Friday, December 26, 2014

Rearranging the Subcontinent

india_pakistan_afghan_bangladeshOf course, Pakistan would not suddenly collapse in this scenario. But it could decay in an exceedingly gradual way that its supporters and attendant area experts might at first be able to deny, even as the evolving mundane facts on the ground would be undeniable. The signs of decay are electricity outages, water shortages, a further deterioration of the urban environment, the inability to travel here and there in outlying areas because of security issues, the inability to get much done at a government office without a bribe or a fixer. Pakistan has experienced such phenomena for decades already; the key will be the increase or decrease in their intensity. A state that cannot monopolize the use of forceand cannot supply adequate public services is weak. Pakistan we know is weak, despite the strengthening of its democracy and civil society in recent years. It already has ongoing insurgencies in the tribal areas, in Balochistan and in Karachi. But will it become steadily weaker? Because prime ministers and presidents come and go, I am thinking beyond the high politics in Islamabad, New Delhi and Kabul and am more concerned with the granular, ground level reality in places such as Karachi or Quetta, or in the other parts of Sind and Balochistan.

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