Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 6

The inherent resilience of Pakistan

By | Khawaja Khalid Farooq

Pakistan has been at the helm of many debates internationally, many of which
are shaped by negative perceptions of Pakistan. Global perceptions of Pakistan
have been largely shaped by natural disasters, terrorism and official corruption;
a report from the Institute for Economics and Peace ranks Pakistan as one of
the top ten most dangerous countries on the Global Peace Index (GPI)- there
are much such other cited reports.

However, all these numbers and matrices and other neat little euphemisms
belittle Pakistans sacrifices in the interim. Pakistan has suffered immensely, and
we all have access to those statistics, and findings, and no doubt have reached
many conclusions. Throughout Pakistans history, that is, up until the Soviet
Invasion of Afghanistan, we have been a liberal, forward looking, and
progressive society. What transpired then is history, but what was not done at
the time then was not objectively ascertaining the growth and self-realization
that militant entities parties would undergo. Every social organism has at its
roots the need to survive and propagate, whether individually or collectively. It
is built into our DNA as human beings. As such, many of the groups that were
funded to fight the communists eventually developed their own policies for not
only survival, but also their propagation and future self-sustainability.

In this, we are all to blame, as it was not only Pakistan under the Zia regime
but the whole might of the western military and security apparatus of western
states that was to blame for this. Senior Taliban leaders visited the White House
as guests at that time. He was engaged in pretty many similar activities as his
son is now, only the targets were different. However, it was from this time that
extremism began to pervade Pakistani society. We made mistakes. As
demonstrated by the recent example of Syria , proxy wars sometimes come
back to haunt even giant powers like the US, and since our people had to return
from proxy wars too, and we did not adequately cater for this, we have
obviously faced problems.

The war in Afghanistan gave further fuel to the perceived injustices of

marginalized segments. The flow of funds for proxy wars for several countries
also enabled religious factions to build their militant groups, which were later
used in sectarian conflicts .A wave of terrorism based on sectarian differences
resulted in killing and injuring of key leaders of factions, and also resulted in
collateral damage to private citizens and property. We have suffered greatly,
and even our anti-terrorism law initially reflected that as it was made to solely
counter sectarianism. We had not even anticipated the fallout of the nine eleven
wars, of whom we took the greatest brunt, having 50,000 plus casualties in
Pakistan as opposed to the 3,000 lives lost in the incident. We faced that as
well, though like every other nation facing terrorism, we were not really totally
prepared for it in the initial years. Nevertheless, we have made progress since

Granted, complacency had set in as far as Pakistans fast rising militancy was
concerned; however, it was the rise of territorial acquisition by various non-state
actors that eventually made the alarm bells ring around the world in 2009, but
we countered this well before it could become reality. Ever since then, we have
been widely lauded as the only country in 21st century to have successfully
countered a full scale insurgency, as well as having our latest in a series of
operations, Zarb e Azab and Radd ul Fasad , being lauded as the most
successful counter terrorism operation in the duration. We have decimated the
so called good Taliban too, like the groups of Mullah Gul Bahadur and Nazir, in
the process, which our detractors were fond of referring to as our prodigies.

Concomitantly, Pakistan was embarking on a democratic transition. This is the

first time in the history of Pakistan that we saw a democratically elected
government surviving a full term, with a vibrant established oppositional
multiparty setup in attendance. This is a testament to our steadfastness and
perseverance in the face of chaos, tensions and hostility from within and
without, and this. This is what we call resilience, what Chris Jaffrelot in his
recent book called the Pakistan Paradox, whereby Pakistan not only survives but
also has a propensity to thrive, having perhaps been the only country in the
world to quell a full raging insurgency (in Swat) in the twenty first century.
Comparisons then of Pakistan with Iraq and Afghanistan are then pointless, as
the conditions of both these countries are self-evident.

Because of Pakistans turbulent political history, its populace has never relied on
the government for support. There is no welfare state, no proper state
education, no NHS, but Pakistan in its resilience has developed from within the
society one of the worlds largest privately raised ambulance networks, as well
as its largest cancer hospital, all run by charities, the Edhi Foundation, and the
Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust respectively. In times of hardship, people turn
to extended family, community and charities for help. Anything from a small
accident at work to short-term illness can cripple a familys finances, plunging
them into a life of poverty. There is no official safety net, but at the same time
families will rally together, saving them from destitution.

Pakistan is still a developing country, whereby the vacuum left by sometimes

ineffective state institutions has been filled by the emergence of dedicated
grassroots organizations that have stepped in to plug the gap. The example of
just one NGO, Humans of New York highlighted the vital work of the Bonded
Labour Liberation Front, for example, an organization that aims to eradicate
bonded labour, a pernicious form of modern-day slavery. Within hours of a
moving story being posted online, hundreds of people around the world
mobilized for the cause. In just four days, 73,000 people collectively donated
more than $2m (1.3m) to help free the labourers. Such is the power of our
civil society, and it is still emerging.

As a middle income, developing country, and despite being overwhelmed by

internal conflicts, political instability and a lack of governance, Pakistan has
remained an active international actor in global politics. This is despite the fact
that we have survived the cold wars, Pressler amendments and Sanctions, wars
with India, separatist and sub nationalist insurgencies, floods and earthquakes,
and almost every kind of man-made and natural disasters. Critics say that this
balancing act makes us fragile, while protagonists may claim that despite
joining the war on terror amongst other things, Pakistan still retains its
geopolitical importance despite periods of internal instability. Amongst all this ,
we have maintained alliance blocs with regional (China) and global (US) powers
to survive in what it perceived as a hostile neighborhood, with India to its East
and Afghanistan its West, both countries with which Pakistan has border

We have had multiple facets of our national personality, simultaneously being

part of South Asia, the Af-Pak construct and the Middle East. This is as much as
a product of foreign policy as well as our vibrant diaspora, while our
engagement with China, we are now a player in the huge Pak China economic
corridor. With a population comprising over 70 per cent Sunni and 25 per cent
Shia Muslims, we are inextricable from the Middle East, while we also maintain
a fragile nuclear balance with India. This necessarily creates power realpolitik,
not all of our own making, which necessitates large defense spending. However,
we are still able to quell insurgencies within and ensure economic growth
simultaneously, no mean feat for a developing country.

The power equations in the region are in a state of constant flux in South Asia,
with China as an emerging power player, a US tilt towards engagement with
Iran in the Middle East and Indias growing international prominence. For
Pakistan, the withdrawal of Western forces from Afghanistan poses challenges
relating to Pakistans balancing act regarding alliances with the US, China, Iran
and the Arab world, but at the same time maintaining uneasy relationships with
India and Afghanistan. Pakistan is sometimes embroiled in others proxy wars on
its soil because of these complex relationships, and it is by no means an easy
task to avoid this.

We have seen periods of detente and strained relationships with the US, which
has shaped some of the perceptions in Pakistan about the US being an
unreliable ally. China, on the other hand, has been a friend throughout, backing
up Pakistan in turbulent times with major arms sales, nuclear technology, and
economic assistance. With the recent US$50 billion investment towards
stabilizing Pakistans economy, we have to acknowledge the tribute that we as a
nation owe to the Chinese.

At the same time, our long standing Kashmir issue with India still remains
unresolved, and the issue of Durand Line with Afghanistan, though historic now,
cannot be just wished away. Uneasy truce followed by border skirmishes with
India, and sometimes hostile statements emanating from Afghanistan can
hardly be encouraging. This will continue to pose a security and military
oriented paradigm, and will continue to prod Pakistan to try and keep strategic
military parity in the region. Therefore, any loud comments aimed at tarnishing
Pakistans image by virtue of Pakistan keeping a large standing army miss the
whole point for Pakistans security needs.

Pakistan is a country that has rich natural resources and offers the requisite
manpower and business infrastructure is also bound to become an attractive
destination for foreign investment. Pakistan passes the test on all these counts
but suffers seriously where country image is concerned. A recent research by
society of science and education UK established a clear negative link between
Pakistans insecurity and flight of capital from FDI. It also showed that terrorism
activities decreased the foreign investor confidence which decreased the FDI,
also showing that increase in terrorist activity in a year had more effect on the
investment of next year, and the trend continues.

Besides the non measurable loss to humans, other major economic costs of the
terrorism include poverty, capital flight, destruction of infrastructure, reduction
in FDI and exports, low public revenues and diversion of the development
expenditure to the expenditure on law and order maintenance and so forth. All
these economic costs have significant impact on economic growth, e.g. one of
the major contributors is the recent violence and terrorist activities in Pakistan
which caused the overall GDP growth in 2010 to fall to 1.6 per cent, somewhat
improving in later years but still subject to security threats, even in 2017.

This impact may not even reveal other negative aspects associated with
terrorist activities like the lost FDI, reduction in international trade, loss of trade
and business activities in Pakistan due to fear of terrorism. With this
background it is very clear that terrorism has significantly affected our economy
and for a sustainable economic growth, we need peace in Pakistan. Pakistan has
suffered as a consequence, and the national psyche has also been affronted
with a challenge. Every single day Pakistanis live with the threat of another
attack. They are the victims of terrorism, not the creators of it. Accounts of
terrorism in the country deal with the minutiae of that .00001 % of misguided
terrorists who besiege the nation, but they hardly account for the 99.9999% of
Pakistani victims of terrorism, which is the price we pay when we look at the
surface rather than the depth of things.

As the world watches the people of Pakistan stand in unison to mourn for their
country, we can all start finding the courage within ourselves to change our
single story of Pakistan. We may also appreciate the courage of each Pakistani
child that continues showing up every day for class in the wake of upcoming
anniversary of the December 16 attack on the Peshawar school, claiming
innocent young lives. Pakistans participation in the US led anti-terrorism
campaign has led to massive unemployment, homelessness, poverty and other
social problems and ills. In addition, frequent incidents of terrorism and
displacement of the local population have severely affected the social fabric.
Counter terrorism campaigns against the militants uprooted millions of people in
KPK and FATA which brought various economic, social and psychological
sufferings to them.

Approximately five million people were displaced from FATA which is considered
as one of the largest displacements in the history of Pakistan. According to the
mental health programme of the Federal Ministry of Health, a majority of the
children displaced in the wake of the military operations in FATA and PATA was
aged between three months to 11 years and they complained of problems
including depression, phobias, acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress
syndrome and insomnia. In 2009 the Sarhad Hospital for Psychiatric Diseases
(SHPD) recorded about 97,000 psychiatric cases from the violence-hit areas of
FATA. It has been estimated that one in six carries few symptoms of
psychological illness. Approximately 90,000 patients examined at a local
hospital of FATA in 2011, about 50,000 had been exposed to militant-related
violence or to the military operation.

Of course there are and will be challenges in policy implementation, and our
main drive towards this has been in the form of the National Action Plan, which
has been a catchword in media and by the government, and was announced
with much fanfare. The Pakistani military has tackled its mandate of tackling
terrorists militarily, and has made commendable progress. However, months
later for the civilian administration, implementation is lackluster, and there
seems no strategic direction. The National Action Plan lacked an effective
implementation and execution despite the existing three-tier structure in the
shape of NAP Committee chaired by the Prime Minister, the National Counter
Terrorism Authority (NACTA) and Provincial Apex Committees. There are ample
institutional mechanisms to implement the National Action Plan.
Besides, committees on Money Laundering, Counter-terrorism and Madrassah
reforms can supplement effective implementation. However, the overlapping
role of National Anti-Terrorist Force, lack of mechanism to control foreign
funding to the religious seminaries, resistance to the registration and reforms of
existing Madrassahs in the country, continued political activities of banned
outfits , and lack of effective intelligence coordination along with lukewarm
response of the federal and provincial governments are some of the factors
hampering this initiative. The civilian security infrastructure, especially the
police need revamping as well. Even though reforms have been talked about for
long, there has been little action. Potential structural and procedural reforms
have been discussed at length numerous times , with merit-based postings and
intensified monitoring topping the agenda, but there has been little
implementation to date.

Accountability is admittedly a broad subject and there are many ways and
institutional designs to achieve police accountability, but something has to be
done besides meetings and abortive or powerless commissions which promise
reform, but dont deliver. Report after report, committee after committee, has
all pointed out the same problems. Widespread torture, rampant corruption,
lack of knowledge about human rights and the rule of law, violence and lack of
accountability are just some of the issues facing policing reform in Pakistan.
Moreover, these phenomena are pervasive. The organizational culture is such
that it is actually difficult for an officer to behave differently. Without reforming
the civilian infrastructure, it may be difficult to keep treating the menace of
terrorism solely through a force paradigm.

This was just a short review of the intricacies of the dynamics of image of
Pakistan. It is a complicated topic, best examined under the discursive lens of
the nuances which underlie the issues, which in turn promote certain reflections
of the image of Pakistan. What I would like to stress upon is the fact that
generalizations and blanket categorizations which are based on not much more
than media hype may serve to not clarify, but obfuscate the issues.

About the Author | The Writer is a decorated Bureaucrat who retired as the
Inspector General of Punjab Police after having served for more than 35 years.
He also served as the former head of Pakistans National Counter Terrorism
Authority (NACTA). He can be reached on twitter.