IS PAKISTAN A FAILED STATE?
(soon to be published in ‘The News”)
Ijaz Ul Haq
Former Minister for Religious Affairs & Minorities
Washington based Fund for Peace; an Independent Research Organization has conducted a world wide survey to index the failing states wherein Pakistan has been placed at the 10th position in the International Community. Our country has been categorized as insecure, unstable and a breeding ground for terrorism and spreading extremism, which will affect everyone.
It is a widely recognized survey and accepted to be reliable. The Group has based its results on 12 indicators relating to rulers and the ruled. In 2007 Pakistan occupied the 12th Position where from it nosedived to the 9th position in 2008 i.e. this decline was seen after the democracy had been restored and the present leadership was effectively placed. In 2009, we are lucky to have crept up by a decimal.
The indicators used are:
Demographic Pressures – Refugees/IDPs – Group Grievances – Human flight – Uneven Development – Economic Decline – Delegitimization of the State – Public Service – Human Rights – Security Apparatus – Factionalized Elites – External Intervention
The question that causes a stir is that are we really a failed state? Good enough, the surveys / findings may prove us so, but is the ground situation really bad enough for us to be bracketed with tiny African states like Chad and Guinea?
For academic interest at least, let us examine the phenomenon in a little detail and have a closer look at the Indicators. Demographic constants apart, we take into consideration the Indicators leading us to the Indexed position. We seem to conclude and find that it is not the failure of the State but in actual effect, it is the failure of our Leadership and its Policies. And by a stretch it proves the fact that it is the failure of American policies, imposed and followed in these countries that have landed them to such a dismal and un-enviable condition. Leaving aside the Tiny African States, countries like Somalia, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan are listed among Failed States. Iraq and Afghanistan are under physical military occupation of the US while influence, intervention and involvement of the US in Somalia, Zimbabwe and Sudan is manifestly apparent and open.
Leadership thrown up to rule Pakistan Iraq and Afghanistan, to the nails, is backed by the United States. In our case, it is Washington washed, Condy Cleansed and Boucher Brought Leadership. What sanctification indeed!! The scores of secret meetings that took place with Ms Candoleezza Rice and Mr. Boucher in Dubai and else where, the undertakings and commitments made by our present rulers to further American interests in the region, ought to put us to shame.
Before the general elections in ‘07, President Musharaf had no holds barred, in telling Ch. Shujaat Hussain that it has been pre-arranged that PML (Q) will now be given and should be content with only 40 – 50 odd National Assembly seats. The majority will be given to the Pakistan’s People Party (PPP) as allowed and ordained by the USA.
The former President, in his lust and hope to continue to rule, felt no remorse to become a part and partner in the despised game plan and despicable deal through notorious NRO. Which law of the land sanctions such a compromise and connivance at national level, on basic norms of morality, attributes of intellectual honesty and fair play – the very foundation of an edifice – the Islamic Republic of Pakistan? Statutory Offences and offences against the state are neither compoundable nor condonable. For us, the primitive age is still not over. The point to prove and regret is that the US – the sole superpower and symbol of democracy, independence, and human rights, stoop so low to sponsor and support such a move to ensure the return to throne of discredited, dishonest rulers. The governance deficit of these Baptized Puritans is so low that in every Pakistani’s estimation they hold the poorest of credentials and credibility. Their popularity rating can be gauged from the inland SMS traffic. It would be an amusing survey. More laughable is the Law Enactment in this regard. It would be naïve to expect such a piece with stand the adjudication and judicial review. On the Indicators, it is this de-legitimized government which is responsible for our down slide. It is this Angelic Elites and Factionalized Few, with wealth both legitimate and illegitimate amassed abroad, that has contributed to our indexation amongst failed states. It is this External Intervention that has brought the present leaders to the fore.
The economic decline is due largely to poor economic and fiscal policies of the government. The billions looted and billions written off as a result of NRO. The big loans un-accounted for and waived off by various regimes of the recent past over the years and similar fat amounts wasted on endless war on terror are a sufficient factor for our economic decline if not collapse.
Refugees / IDPs and involuntary displacement is a direct outcome of drone attacks and military operations. This is the largest internal displacement of approximately 2.5 million people ever experienced by donor agencies.
In year 2006, I attended two Seminars held at Lahore organized by Council of Pakistan Affairs and Pakistan Institute of World Peace. The participants comprised Economists, Businessmen, Intelligentsia, and Professors from the Far East and eminent personalities from respective fields. The speakers were almost unanimous in predicting the fall of the USA in at least economic terms – thereby declining its role and curtailing its capacity to act and its longevity as a Sole Super Power – the war on terror being the cause of drain and possible destabilization of its economy. The billions of dollars spent on war on terror would cause enormous strain on US economic and other potentials, would weaken its capabilities and eventually it would fall apart from within into Zones – as one may call it – at least on linguistic basis if not other identities.
It looked like a prophecy and a paradox – far fetched from reality and unlikely to happen.
Today, we are witnessing such tendencies and demands, for example, that Spanish should be made the primary language in its North. The Mexican majority areas have their own group grievances. Through massive subsidies and support funds, major business concerns and banks have been put on ventilators while others have collapsed. Unemployment and retrenchment are on the rise. The Pakistani Think Tanks have proven right in their prediction and pronouncements.
More than 40% of our population is living and languishing below poverty line with no access to the basic amenities of life. What to talk of amenities, the very basic barest needs of education, employment, health and even clean drinking water. Common commodities of daily life are beyond their reach. The hapless masses are crying for justice, equity and employment. Their life has been made miserable for lack of good governance. For the relief, they have no recourse. Rampant corruption, erosion of government control, and authority is so glaring that target and mass killings in Karachi fail to attract the mischief of Law. Dozens of dead bodies are consigned to nowhere without naming the killers and the killed. The opposition which is unique in its nature being in coalition in Punjab and friendly in the Center has not played its due role of check and balance. The voice of the masses, the burden of price hike, law and order etc is not being aired at any forum whatsoever. They rush towards the Chief Justice to come to their rescue for their collective and individual unfathomable grievances of daily life like POL prices and electricity tariff. The Opposition has not been given its due role to play in the national affairs as evidenced during the recent Budget Session. The Cut Motions relating to law and order by the Opposition were shelved / withdrawn. To promote personalized Party Rule constitutional provisions are being contemplated to further curtail the role of a viable opposition.
As a Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, my portfolio required comparatively more frequent meetings with President Musharaf. In my own humble way, I resisted foreign imposed pressures and restrictions about the Islamic Seminaries and their syllabi. Though known little to friends outside, I even raised concerns regarding the handling of the entire Lal Masjid episode. In a meeting in 2006, President Musharaf told me not to favor MMA Members of Parliament, as in the New Scheme of Things they will not be allowed to re-emerge or regain prominence in the political arena and only the secular and moderates will be allowed a role. General Musharaf stressed that the government is required to move away from religious elements and I should as well. On Lal Masjid and other such issues, General Musharaf clearly indicated that I should abdicate my conviction and my real forte. At one point, I had even decided to resign from my position but I was persuaded to stay, and to seek some sanity to prevail. However, it did not happen and I failed to forestall the finales that followed. My heart goes out for the innocent lives lost in the Lal Masjid tragedy. I did not resign but sincerely feel that it might have been more desirable and far more prudent.
From the above, one can deduce and derive that Pakistan is not a failed state. However, it is the failure of our rulers and their Masters.