• Friday, December 6, 2019

What's Wrong with Pakistan? --BY ROBERT D. KAPLAN

Discussion in 'Social & Current Events' started by Cherokee, Jul 7, 2012.

  1. Cherokee

    Cherokee SENIOR MEMBER

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    Perversity characterizes Pakistan. Only the worst African hellholes, Afghanistan, Haiti, Yemen, and Iraq rank higher on this year's Failed States Index. The country is run by a military obsessed with -- and, for decades, invested in -- the conflict with India, and by a civilian elite that steals all it can and pays almost no taxes. But despite an overbearing military, tribes "defined by a near-universal male participation in organized violence," as the late European anthropologist Ernest Gellner put it, dominate massive swaths of territory. The absence of the state makes for 20-hour daily electricity blackouts and an almost nonexistent education system in many areas.


    The root cause of these manifold failures, in many minds, is the very artificiality of Pakistan itself: a cartographic puzzle piece sandwiched between India and Central Asia that splits apart what the British Empire ruled as one indivisible subcontinent. Pakistan claims to represent the Indian subcontinent's Muslims, but more Muslims live in India and Bangladesh put together than in Pakistan. In the absence of any geographical reason for its existence, Pakistan, so the assumption goes, can fall back only on Islamic extremism as an organizing principle of the state.

    But this core assumption about what ails Pakistan is false. Pakistan, which presents more nightmare scenarios for American policymakers than perhaps any other country, does have geographical logic. The vision of Pakistan's founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in the 1940s did not constitute a mere power grab at the expense of India's Hindu-dominated Congress party. There was much history and geography behind his drive to create a separate Muslim state anchored in the subcontinent's northwest, abutting southern Central Asia. Understanding this legacy properly leads to a very troubling scenario about where Pakistan -- and by extension, Afghanistan and India -- may now be headed. Pakistan's present and future, for better or worse, are still best understood through its geography.
    Related
    Was the Arab Spring Worth It?

    THE MUSLIM EXPERIENCE in South Asia begins with the concept of al-Hind, the Arabic word for India. Al-Hind invokes the vast tracts of the northern and northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent that came under mainly Turko-Islamic rule in the Middle Ages and were protected from the horse-borne Mongols by lack of sufficient pastureland. The process of Muslim conquest began in Sindh, the desert tract south and east of Iran and Afghanistan, adjacent to the Arabian Sea, easily accessible to the Middle East by land and maritime routes.

    The Umayyad Arabs conquered and Islamicized Sindh in the early eighth century. Then came the Turkic Ghaznavids (based out of Ghazni, in eastern Afghanistan), who conquered parts of northern India in the 11th century. The Ghaznavids were followed by the Delhi Sultanate, a military oligarchy between the early 13th and early 16th centuries, which preceded the splendorous rule of the Persianized Mughal dynasty on the subcontinent. All these Muslim warriors governed immense inkblots of territory that were extensions of the Arab-Persian world that lay to the west, even as they interacted and traded with China to the north and east. It was a land without fixed borders that, according to University of Wisconsin historian André Wink, represented a rich confection of Arab, Persian, and Turkic culture, bustling with trade routes to Muslim Central Asia.

    To the extent that one area was the ganglion of this Muslim civilization, it was today's Pakistan. Fertile Punjab, which straddles the Pakistan-India frontier, "linked the Mughal empire, through commercial, cultural and ethnic intercourse, with Persia and Central Asia," writes University of Chicago historian Muzaffar Alam. This area of Pakistan has been for centuries the civilizational intermediary connecting the cool and sparsely populated tableland of Central Asia with the hot and teeming panel of cultivation in the Indian subcontinent. Pakistan's many mountain passes, especially those of Khyber and Bolan, join Kabul and Kandahar in Afghanistan with the wheat- and rice-baskets thousands of feet below. The descent from Afghanistan to the Indus River, which runs lengthwise through the middle of Pakistan, is exceedingly gradual, so for millennia various cultures occupied both the high plateaus and the lowland riverine plains. This entire middle region -- not quite the subcontinent, not quite Central Asia -- was more than a frontier zone or a bold line on a map: It was a fluid cultural organism and the center of many civilizations in their own right.

    What we know as modern-day Pakistan is far from an artificial entity; it is just the latest of the many spatial arrangements for states on the subcontinent. The map of the Harappan civilization, a complex network of centrally controlled chieftaincies in the late fourth to mid-second millennium B.C., was one of its earliest predecessors. The Harappan world stretched from Baluchistan northeast up to Kashmir and southeast down almost to both Delhi and Mumbai, nearly touching present-day Iran and Afghanistan and extending into both northwestern and western India. It was a complex geography of settlement that adhered to landscapes capable of supporting irrigation, and whose heartland was today's Pakistan.

    The Mauryan Empire, which existed from the fourth to the second centuries B.C., came to envelop much of the subcontinent and thus, for the first time in history, encouraged the idea of India as a political entity. But whereas the area of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northern India all fell under Mauryan rule, India's deep south did not. Next came the Kushan Empire, whose Indo-European rulers conquered territory from the Ferghana Valley, in the demographic heart of Central Asia, to Bihar in northeastern India. Once again, the heart of the empire that linked Central Asia and India was in Pakistan; one of the Kushan capitals was Peshawar, Pakistan's frontier city today.

    India is the counterfactual to Pakistan's dilemma. India's individual states are linguistically based and thus have confident identities: Kannada-speaking Karnataka, Marathi-speaking Maharashtra, Telugu-speaking Andhra Pradesh, Bengali-speaking West Bengal, Hindi-speaking Uttar Pradesh, and so forth. This might, in some scenarios, lead to local nationalism and irredentist movements, as is the case with Pakistan. Because central authority in New Delhi is restricted, however, diversity is celebrated and has become, in turn, a healthy basis for a pan-Indian national identity.

    At the same time, as Pakistan is primarily interested in southern and eastern Afghanistan, the part of Afghanistan north of the Hindu Kush mountains may, if current trends continue, become more peaceful and drift into the economic orbit of the former Soviet Central Asian republics, especially given that Uzbeks and Tajiks live astride northern Afghanistan's border with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. This new formation would closely approximate the borders of ancient Bactria, with which Alexander the Great was so familiar.

    Indeed, the past may hold the key to the future of al-Hind.


    It's a four page article can be read here :

    What's Wrong with Pakistan? - By Robert D. Kaplan | Foreign Policy
     
  2. illusion8

    illusion8 ELITE MEMBER

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    Just read this piece in FP and saw a thread here, along with the OP's highlighted parts I found this point interesting as well.

    Why put up with Islamic militancy and lose our boys to their terrorists? what do we gain by baby sitting this Muslim population? - isn't it hampering our security and our growth? aren't we needlessly spending on securing our borders both monetarily and by manpower?


    These points too were quite interesting..

     
  3. RescueRanger

    RescueRanger PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    [​IMG]
     
  4. illusion8

    illusion8 ELITE MEMBER

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    You don't agree with the author? why is that? or you find it a bit confusing?
     
  5. RescueRanger

    RescueRanger PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    Just tried of reading the same old apocalyptic bleak outlook from someone how is yet to step foot in Pakistan and experience a day of the grassroots realities of what is faced here. I am very sorry but the overall tone of the article is just a regurgitation of previous articles published in the Times, NYT, LWG etc. Nothing new has been researched, added or built upon.

    Sorry but i don't buy this kind of overview, i would not even call it an analysis of the country. The reason i am so critical is because the constant harping on about the military, about the lack of democracy etc... Sorry sir but we have heard this for years to come, this election blighted as it may have been with rigging etc was a mark for democracy, for the first time in our history one elected government handed power over to another elected government.

    And then the author looks to the history and the arab spring of all things to add some sense of authenticity of his hypothesis, sorry bu the arab spring was driven by many other motivators than just ethnics/religious and angry young men with a desire to express themselves as a political force.
     
  6. illusion8

    illusion8 ELITE MEMBER

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    For me this piece was a revelation - not because it projected Pakistan in a bad light but because I always wondered what ails that region - what has been and will be the cause for all the turmoil. It's similar to a situation where one visits an experienced doctor and the doctor looks in at the patients history, his vital signs, and the symptoms before administering treatment.

    I was looking for a complete analysis running through the inception of Pakistan to the turmoil that's evident to this day and I got it from those 4 pages. I must say I gained an insight into the actual problem from that one article even though I spent close to three years on PDF and couldn't get a pulse on the problem.
     
  7. RescueRanger

    RescueRanger PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    If you think this one article provides you with the crux of the problems facing Pakistan, then my friend what can i say... In fact i prefer not to say anything on that subject and will let you examine history though a blurred prism, there is no revelation in that article which you could not have obtained from any number of articles published in the NYT or Time Magazine post 9/11.
     
  8. Silverblaze

    Silverblaze FULL MEMBER

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    Question: What is wrong with Pakistan?

    Answer: Pakistan is a classic case of mismanagement and nothing else.

    Pakistan is being mismanaged both by the military and the civil elite.

    Their endless corruption and strategic fantasies have destroyed a country that was ripe for excellent progress due its resources and great location.
     
  9. Saleem

    Saleem FULL MEMBER

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    more poop from the poop factory.........
     
  10. illusion8

    illusion8 ELITE MEMBER

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    I tend to look at issues with a wider prism, the small above surface issues of mis governance, corruption, crime, Pakistan and Islamic bashing etc will always be there - but the deep rooted turmoil, hate, the killings, the terrorism, wars etc stems from a much deeper problem, the articles you mentioned skims the surface giving details of the symptoms and the illness or the quick fix solutions but never a complete specialist doctor report of the origin of the infection, the root cause, the reason for symptoms and the non existent solution.

    One thing I have come to know is that there is no existing solution for this turmoil - only quick fixes that will provide only temporary relief.
     
  11. RescueRanger

    RescueRanger PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    It's nice to know that you wish to look at things in such depth and that you gathered so much from the "4" page doctor's report. Pray tell then, since you have become enlightened, what do you think is the immediate outlook for Pakistan's energy crisis and the indirect impact of the IPI on multiple stakeholders including the Chinese with their coastal highway into Gawadar and the Americans with their intervention in Balochistan?
     
  12. Armstrong

    Armstrong PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    I think one of these days my brain is going slap me for the sh*t I make it read ! :unsure:
     
  13. RangerPK

    RangerPK SENIOR MEMBER

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    Indians joining a Pakistani site and posting articles of Pakistan being a failed state. What a dedication to their obsession with Pakistan. If only such obsession and dedication went to Indian sanitation system and culture, perhaps Indian streets would not be as liberally fertilized as they are at present...
     
  14. Peshwa

    Peshwa SENIOR MEMBER

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    No offence but isnt theocracy a big part of the problem?
    especially the constitution based in Islam that was introduced by Zia (also to some extent Bhutto) that the current crop of fundamentalists are using to their advantage?

    PS: Im a big proponent of seperating church from state and based on your previous comments, I think you could shed some balanced light on how this plays within the current fabric of society...
     
  15. Silverblaze

    Silverblaze FULL MEMBER

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    Religious fanaticism is just a symptom. Secularism is not liked by Pakistan so be it, Pakistan could follow the Malaysian example even that would not work.

    The fact is that no system would work in Pakistan if its mismanaged. Pakistan's mismanagement has led to every problem from ethnic to religious to economic and to lawlessness.