Much is being written about a recent report from the magazine Foreign Policy that lists Pakistan as the 10th most failed state. Ahmed Iqbalabadi wrote an excellent rebuttal at the blog Let Us Build Pakistan, and today it appears that even the American political scientist Christine Fair from Georgetown University disagrees with the report.
“Pakistan has its problems and enormous challenges lay ahead, but it is far from a failed or even failing state,” wrote Dr. Fair, who is an assistant professor at the Georgetown University.
“Democracy has returned, after numerous bouts of military interventions and democritus interruptus,” she noted. Fair also referred to the important shift that recently took place politically in Pakistan when President Zardari began relinquishing the sweeping presidential powers he inherited from Musharraf.
“In April 2010, Zardari signed the 18th Amendment which returned Pakistan to a parliamentary democracy more in line with its 1973 constitution, which remains the lodestone of democratic legitimacy in Pakistan. This is the first time in recent history when a president ‘willingly’ ceded power to a prime minister.”
She contrasted the recent democratic advances with the fragile democratic situation besetting the country throughout the 1990s, when no democratically elected government served out its term.
“The election of 2008, despite a difficult start with voter registration and manipulation of electoral rules, was reasonably fair and peaceful, despite Taliban threats to disrupt the process. That election saw the peaceful and democratic transfer of power which brought President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani into office.”
The expert on South Asia begins her argument emphasizing Pakistan’s achievements with the country’s military successes in the ongoing high-stakes fight against militancy.
“Pakistan has taken the challenge of defeating the Pakistani Taliban seriously, Pakistan’s army and Frontier Corps are taking up the fight and appear to have their citizenry with them,” she noted, while regretting that the massive Pakistani security effort does not get enough appreciation in the media.
“This is unfair. The Pakistan army and the Frontier Corps face a formidable foe,” she added, while also pointing out limited resources available. The expert also wrote though Pakistan has a long way to go, it has made enormous investments in its internal security apparatus.
SHe said there is clear understanding about the need for competent police forces as well as an increasingly competent Frontier Corps as key elements in the “holding” phase after clearing militants of an area.
On the socio-economic front, Fair remarked that Pakistan also continues to make progress with decreasing fertility and expanding educational opportunities. Although state run institutions such as the public schools are not performing satisfactorily, affordable private schools are spreading throughout Pakistan, she noted. In terms of development, Fair drew attention to the fact that Pakistan continues to build its infrastructure.
“Pakistan is increasingly connected with improved roads. That said, Pakistan does face enormous electricity shortages due to Musharraf’s failure to make a single investment in this sector during his ten year tenure.”
In addition, “Pakistan also has made significant strides in securing its nuclear arsenal through the establishment of the National Command Authority and the Strategic Plans Directorate,” the expert observed with respect to safety of Pakistan’s nuclear program.