"Like its land, Pakistan is a multi dimensional country; resilient to its last man." Raja Mujtaba

By Hamid Waheed

Not all that Pakistan has today speaks of dooms day but a lot is there to cherish, its only the optimistic eye which seems missing. Stories of  a  collapsing state ,  Taliban ruling  Islamabad and  taking control of  country’s nuclear weapons to threaten the world are not old but time has proved them to be far from TRUTH. The truth of brilliant upcoming generation in form of nine year old Arfa Karim and eight year old Uzair Jaswal beating Microsoft experts some where remain on the low burner. The failing infrastructure and absence of good governance,  corruption cases, prolonged electricity shutdowns, declining economic and social indicators have  further added strength to the gloomy  perceptions. How many have really researched to find truth remains a simmering question. In 2006, 30 terrorist attacks, including 10 of a sectarian nature, took place, leaving 100 people dead and 230 others injured. In 2007, 34 terrorist attacks and clashes, including suicide attacks, killings, and assassinations, resulted in 134 casualties and 245 injuries, according to the PIPS security report. Pakistan faced 20 suicide attacks (mostly targeted at security forces) during 2007, at least 111 were killed, besides injuring another 234 people. The statistics show a progressive increase in extremist activities starting from 2006 and sudden decline in the recent  years.  

Pakistan’s Taliban seized control of Swat and challenged the writ of the government outside FATA in 2009. The Taliban further increased their influence towards a district in the country’s northwest just 70 miles from the capital after consolidating their hold on the Swat Valley. The picture was so bleak that at one point, the ANP-led coalition government seriously considered to relocate its provincial capital from Peshawar to the northern city of Abbottabad.  Peshawar was virtually under siege from three sides, Darra Adamkhel to the south, Mohmand tribal region to the north and Khyber Agency`s Bara sub-district to the west. The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in testimony before a House committee that the Taliban advance poses “an existential threat”  However, government’s decision and push of Pakistan army under General Kayani into the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the Swat Valley put pressure on the insurgents toward the end of the year, tamping down militant activity and forcing them to relocate.

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The success of Swat operation and settlement of displaced people of Swat became role model for the society and the environment was shaped in favour of government . The military pressure dislodged the (terror) groups from some of their training areas and kept them on the run. The violence fell by 60 per cent in the second half of 2009, compared with the first half. Overall the sense of security in Pakistan improved. In IRI polls the number of people saying that they felt less secure fell from 78 percent to 60 percent in the March 2009 poll, while the number saying that they felt more secure rose from 19 to 38 percent. This was further augmented by a survey of  Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) which said the number of violent incidents and terror attacks in Pakistan fell by 11 per cent during 2010, compared to 2009.

On the nuclear issue Pakistan went under tremendous global pressure after AQ Khan was perceived to have links with a nuclear  proliferation  supply group. The ten member National Command Authority (NCA), led by the president (with the prime minister as its vice chairman),  Strategic Plan Division (SPD), the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) which  controls, regulates, and supervises all matters related to nuclear safety and radiation protection in Pakistan geared up their safety measure. The  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to admit to an audience that “the nuclear arsenal that Pakistan has, I believe, is secure. I think the government and the military have taken adequate steps to protect that”. Pakistan successfully entered space with help of China andPakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) brought sea change in capabilities of the nation.  Politically, after a gap of 13 years, the federal and all provincial governments agreed on the  7th  NFC Award, In the last two years alone, over 800 billion rupees have additionally been transferred to the provinces. The biggest beneficiary of this Award has been Balochistan which got 100% increase in its share from the divisible pool. The stock market has begun to improve. The index has crossed 13000, compared to around 7000 in 2009. This may be a step towards  hope and change about which  most of Pakistanis remain ignorant .

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But why do they remain ignorant is a question which must be answered. The  economics of a common man remains a basic unresolved  issue.  Polls and survey may not provide the exact picture but they do reflect a trend. An IRI’s polling of few years back indicates that  economic issues are the top concern of Pakistanis. When asked what  the most important issue facing the country was, a total of 77 percent of the population cited  an economic issue as their top priority, which was  consistent with previous polls and continues to be  a reality today.  A Gallup Poll conducted in December 2008, before the political crisis, found nearly 4 in 10 Pakistanis (38%) dissatisfied with the way democracy works in their country .   Two-thirds of residents said in a Gallup polls in 2008  that the leadership of Pakistan was taking the country in the wrong direction, while just 10% said it was leading it in the right direction. One challenge for Zardari may be that of setting National priorities. Robert I. Rotberg wrote in  “When States Fail: Causes and Consequences”  that weak states (or states in crisis) typically harbor ethnic, religious, linguistic, or other tensions… Urban crime rates tend to be high and increasing. … Schools and hospitals show sign of neglect, … . GDP per capita and other critical economic indicators have fallen or are falling… . Weak states usually honor rule of law precepts in the breach.” As per these criterions, Pakistan is a weak state but the Nation has  proved its  potentials  to  show the sunshine in the darkness. This all does hint at an important facet  missing  in  our Nation  ‘The National PRIORTIES’. The nation must prioritize to vote for the kind of leadership they want and the leaders must work in a system to understand these  priorities for which they have been selected . The  deliverance by the leaders will always be judged in line with priorities and provide HOPE  to Pakistanis, the most important element required by any progressing nation .

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