COM_Pakistan_Bhutto_ENG_feb08 - Already a failed state...

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Comment, February 2008 Already a failed state? Pakistan in the aftermath of Bhutto’s assassination Marco Mezzera Conflict Research Unit, Clingendael Institute With all the due precautions necessary when referring to quantifications of societal processes, it is nevertheless interesting to look at the way Pakistan has been performing on the Failed States Index (FSI) that The Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy have been compiling since 2005. Whilst the total score registered in 2005 placed Pakistan on a comfortable 34th position on the overall ranking (just outside the red zone of the 90+ scores), the situation for 2006 drastically changed. In that year, the country made an incredible leap “forward” to land on position 9 of the index. According to the authors of the FSI, “the October 2005 earthquake…[was] the single largest factor in Pakistan’s significant jump”, 1 as it brought about enormous demographic pressures and internal displacement. However, the same authors concede that another social indicator (ie: Group Grievance) also played an important role in the growing instability of the country. More precisely, they mention “a spike in clashes between government security forces and militants in Baluchistan and the North West Frontier Province (and) a widening rift between the government of General Pervez Musharraf and the powerful Pakistani security apparatus and religious leaders”. 2007 brought a slight improvement in the overall assessment of the situation in Pakistan, which was reflected by a three-point decrease in the total score and a lower position on the ranking (ie: 12th instead of 9th). The improvement, however, was decisively minimal, almost irrelevant, and the country therefore was still dangerously close to the top of a list whose main purpose is to identify those states that are more vulnerable “to violent internal conflict and societal deterioration”; or rather, to state failure. The result was somewhat unexpected, as the steady recovery from the earthquake, which was due in part to the intervention of the international community, had been expected to bring those indicators that had surged most in the immediate aftermath of the disaster back to the levels of 2005. Whilst such a decrease was smaller than expected, other socio-economic and political indicators, strongly related to issues of legitimacy of the state, internal political competition and the positioning of the security apparatus in the broad governance landscape, showed clear and worrying signs of degeneration and instability. In particular, the aforementioned rift between the powerful military and its supreme leader on the one hand, and the religious authorities and institutions on the other hand, continued to expand, mainly due to General Musharraf’s controversial support to the US-led War on Terror and its repressive ramifications in Pakistan. In addition, the government’s crackdown on suspected Islamic extremist groups and schools seemed also to create tensions with one of the main traditional sponsors of such groups, the Inter- 1 For more details, see the “Country Profiles” section at http://www.fundforpeace.org.
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