Bomb attacks on Sufi shrines in Pakistan add a very sinister dimension to its already failing state of governance. Two such attacks in the recent past have led to the death of about 100 innocent people. A possible spill over, as seen in the recent bomb blasts in Hyderabad, has ominous portents for India as well. Pakistan’s gravitation towards chaos must in no way be attributed to the two Nation theory; at the time of independence, the cultural, economic and intellectual building bricks of Pakistan were as strong as those of India. It had the option to root for ethnic and linguistic homogeneity as major driving forces to attain a spirit of nationalism and set course on a path of steady growth; unfortunately it failed to do so. Despite all the possibilities the nation, today, finds itself in such a dismal state that the very viability of its existence is uncertain.
Core ideological values of a nation form a vital hub around which the elements of national power converge to provide a nation its existential strength and a direction for future growth. In Pakistan’s case, the society is distinctly divided into three shades of ideologies. A part of its civil society believes in secularism, accommodates inter religious differences and is willing to provide space to the different sects within Islam. There is another part of the same civil society that proposes religious fundamentalism as the true face of Islam. This segment whips up religious frenzy and creates a fear psychosis amongst the people by convincing them that Islam is under persecution. A third part of the Pakistani society aspires for a modern Pakistan and desire to keep pace with the rest of the world; this segment, however, is intrinsically pessimistic and sees no light at the end of the tunnel. In any democracy, it is up to the polity to pave the way for growth; but in Pakistan’s case, a hapless fractured polity, repeatedly betrayed by the leadership does not have the desire or the means to chart out its own destiny.
Demographic patterns play a major role in the sustained growth of a nation. Pakistan has a population of over 180 million today and will cross 258 million by 2030. Out of 180 million, 110 million are under 29 years. This horrendous youth bulge is, in this case, a disaster waiting to happen. Only an evolved political system can provide education and employment to such a huge population and meet the aspirations of its youth. Given today’s human development indices, maladministration, anarchy, lack of infrastructure and the foreign debt, Pakistan is statistically already a failed state incapable of meeting the challenge.
For over two decades now, Pakistan’s economy has been surviving on loans and grants from US, Saudi Arabia and China amongst other Islamic countries. To make up for the huge fiscal deficits, successive governments have resorted to printing additional currency, further weakening the economy and skyrocketing inflation. Fundamental structural reforms are long overdue but successive governments (civil or military) neither had the political space nor the will power to undertake such a mission. Pakistan’s hugely disproportionate expenditure on its defence budget, falsely justified by an imaginary threat from India, has further drained her coffers. A parallel ever growing terrorist-mafia-ISI economy and the policy of loot and scoot adopted by the rulers are not allowing Pakistan’s economy to recover.
In many democracies, religion provides a guiding light for the ethos and policies of the nation. Religion, in a way, serves as a balancing force. But in Pakistan’s case the religious leadership has been usurped by staunch fundamentalists who have misinterpreted the tenets of Islam to their benefit. These religious leaders spread nothing but intolerance and hatred. They have fanned terrorism in the name of Islam by falsely projecting a threat to their religion and the interests of other Islamic nations. The state machinery and the Pakistan Army can no longer control the innumerable terrorist organizations that are bleeding Pakistan white.
Having failed to establish peace and give a conclusive direction despite holding a position of prominence in the country, the Pakistani Army has its hands full. It has to manage the troublesome eastern and western borders, look after internal security, fight hardcore terrorism and yet maintain a high level of preparedness to stage a coup and take control of the country’s administration whenever called upon by the military leaders. No wonder that the morale of overtaxed Pakistani soldier is down in his boots. Recent skirmishes along the line of control (LOC) with India are examples of adventurism by local military commanders of Pakistan, challenging the command structure of the Army. It was an attempt to escalate tension along the LOC to create an excuse for downsizing anti-Taliban and anti-terrorist operations along the western border.
Inflexible and archaic ideological dogmas have decapitated political activity in Pakistan. The economic policies have benefitted only the privileged class and have failed to lead towards equitable distribution of wealth. Autocratic leadership, both civilian and military, has repeatedly failed to alleviate the miseries of the country’s teeming millions and pushed the state towards the brink of total collapse in terms of economy, law and order and good governance.
The ominous state of affairs in Pakistan will inevitably drag her into a black hole of anarchy and subsequent collapse, unless of course, the people of Pakistan decide to end their miseries and chose a leadership which pulls their country out of this abyss through political, social and economic resurgence towards a peaceful, bright future matching steps with the rest of the world. Continuation of the present state means increasing anarchy. The journey of Pakistan to ‘ultimately being a failed state’ will be very short unless the people do not start seeing their end too. It is time that the Pakistani polity realizes that when Pakistan implodes, it will result into collective demise and complete annihilation.