THE definition of a failed state in its simplest form is “a failed state is a political body that has disintegrated to a point where basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government no longer function properly.
” A state can also fail if the government loses its legitimacy even if it is performing its functions properly.
For a normal stable state it is necessary for the government to enjoy both effectiveness and legitimacy.
When a nation weakens and its standard of living declines, it introduces the possibility of government collapse.
Human history is replete with many examples of failed states and collapsed empires. In recent history we have the example of the USSR, Yugoslavia, East Germany and a few other independent states ending up on the dust heap of history.
Pakistan, one of the new nations post WW-II has had a checkered and turbulent political history.
It has faced many trials and tribulations some natural and some man-made. The 1971 War resulted in the breakup of the country and this was perhaps the darkest hour in our short history.
The catastrophic events of 71 were faced with unity and strength and the country survived this horrific and disastrous crisis.
Fifty one years later all patriotic Pakistanis are once again facing the grave question what is happening in Pakistan?
Is the country in danger of total collapse? Will Pakistan join the list of failed states? And who do we blame for the present crisis? Who is responsible for all this? Political analysts and scholars have different opinions and different answers.
Major culprits so far identified are political leaders, political parties, non-political institutions, foreign powers, security and intelligence establishment, civil and military establishment, illiteracy, corruption, dependence on foreign sources, India, Israel, USA or our own home-grown religious militant parties.
If we consider Pakistan’s turbulent history and many crises of the past everything pales into insignificance in the face of the happenings of the last few months.
Pakistan was saddled with a new government after the Imran Khan regime ousted by a very legal and constitutional process of a vote of no-confidence.
The short time leading up to the vote especially from filing of the motion on 08 April to the voting day on 10 April were full of intrigue, drama suspense and many conspiracy theories.
Imran Khan and his followers were very successful in creating a theory of foreign intervention and managed to polarize the society and create deep divisions and schism in the people of Pakistan.
After the fall of the Imran Khan government and the induction of the new coalition headed by Shahbaz Sharif it appears as if this government is in a state of decision paralyses and is still struggling to find its footing.
On the other side the former PM Imran Khan is in full cry leading processions, public meetings and attacking the Govt.
questioning the legitimacy of this regime calling for fresh elections. Pakistan today is in the grip of a severe economic, political and even climate emergency.
Today the ground reality is that the previous Govt. of Imran Khan supported and helped the new Taliban regime in Kabul which backs the TTP that was responsible for the brutal massacre of school children and teachers in Peshawar in 2014 and also has the blood of over 80000 innocent Pakistanis on its hands.
The TTP is nothing but a branch of the Afghan Taliban and yet the Pakistani Establishment is engaged in peace talks with these blood-thirsty religious fanatics.
As of today the Pakistani nation and state is at a crossroads and it appears that most roads lead to disaster as observed in the last six months or so.
Political leaders are gleefully engaged in the game of politics but their actions and policies may mean life or death for the country.
The art of politics has been reduced to a vicious onslaught of abuse and acrimonious barbs exchanged by both sides without any regard to parliamentary ethics or normal human decency.
The army and its leadership has been accused and maligned for the last many years. This vicious campaign against the defence forces is nothing short of subversion and sedition.
The army high command has been politicized and even the superior judiciary is now maligned and controversial.
The political system is now unable to resolve its own issues and the courts are asked to arbitrate and then they are blamed for taking sides and judicial coups when decisions are not what the concerned parties want.
In an environment when the economy is on the verge of collapse the political parties are shamelessly engaged in black mailing the judiciary.
The serious threat of default is looming on the horizon and even then the largest province of the country Punjab was without a government for more than four months due to the political gimmicks of the opposition and the ruling coalition.
The army is engaged in a life and death struggle with the TTP in the border areas with Afghanistan.
There is not a single national institution which has not been slandered and this insinuation slandering has cast shadows of doubt on the ability of the institutions to control the situation and stop this slide into chaos and anarchy.
—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.