Pakistan holds the twelfth rank in the Fund For Peace Failed State Index for 2011. Fund For Peace is a non-profit organization undertaking research and educational programs. The Failed State Index is a listing of countries on the basis of a number of instability criteria including poverty, vulnerability to terrorism and security breaches, efficacy of public services etc. Pakistan moved down from the eighth position in 2008 and the tenth position in 2009 and 2010. A closer look at the country's economy, international involvement, security, and socio-political issues will reveal the legitimacy of the country's claim to this position.
A Look At The Economy
Traditionally an underdeveloped country, Pakistan started to show signs of remarkable improvement by the turn of the millennium, when the government started to step up public spending. Poverty levels dipped by over 10%. Power outages have historically plagued the country's industry. The steady increase in the GDP between 2004 and 2007 again slowed in the subsequent years. By 2010 inflation rose to over 13% affecting the unemployment and poverty levels of the nation. Despite a labor force of over 55 million, unemployment stands at a staggering 15.4 %. The quality of public services in Pakistan has been condemned as poor and ineffectual. In 2010 Pakistan was affected by flood and other natural calamities affected the agricultural output. The key areas that the country needs to develop include infrastructure, healthcare and public services, education and rural development, and dependency on foreign fun flow.
Since inception Pakistan has been embroiled in tensions over Kashmir. The three wars fought between Pakistan and India have caused a tremendous strain on public funds. Pakistan has, however, been successful in building up a nuclear arsenal and the country is considered a non-NATO ally of the USA. Pakistan has been a collaborator in various defence, technology, and espionage programs with the USA. Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been strained, though. In 2010 Pakistan was warned by the USA of unfavorable consequences if a terrorist attack on American soil is traced back to Pakistan As a member of the United Nations, G20 nations, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Commonwealth of Nations, Pakistan has exercised much influence in Asian and world politics. The diplomatic relations of Pakistan are overseen directly by the President's office..
Pakistan has been at the brunt of much criticism for failing to exercise control over its northern tribal provinces along the Afghanistan border. The authorities have persistently grappled with the Taliban to maintain control of these areas. Balochistan is another region which the government of Pakistan has been unsuccessful in administering effectively. Rebel groups and insurgents of Balochistan have repeatedly threatened to break away from the state.
Suspicions of Pakistan's support to terrorist outfits such as the al-Qaida and Taliban have been repeatedly raised and have severely damaged the nation's international image. In 2001 the US issued a statement condemning the alleged links. Pakistan itself has borne the brunt of numerous terrorist attacks between 2003 and 2010. In 2009 over 11,000 people were killed by terrorist attacks on Pakistani soil. The country has, however, repeatedly pledged to support anti-terrorism campaigns in international forums.
Those who support the Failed State Index rankings have thrown up a number of pertinent questions, mostly pertaining to Pakistan's defence and intelligence agencies. How did ISI, the state's premier intelligence agency, fail to track the whereabouts of the internationally renowned terrorist Osama bin Laden, when the man was living in a highly suspicious compound close to the national capital? The failure of the national defense system to intercept the breach in air-space by US helicopters (on the Osama neutralization mission) and to be aware of such a critical mission in the vicinity of its own capital has exposed the country's vulnerability in terms of security.
The country's law and order situation has been a major cause of concern. As of 2010, Lahore registered an 11% increase in its crime rate. Islamabad, the capital registered over 125 murders that year. Karachi, one of the country's largest cities, records over four murders every day. Early 2011 statistics show that the over 250 people were killed in Lahore in 2010 and 115 in 2009 following terrorist activities. The capital city, much smaller than Lahore and Karachi, was probably the worst affected.
The falling position of Pakistan in the list of Failed States in itself is reason to remain optimistic, others feel. The state's resilience has been lauded by international economists. Pakistan's support is vital for the United States to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan. Given the intelligence cooperation and the strategic support the country provides the US, it is not surprising that American funds keep flowing in despite threats to cut down any aid.
Pakistan is an internationally recognized nuclear weapons state and a strategic alliance with China has made the nation an unassailable presence in Asia. The two countries enjoy strong economic and defence ties and China is a major ally in Pakistan's civilian nuclear program. Despite a history of coups and political turmoil the country has retained its democratic character. Pakistan's bid for the non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council has been backed by China. Law and order experts see the crime rate as a poor reflection of the judicial situation. The country's economy has also shown incredible signs of progress in recent years, experts feel.