Pakistan is Sinking: Time For Tough Love? Walter Russell Mead
The news from Pakistan remains dire. The flood waters now sweeping toward the Arabian Gulf have been far more devastating and the destruction more widespread than anyone predicted. They have cruelly exposed many of Pakistan’s glaring weaknesses: its corrupt feudal elite, its corrupt and ineffective bureaucracy, its lack of infrastructure, its weak civil society, and the presence (unsurprising given the decades long failures of the country’s public and private institutions to do their job) of radical religious extremism and terrorism emerging from the rage and despair of a people betrayed by its leaders.
The long term outlook is not good. Pakistan has failed yet again to educate a rising generation of children and the population is rising faster than the country can find jobs. While the IPCC may have overstated the problem of glacier melt, long term trends point to a decline in the flow of the rivers on which Pakistan depends. The growing power gap between Pakistan and India (the world’s two most hostile nuclear powers) is likely to destabilize the geopolitical environment for some time to come. The slow but inexorable decay of the Pakistani state, the rise of separatism in some parts of the country, and a depressingly long list of other problems greatly complicate the task of those in Pakistan and abroad who would like to help.
Beset by so many problems from so many different sources, Pakistanis struggle to make sense of their country and the world. Conspiracy theories are rife; the raucous and rambunctious media (especially the Urdu media) is better at expressing anger than analysis. A strong civil society is struggling to emerge, but the enormous internal disparities in wealth and education make it hard for strong and effective groups to emerge. Like idealistic 19th century Russian aristocrats and students, the educated idealists who direct many Pakistani social movements are so distant from the world of the poor that their efforts, commendable and well intentioned as they may be, are often irrelevant to the problems of the masses. …
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