Thursday, December 19, 2013

Is Pakistan a Failing State?

Pakistan CroppedOnly in a country like Pakistan does one find tribal militants declaring an Islamic Emirate of Waziristan while Sindhi nationalists play the Sindh Card and threaten secession forSindhu-Desh, Baluch Sardars struggle for Free Baluchistan, Pashtun leaders dream about Greater PashtunistanPunjabis keep their jingoism alive with Jaag Punjabi Jaag(Wake-up Punjab), and Mohajir (migrants), not to be left behind, continue to threaten break away with maps already demarcated for Jinnahpur. The army is all that has been holding the state, fractured by deep ethnic fissures, together. But the weakness of the state and corresponding strength of the military is also responsible for the persistent civil-military discord in the country. Over time the insidious corrupt ineptitude of politicians has forced the military establishment to assume the role of ‘guardian of the nation’, running the country through ‘guided or controlled democracy’. The army has been blamed for instituting martial law and indirectly removing four civilian governments from office four times, but there is little consensus over whether their guardian role is imperative. The debate as to “What is sacrosanct: the state or the constitution” continues, deepening the so-called ‘Khaki-Mufti divide’ and sustaining the civil-military imbalance. The present government’s decision to try Pakistan’s last military dictator, President General Pervez Musharraf, under Article 6 for treason and subverting the constitution is likely to strain civil-military relations further. While the politicians try to preserve the constitution that serves them so well, the military establishment remains preoccupied with protecting the sovereignty and integrity of the country, but often at thecost of human rights violations and abuse of power. This dynamic is playing out in the current (fifth) Baluchistan insurgency, where even the middle class has taken up arms due to continued political neglect, economic deprivation and the military’s heavy handedness. Forced disappearances and extra-judicial killings continue, and the number of tortured and mutilated bodies found on the roadsides is growing – the result of a deadly game called ‘kill and dump

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