Governance in Pakistan – 1

In this series of posts we will try and provide an explanation of the seemingly intractable problems that afflict Pakistan today.

But first we address the issue of why analysts and observers are so often wrong in their assessments of the Pakistani situation.

The occasion for this is an article by William Dalrymple who has made a name for himself as a chronicler of Mughal history and an analyst of modern South Asia. Writing on March 4, 2009 he says:

Just over a year ago, in February 2008, I travelled by car across the length and breadth of Pakistan to cover the country’s first serious election since General Pervez Musharraf seized power in 1999…. The story I wrote at the time for the New York Review of Books was optimistic.

Like most other people given the option, Pakistanis clearly want the ability to choose their own rulers, and to determine their own future, I wrote. The country I saw over the last few days on a long road trip was not a failed state, nor anything even approaching ‘the most dangerous country in the world … almost beyond repair’ as the Spectator (among many others) recently suggested … By and large, the countryside I passed through was calm and beautiful, and not obviously less prosperous-looking than its subcontinental neighbour. It was certainly a far cry from the terminal lawlessness and instability of post-occupation Iraq or Afghanistan.

 A year on, however, the situation could hardly be more different, or more grim…

So this is our question for readers: Why was as astute an observer as William Dalrymple deceived? Why was he unable to correctly predict the future one year ahead?

Let us get some feedback on this question before we try and speculate on the possible reasons.

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3 Responses to “Governance in Pakistan – 1”

  1. M.Adeel Qureshi Says:

    Infact Pakistan is passing by a very tough time, Pakistan is close ally of USA against war on terrorism, and this is because Pakistan need military hardwear and economic aid for the military equilbrium and uplift of social sector agains India and Afgans militants.
    Now its responsibility of our rulers to make the best use of this economic aid and create national unity among people.
    Pakistanis are very much able and peace loving nation only what we need is the right direction and good and able leadership. I am sure all Pakistanis will do their best for our beloved homeland

    M.Adeel Qureshi,
    Social Sciences and Huminities,
    University of Karachi

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Adeel: There are many questions that come to mind on reading your comment:

      1. Is Pakistan a close ally of the US in the War Against Terror only because it needs military hardware for military equilibrium? What kind of military equilibrium does it want? Isn’t too much being allocated to the military already? Did Pakistan not create the terrorist forces in the first place? If so, why fight them now? Why not allow them to come to power?
      2. Why does the social uplift have to be against India and Afghan militants? Why does it have to be against anyone? Don’t Pakistani people need social uplift as a right?
      3. How can Pakistan be a peace-loving nation if it is ready to train terrorists and wage jihad against others all the time?
      4. Why does the quality of leadership continue to decline in Pakistan when it is improving in almost every other country? Do you think Pakistan will ever get good leadership?
      5. What is the right direction for Pakistan?
      6. What should Pakistanis be doing for their beloved country if they want its remaining half to have a future?

    • sanjithmenon Says:

      dear qureshi sir,
      as a student of political history, i feel you are wrong. what Pakistan is going through is because it is a rentier state. ie, anyone who lets others use their land for gain. the Arabs have done it, the Americans are doing it and the Chinese are the next ones. Stop doing that and you guys will be fine.

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