The Real Worry is Pakistan

I am always amazed given the attention that has been focused on Iraq and Afghanistan, that the real worry Pakistan is not the focus of media comment, except in relation to the war in Afghanistan. Put simply Pakistan has 80 nuclear weapons that would be at risk in any societal melt-down or could be used in any conflict with India which has conventional forces superiority.

There is an excellent posting in the Pakistani Herald, by a leading Pakistani thinker Pervez Hoodbhoy calling for a major re-think of its whole political approach. The piece ends:

An extremist takeover of Pakistan is probably no further than five to 10 years away. Even today, some radical Islamists are advocating war against America. But such a war would end Pakistan as a nation state even if no nukes are ever used. Saving Pakistan from religious extremism will require the army, which alone has power over critical decisions, to stop using its old bag of tricks. It must stop pretending that the threat lies across our borders when in fact the threat lies within. Napoleon’s bayonet ultimately could not save him, and Pakistan’s nuclear bayonet has also had its day. It cannot protect the country. Instead, Pakistan needs peace, economic justice, rule of law, tax reform, a social contract, education and a new federation agreement.

The author is professor of nuclear and high-energy physics at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad

The whole piece is at:

So like the situation in the Middle East after Egypt, the real question is how these societies on the brink modernize. There is little faith in the old Washington Consensus, ‘let them eat free markets’ to paraphrase Marie Antoinette. There is little evidence that some form of traditional socialism will work. So we are really looking for some new hybrid that creates win-win value adding economic development with a reasonable degree of equality of distribution of the resulting value add. Perhaps the economics departments of the world should be working on this rather than the lazy delusion that markets just need a bit of polish. ‘Bring out your dead theories!’

Come to think of it, the required solution might apply in western economies too, as market and ‘socialist’ solutions are failing there too.

Footnote: The Pakistani defense budget is 3% of GDP and the education budget 0.6% of GDP, so they spend 5 times more on defense than education budget and wonder why the Madrassas are powerful. By comparison, the US spent 4.06% of GDP on defense and 5.3% on education in 2005.

This is Pervez:

About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict History, Conflict Processes, Economic Conflict, Middle East Conflict, Religious Conflict, Ways to handle conflict. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Real Worry is Pakistan

  1. Kate says:

    Saw this at 3quarks daily, as well. I was particularly taken with the point that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal serves not only as a deterrent against would-be attackers like India, but also as bait for foreign investment: give us money or the radicals will get the nukes. What seems to me is that Pakistan’s greatest export right now is fear of radicals.

    I have no idea what the solution is, but hope that one is found soon!

    • Kate. The real problem is creating an economic development model that works. South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world in 1950 about where Sudan is now. Then lost maybe a million people in the terrible war that left it devastated. But somehow via land reform, education and massive government arranged industrialization in less than 30 years it became a formidable industrial state.

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