Deterioration of Pakistan on Economical, Social And Security Fronts

 By Col Sumita Pattanayak
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Introduction

The state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective or in plain context the condition of being unsuccessful is what we say as FAILURE. This might be due to a lack of clear intentions or lack of planning or maybe due to a lack of desires. Whatever it is, we have got a very clear picture of a state as a global example of deterioration in its economical, social and security fronts. The infamous Asian nation of Pakistan has been leading its way through unstable democratic governments and military rule to reach its present scenario of failure in socio-economic and security fronts. The policymakers of Pakistan failed to understand the perils of the situation and as an ally to the US, Pakistan could reasonably expect a sympathetic American response to tensions with pro-Soviet India. Pakistan was also the beneficiary of Chinese support against their mutual foe, India. With terrorism blooming in Pakistan and strengthened non-proliferation norms, their traditional allies are moving away from them. They rushed for Chinese support not realising that the Chinese leadership was more interested in regional peace than in sustaining cold war alliances. In its first open rift with Pakistan, China not only called for a peaceful and negotiated settlement of Kashmir but also for respect for the LoC. Collaborating closely with the US throughout the crisis, China was clearly in no mood to come to Pakistan’s rescue within or outside the Security Council. With Donald Trump locking horns with the Chinese leadership Pakistan wounded very badly in their economical, social and security fronts have again started leaning towards China.

Economic Failure

Pakistan’s current economic problems can also be traced to decisions made by the previous government to artificially inflate the value of the country’s currency, the rupee. This strategy hurt exporters as they were unable to compete in international markets especially in the textile sector, which remains the country’s key export. This had led to the loss of their market share to countries such as Vietnam, Bangladesh and Laos. Pakistan’s democratic government is weak and is struggling to establish its authority at a time of economic crisis being a failure in all terms to find a solution for the same. In addition to this, its capacity to act on the security front is seriously hampered as a result. Though resources are scarce all around, Pakistan should be the highest priority for such financial resources as the US and the interest of China for the economic corridor and ports can be considered as a stamp on this situation. In order to avoid spreading scarce resources thin, the focus of economic assistance should be on macro-economic stabilization and economic policy reform. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government, made a very big mistake by delaying negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a bailout package. They have also taken billions of dollars from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and China to avert a balance of payment crisis. The economy of Pakistan has been in shambles for decades and the lockdown due to COVID-19 is expected to put down the shutter forever. Although the people of Pakistan are used to the worsening quality of life and increasing cost of living, the fact that they belong to perhaps one of the poorest countries in the region cannot be neglected. These liabilities have accumulated at a time when the country is already living beyond its means. With the CPEC project far from over and cost overruns, it is very likely that Pakistan will have to reschedule its debt several times before it’s over. Eventually, Pakistan is going to face the same debt trap as that of Sri Lanka who had to swap debt with equity and hand over control of strategic resources to China. In Pakistan, further economic deterioration of a country of 150 million people will add to political instability and the growth of armed militancy, which in turn will affect its neighbours and the world. This is one of the main reasons why Pakistan is still existing as an epicentre of terrorist activities. US pressure for military and paramilitary solution to the violence on the frontier will alienate civilian opinion in Pakistan and will in fact lead to further destabilization of the security environment. Recent times has shown the US pulling out their interests from Pakistan and China taking their shoes for much stronger support and in terms of financial support but in the longer run Pakistan is always going to be on the suffering end.

Failure in social aspects

Geo-strategic compulsions and economic interests brought Pakistan, the USA, Saudi Arabia, and China on a common platform to support the Afghan Mujahideen. It was the United States in particular that extended political, economic, and military assistance to Pakistan initially. From the very beginning of Pakistan’s development, the growing tension between the political leaders of the West and East Wings was evident. By 1970, out of twenty, only three acting secretaries were East Pakistanis in the Government. The political failure increased grievances and resulted in mass killings and civil war. In March 1971 Pakistani’s used the army to crush its Bengali civilian population, looting, raping and murdering. That was the turning point and these events eventually led to the birth of a new Muslim nation ‘Bangladesh’. The creation of Bangladesh had proved that the integrative power of Islam had failed to overcome ethnic nationalism. With such history and no evidence of any improvements in the near future, the Pakistani media has been claiming unprecedented progress in politico-socio-economic domains only for the rest of the world to laugh about. Pakistan was never able to alter the perceptions about them both internal and external circumstances around it, which has kept them as a helpless state to change its outlook. The failure in the security front has also hampered their economic progress.

Although Pakistan has lost tens of thousands of people, including soldiers and civilians they haven’t stopped supporting terrorism. Being a nuclear power Pakistan’s nuclear material safety is also under question. One of the shocking events that were spread all across the world during the initial days of the COVID-19 dilemma was the news of Pakistani authorities digging mass graves for those who get killed by the viral disease. It was a sad act by them to reveal their helplessness to tackle the situation due to their failing economy. Pakistan is believed to be on a meagre side in terms of social rights activism and has always been infamous for ensuring equality and denial of such rights. Culturally, Pakistan needs to project itself better with the number of resources they have, come whatever small it is. Very rarely we can see any Pakistani personalities being projected through international media as scholars, entrepreneurs or goodwill ambassadors except for Malala Yousufzai who spoke up for the rights of girls to be educated. The failure of Pakistan on the social front can be attributed to all these factors. We can only hope that Pakistan improves it foreign policies and relations with other nations.

Security Challenges

The Jihadi culture threat is also evidently persisting in Pakistan. The militant groups of these organizations are a constant source of trouble for law and order. Over the years, the deteriorating internal security environment has gradually got absorbed into Pakistan’s foremost national security threat. The Pakistan army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate gained considerable experience in aiding and fuelling insurgencies and terrorism in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s along with Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and other parts of India since 1988-89. Through these years Pakistan has solely concentrated on preparation for a conventional war with India and the army had no worthwhile experience in fighting insurgencies successfully. Therefore, they have failed in operations in the Swat Valley. This is how they have been backstabbed by terrorism as the Pakistan army’s previous expertise lay in creating and fuelling insurgencies and not in fighting them. Sometimes the army is seen to be unwilling for high-intensity operations for counter-insurgency due to apprehensions that fighting fellow Muslims would be demotivating in the long run and thereby raising questions about the army’s lack of professionalism. Although regular peace deals and talks happen between the army and the militants, the events don’t validate the same. The senior leadership of the Pakistan army has also failed to understand that artillery barrages and helicopter and air force bombings to put down the discontent in Baluchistan and the Northern Areas are inherently counter-productive. The military leaders should start discriminating between innocent civilians and militants.

Pakistan should also realise that there can never be a purely military or a purely political solution to an insurgency. It should bring out a new strategy by including both aggressive counter-insurgency operations and socio-economic developments through better political decisions. It needs to be tackled diplomatically without antagonizing religious sentiments of any faction. Any extremist group that uses violent means must be confronted with a strong application of force with clear ends insight. It should be ready to analyse their mistakes and take ample lessons from the counter-insurgency methodology of their neighbours including the Indian Army who has successfully fought the same situation for 20 years in J&K and over fifty years in the northeast.

Endnotes

  1. Amit Pandya, Stimson Report 2009, ‘Waging Peace in Kashmir’ Presidential Inbox, Available at www.stimson.org.  Accessed on 10 Apr 2021.
  2. Robert Looney (2004), ‘Failed Economic Take-Offs and Terrorism in Pakistan’, Available at www.researchgate.net. Accessed on 24 Apr 2021.
  3. International Crisis Group Asia Report, 2004, Available at css.ethz.ch, Issue 73. Accessed on 01 May 2021.
  4. Brig (Retd) Gurmeet Kanwal (2013), ‘Pakistan’s Internal Security Challenges: Will the Military Cope’?  Issue Brief (Aug 2013), IPCS, Available atwww.ipcs.org.  Accessed on 30 Apr 2021.