The Problems Continue to Haunt
By Dr Ghulam M. Haniff
St. Cloud, Minnesota
Even as Pakistan celebrates the sixty-third anniversary of its independence the country remains one of the top ten failed-states. According to a survey conducted recently Pakistan with 102 points appears at the tenth place on the list. For the sixth consecutive year it is included in the top-ten category of 177 nations on which data was collected and analyzed.
Designation of a failed-state is a chronic condition for some poor countries on which data is easily available. A failed-state is one which is unstable, virtually ungovernable, and the central government is unable to enforce its authority in many parts of its territory.
For six decades Pakistan has been able to muddle through while barely effective in governance. Regardless, its national day is generally celebrated with enthusiasm and “great fervor,” as the newspapers describe it. At these gatherings the hypocritical national leaders take credit for the miniscule accomplishments and deliberately neglect to mention the many failures.
This year, again, all of them will invoke the name of Quaid-i-Azam M. A. Jinnah and perhaps even Allama Iqbal until the audience is brought to an emotional pitch. Of course, many of them will mention Islam as the foundation of the nation though most leaders hardly ever behave Islamically.
Not surprisingly, in the study fully seven of the countries in the top-ten category are Muslim states. Is there a correlation between the condition of failed-states and Islam? Not unlikely, though more probable between failed-states and the behavior of the Muslims. Fully seven of the countries in the top-ten category are African nations and three Asian ones.
On the 12 variables on which data was collected the score ranged from a high of 114, for Somalia, indicating a high degree of instability, to a low of 18, for Norway, indicating a low degree of instability.
Among the lowest scoring countries are the Scandinavian nations. The United States stood at 35 towards the lower end of the scale.
After six decades observers would have expected the Islamic Republic to be more settled and established, to have gained a little more political sophistication with greater degree of decentralization of power, and the people to be more self-reliant in the management of their lives. No doubt the country has undergone changes with the changing world though not as much as some of the others in the region. These changes would not have been possible without the enormous outlay of funds mostly from foreign sources, the lending institutions, and of course, America.
The so-called democracy practiced in the nation currently is mostly cosmetic dressing of the state by the same old crooks, or their feudal pals, who always manage to hang on. In a democracy leaders generally favor the expansion of freedom for the nation, for the individual, but that does not seem to have been the case in Pakistan except somewhat under the regime of (surprisingly) Musharraf. Ironically, he too, at the end behaved in an authoritarian manner.
Unfortunately, freedom actually has decreased while power has concentrated in the hands of a few. Though democratically elected, Asif Ali Zardari, dismantled the town and village councils. He evidently feared these as the forums for the development of competing leadership and contestants for power in the national political arena. He successfully eliminated them and either neutralized his feudal colleagues or co-opted them. Most of all he remains the supreme “warlord” more powerful at the moment than anyone else in the nation.
He has been the Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party by default, the largest political organization in the country with a very well established base. For a popularity contest, which is what a Pakistani election is, thousands of people could be mobilized in the hope of patronage doled out by the warlord or his underlings.
“Warlordism” has been in the making since the time of Z. A. Bhutto and has gradually been institutionalized. Perhaps Zia-ul-Haq understood that problem very well and was motivated to take the action that he did.
Since the legal structure is too weak and too fragmented to exercise checks on presidential power the executive can just about do anything and get away with it. Unfortunately, that has contributed to the development of an authoritarian system under the guise of democracy.
Currently, Zardari is talking about firing some judges because they are acting too independently for his liking. Mr. Ten Percent never seems to give up.
The political leaders are not even embarrassed with the dysfunctional nature of the governmental system and go on acting on the stage as though they are at the top. When the leaders go abroad they strut like peacocks shamelessly, to the suppressed laughter of the informed.
One common denominator among the failed states is the clownish behavior of their leaders. Pakistan very well exemplifies that model.