Articles of the year 2005

The Failed State
Published on May 16th, 2005

I have been reading in the newspapers how Pakistan has just slid to 9th from the bottom of the list of failed states. I find it incredible that it should come as a surprise to the people who run the country, when it is a reality to all the rest of us. I have just flown non-stop from London on a PIA flight, in Club Class where the TV did not work, and worse still the reading light stayed on throughout the flight. When I begged for it to be switched off I was told by the Stewardess that one side of the planes electrical circuits had packed up and would not function. This was a 747 Combi, which should have been retired ages ago. However, the poor Pakistani passengers had stopped complaining and like good Pakistani sheep dutifully paid their fares and flew home more out of loyalty to the flag than the corporation. The service was as charming as any Pakistani can be, for we have apologizing down to a fine art, or it just comes naturally.

When we landed at Karachi airport, the usual melee greeted us, and the PIA 'fast track' immigration counter was very clearly labeled, but the throng at the counter either could not read or the bulk of the Passengers that day were first and club class, and I presumed Pakistan was doing better than the Pundits like me believed. It seems an Emirates flight from Dubai had just arrived before us, and the same Pakistanis who had been living according to the letter of the laws in complete obedience, had forgotten the meaning of the word queue or law within minutes of landing in Pakistan. The very same people, were now clambering over each other in their haste to get to the exits. When I asked the Duty officer of PIA he just shrugged and said it was the concern of the Civil Aviation as the Airport was under their jurisdiction. When both were brought face to face they said it was Immigration that was responsible. I had just been reading about our slide in the failed state sweepstakes, and I realized we the people do need a strong leadership, which unfortunately shows signs of slipping into its usual bureaucratic lethargy while we the people must fend for ourselves.

It is indeed a pity that we are being placed at par with Eriteria and Sudan, by the economists who I understand pointed out the same statistics to the Prime Minister. Our redoubtable Foreign Minister is supposed to have responded with.' "What rubbish, we are a nuclear State, how can we be called a failed state.?" the Oxbridge logic there fails me,or I should assume that going Nuclear has now put as at par economically with the other Nuclear states, the analogy is not very clear.The 'we shall eat grass' slogan worked in the past, following the roti kapra makaan line, but the people are beginning to realize that these are empty slogans, except some of us are closer to eating grass than our rulers in Islamabad would have us think.

In the meantime the lenders speaking at the PDF are pointing out what I have said all along that the money being sent to Pakistan by our Diaspora is being frittered away on non developemental items like land in Defence and in Gwadar. When the crunch does come we will be back to the begging bowl, and more of our leadership will be headed for the cooler climes, where even the streets may not be paved with gold, but they are airconditioned.The simple truth is that the establishment has always known what is best for the country, and they have always been wrong. Our President and Prime Minister both know that the establishment must be kicked out of its reverie, and the ability to obfuscate, and throw statistics that are beguiling—but dangerous. For now even the Lending agencies are sending warning signals that must be taken seriously. We will not perish, but we may just invite another leader in the Bhutto mien, ( Zulfiqar Ali certainly not Benazir) to cast us through another spell of class hatred and socialism. I do not think we can afford one more such leader.