  

      The problem with both PPP and the ML-N parties is that they are led by people who have lost virtually all credibility. Both would be better off in the hands of their deputies.

      I think PPP might fare better if led by Makhdoom Amin Fahim and certainly ML-N will fare better if led by Shabbaz or even Javed Hashmi. Unfortunately, neither scenario appears likely at the moment.

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