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Is Pakistan a failed State? - Facts & Infographic

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Failed State Rankings

Pakistan holds the 13th place in the Fund For Peace Failed State Index for 2013. In 2011, the same index slotted Pakistan to the 13thposition. The change is due to the introduction of South Sudan as a state. 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, and efficacy of public services. Pakistan moved down from the eighth position in 2008 and the tenth position in 2009 and 2010.

Fund For Peace clarifies its index thus, “Though it is called the Failed States Index, that is not to say that every country on the FSI is a failed state...the Failed States Index measures the pressures experienced by countries and thus adjudges their susceptibility to state failure.” And yet the question of Pakistan’s health as a stable state and a member of the international community has been repeatedly questioned. According to the Fragile States Index of 2014 (also by Fund For Peace), Pakistan is ranked 10 - the only Asian country apart from war-torn Afghanistan to be among the top 10.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.

International Alliances and Disputes

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. The two nations are continuously involved in skirmishes, cross border terrorism, and border disputes causing much anxiety in the region.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 maintained well enough, 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'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.


Democracy or Dictatorship?

While Pakistan is a constitutional democracy, the state's has a liberal distribution of dictatorship and coups. Between 1947 and 1958, on a national level there were no direct elections held in the country. In 1977, the country held its first general elections after the separation of East Pakistan. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of the PPP came to power in the election which caused widespread unrest due to malpractice allegations. Bhutto was later ousted by General Zia ul-Haq and was put to death.

Since 1985, the country has witnessed a number of assassinations and coup d'états. A weak democracy and an overpowering military have led to very unstable political conditions in the country.Charges of corruption and malpractices in the government have become exceedingly common.in 1958, the country saw its first coup when President Major General IskanderMirza dismissed Prime Minister Feroz Khan Noon and placed Army commander-in-chief General Ayub Khan as the Chief martial law administrator. Ayub Khan displaced the President within a fortnight. In 1977, Army chief General Zia-ul-Haq staged another coup and suspended the constitution. In 1999, Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf pulled off another coup to seize power. These instances have prevented the international community from placing any great confidence in the country’s democracy.

In May 2013, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) gained a clear majority of the seats in the parliamentary elections bringing Nawaz Sharif to the Prime Minister's position for the third time. This became the first time since the country's independence when one democratically elected government completed its term and peacefully handed over to another elected administration. The elections were not free from charges of malpractices, though. By 2014, however, the country rose in much discontent against the Nawaz Sharif government and Islamic cleric Tahir-ulQadri assumed leadership of what he called a “revolution against a corrupt democracy”. While a call for mid-term elections looked unlikely the country went through a major political crisis as thousands rallied in the national capital, Islamabad, to demand the resignation of the Prime Minister. By end August the country's army once again stepped in to play mediator. While it has become clear that PM Nawaz Sharif holds little power over the army, it also seems unlikely that the army will take over and face international ire. The democracy of Pakistan is very weak and the army immensely more powerful than any other political set up in the nation.


Economic considerations

Pakistan is the 26th largest economy in the world going by its purchasing power parity (PPP).  The country's GDP is pegged at USD 236.6 billion (World Bank, 2013). Despite decades of political instability and exposure to natural calamities, the country is a fast developing nation. Standard & Poor have accorded the nation a stable outlook on the long-term. According to a World Bank report from 2005, the country tops the list of economic reformers in the region. The quality of public services in Pakistan has, however, been condemned as poor and ineffectual.Much needs to be done by the country’s government with regard to the state of infrastructure.

The dichotomy of the nation's economy is revealed by a look at the statistics. While the country receives a huge quantity of foreign aid (USD 2,019 million in 2012, USD 3,507.5 million in 2011), it still maintains USD 15 billion by way of foreign currency reserves. Almost 12.4 percent of the population live in poverty (2011, World Bank). This while seemingly high is a huge improvement from 30.6 percent in 1999 and even from 22.3 percent in 2006. Pakistan’s unemployment levels are at 5.6 percent – much lower than many neighboring nations and yet the gap between the classes is rather high.

Culture and legacy

Pakistan is a land rich in heritage and varied in culture. The various art forms of the state have been effectively preserved and showcased across the world. Pakistani cuisine, Urdu poetry, Punjabi music, and the Islamic architecture of the country are well recognized and loved across the world. Spanning across the Indus Valley, home one of the oldest civilizations, Pakistan has well-preserved its many tourist attractions.The ancient city of Lahore with its Mughal architecture, the mounds at Mohenjo-Daro, the breath taking Concordia in the Karakoram Range, the Hunza valley, and the teeming city of Karachi are among the top tourist attractions of Pakistan.

As of 2012, the Pakistani diaspora is the 7th largest in the world – spread majorly across Europe, Northern America, and the Middle East.As of 2012, the remittances of the diaspora to Pakistan were estimated at about USD 13 billion. The diaspora have also successfully preserved the country’s culture and heritage across the world by forming associations and interest groups.

Major Social Issues

Pakistan still suffers from one of the highest illiteracy rates in the country. According to a report published by the UNESCO in 2013, Pakistan faced an illiteracy level of about 79 percent in 2012. The country was ranked 180 among 221 small and big nations of the world based on its literacy levels. The report further said that only about 3 percent students in the country enrolled into colleges and just about 1 percent graduated with a degree.

Pakistan is in the clutches of a major drug problem. It is often referred to as the ‘most heroin addicted country in the world’. Illegal drug trade in the country is estimated to generate about USD 2 billion a year.According to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) titled Drug Use in Pakistan 2013, over 6.7 million people from the country use heroin. About 4.25 million of them are dependent on the illicit drug. Regular usage in the country is seen in over 800,000 people between the ages of 15 and 64. Usage of charas, a form of cannabis, affects over 5 million people.

Although, the constitution of Pakistan decrees that all citizens be deemed equal, women face considerable discrimination in all walks of life. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2013 which ranks 136 countries in terms of having closed their gender-gaps, Pakistan ranked 135 testifying to the discrimination faced by women.

According to the Corruption Perception Index of 2013 (by Transparency international), Pakistan ranks 127 out of 175 countries - indicative that corruption, especially in public offices is a major concern in the state. The government and the law enforcement departments are particularly vulnerable according to news reports. Tax evasion is another major problem with less than 1 percent of Pakistani citizens filing tax returnseach year. This leaves Pakistan with a tax-to-GDP ratio of about 9 percent – among the lowest across the globe.

The independence of the judiciary is a major topic for debate in the country. Corruption and political or financial influence often leads to a failure in the country’s judicial mechanism.




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