The dilemma of a failed State


Aneeza Maham

DESPITE facing a lot of hurdles and crisis throughout history, the state of Pakistan has continued to exist. Many scholars and researchers label Pakistan as the failed state while others depict it as the state in chaos and misery instead of a failed state. The idea of the failed state was given first time in the article “Saving Failed States” by Gerald B Helman and Steven R Ranter. This article was initially published in winter 1993 in the Foreign Policy Journal. It highlights how the United Nations has let the nations to fall apart and what policies and measures it needs to take to put them back together. Pakistan is the country which is the fifth most populous in the world.
Although the State has been confronting with the challenges of poverty, economic deprivation, social and political inequalities, environmental degradation; it still managed to provide its citizens a society to live with a degree of stability. The international interventions since the war on terrorism and the post-cold war era were enough to destabilize a nation but Pakistan survived that shows the strength and competitiveness of the society. No failed state in the world can cope with such burden and even the strongest of the states would have repercussions. To elucidate the concept of a failed state, it is the country that is not able to provide its citizens with basic amenities like food, security, education, healthcare and rudimentary facilities. Pakistan’s ranking on the failed state index gradually declined from 34th in 2005 to 9th in 2006. The main reason was the earthquake of 2005 which brought enormous destruction to Pakistan’s economy and infrastructure. There was a slight improvement of Pakistan’s ranking on the failed state index in 2011 by gaining 12th number.
It is debated all over the world in the scholarly community that whether Pakistan is a failed state or not. Aidan Hehir in his article “Is Pakistan a failed state” argued that the concept of a failed state is incorrect and Pakistan is not a failed state.Hehir discussed that it’s wrong to label a state as failed which has endured so much and still survived. However, it can be labeled as the state which shows major signs of failure but did not collapse. Even the majority of the Indians also did not believe in the failure of Pakistan and they are influenced by the extraordinary power of the Pakistan Army. For instance, an Indian author C Raja Mohan has argued in his article “What if Pakistan fails? India isn’t worried yet” that the Pakistani State is nowhere near failing. He stated that if a post-colonial nation is unable to fulfil the developmental goals that it set five decades ago then that does not mean the state is collapsing.
Pakistan is the only Muslim country in the world that owns nuclear power. This makes Pakistan the most powerful Muslim state in the world. Likewise, the Pakistan Army has remained as one of the best and strongest armies in the world having almost 7 lac active army personnel. On the global level, it ranked as the 13th best army according to a survey report in 2016. Furthermore, Pakistan has a fast-growing technology sector and it is home to major manufacturing and the textile industries. Along with this according to a world bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” report in 2009, Pakistan ranks above India by securing 85th place. Its business sector has been more welcoming than many of the successful neighbouring states.
United States’ Secretary for International Trade Franklin L Lavin stated that based on his interaction with the American and Pakistan’s business community, he can declare it assuredly that Pakistan is the opposite of a failed state. Another big asset that Pakistan has is its manpower, its fifty percent population is under the age of 25 and most of them are ambitious and educated. The professionals and scientists from Pakistan work all over the world in various fields.
Another facet about a failed state is that its incapability to clarify its strategic goals and motives. But the case of Pakistan is different in this regard as Pakistan has always been certain about her wants, the establishment of an Islamic State ever since the pre-partition era. The State of Pakistan was formulated on the basis of an ideology, not just for the acquisition of territory. Any state that holds onto its ideology cannot be declared as a failed state since that ideology is overcome. Though Pakistan has been dealing with a vast array of challenges and crisis, still it cannot be demonstrated as a failed state.
—The writer is researcher at Islamabad Policy Research Institute, Islamabad.

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