Pakistan ninth most failed state?

Quite shocking to read this BBC article on the Failed States Index for this year. If anything, I was expecting Pakistan’s position to be much better than in the past, but it has slipped from 34th last year to 9th this year. That’s a very sharp decline. Seeing it ranked above (more failed than) the likes of Afghanistan, Rwanda or North Korea is cause for alarm as well as being quite unbelieveable.

“The contributing factors were Pakistan’s inability to police the tribal areas near the Afghan border, the devastating earthquake last October in Kashmir and rising ethnic tensions, report said.”

I have trouble believing that these would cause such a sharp decline. The earthquake was quite devastating and one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit the country, but it’s effects were mostly limited to the (relatively) sparsely populated and poorer areas of the north. To the average Pakistani, it was more of a human tragedy and loss rather than an economic one. And if devastation from natural disasters can make a state “more failed”, what about the US after Katrina or victims of the 2004 Tsunami?

As for the autonomous tribal areas near the Afghan border, as well as the Baloch tribes up in arms, they have historically been a source of volatility and it isn’t anything new. Again, it hasn’t had a significant impact on the average Pakistani (other than higher gas prices maybe).

I won’t say that the country is suddenly free from all its woes. It still has a very long way to go, but in my view deterioration has stopped or slowed down overall and many parts of the society have seen dramatic improvement off late. It is a few highly prominent events that may make it look like a failed state, but there’s still a lot of hope left for Pakistan.