Why Pakistan is a Failed State?
The Weakness of Semi-Isolated Autocracies in International Relations
The recent and unexpected change of power in Pakistan has highlighted the vulnerabilities of semi-isolated autocracies within an unstable global system of international relations. This event serves as further empirical evidence for researchers in the fields of political science and international relations, emphasizing the enduring nature of political processes.
No Guarantees in the US-Chinese Great Power Confrontation
Within the backdrop of the intensifying confrontation between the United States and China for global leadership, no country or region can assume a “safe haven” of non-alignment. The events in Pakistan underscore the susceptibility of autocracies, revealing the inherent fragility of their stability.
Autocracies Cannot Play on Both Sides
Furthermore, in the realm of world politics, autocratic regimes are unable to straddle both sides of the divide. They must make a definitive choice and align themselves with a particular camp. Attempting to maintain a balance between opposing forces is not a viable option.
The Role of Pakistan’s Military
In the case of Pakistan, a change in power does not necessarily signify a fundamental shift in priorities or political direction. The country’s political culture is dominated by the military, indicating that despite changes in leadership, the overarching priorities and trajectory remain relatively consistent.
The “Sick Man” of Great Asia: Pakistan’s Vulnerabilities and Political System
Pakistan, often labeled as the “sick man” of Great Asia, is a relatively young country with a weak, unbalanced pre-industrial economy. It lacks deep identity factors and struggles with disparate demographic elements. Additionally, the country is frequently engaged in conflicts. Positioned between Afghanistan, China, and India, Pakistan holds significant strategic importance. However, why does a political system with theoretically advanced elements, such as a Westminster parliamentary form of government and the influential role of the military, remain vulnerable and prone to shocks?
Analyzing the Vulnerability of Pakistan’s Political System
The recent events in Pakistan bring forth a series of issues and raise questions about the nature of its political system. It is important to acknowledge the imperfections within the Pakistani political system. For the first time in many years, a peaceful transfer of power occurred within the framework of the formal institutions and processes defined by the country’s constitution. The Parliament holds the authority to vote and declare a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister. Unlike previous periods of coups, this transition happened in a civilized manner, devoid of violence and armed forces.
Confirming the Evolution of Humanism and Democracy
The circumstances surrounding the power change in Pakistan affirm theories in political science that emphasize the gradual evolution and improvement of humanistic ideals and democratic principles worldwide. However, it is crucial to recognize that this progress occurs with significant reservations, amendments, exceptions, and varying paces across different regions of the world.
Islamabad’s Rain Troubles: The Complexity of Pakistan’s Political System
Islamabad’s recent inability to manage heavy rainfall has left the city flooded and vulnerable to even more challenges. Pakistan, caught “between Scylla and Charybdis,” seems to be heading towards another internal political crisis and a return to internal affairs. However, the reality of Pakistan’s political system is much more complex than it appears.
The Influence of Pakistan’s Political Culture
Pakistan’s political culture lacks a formal definition and is not constitutionally or legislatively fixed. As a result, the country’s political system remains highly complex and is profoundly influenced by its unique political culture. Despite this complexity, Pakistan remains a military country where significant decisions about power are made exclusively with the participation and coordination of military elites.
Continuing Military Rule in Pakistan
Since the military retains the dominant role in Pakistan’s political system, claims that a change of power will not result in significant shifts in foreign policy or domestic politics are well-founded. The military still rules Pakistan, and they have maintained their positions of power. Therefore, it is unlikely that significant democratization or a shift towards the Global West will take place in the near future.
Dismissal of Prime Minister Imran Khan: Political Shake-up in Pakistan
On April 10, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan was dismissed from his position following a vote in Parliament. Deputies expressed a vote of no confidence in Khan during the early hours of Sunday morning. Having served as Prime Minister for four years and seven months, it appears that Khan has amassed a significant number of both internal and external enemies during his tenure.
Imran Khan’s Politically Charged Tenure
Imran Khan, a prominent former cricketer with limited political experience, has been known for his bold and confident speeches. His unreserved expressions towards the great powers and influential political leaders, both regionally and globally, have earned him both supporters and critics. Since assuming power in 2018, Khan’s rhetoric has become increasingly anti-American, expressing a desire to establish closer ties with China. Notably, on February 24, the day the military conflict in Ukraine commenced, Khan engaged in talks with President Vladimir Putin, further shaping Pakistan’s foreign policy.
Chronology of Shifts in Pakistan’s Diplomatic Approach
- Imran Khan’s rise to power in 2018
- Increasing anti-American rhetoric
- Desire to strengthen ties with China
- Discussion with President Vladimir Putin amidst the conflict in Ukraine
The dismissal of Imran Khan marks a significant political shake-up in Pakistan, leaving questions about the future direction of the nation’s foreign policy and internal affairs.
Shahbaz Sharif: A Pro-Western Prime Minister for Pakistan
Opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif has been appointed as the new Prime Minister of Pakistan. Considered more pro-Western by politicians with close ties to elites in the UK and the US, Sharif’s ascent to power reflects a shift in the country’s political landscape.
The Political Influence of the Sharif Family
The Sharif family holds significant positions within Pakistan’s political elite. Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz’s brother, has served as Prime Minister on four separate occasions and wields considerable influence in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (N) party. Additionally, the family possesses substantial business interests, further consolidating their political power.
Complex Clan Dynamics and Competition for Influence
Despite their family ties, observers note that there is a complex relationship involving competition for influence and power within the Sharif clan. This dynamic adds an additional layer of complexity to political dynamics in Pakistan. However, from a political science perspective, it is clear that the current political leadership in Pakistan, including the new Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, leans more towards a pro-Western stance than the elite under Imran Khan’s leadership.
Shahbaz Sharif as Prime Minister appointed by the Pakistan Army, Pakistan’s political landscape undergoes further changes, with potential implications for the country’s foreign policy and relations with the West.
Sharif Clan’s Quest for Better Relations with India
The Sharif family’s political ambitions in Pakistan have included a push for improved relations with neighbouring India, a stance that distinguishes them from the country’s military forces.
Nawaz Sharif’s Diplomatic Relations with India
During his tenure as Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif sought to establish cordial diplomatic relations with Indian leadership, including Narendra Modi. In December 2015, Sharif hosted Modi at his residence in Lahore, marking a historic moment in the relations between the two countries.
Sharif Clan’s Unique Political Position
The Sharif family’s political influence and business interests provide them with a unique position within Pakistani politics. Their push for better relations with India aligns with their broader political aspirations, which run counter to the military’s interests.
The Sharif clan’s diplomatic efforts with India may be furthered by Shahbaz Sharif’s appointment as the new Prime Minister. It remains to be seen how this shift may impact Pakistan’s relationship with India, but the Sharif family’s pro-Western stance and desire for improved international relations suggest a potential for positive change.
Imran Khan’s Resignation: Citing Independent Foreign Policy and Ties with China
Imran Khan’s decision to resign as Prime Minister was justified by his pursuit of an independent foreign policy and his ties with China. He also highlighted his visit to Moscow, which coincided with Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. However, these justifications should be viewed with skepticism, as they likely have underlying political motivations.
Limited Political Influence of Russia in Pakistan
Russia does not hold significant political influence in Pakistan and cannot be considered a serious competitor to the United States and the Western world. Given the country’s weak economy, the Pakistani elite, regardless of their orientation, is unlikely to choose a conditional alliance with Moscow over maintaining a pro-Western direction.
China’s Growing Economic and Political Influence
In contrast, China has emerged as a major player in the global economy and politics, particularly in Asia. The deepening relationship between Pakistan and China primarily revolves around economic cooperation. However, it should be noted that the history of Pakistan’s military, which has benefited from the expertise of British and American specialists, suggests the presence of informal barriers to excessive Chinese influence on the political system.
While China presents a substantial challenge to the West, the extent of its impact on Pakistan’s political landscape remains limited due to historical and structural factors.
Imran Khan’s resignation and his claims about his foreign policy priorities should be examined critically, considering the complex dynamics of global power and Pakistan’s specific circumstances.
Limited Interest from the American Administration
The events unfolding in Pakistan are unlikely to garner much attention from the American administration, given their numerous other pressing concerns. According to Robin Raphel, a former Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, the change of government in Pakistan does not cause significant concern since the military retains control over foreign and security policy, which is of primary interest to the United States. As per Curtis, former senior director of the National Security Council for South Asia under President Donald Trump’s administration, domestic political events in Pakistan hold little relevance for the United States compared to policy matters relating to Afghanistan, India, and nuclear weapons.
Pakistan’s Systemic Support for Extremist Movements
Pakistan’s ongoing policy of supporting extremist groups, most notably the Taliban in Afghanistan, assumes significant importance in this context. Despite a change in Prime Minister, it is unlikely that there will be significant alterations to these processes, given the influence of the military. Support for Islamist groups has become a systemic component of Pakistan’s foreign policy, particularly due to the military’s involvement.
Limited Transformation in Foreign Policy, Continued Maneuvering
The change in power within Pakistan is not expected to bring about fundamental transformations in its foreign policy. Islamabad will likely continue to navigate between the interests of the Global West and China, seeking advantageous positions for itself. In terms of the Afghan track, the Pakistani military elite will continue to support the radical Taliban movement, strategizing to maintain strategic depth in the region.
Challenges for the Sharif Clan and Democratic Principles
The prospects for the Sharif clan to promote reconciliation with India or strengthen democratic principles within the country are limited. The vital interests of the Pakistani military do not align with these initiatives. The military elite in Rawalpindi aims to preserve the current political system and economy to maintain their dominance without checks or balances against the military’s authority.
A Militarized Pakistan: Struggling as a Regional Power
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is likely to remain a militarized country that oscillates between being a failed state or a regional power. The dominance of the military and the absence of effective checks and balances contribute to this reality.