Does Pakistan qualify as a failed state?

Pankaj Sharma/Zee Research Group

This week’s devastating militant attack on Pakistan’s largest air base at Kamra in central Punjab province, which also houses the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, should keep India on tenterhooks. At a time when Pakistan’s new premier Raja Pervez Ashraf is trying to resolve all outstanding disputes with India, Islamabad’s continuous engagement with terrorists and its growing inability to rein them in could cast a shadow over bilateral relations.

Even though there has been no official report so far, experts don’t rule out a threat to India if the militants have succeeded in laying their hands on nukes. Professor Kalim Bahadur, a close observer of Pakistan and security issues, says, “If these Islamist militants had expertise on nuclear weaponry then this incident could pose threat to any country.” Bahadur didn’t fail to remind the fact that several terrorist organisations operating in Pakistan have many nuclear weapon experts on their rolls.

As per news reports, the air base at Kamra hosts a variety of fighter jets, including F-16s, and contains a factory that makes aircraft and other weapons systems.

That Pakistan has been passing through a state of unstable equilibrium is not surprising. The recent statistics on terrorism and reports of some international bodies have also endorsed this point that Islamabad is heading towards becoming a failed state.

Showing vulnerability of Pakistan as a state, it has been ranked at 13th place in recent failed state index among 178 countries. A Washington based organisation called Fund for Peace, annually compiles a list of countries in terms of their vulnerability. Pakistan has been called a failed state numerous times and marked under the red flagged category. While in 2009 and 2010 Pakistan ranked at 10th place, in 2011 it marginally improved its ranking to 12th position.

But will the recent call by the Pak PM to resolve issues with India bring any change in relations?

Bahadur doesn’t think so as he believes that Indo-Pak relations have been in a state of ambiguity. “No group in Pakistan is allowed to rule who is friendly with India. In fact, there are several terrorist groups which are working against India and funded by the government of Pakistan.”

Ashok K Behuria and Sushant Sareen, analysts at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), also endorse Bahadur’s call on Indo–Pak relations in a new book released on July 13, 2012 – ‘India’s Neighbourhood: Challenges in the Next Two Decades’. They write, “If the current trends were to continue, Pakistan may develop into a hybrid and semi-theocratic state—partly democratic and partly under the military’s control with more emphasis on an extremely radical and less tolerant version of Islam, which is anti-West and anti-India in its orientation.”

The deteriorating situation in Pakistan is evident with continuous terror attacks which have claimed lives of several civilians and security personnel. During the last two years until 12th August, fatalities of more than 10,000 were reported during terrorist violence in Pakistan. In 2011, a total of at least 6142 persons, including of 2797 militants, 2580 civilians and 765 Security Forces (SFs) personnel were reported killed. In 2012, until 12 August, around 3977 people were killed including 1732 civilians, 500 security force personnel and 1745 terrorists.