The last 30 days have been taut with nervousness and violence as two major powers of South Asia, India and Pakistan were at each other’s throats. There were constant conflicts, which began with the attack on the CRPF personnel in Pulwama. Subsequently India retaliated with an air strike in Balakot. The following days also witnessed the downing of a Pakistani F-16 trying to infiltrate Indian airspace and the capture of an Indian Air Force pilot.
Tensions eased when Pakistan released India’s pilot. De-escalation seemed definite. Though there have been skirmishes and encounters of militants in Kashmir and a call for war from both sides; it has fortunately not resulted in one.
It is a good quality to support one’s own country. On the contrary demanding war is not. The destructive capability of each nation does not justify the political advantage gained from the decimation of each other’s societies. To move ahead of conflict, the people must understand each nation’s problems and this is what we shall discuss today:
The problems being faced Across the border.
The first example of an undemocratic nation which comes to our mind is Pakistan. The lack of Democratic institutions has plagued Pakistan’s path to progress. When a government is not elected democratically, it is not accountable to the people. Hence, it will not be bound to focus on socio-economic, political and cultural development.
Pakistan is also facing severe economic crisis. A meteoric rise in public expenditure (without productive returns) has resulted in various economic issues like depletion of foreign exchange reserves, unemployment, unequal distribution of wealth and most importantly, its debt which amounts to Rs.33 trillion and the inability to service this debt are just the tip of the iceberg of its economic problems.
Due to terrorism, Pakistan has lost all credibility in the international forum. International financial bodies like World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund seldom release funds to Pakistan as loans. Even the Financial Action Task Force (A body which audits the accounts of various governments to check for terror funding) is looking into lowering Pakistan’s status as a reliable government.
There has been a desolate focus on human development. Pakistan has one of the world’s lowest levels of human development. The human development index of Pakistan stands at 0.562, which is lower than the world average of 0.728 (UNDP report on Pakistan). To provide greater understanding, here is a comparison of Pakistan with Bangladesh. The latter has been selected because it was once part of the former and has made great strides in development.
|Expected years of schooling||8.6||11.4|
|Per capita income||5311||3677|
|Per capita Carbon Emission (tonnes)||0.9||0.5|
|Homicide Rate per 1000 people||4.4||2.5|
|Inequality Adjusted HDI||0.387||0.462|
Source: Human Development Report by United Nations Development Programme
It is quite astonishing that Bangladesh, which was once subjugated by Pakistan has achieved so much while being an independent country for a shorter duration of time than Pakistan! People may argue that Bangladesh has a lower population than Pakistan, but statistics say that the density of the former is higher than the latter. Therefore, the answer to Pakistan’s woes lies elsewhere.
We cannot deny that for a majority of its life as an independent nation, Pakistan’s primary focus has been to oppose India at every step of the way. On the other hand, Pakistan plays a significant role in India’s policies, but it does not play the primary role. India gives importance to other issues like economic upliftment, inclusivity, freedom and development!
The way forward for Pakistan is to introspect on its faults.
Terminating the sponsorship of terrorism is critical if it really wants to improve its condition. If concrete steps are taken, the immediate effect would be improvement in its relations with India. The latter has faced the brunt of state sponsored terrorism from Pakistan. Reinstating the relationship would require some drastic moves from the Pakistani side. An example could be, sharing valid intelligence which could enable India cripple the terror network incase Pakistan is unable to do so itself.
When the problem of terrorism is effectively dealt with, the image of Pakistan will slowly start improving on the global level. Foreign aid to bring it out of recession will resume. But before that happens, it will be necessary for them to reinstate democracy; for good.
Instituting democracy should be the priority. Military control over Pakistan’s general decision making system should be eliminated. Democratic systems must take over all of its crucial institutions and bring about transparency into the system. An accountable government is the only government which looks after its people. This change can only be brought about by self realization of the people who wield power or through popular demand.
Where should India be in all of this? It can play an important role in the stabilization of Pakistan. Being one of the largest democracies in the world, India holds the sacred responsibility for ensuring that if Pakistan undergoes this transformation, it receives all the support and guidance it needs. It is beneficial for both nations and their people if cooperation, transparency and democracy exist between them. Friendly relations between the two countries may prove to be instrumental in regional peace, security and progress.
Happy birthday to my friend Aayushi aka Sherly!
Have a good one!