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Internal Instability, statecraft and Pakistan

Internal Instability, statecraft and Pakistan

There is hardly any doubt that internal stability is the most crucial factor every state aims to ensure for not only its survival but also for peaceful existence for its people. It is a recognised factor that developments within countries also pose a threat to world order as a lack of order can provide space for terrorists to train, prepare for, and carry out their attacks.

Instability within states often results in civil strife that brings in large flows of refugees that cause instability in their neighbouring countries. It is also well known that many stronger and stable states try to seek advantage of instability of unstable states and look for the outcomes they prefer that may be harmful to the unstable state. It must also be kept in view that most conflicts in the global arena are the result of unstable countries and the difficulties experienced by them that ultimately spill over and pose complex risks for the international order.

Though there have been consistent attempts to avoid conflicts globally but they keep on recurring in almost all parts of the world. It is reported that on an average twenty conflicts occur every year with many countries at some point in their existence face a challenge from secessionist movements that seek to break away and establish a country of their own.

What these secessionists seek is not an alternative to sovereignty but rather a sovereign country of their own. In this context, South Sudan broke away from Sudan in 2011 and there is an effort in the Catalonia region of Spain to create a new country for those living in that area. Meanwhile, some governments are facing challenges from terrorist organisations, drug cartels and pirates whose goal is not so much a country of their own as the ability to ignore the government and carry out activities that advance their own political or financial agendas.

Internal conflicts are certainly not an isolated phenomenon as it is assessed averagely 1.5 billion people live in states that are rated fragile in content.

Fragile states may fulfill all tenets of a state existing in global order but somehow, they fail to perform the basic duties of what is expected from governments including maintaining internal security, collecting taxes, issuing and supporting a viable currency, building infrastructure, offering basic education, regulating food and product safety and providing the basics for retirement and health care.

It may be pointed out that Pakistan unfortunately falls in this category where now large areas are rated as ungovernable and the people living there are widely considered insecure. It is just not that a weak state is the one that has lost control over territorial areas but also the one that has failed to provide required security umbrella and opportunities of equitable existence for its citizens.

It is more than manifest that sovereignty is not just a imperative to be adhered to but also to be put into practice otherwise it remains hollow and extremely harmful to the existence of the state.

A fragile state continuously runs the risks of breakout of violent internal strife that exacerbates the already prevalent instability. Such strife involves the own forces of the state as well as militias and terrorist groups, a situation that is rampant in Pakistan with rising terrorism making life miserable for the citizenry. Moreover, ethnic and communal conflicts are also taking place in Pakistan with its state apparatus simply unable to contain them as the coercive ability of the state has been taken over by the professionally armed segment of the state that invariably pursues policies beneficial to its own interests. Most worryingly,

internal conceptual conflicts tend to last longer and, after they conclude, are more likely to flare up again indicating that their underlying causes are not addressed and removed. This is certainly a dangerous position most fragile states counter, and they find themselves unable to wriggle out of it.

It is now widely acknowledged that what makes a country weak in absolute terms is its inability to control what takes place within its borders or to make available to its citizens what they require to lead a normal life.

It is described that fragile countries face the endemic difficulty of lack of commitment to the rule of law, whether because of corruption, leaders with too much power, or some combination of the two. This in turn reduces incentives to own private property or invest in the country which stymies economic growth.

The uncertainties of governmental policies often cause the investment to shy away and this investment includes local and foreign investment. Such states also suffer from rampant discrimination that is widely pervasive and negatively affects minorities and women who are reduced to live a subdued life under constant fear of persecution and violence. On the political side, countries facing internal instability tend to be characterized by high concentrations of power in merely a few hands. There tends to be little oversight of these leaders and little inclination on their part to learn from mistakes.

The government may be seen as having lost its legitimacy and right to rule by a significant share of the population. Constitutions and checks and balances on the arbitrary exercise of power either are inadequate or are inadequately enforced.

The economic condition of the fragile state is also pitiable as it suffers from rampant corruption that badly impedes economic growth by forcing people to spend time and money-making payoffs rather than focusing on their businesses. The capacity of governmental agencies is considered weak that fails to collect due taxes and even whatever collection is made it is unevenly collected such as collecting more of indirect taxes instead of direct taxes increasing tax burden on the populace.

The coercive network including police and judicial institutions is weak with the result that incidence of inequality is high and upward mobility is limited or nonexistent. As is now widely recognised in Pakistan, elites tend to perpetuate themselves with special interests dominating anything associated with the general interest. These external controlling factors seriously and decisively disrupt the functionality of the governmental structure and it often tends to concede to their demands as has been repeatedly witnessed in Pakistan.

In such a situation it is widely feared that a fragile country would remain at the brink of civil war as all sources of instability within countries are driving the country towards it. Civil war is characterised by the fact that it ensues between internal forces not controlled by the government or ruling authority and government forces and Pakistan is currently facing this prospect as Tehrrk-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)-led insurgency is spreading out far and wide. This insurgency is aimed at not only taking control of the Pakistani districts bordering Afghanistan but also to implement their own brand of religious and cultural code.

This attempt of the TTP is equally resisted by the state as well as the residents of the area where the insurgency is rampant. At one time, the state had controlled the insurgency but, as was pointed out above, it has the tendency of recurring which it has with external help from Afghanistan.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of ARYNews or its management

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