Although it is in almost nobody’s interest to say so, I’ve come to doubt the existence of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. The fact that Israel seems unworried and that all five of Pakistan’s nuclear tests were set off on a single day (and that there were traces of plutonium according to Wikipedia) are the main reasons for my suspicion. To be thought to possess nuclear weapons is almost as good as actually having them (cf. Iraq under Hussein) when it comes to deterring India or satisfying the nationalistic passions of the Pakistani people. The United States and China, each for it’s own reasons of state, may have cooperated to create the appearance of Pakistan being a nuclear power, though whether those reasons still obtain it is difficult to say.
Sir, I need to compliment you on your deep understanding of what Pakistan is all about.
But I must point out the lack of perspective that comes from certain comparisons. When you point out that less than half of all Pakistanis pass a minimal literacy test but 59% of Indians do – what gets hidden in this comparison is that India has managed to educate over 600 million people when Pakistan has failed to achieve similar or better literacy with a population one-seventh that of India. It should have been vastly easier for Pakistan, with its vastly smaller population.
The reasons are there in your article – with the Pakistani military having gobbled up 20 to 40% of Pakistan’s budget for 50 years.
And yet, half of the 3 billion dollars in aid going from the US to Pakistan every year goes to the Pakistan military, and after 9 years of war the Taliban are alive and healthy.
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If Pakistan was not split from India, Pakistanis today would be part of a vibrent, secular democracy with a rapidly growing educated middle class, enjoying the fruits of one of a rapidly growing economy. The millions of Muslims that remained in India and embraced the values of education and opportunity, instead of Islamic fundamentalism, today enjoy a quality of life superior to Pakistan.
A depressing yet sobering assessment. Pakistan’s military led elite are not the only venal, rapacious and ideological ones in the world. Yet they seem so unwilling or unable to make course corrections even when it is clear that the cart’s headed off the cliff.
I compliment you on a much more sophisticated understanding of Pakistan than most possess and am glad that an American can have such perspicacity 😉
However there is no analysis of the Islamic impulse in this dissection of Pakistan. It is certainly not true that this religion obsessed country is a modern, post-Westphalian nation. Pakistan’s illogical statecraft may make more sense when viewed in its own, quite unambiguous, terms.
While India seems to be willing to forge into the new world with some semblance of probity, its purpose will be always sabotaged by a Pakistan irreconcilable to its religiously indefensible inferior status.
A comparatively well written article for a change. Pakistan has been a contradiction since it’s inception. It was supposed to be a haven for Muslims where they could live independent of Hindu(non-muslim) majority. Even at the beginning it’s existence was put under question when almost half the muslims decided to stay in India.
In 1971 idea of Pakistan was torn further with genocide of Bengali (East Pakistani) muslims by West Pakistanis and subsequent war and creation of Bangladesh. Pakistan as a country has no legal, moral, civilisational or even religious excuse to exist.
I fixed it:
“To most informed [international] observers, this is a country committing national suicide and these statistics show an elite concerned to pillage and loot rather than to teach and to serve. [Foreigners] look at this astonishing situation as a failure of political and social culture so profound, so immense, that it is hard to see how anybody or anything can help unless [America] can summon up the will to make some wrenching changes.”
Also, a hearty “Welcome Back” to the Professor. From the post, it sounds like he also moonlights as an international psychotherapist…
A horrible country full of horrible people who hate us. Source and sustenance of the Taliban. Enablers and cheerleaders of Al Quaeda. A leech on our resources and a bottomless pit of foreign aid.
Where does that aid go? A government and intelligentsia too corrupt and lazy to do what we did more than a century ago – deepen the channel of our major river to compensate for slowing it down with irrigation. Are there intelligent people in Pakistan? Yes. But no one who believes in a nation; only in their family, tribe, then their ethnicity.
Now we’re tasked with (literally) bailing them out because they’re too lazy and corrupt to take responsibility for their watershed. All the while they cry out “But for us, the Taliban/Al Qaeda will once again attack your civilian population!” As well as “We have nukes (and have shared that knowledge with other jealous nations) and you had better do as we demand!”
Pakistanis, [unsupported sweeping generalization concerning adherents of a major world religion deleted — ed], make it abundantly clear that their backwardness and lack of adult supervision is somehow our fault, for which sin we will pay dearly. That’s why being a Christian is a crime to be punished under the legal code of Pakistan. In the meantime, we must ignore that modern, tolerant state of India, where one can be a Christian, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist, or Ba’hai, or even a Jew, without being indicted. A place that’s home to more Muslims than Pakistan.
I say not a penny for Pakistan, and give India the option to civilize Afghanistan. If India is not interested, then, by all means, turn it over to their brothers in Pakistan. Let’s turn over a stone age society to the safekeeping of a failed, corrupt state. I say it’s even money that the one will subsume the other.
How can America aid Pakistan without at the same time propping up the corrupt civilian and military elites?
Ayesha Siddiqa’s “Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy” outlines the deep reach the military has in Pakistan’s economy; plus the India-obsession works out well for the military at budget time. Any improvement in Pakistan would put the army’s position at risk. And the army has the implicit blackmail threat of loose nukes if its hold on power is threatened and the country is “destabilized”.
In my opinion, only a humiliating defeat can cause the military death-grip on Pakistan to loosen. But that is both offends humanity and doesn’t address the nuclear threat.
If the military cannot be put in its proper place, then the blogpost seems to suggest that perhaps it can be made progressive, namely, changed the “won’t” to a “will”.
“…military won’t push through the kind of modernization (serious land reform, education of the peasants, reform of a rent seeking and corrupt bureaucracy) that could break the dark grip of the landlords and give the country some hope.”
Perhaps the military can be made to push through this modernization under American tutelage?
Looking forward to a better idea than a “progressive” military dictatorship in Pakistan in the next post. If there isn’t one, I hope Americans realize that propping up any element of the retrogressive leadership in Pakistan will simply postpone and intensify the eventual systemic failure. It is better to face the music now than ten years from now when Pakistan will likely have another hundred atomic weapons (and while the US still significantly outweighs China and other countries).
The present situation with the civilian and military leadership acting as if Pakistan was their family inheritance to do with whatever they chose, was inculcated by MA Jinnah himself. He concentrated all the executive powers in the governor generalship and proceeded to unilaterally dismiss the government of Khan Sahib and later, the Chief Minister of Sind on charges of ‘corruption’. The father of this ‘moth eaten nation’ (to paraphrase Jinnah’s own words) thus sent a dangerous precedent that would be repeated throughout most of Pakistan’s history.
With the Islamization of the the officer corps started by Zia, the US can expect to see an even more irrational and fundamentalist state as these officers begin to take over key posts within the only functioning body in the country — the Pakistani army.
Although the civilian leadership like Zardari is hugely corrupt, in his defense, he did try to tone down the anti India rhetoric during his initial days. The subsequent power struggle between him and Gillani (who has the support of the military) saw Zardari’s influence clipped. The only reason he’s still alive is because the army needs to maintain a veneer of civilian control inorder to extract more doles from the west.
All in all, the Pakistani elite have managed to effectively use the bogey of big bad Hindu India and Islam is in danger to fight off the badly needed reforms as well as keep the Pakistani Army in power for the forseeable future.
A Pakistani writes in response to the ideas of this blogpost:
“Right now the existence itself is an issue..and for existence we need help. the West can then take a wholesome view of the dysfunctional institutions, but to punish the ordinary people by not supporting them will be inhuman.
This appeal is not only for the West but also for the affluent local people who have the resources. It is about there survival also”
I congratulate on your understanding of the State of Pakistan.
I would like to read your opinion on need for land reform in that nation and if that can help stem the tide of extremism in Pakistan.
A good article on the suicidal tendencies of Pakistani civilian and military elite. However, I need to point out a couple of other items that I feel is missing:
1. Strategic depth against India is not the sole reason for Pakistani obsession with Afghanistan. Pakistan fears that the Pashtuns on the both side of the Durand Line will demand the NWFP be integrated with Afghanistan as no government in Afghanistan has accepted the Durand line as border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
2. Pakistanis have a tendency to hold a gun to their head and demand money from donors. “Extremists will take over if you don’t give me money NOW”, but say in same words that “extremists never got more than 10% votes in elections”.
3. The Military-Mullah alliance (or MMA for short in the pakistani press). The army controls many of the same mullahs that they exhibit to the West as extremists. If you look at the so called democratic elections under Musharraf, you will notice that even certificates from Madarasas were enough to show a person as educated to contest elections. Through manipulations by the army, the so called extremists came to power in NWFP.
4. Pakistani elite will lie through their teeth. Zia publicly said that it was ok to lie to non-muslims. Musharraff, in his Urdu TV address after deciding to support US efforts in Afghanistan after 9/11 quoted the example of Hudabiya, implying that it was a temporary agreement that he will go back on.
Bottom line, Pakistanis cannot be trusted. If the US cuts them loose(and doesn’t supprot them anywhere, UN/IMF/World Bank etc), they will collapse within an year.
The figure of 59% literacy rate for India mentioned here is inaccurate.
India’s literacy rate was 51% as reported way back in the 1991 census, and 65% when reported as part of the 2001 census.
Considering the massive socioeconomic progress in the 2000s, including heavy emphasis on education by all three administrations during the period, the 2011 census would almost certainly report a current literacy rate north of 80% .
I do not understand as to why the people of Pakistan are still taught that India is the eternal enemy and India is bound to break it?
Dear friends we in India cannot afford an offensive war. We today support the back room operations of most of the fortune 500 companies. That dear cousins in Pakistan, is a huge responsibility for us. We cannot even take a days off from ,it During kargil war the NASSCOM, india`s IT association, met the prime minister to brief him about their concerns. All that we request Pakistani`s to do, is stop, terrorists from crossing into our country.
Our biggest challenge in India and our generational aspiration, is to wipe poverty from the face of our dear motherland. Remember in our 5000 years of history, we have never attacked and conquered a foreign land.
Wonderful post but you seem to downplay China’s interest in having a stronger influence in Pakistan, vis-a-vis the growing US role in India. I would argue that China’s influence in Pakistan is growing and will continue to grow, a la China’s support for N Korea as a proxy/buffer to the US. Am I mistaken?
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Help Afghanistan, create independent Baluchistan and dump Pakistan. Not only it’ll be cheaper but also safer for the world
You are easily one of the few americans who understands atleast half of the pakistan problem. But are you sure all that is happening in Pakistan is against American interests. America has a 1 million strong army on the other side of the world ready to move at their behest. Islamic terrorism is not going anywhere till the oil dries up in the saudi wells and the best way to deal with these low-on-intellect suckers with a bomb-on-their-belts and deep love for 7th century fantasies is to have a ear on the ground not very far from them.
Pakistan becoming an independent country doing as well as India and living without any interference from America would be America’s biggest nightmare.
I want to congratulate you for an excellent article. You have covered a wide range of issues and I know its impossible to pen all points in single essay but here are few points I feel need to be addressed when we are discussing Pakistan.
1) I think you have underplayed China’s role in Pakistan. I think currently Pakistan Military is leaning more on China than on US. They have already hedged the US withdrawl from region and subsequent slowdown in military aid. So you see them not jumping as much for F16 as for getting the chinese JF17 inducted. Chinese help in nuclearizing pakistan a country that has absolutely no industrial or technical base have been well documented in the book Deception by Adrian Leavy (must read for folks). Chinese can always spare few billion dollars to create nuisence for countries in region and for US via pakistan army and pak army has been doing that since last 63 years so its business as usual for them.
2) You touched the media part very briefly and said it was vibrant. I agree to you partially that media has been critical of civilian governments. But you have missed an entire section of media that is indulging in conspiracy theory. This is not a small section of media but rather a pretty sizeable slice that cannot be ignored. With people like Hamid Gul (retired ISI general), Zaid Hamid (questionable character calling himself defense analyst), Ahmed Qureshi, Mubashir Lukman & Hamid Mir are all spewing baseless theories about current affairs and blaming zionist(sic) hindus(sic) & crusaders(sic) for war on islam and pakistan. Most of the time every ill in pakistan is blamed on this imaginary nexus to absolve the army of any blame. The recent floods were also blamed on Indian hydro electric plants upstream the figures were completely false and facts blown out of context. These tele evalgelist jihadis have a huge fan following amongst urbal educated young folks in pakistan they are the equivalent of madarsa (religious school) teachers for these people who have been educated in so called modern cirriculum.
Just adding to my earlier post the modern education system in pakistan also needs to be looked into. The who section of pakistan studies that was introduced by Zia Ul Haq is nothing but false concoted version of history for self glorification misleading the students from facts and making them megalomaniac in their approach towards minorities and other countries. US thinks that weaning kids from madarsa will solve pak problem but sadly the times square bombing has again highlighted that pakistanis from well to do background with advanced degrees in business administration or sciences are as inclined to jihad as are the madarsa tutored oridnary folks. Rather sometimes more dangerous since they can use their brain and are more ideologically focussed. Another example is Omar Saeed from London School of Economics and main accused of 9/11.
Thank you for a deeply insightful article. Points to ponder-
1) Pakistan was created out of spite to Hindus(anti hindu/anti India) platform. Once the anti India/anti Hindu bogey is removed there is no Pakistan with no reason for a separate country. Hence as long as Pakistan is alive and kicking, India will suffer terrorists attacks.
2) How does Pakistan maintain anti Hindu/anti India bogey!!. the schools and madrassahs are taught to hate Hindus/India since young age.
3) Pakistan is the first country to be born on islam. hence it thinks itself as leader of Islam group of nations. It gives a good excuse to drag in Islam if someone/country dislikes Pakistan. It is a powerful motivator to mobilise the faithfuls.It is The opium of the masses.
4) Having a nuclear bomb increase its false bravado despite people having grass to eat!
5) It is a feudal and tribal society with Islam providing the support for the elites and the poor alike. Elites use Islam to further their hold on people. Islam makes the poor to work without rebelling on their masters(ie. the elites).
6) Islam is the glue which maintains the ethnic feudal & tribal societies in Pakistan. With increasing violence in the name of Islam, it is leading to separatist movements in various provinces of Pakistan.(Baluchistan/Sindh/KH/and Gilgit-Baltistan). It is stunning that muslims kill more muslims.(after they kill the minorities)
7) Pakistan army so far is the only institution which maintains the country. With rampant jihadiisation of its forces it is a matter of time before it fails spectacularly.
8) As you have rightly pointed out– the solutions are the a) land reforms b) educate the population c) devote time and energy to develop the country infrastructure d) reduce the defence expenditure.e) Rein in the jihadis.
It is a difficult order.
Who is going to bell the cat?. Definitely not America/China/India/Saudi Arabia/Iran.
Very good Article!! Pakistan cannot be compared to India in any way shape or form. Their downfall is only and only because of them comparing and trying to be one up on India. The country of Pakistan was created as a divided areas of India where muslim majority lives (West and East). In order to achieve Pakistan Jinnah declared in 1942 that Since Muslims do not believe in Gandhi’s non-violence we shall have our “Paksitan” through violence and they went rioting in what is called Direct Action Day in 1942. Millions of people were killed in riots by them in 1942 to get Pakistan. Ever since then they have been killing/murdering innocent non-muslims around the world.
Thank you for an excellent article.
One of the most articulate, and realistic articles that I have read on this subject
Cover your ears, Mr. Mead. Here’s comes a dose of realpolitics.
A country as corrupt, dysfunctional, and backward as Pakistan should be stripped of its nuclear arms …. by force if necessary.
Also, there is no need to further squander U.S. taxpayer money by sending advanced arms to that place. Such aid (welfare) is not only a waste but is harmful to the region and the world as a whole.
This would be easier to do than you might imagine. All it takes is the will to do it.
I figured someone else would pick up the slack while I was busy being a snotty leftist, but I guess not, so here goes:
On behalf of the American people and the state of Oregon in particular, I wish to offer our deep condolences over the suffering caused by the floods in Pakistan. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
These floods are a humanitarian disaster of the first proportion, and as Mr. Mead’s article points out, the vast majority of the flood’s victims are blameless for their nation’s character, and they need our help. Please donate here:
Let’s face it, Mr. Russell — Pakistan is the way it is because of the US and UK that have mollycoddled their client state for the past six decades for their own strategic interests. Also, India has never been aggressive wrt to Pakistan. Recall that Kissinger threatened to send the 7th Fleet if India intervened in the genocide in the former East Pakistan. Without US support for either Pakistan or Saudi – the two principal actors in Islamic Terrorism today (let’s say it plainly), the world would have been a much safer place. I have never been able to understand US duplicity in this matter — the US established is filled with very smart individuals making very dumb choices. The US, with so much power and intent to do good, ends up doing the exact opposite.
The sources of comments are extremely interesting: a whole host of Indians, apparent westerners, but not one Pakistani who has identified him(her) self.
“It’s Islam, Stupid.”
This isn’t a new problem. In May 1786, Thomas Jefferson, then the U.S. ambassador to France, and John Adams, then the U.S. ambassador to Britain, met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the resident Tripolitan ambassador, to try to negotiate a peace treaty to protect the United States from the threat of Barbary piracy. These future U.S. presidents questioned the ambassador as to why his government was so hostile to the new American Republic even though America had done nothing to provoke any animosity of any sort. Ambassador Adja answered them, as they reported to the Continental Congress, “that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every muslim who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy’s ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once.” (London, Victory in Tripoli, pp. 23-24).
Islam’s advocacy of Lying, Murder, and Persecution, make it incompatible with successful western human civilization. Those Muslim nations without western developed oil wealth are among the poorest on earth, and it doesn’t take much imagination to extrapolate what the Muslim nations with oil would have looked like today if the west had never found and developed their oil resources. It’s the Lying, Murder, and Persecution which are incompatible with successful cultures, as they are contrary to the cooperation needed for civilization to grow and thrive. Muslims feel justified in violating contracts and treaties, as well as raping, looting, and murdering anyone not part of their tribe, or immediate family. The Koran is used to justify any and all predation even against other Muslims as the frequent attacks by Al Qaeda, Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran, etc…clearly demonstrate.
Couple of questions,
1) Does Pakistani elite have some delusional sense of superiority that forces them to be blind to the mess their country is in while endagering the whole region as a result?
2) The US pumps billions of dollars in civilian and military aid in to Pakistan; assistance the power brokers in Pakistan have got accustomed to and believe it as their right and not a privilege. Do you get that sense as well?
American political and military appraisals of Pakistani ruling faction corruption and how it hollows out the Pakistani state — such as it is — has been given some very recent, very hard facts on the ground to deal with.
When Britain left in 1947, Pakistan and India had the best rail systems in Asia. Britain began building railroads in the region in the 1850s, and India has maintained its portion of the system. Even poor Bangladesh has done a better job than Pakistan, which has ruined one of its infrastructure treasures. It did this all by itself, no evil foreigners were needed.
That 60% something like of American Military Afghanistan logistics runs from the Black sea through the ex-Soviet -stans on railroads to northern Afghanistan tells you all you need to know about Pakistani corruption.
Karachi has been enduring frequent violence events for the last couple years. During this period the death toll has reached in hundreds. The city is home to about 18 million people and serves as business hub of the country. Political killings have recently been escalated. Members of the ruling alliance of three parties are being shot dead on regular basis.
A few weeks ago, the mafia made their presence felt once again when they killed a political figure Raza Haider, senior leader of the city’s dominant political party, along with two guards. After this sad incident , government claimed to bring the cold-blooded culprits to law. This incident triggered the chaos and violence deteriorating the law and order situation throughout the city. Outbreak of violence following the deadly attack resulted in deaths of several innocent people.
I have nothing but respect for Pakistan Army. It has always delivered whenever the nation needed. Army is the reason that Pakistan still exists. Our politicians are highly corrupt and insincere with the people. The leaders of two so-called major parties have their assets safe outside the country so how they can be sincere here. It makes no difference to them whether there is prosperity or adversary in Pakistan. Democracy is the best revenge” was said by Bilawal zardari after the death of Benzir Bhutto. He was right to say that because his ruling party along with allies has avenged the people of Pakistan by causing them to suffer from poverty, unemployment, inflation and chaotic situation if the country. I am not blaming only one party. All the ruling parties and the opposition, all are involved in the process. Ever since this government has taken charge, the countries economic and security condition has deteriorated . Recently Transparency international reported that the corruption level in Pakistan has touched new limits during the present government era . Initially the report alarmed everyone and it remained talk of town but then , as usual, people started forgetting about it and put this issue to the backburner . This is the problem that people of Pakistan have. People can not afford to be just dumb spectators. Silence is an attribute of the dead; he who is alive speaks. But in Pakistan it is a common practice that the masses become just silent spectators to the governments corruption and other misdeeds. Why there is no public uproar against the state functionaries. It may be because we as individuals have become so corrupt ourselves that it is justified in saying that our state functionaries are from us hence no different than us. Let me make it crystal clear that I am in no way defending any of the state departments perceived to be corrupt but who is going to bell the cat, because it wont change itself unless we are not willing to mend our own ways because it starts with you, it starts with me. The government has not only failed completely but also destroyed the lives of the people. It won’t be wrong to say that the country is heading towards anarchy. The present corrupt system must be eliminated before it is too late.
even Bangladesh is a far advanced country than Pakistan at present days. education, economic growth, health, social-welfare issues like child death rate, female literacy, safe-drinking water, percentage of children going to schools etc.
1. You are misquoting Jinnah. He never said any such thing. You are confusing Nazimuddin’s words with Jinnah’s.
2. Direct Action Day happened in 1946 and it was was a slaughter of Muslims by Hindus in Calcutta. Primary sources and most historians agree that 75-80 percent of casualties were Muslims.
So North Korea has announced a successor to the regime. This might actually be a pretty good point in that it might result in some stability to that problematic part of the globe. I believe is’nt liable that a Berlin Wall kind scenario will occur so best to select a more softening attitude as has occured with China its chief supporter
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Undivided Bengal was a muslim majority province in 1946, Direct Action Day was called by MA Jinnah of the Muslim League. HS Suhrawardy (later PM of Pakistan) was the Chief Minister of Bengal from the Muslim League party. You do not even know the history of the Muslims in India, forget about talking about other things. There were 16000 people killed by gangsters of the Muslim League (party in power), on the streets of Calcutta.
No body will stop you from worshiping [pointlessly offensive religious rant deleted — ed] and whose paeans you are bent on singing. But leave us Hindus to do the honourable thing. We are not going to sell our souls to save a few pennies or capitulate to bestial Arab/Turk/Mongol/Persian marauders with no idea what constitutes being civilized. [more hate speech deleted –ed].
Dear All Indians……
After reading all the comments you have said i have came up to the conclusion that…..You as a Nation sould come over your bitter past of being seperated in to two nations….Pakistan will automatically stop resistance if you stop your army and intelligence agencies working against them….answere here that why does india need necular wepons than Pakistan… and when it comes to the corruption and bad politics lads you must be joking me after saying all those nasty things about pakistan…have you ever seen your own system and the pooverty in your country i understand that Pakistan is going through the tough times but it is also becaues of the out side worlds involment in the country….Please leave us alone and do your own business…Live and let live…..
Well,to cut it short.all these bad things,violence happening is due to faith fools and lack of mature people.to be more precise its the religion of islam which gives power to maulvis,responsible for this bloodshed.