Fragile State Indicators by Usman Ghani, MBA

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Pakistan is a country that has always been teetering on the precipice.  In spite of an abundance of human and natural resources, spurts of growth and successes, it has been a fragile state.  To extricate ourselves from a permanent state of instability, Pakistan must focus on symptoms that make it a fragile state.  These indicators can be categorized as social, economic and political.   Stabilizing Pakistan will require an objective assessment of these Fragile State Indicators (FSI).  The myriad of problems require a strategic roadmap in order to reverse the national decline.   This will require 4 steps:

  • Defining the Fragile State Indicators
  • Assessing Pakistan’s Current state vis-a-vis FSI’s
  • Root Cause Analysis of the FSI’s
  • A comprehensive strategy to mitigate and eventually resolving FSI’s

The first step is to clearly define and comprehend each indicator.

  • Social Indicators
    • Demographic Pressures
      • Pressure from high density of population in comparison to available food, land, water, electricity, transportation, health.
      • Pressure from land, border or settlement disputes.
    • Massive Movement of Refugees or IDP’s
      • Uprooting of large groups due to war, repression, food shortages, disease, lack of clean water, land competition and general turmoil.
      • The uprooting leads to conflict with neighboring states.
    • A Culture of Vengeance Seeking
      • A perceived sense of historic injustice that continues to be an emotional issue for the public.This could include impunity against specific communal groups.
      • This could include impunity against specific communal groups by dominant groups.
      • Institutionalization of political exclusion, public scapegoating, emergence of hateful media, pamphletering and stereotypical or nationalistic political rhetoric.
      • Growth of anti-nationalist expatriate groups.
    • Brain Drain
      • The sustained emigration of professionals, intellectuals, politicians and middle class leaving the country in often the least productive elements in key community, commercial and political positions.
  • Economic Indicators
    • Uneven Economic Development
      • Group based inequality whether real or perceived, in education, jobs and economic status based on group based poverty, infant mortality and education levels of specific groups.
    • Economic Decline or Stagnancy
      • Sharp economic decline of the country as a whole in per capita income, GNP, debt, business failures, poverty levels.
      • A sudden drop in commodity prices, trade revenue, foreign investment or debt payments.
      • Collapse or devaluation of the national currency.
      • Growth of hidden economies such as drug trade, smuggling and capital flight.
      • Failure of the state to pay salaries of government employees and armed forces of obligations to citizens such as pension payments.
  • Political Indicators
    • Corrupt Leadership & Governance
      • Endemic corruption or profiteering by the ruling elites and resistance to transparency, accountability and political representation.
      • Loss of public confidence in state institutions and processes.
    • Progressively Deteriorating Public Services
      • Lack of basic state functions to serve the people such as protection from terrorism, violence, access to essential government services such as health, education, sanitation, public transportation.
      • The use of state apparatus for agencies that serve the ruling elites such as security forces, ministerial staff, central bank, diplomatic services, customs and collections agencies.
    • Widespread Human Rights Violations
      • Emergence of authoritarian, dictatorial or military rule in which constitutional and democratic institutions and processesare suspended or manipulated.
      • Outbreaks of religio-political violence against innocent civilians.  
      • Rise of political prisoners or dissidents who are denied due process consistent with international norms and policies.
      • Widespread abuse of legal, policial and social rights.
      • Harassment of press, politicization of judiciary, military, police, public repression of political opponents, religious or cultural persecution.
    • Security State Apparatus
      • Emergence of a elite or praetorian guard that operate with impunity.  
      • Emergence of state sponsored privae militias that terrorize political opponents, suspected “enemies of the state”, civilians seen to be sympathetic to a polictial point of view.  
      • An army that serves the interest of a dominant political group.
      • Emergence of rival militias, guerella forces or private armies in an armed and protracted violent campaign against each other or the state security forces.
    • Factionalized Elites
      •  Fragmentation of ruling elites and state institutions along group lines.
      • Use of aggressive nationalistic rhetoric by ruling elites especially destructive forms of communal irrendetism or communal solidarity such as ethnic cleansing or “defense of a particular faith”
    • External Intervention
      • Military or paramilitary engagement in the internal affairs of the state at risk by outside armies, states, identity group or entities that affect the internal balance of power or resolution to conflict.
      • Intervention by donors or over-dependence on foreign aid or peacekeeping missions.
    • Rule of Law Deterioration
      • Rampant and blatant criminality and/or violence, general insecurity and the inability of state to subdue to criminal elements.

When we inspect the list of indicators, we unfortunately see a series of factors that could very well be a description of Pakistan.

he second step is to honestly assess Pakistan’s current status for each indicator.

Indicator Pakistan Examples Intensity Prevalence
High Density Population to Resources   ♦♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦
Land, Water, Border Disputes   ♦♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦♦
Uprooting of Population
  • 3 Million Afghan Refugees for over 30 Years.
  • 100,000+ IDP’s FATA
Uprooting Causing Conflict w/Neighbor States
  • Kashmiris (India)
  • Afghans (Afghanistan)
  • Biharis/Bengalis (Bangladesh)
♦♦♦ ♦♦♦
Sense of Historic Injustice
  • Smaller Provinces vs. Punjab
  • Sunni vs. Shia
  • Muhajir vs. Sindhi
  • Pakistan vs. India
  • Pakistan vs. Afghanistan
  • Balochistan vs. Pakistan
♦♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦♦
Persecution of Groups w/Impunity
  • Ahmadis
  • Christians
  • Hindus
♦♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦♦
Institutionalized Marginalization
  •  Ahmadis
♦♦♦♦♦ ♦♦
Growth of anti-nationalist Expatriates
  • Baloch Dissidents
  • Leftists
  • Athiests
Emigration due to Economics
  •  7 million Pakistanis overseas
♦♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦♦
Emigration due to Persecution
  •  Hindus leaving for India
Group Based Inequality
  •  VIP Culture
  • Political Elite Wealth
♦♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦♦
Economic Decline   ♦♦♦ ♦♦♦

The fourth step is the most difficult; Establishing a long-term strategy to address and mitigate each indicator.  The solution must not be tactical but strategic.  It must not be myopic but all encompassing in its scope.The third step is to understand the root causes and linkages of the indicators to each other.

The NexGen Institute will continue to work on discussing these difficult topics and determining solutions to the perplexing challenges faced by Pakistan.

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