by Charles Lemos, Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:22:11 PM EDT
On Thursday, there were a number of stories in the media and on the blogs addressing the question of whether Pakistan is collapsing or not. I have largely argued that Pakistan is not a failing state but already a failed state. Let's not kid ourselves here but instead ask the question what has Pakistan's governing elite accomplished over the course of sixty plus years to actually build an edifice of state? There is an army and an all powerful intelligence service but is there a school system? A health care system? Are there jobs? A transportation infrastructure? Modern ports? Pakistan isn't as much a country with an army but an army with a country. That that army also holds about a hundred nuclear devices does complicate matters to say the least.
What does collapse mean is I think another fair question to ask. To some it may mean the day the Taliban march into Islamabad and take control. I don't take that view. To me it meant the day Pakistan couldn't provide a viable future for its myriad peoples. Pakistan is a net importer of food and a net exporter of people. Pakistan has failed not just because the Islamists seem to stand on the verge of taking power but rather because its economy is in shambles and can't be repaired by waving a magic wand of economic aid. Too many are seemingly focused on the army's retreat across the Northwest Frontier but it seems to me that too many are ignoring an economy that has failed to provide a sustainable and viable future for 170 million Pakistanis.