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Pakistan: A failed state?

The economic turmoil is putting heavy pressure on Pakistan's new government, which is currently in long-running negotiations with the International Monetary Fund on a bailout deal to stave off a disastrous default on foreign debt.

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The empirical era has gone when the expansion of territory had been the prime objective of an empire. Because the power of an empire was identical to the vastness of land it had conquered. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the last empire on the face of the earth, in 1991, World Order was transformed into unipolar with the USA as the sole superpower. Since the dawn of the 21st century, definitions of the world regarding ideas of life, power and prosperity have changed. In this age, sources of power, prosperity, success and failure are mainly depending upon the people of a state.

Perhaps, the states have transformed from the Platonic idea of the state, in which, the state is the end and people are means to the end, to the Aristotelian ideology of a state where the end of a state is the creation of moral citizens and the state is means to this end. According to the modern standards of success and failure for a state, unfortunately, Pakistan has proved to be a failed state. On the ground, the majority of the people are sans security of life and property, sans food, sans medication, sans shelter and education. Rule of law is a myth. Individual liberty is now non-existent.

Read more: US Congressman condemns human rights violations in Pakistan

The state is in shambles from socio-political and economic perspectives

Beginning from the security of life and property which is the basic need of a man for survival and the primary duty of a state. According to John Locke’s social contract theory, rights to life, liberty and property are the fundamental promises that the sovereign of the state will ensure for the people. Pakistan has failed in providing these fundamental needs to its citizens. At present, deadly floods have ravaged half of the country.

According to the latest data provided by the government itself, twelve hundred people have lost their lives, 33 million people have lost everything except lives, 2 million families have been displaced, and 45 percent of the cropland of the country has been washed away, but the state is nowhere. Representatives of the government claim that this flood is a natural catastrophe and that they cannot control it. It means the state has failed to protect the life and property of its people. This is not the first time that the state fails, it has been failing since its independence.

In addition to the state’s failure to the provision of security for life and property, it is evident that it has been unable to fulfill the food needs of its inhabitants. Prior to the current unprecedented floods, 33 percent of people were unable to meet their ends, 41 percent of children had stunted growth and 80 percent of the population had no access to clean drinking water. During and after Covid-19, sky-rocketing inflation cycles and devastating floods, the percentage of inaccessibility to food has been exacerbated unimaginably. Put the other rights aside, our state is unable to provide nutritious food to all the people.

After food needs, let’s lament the unfulfilled promises of education. The constitution of Pakistan explicitly declares in article 25A that every citizen has a right to free and quality education from the age of sixteen years (till matric). The state, once again, has failed. 42 percent of people are illiterate. 2.2 million children were out of school prior to the floods. In remote areas of Sindh, Balochistan and KPK educational infrastructure exist only on paper. Not to discuss the quality of education, according to analysts only 2 percent of graduates meet the market standards for jobs.

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A primary class student is unable to read the English text and a matric student could not write a sentence in English. The teaching faculty deplores and abhors the English medium system. On the other hand, almost all the state institutions are working in the English medium. The public sector educational institutes are practically producing a staff not higher than the clerical staff. Thanks to the private sector for inculcating a little bit of quality in education, otherwise, the state has no capability and perhaps the will to provide quality education to its citizens.

Coming to freedom of expression, a promised right under article 19 of the constitution; the state here again fails. Journalists are being forcefully silenced, public speakers are banned to be spoken and media channels are off-aired for not lining up according to the wills and wishes of the people in corridors of power. Maltreatment and politically motivated cases against journalists Imran Riaz Khan, Arshad Shareef and many others are a slap on the face of Pakistan’s democracy.

The charge of terrorism against a former Prime Minister by the government is a piece of evidence that the state has no tolerance for an opposed opinion. A sitting senior minister in the incumbent government has recently crossed all the limits by excluding the person from the religion Islam who has spoken emphatically against islamophobia on the world forums. He did it by sitting on the state-run TV Channel, PTV. It shows that freedom of expression is nowhere and the state institutions, PEMRA and PTV in recent matters, are involved in gaging freedom of expression.

Elevating from the individual level to the national; unfortunately, the state has failed in economic, social and political spheres of life. At present, Pakistan’s economy is on the way to default. There are no signs of recovery from the ongoing imbroglio. Inflation is at a historically high rate of 42 percent. Foreign exchange reserves are depleting to 8.2 billion dollars. Devaluation of local currency is rampant as 1 dollar is purchased at Rs. 234. Exports are declining and Pakistan does not have sufficient foreign exchange reserves to pay for its imports. According to resources, imports of basic commodities from Afghanistan and Iran are slowed down because we don’t have dollars to pay.

Our economy is running on IMF bail-out packages for a long. The state has altogether failed to manage its economic affairs independently. The Political situation is also worsening day by day. Since independence, the state has not seen one decade of political stability. It has been a victim of civil-military tussle, populism and corrupt practices by politicians. Currently, a coalition of thirteen parties is ruling the federal government but the most popular party is on the roads. Political polarization is historically high and there is no chance of institutional forbearance in near future. Our political elite has failed in organizing the political affairs of the state.

Read more: How Pakistan is supporting the Palestinian issue

As for as social turmoil is concerned, Pakistan is ranked second lowest in the case of gender equality in the world, out of 149 it is placed 148th. In Corruption Perception Index, it is ranked 124th out of 180 countries. And in climate change threatened countries, Pakistan is the 5th most vulnerable country to climate catastrophes. In nutshell, the state has failed on all fronts of life. If the standard of success and failure for a state is the preservation of rights to life, liberty and property of the people, then, unfortunately, Pakistan has become a failed state.

 

The writer is a practicing Lawyer (BA.LLB Hons). The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

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