Is Pakistan governable?


A bleak picture of what the country appears to be now

Pakistan of today appears to be totally ungovernable. Sovereignty is non-existent. Angry people or groups select targets and kill innocents in as many numbers as they want. Large tracts within geographic bounds of the country are no-go areas for the government machinery and people. Major cities like Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Quetta etc are being ruled by faceless terrorists.

The government in the sixth largest population and nuclear state is obviously failing on all parameters, sectors and fields of governance. Game of politics is being played according to the rules set by players, separately and in isolation. The politicians in some provinces appear to be under the control of terrorists. State of respect for human rights in the country is the lowest. People are being slaughtered or killed in public and women and girls are being flogged on camera. No government functionary appears to be in charge.

The inverted tree of corruption is in full blossom. There is price for every job from peon to president. There is a tag for the slots of becoming a senator or minister or members of the parliament. There is rate for any activity of trade and business from starting a bank to a bar or a power plant in an electricity deficit country. Menial or tertiary grade to executive jobs are for sale. Recruitment in security agencies is done through illegal means. A minister reportedly made about Rs three billion for selling 3,000 jobs in a department.

A minister goes to the arrival lounge of an airport to receive a smuggler of precious stones, threatens custom staff and walks out with goods unchecked. A member of assembly gets the entire family of an opponent arrested, arranges their torture at a police station for weeks and no one comes to their rescue. A Nazim beats his opponent, breaks his legs and ribs, goes to an open meeting of a chief minister, manages to get a case registered against the injured person and forces police to take him under custody under the orders of CM. Two persons enter a house, the house owner calls police by dialing emergency number, one of the robbers notices, he pulls out his cell phone and calls a number and orders to ignore the call from that house. No one came. They looted the house, took away valuables and killed the house owner as punishment for calling police.

A powerful man kills a person and the children of the deceased register a case with the police. Police does not dare arrest the accused. The accused breaks into the house of complainant, strips him naked, puts a leash around his neck and drags him in through the market in broad daylight in the presence of hundreds of people. No one comes forward to help the miserable, poor and helpless. In broad daylight, few persons enter the house of a senior federal officer in Islamabad, beat him, his wife and his armed security guard and walk away with the daughter of the bureaucrat.

Fear of law and government is absolutely absent. Terrorists attack police stations, high risk zones, army basis and police and security pickets to scare the men away so that maximum damage can be inflicted. In an attack on PC Peshawar, the terrorists drove to the back of the hotel and crashed the loaded vehicle precisely to the area being used by foreigners and UN staff killing two of them. This proves that the terrorists have precise knowledge about their planned targets. Pakistan is caught in a new kind of war that calls for impossible cleansing.

Are Pakistani and US leadership fighting the war on terror to “win”? Never before in the history of the subcontinent have so many people died in an unspecific war with non-specific objectives and totally non specific limits of war zone. Does the leadership have brain power and guts to review the war that no one can win and afford to lose?

The above is not a crime report of Pakistan for a decade but a snapshot of press clippings over a period of less than four weeks.

Pakistan, over the period has become absolutely ungovernable. People know about the culprits but are unable to stand up and control. One used to hear such stories about Sicily or tribal Africa or pre-historic Mongols warlords. Terrorists now choose their own targets and cause as much damage as they want.

The state of economy is extremely hopeless. One of the governors of State Bank increased the interest rates on borrowing in order to control inflation. This increased the cost of doing business so high that more than 60 percent of business activity had to be closed. Another policy change has reduced private sector borrowing by textile industry, our largest industrial sector. This move neither controlled inflation nor poverty.

Exponentially rising poverty, dangerous levels of unemployment and underemployment happen without anyone in the government being bothered. Street crime and other social evils are being adopted by even educated unemployed youth.

There is no homework being done for any policy and strategy for any short or long term goals. Natural resources’ usage is either negligible or wasteful. Agriculture is suffering because there is no research, no fertilizer, no chemicals, no water, no electricity, no seed, no finances and no markets. There is no formal policy for agricultural and water development.

Pakistan is one of the few poor countries in the world where there is no industrial policy. If at all some papers in the capital are labeled as such, no one reads them after they have been written by clerks. Consequently, all activity in industrial sector is on the decline and sinking. Textile, engineering, construction, processing industries are either closing or facing threats of bankruptcy and immediate closures.

Is government visible anywhere in the system of governance? Is common Pakistani happy about the state of the nation? If the house of a very senior official of Armed Services in Peshawar in Peshawar can be attacked, only two days after the attack on PC hotel in the same city few yards away, what kind of systems are we planning for our nuclear materials?

If a survey is carried out about the levels of satisfaction and happiness of the citizens of various nations; the stated of people of Pakistan will appear to be most unsatisfactory and miserable. The governability of Pakistan and capacity of leadership is being questioned with cynicism. Can the affairs in Pakistan be normalized? How long will it take to improve the situation? Is Pakistan more stable than it was during last decade? Is Pakistan going thru second cycle of geographic readjustments? Is Pakistan a governable state?


  1. atleast this article does not put blame on conspiracy theories.these are pertinent questions for which only time will tell the answers.

  2. Pakistan will remain ungovernable and will have no future for as long as the present political set up remains in place. In Pakistan the more things change the more they remain the same. For any meaningful change education must be made an agent of change, unfortunately this system of education is dragging us back into stone age. Producing people in the name of education with closed minds ensures a very bleak and horrible future.

  3. In his article titled 'Is Pakistan governable (September 20) Sultan Barq gives the gist in the sub-heading which reads 'A bleak picture of what the country appears to be now' which says it all, and what is worse is that according to the writer, 'it is not a crime report of Pakistan for a decade but a snapshot of press clippings over a period of less than four weeks.' Worse still, it is not a depiction of a particularly nasty four-weeek spell in our history, but a fair portrayal of the normal state of affairs, with the situation not being significantly different at other times, and getting worse by the day.
    One would think that those in authority, who have the power to arrest the down-slide visible in all spheres, would set some limit beyond which they will not let it go but it looks like for them 'sky is the limit' and they seem to be least concerned over the situation. We often hear 'good news' of top leaders 'taking notice' of any particular incident but except for some very low-profile cases, there is hardly any follow up and the matter begins and ends with them taking notice.

    People pinned lot of hope on the emerging demoratic system in the country. It is claimed that democracy has a built-in cleansing mechanism, with people rejecting non-performers and ushering in honest, capable candidates at elections every five years. However, if the same lot come to the assemblies even at the next election, emboldened further by their getting away with all they did in the past, the acclaimed self-cleaning attribute of the democratic system will hardly operate and in fact the democracy, at least in our case, will become a self-dirtying process, and that is in fact what has been happening all these years, with every government proving worse than its predecessor.

    The obvious answer is the real change of guards. Unfortunately, this does not happen in our country because of immaturity of the masses as well as the 'other' leaders who have not yet been tried and who could put up better performances if elected to the assemblies. Unfortunately, these leaders live in a world of their own and do not show the flexibility to join hands with others and thus put up a formidable challenge to the familiar political parties who have been messing up the country all along and who, through their overt and covert cooperation, manage to stay in power, for their mutual benefit and to the great misfortune of the the country and the nation.

    I strongly feel that Pakistan can still be governed provided Tehreek-e-Insaaaf, Jamaat-e-Islami and Mutahidda Qaumi Movement manage to rise over their differences and join hands for the good of the country and the people. By putting up a joint front, they can surely form govenment after the next elections.

    However, the question is 'will they do it? '

    – Karachi

  4. The country where the Lady immigration officer at Karachi airport when asked to remove all these signs for pakistani/foreign passport lines since no one is following those signs anyways, answered back "please take me with you and have some care for poor peope in pakistan"…

  5. Ungovernable !! Absolutely no future at all. These corrupt rulers will come to power again. Now a days corruption is on highest level. Nobody can stop them. They have penetrated so deep in the society and have become so strong by giving protection to each other. Every department is on the verge of collapse. I feel sorry for Pakistan. No messiah is their to save Pakistan.

  6. "Never before in the history of the subcontinent have so many people died in an unspecific war with non-specific objectives and totally non specific limits of war zone." I could name dozens of examples that are far more horrendous in nature and magnitude, starting with the wiping of the entire civilisation in and around the Potohar Plateau by the White Huns and the almost total eradication of Budhism in India in the seventh and eighth centuries by the Hindus in a process known as 'Shuddhi'. If something appears startling, it does not necessarily mean it is true and needs to be distributed.

    Pakistan has seen far worse and recovered from it. In the late eighties and early nineties, almost every bank branch in Karachi was looted and shops broken into in daytime. Buses and cars were routinely held up every few miles on highways. Scores of innocent Swatis working on roads were gunned down for no reason and people abducted and held for ransom in their hundreds. All three houses adjacent to mine in Defence Society were burgled and their inmates brutalised in broad daylight.

    All of it was brought to a halt once Benazir decided to take a firm stand and act decisively against violence. You can blame the governments who are responsible for law and order in the provinces where it has broken down but to condemn all the rest of Pakistan is stupid, putting it mildly. Sixty-five per cent of the population of Pakistan lives in Punjab where the situation is quite normal. I should know because because I spend two months there every year. What makes the difference is the intent and capability of the provincial government. Let us not forget either that it is the people of the provinces who chose the people who are responsible in the first place.

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