Is Pakistan a Warrior State? Or a Failed State?

The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World by Canada's McGill University Professor Thazha Varkey Paul, a graduate of India's Jawaharlal Nehru University, describes Pakistan as a "warrior state" and a "conspicuous failure". It is among a slew of recently published anti-Pakistan books by mainly Indian and western authors which paint Pakistan as a rogue state which deserves to be condemned, isolated and sanctioned by the international community.

As Pakistanis celebrate 74th anniversary of the 1940 Lahore Resolution calling for the partition of India, it is important to examine TV Paul's narrative about Pakistan and fact-check the assertions underlying his narrative.

Here's a point-by-point response to Paul's narrative:

1. Paul argues: Seemingly from its birth, Pakistan has teetered on the brink of becoming a failed state.

In 1947 at the time of independence, Pakistan was described as a "Nissen hut or a tent" by British Viceroy of India Lord Mountbatten in a conversation with Jawarhar Lal Nehru. However, Pakistan defied this expectation that it would not survive as an independent nation and the partition of India would be quickly reversed. Pakistan not only survived but thrived with its economic growth rate easily exceeding the "Hindu growth rate" in India for most of its history.

Agriculture Value Added Per Capita in 2000 US $. Source: World Bank

Even now when the economic growth rate has considerably slowed, Pakistan has lower levels of poverty and hunger than its neighbor India, according UNDP and IFPRI. The key reason for lower poverty in Pakistan is its per capita value added in agriculture which is twice that of India. Agriculture employs 40% of Pakistanis and 60% of Indians. The poor state of rural India can be gauged by the fact that an Indian farmer commits suicide every 30 minutes.

2. Paul: Its economy is as dysfunctional as its political system is corrupt; both rely heavily on international aid for their existence.

The fact is that foreign to aid to Pakistan has been declining as a percentage of its GDP since 1960s when it reached a peak of 11% of GDP in 1963. Today, foreign aid makes up less than 2% of its GDP of $240 billion.

Foreign Aid as Percentage of Pakistan GDP. Source: World Bank

3. Paul: Taliban forces occupy 30 percent of the country.

 The Taliban "occupy" a small part of FATA called North Waziristan which is about 4,700 sq kilometers, about 0.5% of its 796,000 sq kilometers area. Talking about insurgents "occupying" territory, about 40% of Indian territory is held by Maoist insurgents in the "red corridor" in Central India, according to Indian security analyst Bharat Verma.

4. Paul: It possesses over a hundred nuclear weapons that could easily fall into terrorists' hands.

A recent assessment by Nuclear Threat Initiative ranked Pakistan above India on "Nuclear Materials Security Index".

5. Paul: Why, in an era when countries across the developing world are experiencing impressive economic growth and building democratic institutions, has Pakistan been such a conspicuous failure?

Pakistan's nominal GDP has quadrupled from $60 billion in 2000 to $240 billion now. Along with total GDP, Pakistan's GDP per capita has also grown significantly over the years, from about $500 in Year 2000 to $1000 per person in 2007 on President Musharraf's watch, elevating it from a low-income to a middle-income country in the last decade.I wouldn't call that a failure.

Pakistan Per Capita GDP 1960-2012. Source: World Bank 

Goldman Sachs' Jim O'Neill, the economist who coined BRIC, has put Pakistan among the Next 11 group in terms of growth in the next several decades.

6. Paul argues that the "geostrategic curse"--akin to the "resource curse" that plagues oil-rich autocracies--is at the root of Pakistan's unique inability to progress. Since its founding in 1947, Pakistan has been at the center of major geopolitical struggles: the US-Soviet rivalry, the conflict with India, and most recently the post 9/11 wars.

Pakistan is no more a warrior state that many others in the world. It spends no more than 3% of its GDP on defense, lower than most of the nations of the world.

7. Paul says: No matter how ineffective the regime is, massive foreign aid keeps pouring in from major powers and their allies with a stake in the region.The reliability of such aid defuses any pressure on political elites to launch the far-reaching domestic reforms necessary to promote sustained growth, higher standards of living, and more stable democratic institutions.

"Massive foreign aid" adds up to less than 1% of Pakistan's GDP. Pakistan's diaspora sends it over 5% of Pakistan's GDP in remittances.

8. Paul: Excessive war-making efforts have drained Pakistan's limited economic resources without making the country safer or more stable. Indeed, despite the regime's emphasis on security, the country continues to be beset by widespread violence and terrorism.

Pakistan Defense Spending as % of GDP Source: World Indicators

 In spite of spending just 3.5% of its GDP which is average for its size, Pakistan has achieved strategic parity with India by developing nuclear weapons. It has since prevented India from invading Pakistan as it did in 1971 to break up the country. Pakistani military has shown in Swat in 2009 that it is quite capable of dealing with insurgents when ordered to do so by the civilian govt.

Growth in Asia's Middle Class. Source: Asian Development Bank

While it is true that Pakistan has not lived up to its potential when compared with other US Cold War allies in East and Southeast Asia, it is wrong to describe it as "conspicuous failure". A possible explanation for it could be the fact that Pakistan did not have the US security guarantees that South Korea, Japan and Taiwan enjoyed. Pakistan should be compared with other countries in South Asia region, not East Asia or Southeast Asia. Comparison with its South Asian neighbors India and Bangladesh shows that an average Pakistani is less poor, less hungry and more upwardly mobile, according to credible data from multiple independent sources.

Pakistan is neither a "warrior state" nor a "conspicuous failure" as argued by Professor TV Paul. To the contrary, it has been the victim of the invading Indian Army in 1971 which cut off  its eastern wing. Pakistan has built a minimum nuclear deterrent in response to India's development of a nuclear arsenal. Pakistan has responded to the 1971 trauma by ensuring that such a tragedy does not happen again, particularly through a foreign invasion.

Today, Pakistan faces some of the toughest challenges of its existence. It has to deal with the Taliban insurgency and a weak economy. It has to solve its deepening energy crisis. It has to address growing water scarcity. While I believe Pakistanis are a very resilient and determined people, the difficult challenges they face will test them, particularly their leaders who have been falling short of their expectations in recent years.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Looking Back at 1940 Lahore Resolution

Pakistan's Economic History

History of Literacy in Pakistan

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Asian Tigers Brought Prosperity

Value Added Agriculture in Pakistan

Are India and Pakistan Failed States?

Musharraf Accelerated Growth of Pakistan's Financial and Human Capital

Pakistan's Nuclear Program

Pakistan on Goldman Sachs' BRIC+N11 Growth Map


Riaz Haq said…
Retired US career diplomat Mark Fitzpatrick proposes giving Pakistan a civil nuclear deal similar to US-India deal. Here he's talking about his new book "Overcoming Pakistan's Nuclear Dangers" on Pakistani nukes:

I am eagerly awaiting the first runs of my new book, ‘Overcoming Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers’. Publication comes one year and three-quarters after conception. They’ve been laborious months.

The book was inspired by fellow Londoner Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times, who asked in a June 2012 column why the West was so obsessed with stopping Iran getting nuclear weapons when, ‘by any sensible measure, Pakistani nukes are much more worrying’. I suppose I was one of those who seemed obsessed with Iran, so Rachman’s words hit home. Let’s take a look at Pakistan, I decided.

Successive chapters of my book examine in detail the dangers Rachman ticked off, plus a few more. I concluded that some of the concerns about Pakistan are exaggerated. While the prospect for nuclear terrorism cannot be dismissed, the government’s efforts to ensure the security of its nuclear programme garner too little attention, and compare favourably with India’s nuclear security management. In the ten years since the leakage of the nation’s nuclear secrets masterminded by A.Q. Khan, lessons have been learnt and reforms adopted.

Other concerns get too little attention. As a nuclear wonk, I cannot help but fixate on Pakistan’s veto over negotiations to ban fissile material production and the nation’s move away from signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The most worrisome danger, though, is the prospect for nuclear war in the subcontinent.

One cannot write about Pakistan’s nuclear programme without examining the ways that it is motivated by India’s actions, and perceptions thereof. Therefore, the manuscript is about more than Pakistan. One key chapter assesses the South Asian arms race. Although it pales in comparison with the nuclear excesses of the Cold War, the strategic competition in South Asia is potentially destabilising.

In the conclusions, I offer a policy suggestion for the West that will be controversial. Pakistan, I argue, should be offered a path to normalising its nuclear programme. This recommendation did not sit well with one of the statesmen who, before reading it, had agreed to write a back-cover blurb commending my book. Having vehemently opposed making an exception for India, allowing it to benefit from nuclear cooperation while outside the confines of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, he had to back out because he objected to the idea of creating a second such hole in the NPT for Pakistan.

His is a respectable opinion. It had also been my view when I started the book project. If there is one tenet I have taken to heart at the IISS, however, it is that analysis should guide one’s research direction. I reached my conclusion with more surprise than enthusiasm.

I am looking forward to explaining more about my analysis in upcoming book launches in Washington, London, Geneva, Vienna and Islamabad.
Riaz Haq said…
The narrative in a number of recent books by authors like TV Paul, Carlotta Gall and Husain Haqqani needs to be challenged through Q&As.

Here's what the narrative says:

1. Pakistan has been lying to the United States to get aid since its inception in 1947.

2. The US has provided massive aid but Pakistan has not delivered anything substantial in return.

3. The duplicitous Pakistan game continues to this day.

If you really analyse this narrative, you have to conclude that Pakistanis are uniquely clever in deceiving the superpower US and its highly sophisticated policymakers who have been taken for a ride by Pakistanis for over 6 decades.


1. If the standard western narrative is correct, why have successive US administrations been so gullible as to be duped by Pakistan's politicians and generals for such a long period of time? Is it an indictment of all US administrations from Truman to Obama?

2. What role did Pakistan play in the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and the subsequent break-up of the Soviet Union?

3. What price has Pakistan paid for facilitating US military operations in Afghanistan? How many Pakistani soldiers and civilians have lost their lives since 911?

Please read the following posts on my blog:

1. "Well, first of all, I would say, based on 27 years in CIA and four and a half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done." Former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates June 2011

2. "The Pakistani establishment, as we saw in 1998 with the nuclear test, does not view assistance -- even sizable assistance to their own entities -- as a trade-off for national security vis-a-vis India". US Ambassador Anne Patterson, September 23, 2009

Bottom Line: Alliance never means's true of all US allies. US and its closest allies in Europe and elsewhere interests do not always converge on all issues.
Riaz Haq said…

Nuclear weapons and the debate over the necessity for such weapons have persisted for several years. As opinions against nuclear weapons increase, so too do more and more countries yearn to possess these weapons and demonstrate their power. This means that we have to discover those benefits which are of such significance that a country prefers to divert a huge portion of its finances from public sector to become a nuclear capable state.

The rational for Pakistan to develop a nuclear weapon was so that the country could have the self-reliance to ensure its security. After the hefty losses in the wars of 1948 and 1965, and the debacle of 1971, Pakistani leadership understood that none of the great powers were going to support Pakistan in times of crisis against any Indian aggression. Therefore self-reliance was the crucial idea of Pakistan’s policy makers to make sure that only Pakistan should be responsible for defending their country against any Indian offensive. In this regard, we must understand that being a nuclear power is crucial for Pakistan’s survival and sovereignty. Preserving and improving national security is vital to the national interest, and expenses from the state budget in support of this objective are permissible.

For a country like Pakistan, having nuclear weapons means that it has the ultimate strategic defense. Wars are bad for the economy and nuclear deterrence is a best tool to avoid wars. A short conventional war between India and Pakistan would cost Islamabad U.S. $ 350 million per day. Now one can easily estimate the economic deprivation if Pakistan had to face another 1971 debacle without having any nuclear weapons. In contrast, to conventional warfare, nuclear deterrence has made wars between nuclear states rationally non-viable.

In this regard, the possession of nuclear weapons serves not only military and political purposes, but also economic functions. The acquisition of nuclear weapons appears to be associated with the long-term decline in conventional military spending. This is acutely accurate in the case of Pakistan. Pakistan’s conventional military expenditure has been constantly on decline since the nuclear tests. Military expenditure (% of GDP) in Pakistan was measured at 5.3 % in 1998, according to the World Bank. In 2012 that expenditure was 3.13 %. This is a clear instance where nuclear capability served as a major cause to diminish military expenditure in Pakistan.
Riaz Haq said…
If you have ever doubted that the mother of invention is necessity, then look no further than Pakistan.

Pakistan has struggled to provide opportunities to its people for decades. But the country is turning the tide.

People in Pakistan are determined to define their destiny. They are using all of the resources at their disposal to tackle their challenges..
When Madeeha Hassan, a young entrepreneur from a small town found herself in Lahore, one of the largest Pakistani cities, she was a bit scared. She thought everyone was smarter than her. At times, she wanted to run back to her home town.

After completing her studies, she started to work as a user interface designer. Her office was far from where she lived. It was hard to find a reliable mode of transportation. So she and few of her friends, created Savaree, Pakistan's first ridesharing app. The app resolved her carpooling problems and those of many others too.

It's just not young people who are innovating. Public administrators are doing it too.

In 2011, dengue fever engulfed Pakistan and killing hundreds of people. By 2012, Pakistanis had created an app to ensure people were treated rapidly and resources to combat dengue were mobilized efficiently. In 2012, there were 80 times fewer cases of dengue fever in Lahore than in 2011.

In Pakistan, there has been remarkable progress in rebuilding trust between citizens and public administrators. Pakistan's Punjab Citizen Feedback Model is leveraging the power of mobile phones, SMS and personal phone calls.

Let's say, for example, you went to a government office in Punjab to register your property. An official "records your mobile number, along with other details of the transaction." This information is sent to "local call officers" and to a call center.

Later, a local officer will call you asking about your experience registering your property. And there are call centers that call thousands of people who use public services. As of April 2014, "more than 4 million citizens of Pakistan had been contacted" and asked about their experiences with "the departments of revenue, health, and education."

These responses are entered into the system to make public services better.

This progress comes in contrast with how Pakistan is viewed as a place of conflict. But as evidence shows, we are witnessing how public administrators and youth are taking steps towards realizing Pakistan 2.0: where people can fulfil their dreams and have the opportunity to reach their potential.

Technology is not only serving as a tool for the government to leapfrog the way it conducts its business, but, as you might have guessed, it's also helping youth become job creators and problem solvers.

In 2013, more than 70% of the population had mobile phones, most of them costing under $60.
​Today more than 60% of Pakistanis are under the age of 30. Unemployment, especially, among youth remains high. With no jobs, and lack of opportunities youth are taking it upon themselves to create opportunities, as Hassan did.

As administrators, and public, especially youth, commit to innovating and improving Pakistan, we are bound to see Pakistan 2.0 in the near future.
The digital youth summit happening in May in Peshawar, a diverse and dynamic city of Pakistan, is just one more step towards the quest to make Pakistan more prosperous and stable. At the summit, participants will focus on technology entrepreneurship, on-line work and 'tech for social' innovation.
Riaz Haq said…
#India is stumbling because of its prime minister #Modi’s failure to curb his darker side - India #Hindutva

Narendra Modi needs to show more of his reformist character and less of the Hindu nationalist, says Max Rodenbeck

Mr Modi’s first five years proved in many ways a wasted opportunity. With some notable exceptions, such as the introduction of a nationwide goods and services tax (gst) and a huge effort to stop “open defecation” by building more toilets, bold reforms were largely postponed in favour of policy tinkering, sops to noisy constituencies and packing the bureaucracy with loyalists. In his latest term, Mr Modi has seemed more intent on following another side of his character, consolidating personal control, punishing political foes and pursuing Hindu-nationalist ideological goals—such as placing 7.5m unhappy Muslims in Kashmir under extended lockdown and direct rule from Delhi—than dealing with more pressing economic issues.

A reckoning
Mr Modi’s government has failed to acknowledge looming dangers to India’s economy and is now struggling to cope with an alarmingly sharp slowdown. In the first half of 2019 new banking credit to businesses crashed by a shocking 88%, and growth fell from 8% in 2018 to just 5% this year. For a large and diverse economy, this remains a respectable figure. But demographic pressures mean that India must sustain growth of 7.5% just to keep unemployment in check—and needs to do even better if it hopes ever to catch up with China. “Anything less than 6% feels like a recession in India,” says Pranjul Bhandari, chief India economist at hsbc in Mumbai. And some of the troubling domestic indicators—such as this year’s sudden plunge in car sales, lingering debts in banking, property and power-distribution companies, and long-term declines in consumer spending, household saving and industrial investment—could soon meet strengthening global headwinds to create a nasty storm.

India’s current economic challenges are not due to some big outside cause. The country has the resources and talent to grow strongly for decades to come. This special report will argue that its troubles stem largely from policy failures, albeit more by omission than commission. Successive governments—at state as well as national level—have failed to pursue sensible, consistent policies to promote growth. Mr Modi, too, for all his promise, is failing in this regard, as he follows more his nationalist, rather than his reformist, instincts.

India is not easy to govern. What other country has nearly 800 spoken languages, 22 of them languages of state? And what other society is fragmented into more than 3,000 castes, each with its own proud creation myth? Some caste rigidities have softened over time, but the structure is remarkably robust: even now only one in 20 marriages crosses barriers of caste. India’s large Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain minorities often claim to be free of caste. In practice they are nearly as compartmentalised as the 80% Hindu majority. Economic divisions coexist with social ones. When introduced in 2017, the gst replaced a web of local taxes stretched over 29 states and seven territories. Goods move faster now, but they still cross radically different economies. Residents of Goa on India’s west coast enjoy incomes per person 12 times those in Bihar, a rural state to the north-east. Levels of fertility, literacy and life expectancy in the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu approach those of Thailand or Turkey; in parts of the Gangetic plain in the north they are nearer to those of sub-Saharan Africa. Banks in Maharashtra, home to India’s commercial capital, Mumbai, boast loan-to-deposit ratios of 100%, as in advanced economies. In India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, they are stuck at 40%, reflecting slim pickings and high barriers to enterprise.
Riaz Haq said…
Is India a failed state? Certainly news magazine India Today thinks so. I would humbly disagree. We aren’t a failed state yet. For, if we were, the publication wouldn’t have said so on its cover, and I wouldn’t be writing this article.

If India was a failed state already, we might not have known how badly we were failing. As long as a nation’s own media, civil society, even individual citizens are free to bring the bad news to all, hold the mirror to the most powerful ruler in at least four decades, we are not a failed state yet.

What are we then? I might have a more apt description, a flailing state. Writhing in pain, tossing about in desperation, confused, chaotic, poorly-led, on the verge of a disaster. But still looking for answers.

Flailing state, therefore, is a better characterisation for India today, and it’s such a pity I didn’t invent it. It was economist Lant Pritchett, currently Research Director at Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, in his much-quoted 2009 paper at Harvard’s Kennedy School, provocatively titled, ‘Is India a Flailing State: Detours on the four lane highway to modernisation’.

Important point is, he said this of India in 2009, when the UPA was in its prime and the growth still red hot on top of a breathless decade. What hadn’t caught up was the state capacity to improve governance, the quality of life of the vast majority of our people, and the ability to leverage growth into wider prosperity and social security.

Between 2009 and 2014, under a confused UPA-2, the quality of governance slid steeply. The government was paralysed with contradictions and indecision. As the state flailed even harder, Narendra Modi rose to seize the moment and promised to change it. Minimum government, maximum governance. People believed him.

Enough of an uncertain, dithering state, he promised in his new India. Through seven years of economic stall, his voters kept their faith in him. Until this virus came back and exposed the reality. That after seven years under Modi, India is an unprecedentedly dysfunctional, worse flailing state.


In their Freedom At Midnight, Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins document a remarkable event. As Partition riots went out of control and the fire burning Punjab reached Delhi, Nehru met Viceroy Mountbatten, and asked for help. He, along with a key lieutenant, told him, they were not yet trained in governance, but agitation, and had spent years in their jails instead. They requested Mountbatten to constitute an emergency council and head it. The viceroy in charge, in a newly independent country.

This drew much protest from the Congress with demands to ban the book. But the authors noted this as an act of large-hearted statesmanship. We certainly do not suggest that Modi do any such thing. But, he needs to reach out to talent within his party and elsewhere, take the Opposition into confidence, build a joint federal front of the Centre and the states to douse this fire. All this will first need an acceptance of the enormity of the crisis, if not failure. It will need that one attribute we haven’t seen on display yet: Humility.

It won’t bring a dramatic solution. Because the problem of a flailing state is deeper and structural. Terrible stuff can visit nations, especially poor and populous ones. It’s how you respond that distinguishes a politician from a leader.
Riaz Haq said…
‘Ram bharose’: why India has become a failed state?
The current Covid crisis has tested states globally for their ability to handle challenges

The current Covid crisis has tested states globally for their ability to handle challenges emerging out of this pandemic. In case of India, the Covid crisis seems to have made a permanent home in the corridors of Rajpath. Few days back, Allahabad High Court rebuked the UP government for its collapsing health system in rural areas and leaving the poor people to ‘Ram bharose’.

India has failed its people because of five major factors: poor governance, a disregard of lower classes, a confused and fake leadership, bankruptcy of morality, and hiding of health data. These are covered in detail here.

Starting from forewarning, timely decisions and interventions to the health management, the current crisis has been an unfortunate saga of one failure after the other. India had built an image of a cheap and high-quality health system for the last three decades. Combined with tourist attractions, India named it health tourism. It was projected that you could get a cheap deal by enjoying medical treatment at state-of-the-art hospitals, with highly qualified medical staff looking after you along with tourism.

No wonder the Indian government and private hospitals made fortunes out of this package.

The advent of Covid and its second wave in April this year exposed the Indian health system. Starting from the top, Indian political leadership had put cronies in charge of the Covid crisis management, the Godi media and the sycophant cabal of Modi lovers in the cabinet kept the poor Indians in good humour by his famous strategy of ‘sab changa see’. Last year, when Narendra Modi shut down India without warning, an exodus occurred of millions of poor workers from big cities to the villages. We named it the March of Shame, as poor and lower-class workers were abandoned by the states and the union government to travel hundreds of miles on foot.

Although few journalists like Barkha Dutt and some YouTubers covered this arduous journey of migrant workers, the Godi media did not allow it to become a major issue as it affected the so-called image of Modi’s progressive India.

Two weeks ago, a British channel, 4 News, interviewed Sir Anish Kapoor where he revealed some eye-opening, bitter facts. Kapoor feels that the environment of disenfranchisement of the lower class has been ingrained in the Indian psyche for a millennia and nothing will change because of following reasons:

One, whatever you do in India, there is someone lower than you to suffer. You don’t have to pick up your rubbish, someone else will do so. Two, historic disdain of castes, which is a racial looking down upon the dark-skinned downtrodden people. Three, it doesn’t matter that the lower class dies — the invisible and unwanted ones are suffering the most from Covid as no one in the upper class is bothered. Four, there has never been an anti-poverty riot in India in the past many centuries, as the lower classes are so suppressed that they cannot raise their voice for poverty.

While it is important to discuss the physical aspects, the most alarming thing that emerged out of this crisis is the moral question. As mismanagement and poor governance led to a shortage of oxygen and lifesaving medicines, the worst side of corporate India came into action. The price of Remdesivir went up from Rs10,000 Rs70,000; ambulance fares to ferry patients and dead bodies went up five times; MPs from BJP were seen selling hospital beds for Covid patients; an oxygen cylinder jumped from Rs7,000 to Rs40,000.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan has shown remarkable resilience in the face of adversity – evidenced most tellingly by its recovery following the humiliating defeat in 1971. It has recovered significantly from the terror backlash, which followed Musharraf’s U-turn in the wake of 9/11. Fatalities in terror violence that mounted sharply from 2004 onwards, reaching the peak of 11,317 in 2009 (civilians, security forces personnel and terrorists), were down to 365 in 2019. Similarly, fatalities in suicide attacks, which reached the peak of 1,220 in 2010, were down to 76 in 2019. The secular decline in fatalities as a result of the violence perpetrated by the terror groups operating against the Pakistani state, seen since 2009, is however not visible in the case of the killings in sectarian violence. At the peak of the terror wave in 2010, such violence claimed 509 lives. The number has waxed and waned during the subsequent years and stood at 507 and 558 in 2012 and 2013, respectively. The number of Shias killed has also not shown a secular decline since 2009 and has waxed and waned.8 Clearly, Pakistan’s action against terror has been focused essentially on the terror groups attacking the Pakistani state and not the groups perpetrating terror outside Pakistan or indulging in sectarian violence.

Sabharwal, Sharat. India’s Pakistan Conundrum (pp. 148-149). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.


In conclusion, it can be said that Pakistan is neither a failed state nor one about to fail in the foreseeable future. Further, so long as the army remains a largely professional and disciplined force, having at its disposal Pakistan’s rapidly growing arsenal of nuclear weapons, the probability of a change in Pakistan’s external boundaries would remain very low. Therefore, a policy premised on the failure or disintegration of the Pakistani state would hinge on unsound expectations. However, because of the various factors examined in the previous chapters, Pakistan will continue to be a highly dysfunctional state with widespread lawlessness.

Sabharwal, Sharat. India’s Pakistan Conundrum (p. 149). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

Should India work to break up Pakistan? A body of opinion in India recommends that India should be proactive in causing the disintegration of Pakistan. For the reasons mentioned in Chapter 6, a policy premised on disintegration of the Pakistani state would hinge on unsound expectations. However, let us examine, for the sake of argument, the consequences of heightened turmoil in/break up of Pakistan for India. The unwise policies of Pakistan’s rulers have already resulted in considerable turbulence there. Though the Pakistani state uses terror against India, it is calibrated by its instrumentalities. Heightened chaos in Pakistan leading to collapse of the state authority will not leave India untouched. Let us not forget that Pakistan has continued to pay a heavy price for having caused instability in its neighbour – Afghanistan – something I repeatedly recalled to my Pakistani audiences. Collapse of the state will also present India with a humanitarian crisis of a gigantic proportion, with the terrain between the two countries offering an easy passage to India for those fleeing unrest in Pakistan. At the height of terrorism in the Pakistani Punjab in 2009–10, some of my interlocutors in Lahore were candid enough to say that in the event of a Taliban takeover, they would have no option but to run towards India. Break up of Pakistan could lead to a civil war amongst the successor states or worse still among various warring groups vying for influence, as was the case after collapse of the state authority in Afghanistan, entailing the undesirable consequences mentioned above and perilous uncertainty concerning the ownership of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Alternatively, India may be faced with a hostile Pakistani Punjab in possession of nuclear weapons. In either case, it will be bad news for India.

Sabharwal, Sharat. India’s Pakistan Conundrum (pp. 290-291). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

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