The Imminent Collapse of Pakistan!!!

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by Daredevil, Sep 4, 2010.

  1. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

    Apr 5, 2009
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    I'm starting this thread to collect vast number of articles that are predicting the slow and gradual collapse of Pakistan from within due to internal clashes, sectarianism, terrorism, weak economy, feudalism, bonded labor, illiteracy, corruption, gun culture, separatism, identity crisis or misguided ideology. Let's highlight the important points from these articles and debate them on merit.

    Post the articles that you come across with the above theme of Pakistan's collapse and highlight the important points that the article/author makes.

    No flaming and no one-liners.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2010
  3. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

    Apr 5, 2009
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    Questions, questions, questions

    By Cyril Almeida

    Friday, 03 Sep, 2010 | 12:37 PM PST |

    As the carnage and destruction, both manmade and nature’s wrath, around us continue, it’s hard to figure out what to do. Or even what to figure out.

    Curl up in the foetal position and hope that this too shall pass? Attempt somehow, anyhow to understand why this is happening to us? If the latter, there are so many strands, where do you begin? Militants, the economy, politics? If militants, then which kind, the sectarian or the pan-Islamic?

    Is the state collapsing? Or are still-born state-building processes finally catching up with us, inevitably proving that only shrinking pockets can be kept governable? Is this an economy of an elitist state or are we a national security state where the concentration of wealth is incidental?

    It’s pretty clear the barbarians are gathering at the gate, but can we be so sure on which side of the gate they are? Inside — among us, one of us, ostensibly protecting us — or outside? The inevitable: do we blame politics and politicians or generals and bureaucrats, or perhaps all of them?

    Questions, questions, questions — the answers only seem to come in the form of more blood, more misery, more dashed hopes. The whole trajectory of this place is wrong, what does it matter where you’re coming from if down is where you’re headed?

    The self-appointed guardians of the national interest have been so keen on saving this place from external enemies, real and imagined, that they seem to have forgotten you can wither away from within, too. Eventually, you’re just an angry shell, prancing, preening, defiant at every turn, but ravaged from the inside, a weakness apparent to everyone but yourself.

    Get lost, India, we won’t take your pity money, they say, while remonstrating with the rest of the world for not doing enough for flood victims. As if taking five million or 20 million or even a billion dollars from India would change anything, here or there. But no, we can’t give them a PR opportunity to make us look bad. Handouts from the enemy? Never. We’d rather let a few thousand peasants suffer. At least they’ll have their honour and dignity, their sovereignty.

    But if the uniformed lot dress up their monstrous flaws and mistakes and obsessions in high-minded constructs, the politicians deal in the currency of debasement and shallowness.

    Often you have to wait for it, deflect the rhetoric and tripe, keep pressing, before the façade cracks, ever so slightly at first. Sometimes they’ll shrug, often they will be defiant. Everyone’s doing it, they’ll say.

    Policy, already a distant afterthought, disappears completely; everything becomes about politics. And power and money, the two locked together in a symbiotic relationship, one helping grow the other.

    And that’s when you begin to get it. Why someone once told you that political parties here are just a vehicle for power. Why someone else refers to this place as a series of criminal syndicates, all fighting with one another, climbing on top of each other, elbowing each other aside to get a few precious drops from the teats of the Pakistani state or rip a few strips of flesh off.

    If they trust you enough to keep something off the record or calculate you are too irrelevant to care about, the veneer drops altogether. Sometimes, you have to fight the rising feel of nausea, remind yourself that politics the world over is brutal and bare-knuckled, vacant of principles and morality.

    But on your way out you feel the need to throw up between the rows of glistening limousines and SUVs. If he goes, she will replace him, and if she goes, he will replace her … as the scam of politics, of democracy, of elections becomes clearer, the full horror of what it means begins to settle in. Democracy, the version we have, isn’t even a palliative, a painkiller that doesn’t cure, it’s a nostrum, a quack remedy.

    What do you do in a place like this? Surreal as it may be, this is no play, there is no deus ex machina. And even if there were, sometimes it seems that the gods themselves would struggle to save this place now. Save it from what? Ourselves? Events? Events we create ourselves?

    Questions, questions, questions. Best I can tell, if there are answers at all, they lie in understanding the past. Specifically, if Pakistan is in fact a state of failures, what are those failures?

    Not in the we-are-all-corrupt-and-have-turned-away-from-God-and-have-become-beasts kind of way, but in meaningful units of analysis, things that we can hope to eventually understand and master.

    Seems to me that on top of the first 30 years of Pakistan’s existence, a trifecta of events in close proximity to each other in the late 1970s have launched this country on a losing trajectory.

    For anyone wanting to understand the first 30 years of this country’s history, Ayesha Jalal’s masterful The state of martial rule: The origins of Pakistan’s political economy of defence needs to be read and understood. Jalal’s word isn’t gospel and has been criticised on some counts, but it remains the pre-eminent work on understanding what went wrong soon after the creation of Pakistan. Since Jalal is a scholar, the language can appear, well, scholarly to the layman at times, but the book’s central point is not difficult to understand: “The central concern is to show how the imperatives of the international political and economic system combined with regional and domestic factors in defining the nature of the Pakistani state.”

    It may be a forlorn hope in this tattered landscape, but we need the next Jalal to appear and pick up the story of Pakistan from the late 1970s.

    A trio of events — Zia’s coup and the subsequent execution of ZAB; the Iranian revolution; and the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan — seem to have sent this country, then already in need of a new direction, hurtling further in the wrong direction.

    Unpacking the hows and the whys is a scholar’s task, and an awesome one at that, but it seems that everything from Jalal’s “dialectic between state construction and political processes”, the distortion of relations between the centre and provinces, and the influence on domestic politics and the economy of the “interplay of regional and international factors” got a massive nudge from the three seismic events in the region at the end of the 1970s.

    Is there a straight line between those three events and the incompetence and political connivance that exacerbated the damage caused by the floods? Perhaps not. Is there a straight line to the sectarian bombings in Lahore on Wednesday? Perhaps. Is there a straight line to the lynching in Sialkot? Perhaps not. Is there a straight line to the low investments in human and infrastructure developments? Perhaps.

    To know where you are going, sometimes you need to know where you’re coming from. The depressing thing about Pakistan is that often we are little interested in where we are coming from or where it is we are going. If we are lucky, that means we end up in going round in circles. If we are unlucky, it means we end up in a downward spiral.

    Which is it? Well, Pakistan doesn’t feel a like a very lucky place, does it?

    [email protected]
    DAWN.COM | Columnists | Questions, questions, questions
  4. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

    Feb 23, 2009
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    I think an important exercise would be to see how these things slowly, but surely, affect: 1) the institutions; 2) the military; 3) the economy; and 4) the foreign policy of this country.

    Institutions- especially with respect to the judiciary, the police forces and the polity; economy- especially with respect to agriculture, and foreign policy- especially with respect to concessions on India and Afghanistan; and gradual, greater dependence on China.

    One important metric would be- the greater trampling upon their sovereignty by the United States ; another would be China's aggressive actions in the region; a third would be- the assertion of various sub-national groups toward their sovereign rights. An even more important exercise would be to predict, based on these events- the impacts on the judiciary, military, polity, economy, civil society, etc. and to compare them with things as they unfold. Pakistanis, seem to think, that they "survived" the breakapart from Bangladesh. Little do they realize, that they actually lost a piece of their territory.
  5. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

    Apr 5, 2009
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    Pakistan is Sinking: Time For Tough Love?

    Walter Russell Mead

    The news from Pakistan remains dire. The flood waters now sweeping toward the Arabian Gulf have been far more devastating and the destruction more widespread than anyone predicted. They have cruelly exposed many of Pakistan’s glaring weaknesses: its corrupt feudal elite, its corrupt and ineffective bureaucracy, its lack of infrastructure, its weak civil society, and the presence (unsurprising given the decades long failures of the country’s public and private institutions to do their job) of radical religious extremism and terrorism emerging from the rage and despair of a people betrayed by its leaders.

    The long term outlook is not good. Pakistan has failed yet again to educate a rising generation of children and the population is rising faster than the country can find jobs. While the IPCC may have overstated the problem of glacier melt, long term trends point to a decline in the flow of the rivers on which Pakistan depends. The growing power gap between Pakistan and India (the world’s two most hostile nuclear powers) is likely to destabilize the geopolitical environment for some time to come. The slow but inexorable decay of the Pakistani state, the rise of separatism in some parts of the country, and a depressingly long list of other problems greatly complicate the task of those in Pakistan and abroad who would like to help.

    Beset by so many problems from so many different sources, Pakistanis struggle to make sense of their country and the world. Conspiracy theories are rife; the raucous and rambunctious media (especially the Urdu media) is better at expressing anger than analysis. A strong civil society is struggling to emerge, but the enormous internal disparities in wealth and education make it hard for strong and effective groups to emerge. Like idealistic 19th century Russian aristocrats and students, the educated idealists who direct many Pakistani social movements are so distant from the world of the poor that their efforts, commendable and well intentioned as they may be, are often irrelevant to the problems of the masses.

    A recent example shows how this works. While I was in Pakistan, there was massive press coverage of “Diplomagate.” Pakistani law requires that members of parliament must have college degrees. It turns out that dozens of legislators had fake degrees, and the Good Government crowd raised holy hands in horror. It wasn’t just that the fake graduates were what in the American South we used to call ‘pig-ignorant,’ though some of them were. It was that they had perjured themselves to take their seats. There was a mass hue and cry to detect the fakers, expel them from parliament, and even to recover the salaries and expenses they were paid under false pretenses.

    OK and fair enough, but a law that requires MPs to have university degrees doesn’t make much sense in a country where half the population can’t read at all and most adults have less than four years of school. And Americans can’t help but reflect that neither George Washington, Benjamin Franklin nor Abraham Lincoln could have taken a seat in the Pakistani legislature. More, a political class that prioritizes this law while tolerating the state’s decades long failure to build a strong national primary school system and the persistence of much graver illegalities like the existence of up to a million bonded workers (slaves, many children, many brutalized and abused) clearly has its head screwed on wrong. The efforts of the educated, professional minority to limit the access of the great unwashed to positions of power and prestige is fought at every level of the Pakistani economy. Licenses, credentials, certificates, degrees: useful and necessary as all these can be, in the context of Pakistan’s gross and immoral educational inequality they are instruments of discrimination and privilege. The educated elites mobilize rapidly and effectively against abuses that threaten their privilege; it is harder to get traction for causes that would benefit the masses.

    Worse, the leading Pakistani political parties are sinkholes of political corruption, dominated by wealthy (or soon to be wealthy) leaders and cliques. Modern Pakistani history is in part the story of incompetent and corrupt civilian governments (like the current one) driving the country so crazy through failure and corruption that the nation is practically begging the military to step in and clean up the mess. Then, inevitably, when the military doesn’t govern well and the corruption and repression of military rule grow unbearable, the nation demands the return of the rotten politicians. Hailed as heroes, the politicians return — and immediate initiate another cycle of failure and rejection.

    Pakistanis are very good at explaining how all this is America’s fault; unfortunately they aren’t very good at breaking the cycle of state failure.

    None of this means that Pakistan is doomed — and there are a lot of good things happening there. But given the immense scope of the country’s problems and the limits on the ability of Pakistani civil society to address the country’s deep fault lines, it is useless to expect a rapid turnaround. For some time to come, Pakistan seems likely to continue to experience difficult times, religious and political violence, and economic under-performance. The unhappiness of various groups in Pakistan with this situation will express itself in turmoil of various kinds. The country is unlikely to succumb to the kind of religious hysteria that installed Khomeini in Iran, but it will experience continuing violence at the hands of radical groups. Various forms of political ideology based on the idea that a ‘pure’ Islamic revival could rebuild society — some quite benign and even positive, some fanatical and violent — will, in the absence of other ideological possibilities, continue to spread even among the countries scientists and military officers.

    The question many Americans have is a natural one at this point. Pakistan is going to hell in a hand basket. Should America care — and if we do care, is there anything useful that we can actually do?

    The first question is the easiest to answer. Given Pakistan’s geographical position on the borders of Afghanistan and Iran, the country’s nuclear program, the long and deep connection between elements of the state and terror groups, the United States has no choice. What happens in this country matters to us. The costs of helping Pakistan get on its feet are significantly less than the costs of living with its continued and ultimately catastrophic decline. There are moral and humanitarian reasons why we should care as well: more than 170 million people created by God live in this country, half of them illiterate, some of them living in actual slavery and most of them poor. Unless we want to align ourselves with Cain (“Am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain asked God after murdering his brother Abel), we need to take heed.

    Skeptics argue that while the moral problem will remain, there are changes in American policy that could diminish the strategic relevance of Pakistan to American foreign policy. Disengaging from Afghanistan and finding a modus vivendi with Iran would reduce America’s exposure to Pakistan’s problems. Maybe the US should worry more about that, and less about propping up Pakistan.

    Unfortunately, it is easier to imagine these policies than to put them in place. Wanting to exit from Afghanistan and wanting to end the confrontation with Iran doesn’t get you very far. Unless the Taliban and the mullahs are willing to help (and so far, they aren’t) we are going to have to keep toughing it out for a while. Additionally, the India-Pakistan conflict cannot be ignored given its impact on wider US interests in the Middle East and Asia — and the Pakistani establishment is very good at brinkmanship, manufacturing crisis as a way of forcing US attention and aid.

    I have heard some American thinkers express, quietly and privately, the view that maybe we should do what many Pakistanis already fear we are doing: fully and frankly turn to India as a substitute for Pakistan as our regional partner in central Asia including Afghanistan. India, say these thinkers, is more sincerely attached to the chief US goal of preventing this part of the world serving as a terrorist base and Pakistan is in any case a hopeless basket case. Many Afghans hate and distrust the Pakistanis — widely blamed for supporting the Taliban and generally suspected of interfering and seeking to dominate. Working around Pakistan by engaging with India, China and Russia (and, hopefully, ultimately Iran) in the region is a better long term strategic choice.

    I don’t think we are ready to work around and even work against Pakistan, partly again because it is easier to imagine a diplomatic shift like this than to develop a set of workable policies that could bring it about in a reasonably effective and beneficial way, and partly because the danger of an isolated Pakistan going rogue should not be ignored. Pakistan may not have a lot of ability to make our world a better place, but it has a significant party pooping power that we need to respect. Nuclear program, terror links, geopolitically sensitive location: it’s a bad mix, but it’s real.

    For all these reasons we need to care about Pakistan’s success — but we should not let the Pakistanis think they have a blank check. Whatever the consequences, we cannot underwrite Pakistan’s failure forever. Continuing Pakistani weakness and progressive state failure could change the American calculation — and Pakistanis need to know that. Indeed, part of any serious plan for helping Pakistan involves getting the Pakistani establishment, civil and military, to understand just how much trouble they are in and how urgently the country needs change. Americans shouldn’t threaten and browbeat Pakistan, but Pakistanis do need to understand that failure has to stop sometime, and that if Pakistan won’t or can’t move decisively to improve its situation, even its best friends can’t help it.

    Realistically, Americans cannot care more about Pakistan than Pakistanis do. If Pakistanis are hellbent on seeing the country go downhill, we can’t stop the slide. If the military elite is committed to a doomed strategy against India that progressively impoverishes the country and distorts its development, we can argue the case with them, but we cannot force them to change their minds — and we cannot spare them the consequences of the inevitable failure. If the country’s educated classes are more interested in looting the state, exploiting the poor and maintaining the stranglehold of rural elites than in developing the country and building its future, we cannot change their minds — and we cannot protect them from the domestic and international consequences of their suicidal choice.

    Emotionally, many Pakistanis will be enraged by this line of thinking, pointing out (with some justice) that past and current US policy in the region has greatly complicated Pakistan’s life. The social upheaval and economic consequences of the Afghan wars present and past, the invasion of Iraq and many other US policies large and small have significantly worsened the economic and political situation in Pakistan. This may be true, but the responsibility for Pakistan’s future still lies in Pakistan’s court. If Pakistan comes up with a serious and realistic strategy for national recovery and development, the United States can and should help. If it doesn’t, nothing the United States can do will stop the rot — and Pakistan’s diplomatic position and geopolitical interests cannot be indefinitely insulated from the consequences of domestic decline.

    Most US thinkers continue to believe, correctly in my view, that America’s vital interests are best served by the emergence of a stable, prosperous and secure Pakistan and that even as we pursue shorter term goals in Afghanistan and in the tribal areas of Pakistan, the best way to stabilize the region and secure our interests involves a long term focus on the health and stability of the Pakistani state. But the United States must avoid getting trapped in a dysfunctional and enabling relationship with Pakistan’s elites. If a strategically myopic military and a rent-addicted economic elite are truly determined to lock the country into its current destructive and unsustainable course, the US will have to consider alternative ways to safeguard its regional interests.

    For the present emergency, the United States should unleash the full power of humanitarian aid without regard to the long term issues. It is the right thing to do, and it is the best way to create favorable conditions for the kind of serious, no holds barred strategic discussions that the US and Pakistan need.

    Going forward, the United States will have to find ways to make clear that Pakistanis will determine the future course of our relations. We should work seriously and contribute generously towards a far-reaching program of national renewal and change; we should not lift a finger for a failing status quo.

    In a couple of future posts I’ll offer some suggestions about how the US can most usefully work to help Pakistan toward a workable national strategy and what kind of diplomacy and aid might make sense. Pakistan presents the United States with some of the most urgent and most intractable policy problems we face anywhere in the world. Helping Pakistan find its feet and move toward sustainable economic and social development would help stabilize a vital region, strike a massive blow against violent religious extremism, reduce the global danger of nuclear war and improve tens of millions of lives.

    These goals are worth working for. But success won’t be easy and at the end of the day we can’t control the outcome. On my last visit to Pakistan I found myself often thinking about the old joke: how many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?

    Only one, but the light bulb must want to change.
  6. deepak75

    deepak75 Regular Member

    Aug 5, 2010
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    If to look in to revolutions / balkanizations over history the following were the common denominators:

    1. Failed government and system.
    2. Rising poverty and social unrest / lawlessness and lack of hope amongst the masses.
    3. Growth of resistance movements.
    4. Religion turning against state.
    5. Neighbours and major powers ready to accept the balkanization.
    6. And finally a trigger which is either a huge calamity or a religions or a political event.

    There is every such sympton now in Pakistan and the intensity of above are only rising everyday. But there is a caveat here. In every nation that collapsed, the Army was considered as a part of the state. The peculiarity in Pakistan is that the Army is not considered to be the part of a state and is in fact considered separate institution. So for them the Army is a hope that they can fall back upon (even though they again get disoriented by the Army over a few years and that too is not without a reason surely).

    So me thinks that as the anarchy rises, Army will step in and will present an alternative to the corrupt state and it will also be accepted to a certain extent. So that is going positive for them. However what is going negative is:

    1. Army needs the mandate of US and other nations to run the country. For which they will have to disconnect 1800-Haqqani hotline. And this will backfire on them.
    2. Pakistani Army is currently engaged on too many fronts and this time it will be difficult for them to deliver even initially on the civilian requirements of managing food security etc.
    3. Islamic neighbours and doyens of Islam = Saudi Arabia are not pro Army now. They want to get rid of Al Qaida and Taliban menace while Pakistan Army has divergent strategic views on that.
    4. Nawaz and Zardari will not go without blood this time. There are already voices in Sindh that if Zardari goes then "Na Khappay Pakistan".
    5. Balochistan is already an Achilles Heel and will only grow in menace for Pakistan Army.
    6. There is no way that a unanimity in approach will be found even in Pakistan Army now specially with different internal views on the "running with the hares and hunting with the hounds" approach.

    So if Pakistani Army can find a way to circumvent the above, Pakistan will continue to stay largely in its current geographical manifestation. But then there are so many ifs......
  7. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Oct 8, 2009
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    Hyderabad and Sydney
    The Anarchic Republic of Pakistan - Ahmed Rashid

    The Anarchic Republic of Pakistan

    THERE IS perhaps no other political-military elite in the world whose aspirations for great-power regional status, whose desire to overextend and outmatch itself with meager resources, so outstrips reality as that of Pakistan. If it did not have such dire consequences for 170 million Pakistanis and nearly 2 billion people living in South Asia, this magical thinking would be amusing.

    This is a country that sadly appears on every failing-state list and still wants to increase its arsenal from around 60 atomic weapons to well over 100 by buying two new nuclear reactors from China. This is a country isolated and friendless in its own region, facing unprecedented homegrown terrorism from extremists its army once trained, yet it pursues a “forward policy” in Afghanistan to ensure a pro-Pakistan government in Kabul as soon as the Americans leave.

    For a state whose economy is on the skids and dependent on the IMF for massive bailouts, whose elite refuse to pay taxes, whose army drains an estimated 20 percent of the country’s annual budget, Pakistan continues to insist that peace with India is impossible for decades to come. For a country that was founded as a modern democracy for Muslims and non-Muslims alike and claims to be the bastion of moderate Islam, it has the worst discriminatory laws against minorities in the Muslim world and is being ripped apart through sectarian and extremist violence by radical groups who want to establish a new Islamic emirate in South Asia.

    Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment, or “deep state” as it is called, has lost over 2,300 soldiers battling these terrorists—the majority in the last 15 months after much U.S. cajoling to go after at least the Pakistani (if not the Afghan) Taliban. Despite these losses and considerable low morale in the armed forces, it still follows a pick-and-choose policy toward extremists, refusing to fight those who will confront India on its behalf as well as those Taliban who kill Western and Afghan soldiers in the war next-door. An army that has received nearly $12 billion in direct military aid from the United States since 2001, and has favored-nation status from NATO, still keeps the leaders of the Afghan Taliban in safe refuge. Pakistan’s civilians, politicians and intellectuals are helpless; they cannot make the deep state see sense as long as the West continues its duplicitous policies of propping up the military-intelligence establishment in opposition to popular society while demanding that the Pakistani civilian government wrest back control of the country.

    Now there is a serious and deadly overlap—Pakistan’s extremists are determined to topple the political system and the deep state. The army is not oblivious to this reality, but it seems unwilling or unable to tackle the real issues at hand. “This is nothing but a creeping coup d’état by the forces of darkness, a coup that will spare no one,” wrote analyst Kamran Shafi in the Dawn newspaper this summer. “It is them against everyone else—an Islamic Emirate of Pakistan is the goal,” he added.

    The deep state is failing its own people, who are in turn becoming more traumatized by the incessant violence, the lack of justice or security, and the perennial economic crisis. This only leads the civilian government to be even more inept, inconsequential and incapable of improving governance.

    THE MOTHER of all insurgencies is taking place in the seven tribal agencies of Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram, and North and South Waziristan in the northwest-frontier region where the Pakistani Pashtun tribes—under the nomenclature of the Pakistani Taliban—are at war with the state. Amnesty International recently said that 4 million Pakistanis in this and adjoining regions are living under Taliban rule. Every time the army claims to have cleared one agency, the Taliban rebound in another with a vengeance.

    Also operating from these northern bases are a dozen groups from Kashmir, Karachi and Punjab which were once trained by the military’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to fight in Indian Kashmir. They have now turned against their former handlers. The Pashtun Taliban have joined with their more sophisticated, better educated urban comrades to plan horrific acts of terrorism in Pakistani cities. Together they want to overthrow the state and establish an extremist Islamic system.

    The Pakistani Taliban do not just kill police and soldiers in their barracks or even innocent civilians in mosques. On June 8 they launched a brazen attack on a convoy of trucks carrying NATO war materials for troops in Afghanistan in heavily populated northern Punjab—torching 50 vehicles. There is now talk of the Taliban shutting down Karachi port, where 80 percent of NATO supplies arrive. The public fear is that the army is losing control of the country as the extremists become ever stronger, ever more daring and ever more capable.

    If local tribesmen even attempt collaboration with the state, deadly reprisals ensue. In the supposedly “Taliban-free” Mohmand Agency, people received U.S.-donated foodstuffs on July 8. The next day, while tribal elders gathered to discuss helping the army combat the Taliban, two suicide bombings killed over 100 people and wounded another 115.

    Since 2004, the area has been hemorrhaging people. Out of a total population of 3.5 million, more than 1 million have fled the tribal agencies while another half a million left during the recent fighting only to become internally displaced refugees in nearby towns.

    Amid the Pakistani Taliban, vicious Sunni sectarian groups prosper, galvanizing hatred of all minorities, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. The Ahmadi sect follows the teachings of a nineteenth-century religious reformer, promoting a peaceful variant of Islam. And yet in the 1970s, the Pakistani government declared the Ahmadis a non-Muslim minority and many Pakistanis today view them as heretics to Islam. On May 28 in Lahore, upwards of nine gunmen and suicide bombers blasted their way into two mosques and killed 90 Ahmadis, wounding another 110. The other minority groups, whether they be Shia, Christian, Hindu or Sikh, have lived in even greater fear since.

    The Christian community, which makes up less than 2 percent of the population, is already a target. In July 2009, eight Christians were burned alive in the small Punjab town of Gojra, and in riots that followed an entire Christian neighborhood was scorched. The 17 militants arrested for these crimes were not brought to trial, and the police, facing local pressure, later let them go. A year later, riots erupted again in Faisalabad, Punjab, after two Christians were killed while being held in police custody. Since then, any Christians who can have been seeking political asylum abroad in droves.

    An even-worse fate has befallen Shia Muslims. Prominent Shia technocrats—politicians, doctors, architects, bureaucrats and judges—have been singled out for assassination in all major cities, while in December 2009, 43 Shias were massacred by Sunni extremists in Karachi.

    Thus the Pakistani Taliban have a two-pronged offensive: the first is to politically undermine the state and its organs through terror; the second is to commit sectarian violence against all those they believe are not true Muslims. This intolerance has developed deep roots in Pakistan over the past three decades, and it has now been boosted by the jihadist policies of al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban. The government’s inability to deal with sectarian threats has led to some Muslim groups arming themselves and taking the law into their own hands. This only leads to further loss of control by the state.

    AS ISLAMIC extremist violence spreads, the very fabric of the country is falling apart. Mapping how widespread and varied the violence is gives but a hint of the disaster facing Pakistani society. Growing poverty, inflation and unemployment have led to an unprecedented increase in suicides—sometimes of entire families. One hundred ninety-one people killed themselves in the first six months of this year; at more than one death a day, it is one of the highest rates in the world. And when 113 of those happen in the country’s richest province (Punjab), it is obvious not a single Pakistani is surviving this unscathed—no matter how seemingly privileged. Violence against women is also on the rise; 8,500 violent incidents took place last year. One thousand four hundred of those were murders. Another 680 were suicides.

    Freedom of information is quickly coming to a halt. Journalists receive regular threats if they do not report the statements of extremist groups, while extremist literature, newspapers and pamphlets continue to flood the market with no attempts by the state to stop them. And now leading electronics markets in major cities have been repeatedly bombed and shop owners warned to stop selling computers and TVs. Rather than combat the threat, the government has succumbed, closing down Facebook for three weeks starting in May and announcing that major web sites like Google and Yahoo will be censored for “anti-Islamic material.” This is shuttering a vibrant society and slowly turning a country that long strived for democratic openness into a closed state held hostage by radical Islam.

    Meanwhile, the lack of services is creating its own anarchy. In Karachi, with a population of 18 million, violence is so endemic and its perpetrators so diverse that it is difficult to summarize. What we do know is that beyond Islamic extremism, the city is in the grip of heavily armed mafias and criminal gangs, who kill over control of water supplies, public transport, land deals and the drug trade. Car theft is rampant. The most lucrative business is kidnapping for ransom. The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reports that there were 260 targeted killings in Karachi in the first six months of this year, compared to 156 last year. Eight hundred eighty-nine murders were reported in the same period. Because the city is the melting pot of the country, much of the violence is between ethnic groups who live in virtual ghettoes and compete for the scarce resources of the city.

    Ethnic violence is translated into interparty political assassinations. The Muhajir-dominated Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) which rules Karachi is made up of Urdu-speaking migrants from India. They are in a bloody war with an MQM offshoot and in intense rivalry with the largest Pashtun secular political group (the Awami National Party) as well as with the majority Sindhi population. The Muhajirs blame the Pashtuns for introducing the Taliban to Karachi, and ethnic killings are multiplying; party workers of all groups are being targeted.

    There is another civil war going on in Baluchistan Province between Baluch separatists and the army. A province long deprived of development, political freedom and revenue, this is the fifth insurgency by the Baluch tribes against the army since Pakistan’s founding. The ISI maintains that Indian agents based in Afghanistan and the Arabian Gulf states are arming and funding the Baluch. The insurgents launch ambushes and assassinations, and lay land mines every day. They have begun killing prominent non-Baluch who long ago settled in the province. School teachers, university professors and officials have proven the easiest targets—and this in a province that professes a literacy rate of only 37 percent (20 percent for women) compared to the national average of 54 percent. This summer Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that four separatist Baluch “armies” funded by India had forced 100,000 people to migrate from the province. Baluch militants killed 252 non-Baluch settlers from January to June of this year, also assassinating 13 army officers. The army in turn has brutalized Baluch society and several thousand young Baluch are said to be missing, presumed in prison and being tortured. The army’s insistence that the entire Baluch problem is caused by India and that the Baluch have no grievances of their own simply leads to further escalation of violence and further alienation of the population. The province erupted in days of riots and strikes after prominent Baluch nationalist leader Habib Jalib was gunned down in Quetta in mid-July.

    The local justice system in Pakistan is in dire straits. Policemen, judges and lawyers are frequently intimidated by terrorist groups. Evidence is rarely collected against the arrested perpetrators of attacks, and either the police or judges release the suspects. If not, the terrorists are quite capable of freeing their own by force from jails, courthouses and hospitals. After the Ahmadi killings, terrorists attacked a hospital where one of their arrested comrades was being treated under heavy police guard. In June, terrorists attacked a Karachi courthouse, freeing four members of their group undergoing trial for the earlier massacre of 43 Shias in the city.

    It is now a cliché to describe how a worsening economy and the lack of education and job opportunities have helped spawn Islamic extremism in Pakistan and elsewhere. Yet it is a trope worth repeating.

    PAKISTAN’S GEOPOLITICAL assertiveness in the midst of all this chaos is a result of the military’s overwhelming power. It may be losing its hold on vast amounts of territory to the extremists, but it is taking control of Pakistan’s national security and foreign policy away from the government. As the country is now led by weak and widely considered to be incompetent and corrupt civilian rule with President Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of slain leader Benazir Bhutto, at the helm, the armed forces have found it relatively easy to carry out their own programs.

    Following its election, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) sought to reform the policies of the Musharraf era. This included improving relations with India, Iran and Afghanistan and ending Pakistan’s regional isolation. They failed.

    Zardari’s overtures regarding India were rebuffed, not only by New Delhi, but also by the Pakistan army—such civilian initiatives are considered an encroachment on military territory. And the November 2008 massacre in Mumbai by Pakistani extremists paralyzed engagement with India for nearly two years. India accuses the ISI of having a direct role in the massacre, which Pakistan denies. Yet Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group behind the massacre, has not been curbed.

    The situation in Afghanistan isn’t much better. Although Zardari improved personal relations with President Hamid Karzai, it had little impact on the army’s posture—an anti-Karzai, anti-ruling-government strategy. Only recently has the army decided that with a U.S. troop withdrawal starting next year, Karzai and the Afghan Taliban need to be brought together. The Afghan Taliban leadership has had sanctuary and support from the military since its retreat into Pakistan in 2001. Though former-President George W. Bush never attempted to tackle this conundrum, President Barack Obama has privately acknowledged what must be done, trying hard to bring Kabul and Islamabad together. Certainly, any recent success can’t be chalked up to the civilian leadership in Pakistan. The army says it wants to see a stable and peaceful Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal, and to that end it is trying to promote talks between Karzai and the various factions of the Taliban. However, many Afghans remain suspicious of an army that wants an Afghanistan free of Indian influence.

    Zardari and the PPP no longer make any moves that oppose the army’s foreign-policy aims. And over the past two years, a strident judiciary, at times backed by the military, has whittled away at the president’s power, trying repeatedly to undermine Zardari or force him to resign by resurrecting old corruption charges against him and by asserting its influence over the constitution—which is in fact Parliament’s prerogative. This judicial collision with parts of the government has further stymied the country’s reputation and put off aid donors and investors. It is destroying Pakistan’s democratic character. Making matters worse, the all-powerful General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has just received a three-year extension to his term as army chief. It was a move that stunned the country. Many Pakistanis concluded that this further reduced the power of civilian authority.

    Political instability is precisely what Pakistan does not need. The country requires a sustained period of democracy under civilian governance—even if it is a bad, poorly functioning democracy. If Zardari is unpopular or ineffective, then he should be removed in the next election, not through a judicial or military coup.

    FOR DECADES, a cyclical pattern of military rule followed by its collapse and replacement by elected but weak civilian governments has occurred. In time, they too fall—often with a prod from the ISI—and the military returns. Repeated military rule has resulted in the decline of political parties, the exile or execution of civilian leaders, their lack of experience or knowledge when they do come to power, and the unwillingness of young professionals to get involved in politics. The political class has seen no new blood for a generation.

    The PPP suffers from all these problems and more. However, it remains the only national party in Pakistan, for it has support in all the provinces—Baluchistan, Sindh, Punjab and the former North-West Frontier (now called Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa). Every other party, including the Pakistan Muslim League–N (the main opposition group), has degenerated. They are now nothing more than regional organizations representing local ethnicities or territories. Only the political alliance the PPP has forged in Parliament can claim to forward a national agenda; it includes regional parties belonging to all ethnic groups. If the government had the total support of the military and the judiciary, there would be a chance of greater stability and better policy options.

    Despite the severe problems it faces, the PPP has accrued some political successes in which lie hope for the future. After much delay and procrastination, Parliament passed the Eighteenth Amendment to the constitution in April 2010 that incorporates over 100 changes to the 1973 version of the document, virtually restoring it to its original form and doing away with authoritarian amendments made by successive military dictators.

    From having a de facto presidential form of government under military rule, Pakistan has now reverted back to having a parliamentary form of government with the elected PPP Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani as the chief executive. The amendment also introduces a new judicial commission to choose judges for the higher courts (justified surely, but it has unsurprisingly angered the judiciary and further prolonged the conflict between it and the PPP).

    The amendment also grants an unprecedented degree of autonomy to the four provinces, increases decentralization, and brings many social subjects such as health care and education under provincial control for the first time. This has long been the demand of the three smaller provinces which have felt deprived by the concentration of wealth and power in Punjab. Now the government is giving an additional 10 percent of the federal tax take to the provinces under a new National Finance Commission Award. And Punjab made a rare sacrifice by giving part of its share to the poorer provinces. Over 70 percent of federal taxes now revert back to Baluchistan, Sindh, Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa. For the first time there is relative peace between the center and the periphery.

    In an effort to continue these steps toward stability, the PPP has moved to give greater autonomy to the northern areas abutting China. This is especially remarkable because they are part of the territory involved in the Kashmir dispute between Islamabad and New Delhi. Because of the areas’ proximity to India, Pakistan has exercised control over the region, which has never had self-government. That is now changing.

    What is still missing is a plan to bring the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)—the seven tribal agencies—into the mainstream of governance. Currently this territory has considerable autonomy from Islamabad; the government of the former North-West Frontier Province has no jurisdiction over FATA. Instead, the area is ruled by the president and laws drafted by the British during the Raj. This has led to a power vacuum that has produced a terrorist safe haven. Even though the army claims to have a counterterrorism strategy for the area, it is a plan that cannot work until the army is willing to accept a political agenda that brings FATA under the central government’s control.

    DESPITE THE incompetence of the government, the groundwork is now being laid for a genuine democratic dispensation through provincial autonomy, decentralization and the rebuilding of democratic institutions—theoretically making it more difficult for the army to seize power again.

    If these steps are matched with equivalent advances in restoring economic stability, reviving local and foreign investment, combating terrorism and Islamic extremism on a nationwide basis, and modernizing the judicial and police systems, Pakistan has a far brighter future than is currently portrayed.

    For now, a staggering foreign debt of $54 billion is crippling the country. An estimated growth rate of 4.1 percent for 2009–10 (a negligible improvement from last year’s 1.3 percent) means Pakistan is likely stuck in this financial quagmire. An energy crisis that leads to 14 hours a day of electricity cuts has crippled industry, farming and exports.

    The irresponsible handling of the economy is only deepening the crisis. This year’s $38 billion budget has seen a 30 percent increase in military expenditures from last year. This clearly leaves little money for health and education. With 28 percent of the funds reserved for servicing foreign debt, nearly 60 percent of the budget is taken up by that and defense. The entire development pool of $9.2 billion is provided by foreign donors.

    Pakistan needs financial aid desperately. Europe is extremely hostile to further bailouts of the country because it is well aware that the military is still spending more money arming itself against India than it is spending to fight the Taliban. On a recent trip to the European Union in Brussels, Prime Minister Gilani was sharply taken to task for his failure to provide good governance and greater transparency on how aid dollars are being utilized.

    It is to the credit of the current U.S. administration that it sees and understands that progress is being made, and is providing both financial aid and political support to deepen these changes. For the first time, under the Kerry-Lugar bill, there is U.S. aid that is specifically earmarked for civilian rebuilding rather than military spending.

    However, no real change is possible without a change taking place in the army’s obsessive mind-set regarding India, its determination to define and control national security, and its pursuit of an aggressive forward policy in the region rather than first fixing things at home.

    It is insufficient for the army to merely acknowledge that its past pursuit of foreign-policy goals through extremist proxies has proven so destructive; it is also necessary for the army to agree to a civilian-led peace process with India. Civilians must have a greater say in what constitutes national security. Until that happens, the army’s focus on the threat from New Delhi prevents it from truly acknowledging the problems it faces from extremism at home.

    The army’s track record shows that it cannot offer political or economic solutions for Pakistan. Indeed, the history of military regimes here shows that they only deepen economic and political problems, widen the social, ethnic and class divide, and alienate the country from international investment and aid.

    Today there is much greater awareness among the Pakistani people that extremism poses a severe threat to the country and their livelihoods. There is also a much greater acceptance that ultimately civilian rule is better than military or mullah dictatorship. What is still lacking in the war against extremism, however, is a consistent and powerful message from both the government and the army that they will combat all terrorists—not just those who threaten their security. Pakistan’s selective approach to extremism has to end before it can defeat the problem and move on to become what its founders originally intended it to be.

    Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist and writer, is the author most recently of Descent into Chaos: The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia (Penguin, 2009). His book Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (Yale, 2010) has been updated and republished on the tenth anniversary of its original release.
  8. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Oct 8, 2009
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    Hyderabad and Sydney
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
  9. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 मध्यस्थ Stars and Ambassadors

    Feb 22, 2009
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    This has been true for the last several decades. Pakistan does have this self image of being some sort of inheritor to the Islamic invaders to India and they think they have a right and a destiny to rule India again.

    These delusions should have been squashed with the multiple defeats at the hands of India and the coming of nuclear weapons in the region. Typically, the deluded are unable to see the reality staring them in the face.

    No one can accuse these generals of aiming low. Being realist is another cup of tea.
  10. sky

    sky Regular Member

    Aug 12, 2009
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    Over the past couple of years i have often heard the phrase : to big to fail. That in a nut shell sum's up where we are with Pakistan.

    The usa & eu will not let them fail on there own. The us & eu presence at the world bank,imf,UN will mean the money needed to keep them afloat will keep coming .

    The disintegration of pakistan will continue ,until the masses find there voice and say enough is enough. They will also need a honest leader to follow ,up until a year ago . I thought that could be imran khan ,but now i'm not too sure...

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