Pakistan has long been viewed as a failing – or flailing – state by analysts around the world. Pakistanis, in the name of patriotism, have banished such terms from their lexicon. However, as a former editor of Dawn recently wrote “hand on heart, none of us can deny that is what we are or at least heading towards at breakneck speed, with no sign of anybody with the ability or desire to apply the brakes.”
In a recent column, Abbas Nasir addresses his piece to Pakistan’s leaders – civilian and military – including Imran Khan and asks “Is the Imran Khan recipe of burning the house down the only way forward? Well, burning the house down won’t solve any issue on its own. We won’t rise phoenix-like from the burning embers. There would have to be a concrete plan in place about what shape the new republic will take. This is where the biggest question mark emerges over that philosophy.”
As Nasir states, the civilian-military-judicial establishment suffer from “intellectual poverty, lack of vision and absence of a plan.” What is needed is for the major political parties “to first ensure that after their battle for political supremacy is over, and one or more among them is the winner, there is something left to preside over.”
This includes “Root and branch reform of the economy that we have shied away from or that elite capture has blocked. The current state of affairs isn’t sustainable. If this fight for political ascendancy continues in the no-holds-barred fashion we see today, rest assured the people’s deprivations will continue to mount and so will their rage at their inability to feed their children, let alone clothe and educate them adequately.”
Not only is IMF refusing to back off, and Washington not that interested in doing much for Pakistan but “even Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, which have been generous in the past with their handouts, are now saying Islamabad needs to first set its own house in order before any help will be forthcoming, as none of them are willing to shovel more of their petro-dollars into a black hole.”
But can Pakistan “set its house in order”?
Nasir warns that if something is not done soon, Pakistan is “sleepwalking into a violent backlash?”