Double click: The State of failure
A Washington based organisation called Fund For Peace, released the Failed State Index this month. The Index ranks 178 countries of the world according to their ‘at-risk’ factor of failing as an independent state or thriving as a secure, sustainable country. Pakistan ‘earned’ the 13th place and was marked under the red flagged, ‘Warning’ category because of its “high inflation, unemployment and youth bulge,” which “threaten future economic growth,” in the country.
The top slot — highest in instability and insecurity — was given to Somalia whereas Finland got the coveted last ranking due to its soaring ability to provide its people with sustainable growth and a prosperous future.
Pakistan has been called a failed state numerous times. Most recently by US congressman Dana Rohrabacher who bluntly said it to Yousuf Raza Gilani’s face on his last state visit (read: vacation) to the US in May this year. It was an unambiguous slur hurled while refusing additional US aid to Pakistan. Using highly sophisticated software, the Fund For Peace processes millions of pieces of information which include vital statistics as well as human analysis to come up with its eventual deduction. The organisation website includes country profiles which match the country’s rating on the index. Interestingly, in its overview on Pakistan, much of its current ills have been traced back to the years of General Musharraf when so many of us were living under the false belief that prosperity had finally arrived.
Analysts Michael Berman and Kristen Blandford write, “Pakistan is transitioning back to democracy after nearly twenty years of military and authoritarian rule by former President Musharraf. His administration significantly undermined the country’s fledgling governmental institutions by consolidating power in the executive branch. Corruption prevails and costs the country an unknown, but estimated significant portion of economic and humanitarian aid.” So while the current government is distinguished by its corrupt practices, the previous one appears to have eroded much of the country’s administration as Martial Law governments are generally wont to do.”
Fund For Peace is a non-profit, research and educational organisation that works to prevent violent conflict and promote sustainable security, according to its website. Considering the many areas it looks into — demographic pressures, human rights violations, economic development and legitimacy of State, to name a few — I am surprised that we were down at 13 and not among the top five. In fact there has been a slight improvement over the past two years; in 2011 it was ranked 12th while in 2010 and 2009 it was ranked 10th.
When a country cannot provide a secure existence, has close to no civic infrastructure, abounds in human rights abuses, does no development and its State legitimacy is questionable, it has no right to exist. Pakistan is not there yet. Somalia on the other hand is a country which is said to be the very definition of a failed state and has lost its right to a sovereign status by abusing and neglecting its every obligation.
Pakistan, despite its blatant disregard for legislation continues to survive (or limp along) though the legitimacy of its successive governments remains suspect. To mention Somalia and Pakistan in the same breath might seem extreme but there are many disturbing warning signs in Somalia for Pakistan to heed. It too once flourished as a fairly established state after gaining independence before clan warfare and Islamic extremists shattered its peaceful existence. Pakistan has survived — and hopefully will continue to do so — on the resilience of its common people. There is nothing that has not been tried by repeated failed governments to destroy it.
Retired military men pontificate that Indian designs on Pakistan’s sovereignty and the British/Russian Great Game has been the reason for Pakistan’s instability. Others say it is the machinations of some obscure, nefarious plotters. But what else can retired military men and failed analysts do but shift blame.
We are an economically declining, jihadi-run, factionalised country with a history of repeated coups and links to Taliban and Al-Qaeda as our defining features.
Though we boast about our nuclear ability, it is not an asset that endears us to the world at large.
Still, when it comes to this murky land of my birth, my incurable optimism persists. And just the fact that we are not amongst the ‘top ten’ of the failed states, is perhaps small consolation that there is hope of improvement.