More than 24,000 Pakistanis form the world’s largest “human national flag” in Lahore. –APP Photo

It’s been about a week since the Connecticut school massacre, and Americans are still grieving.

Yet we’re comforted by the thought that, with time, the bereaved community of Newtown will bounce back. Students will return to school, and victims’ families will somehow get on with their lives. This is because America, as politicians and the US media have intoned repeatedly in recent days, is a strong and resilient society.

For me, such words bring to mind another strong and resilient society — one that endures constant afflictions, tragedies, and privation. I can think of few nations that suffer more misery than Pakistan.

Pakistan certainly isn’t the only country where, in a span of hours, an infant can be bitten by a rat in a hospital nursery, and 16 people can die from consuming toxic cough medicine. This happened several weeks ago.

Yet, place these individual incidents alongside the unending onslaught of natural disaster, insurgency, terrorism, corruption, poverty, natural resource shortage, and disease. Now you can understand why so many Pakistanis suffer from PTSD, and are driven to desperate measures.

In 2008, in one of the most harrowing pieces of journalism I’ve ever read, Newsline’s Shimaila Matri Dawood wrote of Pakistanis murdering their children, jumping in front of trains, and setting themselves on fire — all because they couldn’t provide for their families.

Still, the aim of my final post of 2012 is not to dwell on Pakistan’s suffering. It is to showcase the remarkable strength and resiliency with which the Pakistani society responds to it.

When the 2010 floods plunged 20 per cent of the nation underwater, the government was largely missing in action. Yet doctors, housewives, students, and many others (not to mention the military) immediately deployed to the affected areas to render assistance. Of course, many Pakistanis minister to the needy every day, and not just after humanitarian catastrophes. Witness the tireless work of Pakistan’s living legend, Abdul Sattar Edhi.

Some of Pakistan’s citizen-first responders come bearing not relief or medical supplies, but inspiring words and campaigns that galvanise the nation. Malala Yousafzai certainly comes to mind — as does Sana Saleem, the free speech advocate recently named one of Foreign Policy’s top 100 global thinkers of 2012 (Malala made the list as well). Their ilk will increasingly take center stage as older generations — led by the likes of the late Ardeshir Cowasjee — retire from public life.

Then there are those Pakistanis who use their rare gifts to benefit the country. The tragically short life of Arfa Karim, the teenaged IT genius who provided computer training to the poor, is a shining example.

Also admirable are those who labor under the most difficult of conditions, yet still pull off extraordinary acts. Take journalists and doctors, many of whom are severely underpaid and overworked, and work in dangerous environments. Admittedly, some of them succumb to the stress (recall the surgeon who left operating scissors in a patient’s stomach, and the journalists who fell for the infamous Shamsul Anwar hoax). Yet many more shrug off threats to break critical stories, or save countless lives. I’ll never forget the young doctor I met last summer, who told me he constantly fears getting attacked at his hospital by livid people denied care. When I asked why he keeps going back, his answer was immediate and simple: “Pakistan needs medical care.”

And then there are the besieged religious minorities, who quietly persevere in a nation that refuses to protect them. It’s a wonder more haven’t fled.

Finally, there are the simple yet poignant acts of charity and benevolence — like the kids in Karachi who collect garbage every Sunday, or the Islamabad-based peace activists who travel to KP to speak to students about tolerance and nonviolence.

One of Pakistan’s enigmas is how it manages to “muddle along” despite its multitude of problems. The answer can be found in its people, who hold the country together. They are undoubtedly driven by patriotism, which runs deep despite the nation’s divisions. This is why I cringe whenever I hear Pakistan referred to as a “failed state.” So long as the Pakistani society remains strong, I can’t imagine how Pakistan can fail.

At least not yet.

The question, in the years ahead, is whether Pakistan’s resilient society can beat back the cresting waves of militancy and sectarianism that threaten to tear Pakistan apart and, one day, even plunge it into civil war. Balkanisation, more so than an Islamist takeover, is a very real threat to the Pakistani state.

Up to now, the Pakistani society has stepped in to provide services and fill roles where the government is absent. Yet this isn’t a sustainable strategy. To avert disaster in the decades ahead, the Pakistani state will need to step up — and provide the leadership and good judgment long exemplified by its society.

See you in 2013.

The author is the Senior Program Associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. You can reach him at michael.kugelman@wilsoncenter.org


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

The author is the Senior Program Associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. You can reach him at michael.kugelman@wilsoncenter.org

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments are closed.

Comments (147)

December 21, 2012 3:28 pm
Michael appreciate your views but here I see one thing not right when you say a Islamist take over since these people are not Islamic who kill other and who destroy others home without any reason. And Islam does not allow these thing I will say The Shariah (Islamic Law) is the best to be implemented for Pakistan i.e. according to Quran and Sunnah. But as the time passes the media has played and notorious role in letting people know that the those people killing one another are muslims. But for your kind information those people who kill (other muslim or whether its a muslim or any human being) without any reason he is a disbeliever since Islam does not teaches these things. And he is getting of the track of islamic teachings, Any how the Shariah rule is the best and with out this we can perish.. undoubtedly what is happening (unwanted killing) is all against shariah. (Else Allah is all knowing).
December 21, 2012 4:55 pm
If people (escpecally the rich ) don't pay taxes than how will the government have resources to respond to these events?
Balochi Cynic
December 23, 2012 3:10 pm
Pakistan is not even a state leave alone failed or other wise. it is a huge territory controlled by armed groups. a handful of them are more organized and others a little less. ideology, national interest, religion, the struggle for right of self determination are the justifications for their continued absolute power.
Md Imran
December 21, 2012 4:56 pm
Pakistan paindabad ! Pak Fauj zindabad ! Pakistan forever..thanks Mr.Kugleman !
reality not selected truth
December 23, 2012 1:41 pm
When one understand there is a difference between system and society one starts understanding which countries are failed. System is there to help the society get stronger, a society which can stand on its own nomatter what happens at many levels. Stronger a society any crises any problem will be dealt with. A weak society collapses at the first problem that comes their way. Any other country having the same set of problem pakistan has had would have collapsed long time ago.
December 21, 2012 3:22 pm
Good one Michael. Any country with such problems (especially since 2002) would have gotten destroyed by now. But Pakistan keeps plugging along and was even named in the next 11 economies to watch for on a global index. That being said, we need to get rid of corrupt politicians of PPP and N-league who keep looting the country every time they come in power and elect honest people like Imran Khan. Every resiliency has its limits.
December 21, 2012 3:21 pm
Apart from Pakistani people there are also some divine powers who have protected this country in harsh times. Pakistan Zindabad.
December 21, 2012 4:37 pm
I agree that there are individuals in Pakistan who rise above the clutter and accomplish great personal and humanitarian feats but the term "failed state" still applies to Pakistan because as a country, nation, political entity and government we have miserably failed altogether.
Sohail Ahmed
December 23, 2012 7:24 pm
Thanks you Michael ! One of the masterpiece articles that I have read since long. I have saved in my archives for re-re-re-reads. Very well researched and beautifully articulated facts. Nation is ready, but leaders are non existant. This nation has the potential to touch the skies, when they will find ‘A Leader’… a leader who could take us back to secularism. Admire your brilliance. Keep writing please.
anwar kamal
December 23, 2012 3:27 pm
By comparing you can get self-satisfaction.But compare the law &order,human rights (including the condition of women ) with any other country of this sub-continent.
December 21, 2012 2:34 pm
Great Article to lift up the spirits of the Pakistani's and find some reassurancee of the ability and strength within ! I hope we can overcome this chaos with the right attitude and under right leadership soon. We Pakistanis are blessed with a beautiful country with abundant resources and natural talent we just need to speak up against the attrocities and not be lazy anymore. Its time we prove ourselves to the world !
December 21, 2012 2:15 pm
Saddening yet inspiring.
December 21, 2012 2:13 pm
You apparently or conveniently forgot one MAJOR factor that faces Pakistan.It's colossal financial debt that is due soon.I salute the people for their resilience in the face of adversirty, but who is going to save the nation from this economic crisis? I do not read the government making plans to address it.How long can the people give their support when there is no surety given by the government to tackle this impending financial "storm".It has only some 13 billion in the kitty.
raw is war
December 21, 2012 2:11 pm
Because you say so?
saad rehman
December 21, 2012 2:04 pm
nice article.
Bilal qureshi
December 21, 2012 4:05 pm
Very good article. I feel proud to be a Pakistani.
Neer Nayan
December 23, 2012 6:41 pm
This remains a stark reality in the sub-continent that it is the common citizen who still is governed by her/his conscience and is instrumental in the sustaining an otherwise highly collapsable corrupt system of governance!
jay komerath
December 21, 2012 3:53 pm
It is not a simply failed state,it is a miserably failed state,with only a slight chance of improving,but not unless the mind set of the theiving politicians and the Hopless uneducated Muslim clergy Unless they reallise thiis window of time frame,Pakistan IS DOOMED.-IT WILLBE LIKE IRAN
December 23, 2012 7:48 pm
Pakistan is No. 1 failed state in the opinion of the whole world except Pakistan
December 21, 2012 5:01 pm
Hope is fading away for this country; but I do hope this country survives, lest it becomes a bigger burden on my country - India.
December 21, 2012 5:16 pm
This proves that good citizens cant make a successful state. Pak is failed state with successful people.
December 21, 2012 5:18 pm
Michael,no need to cringe when you hear people saying Pakistan is a failed state. These are just jealous Indians who have never managed come to terms with the idea of Pakistan and are now revelling in seeing our current problems. These problems will pass, God willing. We know we are not failing, you've just happened to realised it now.
December 21, 2012 5:25 pm
"To avert disaster in the decades ahead, the Pakistani state will need to step up — and provide the leadership and good judgment long exemplified by its society" essence of the whole article...
December 23, 2012 6:12 pm
We in India understand your love for Pakistan my friend,but the situation is bad as seen in the media of Pakistan like Dawn.
December 21, 2012 5:41 pm
Thanks Michael ! Yes, we will survive !
December 21, 2012 5:58 pm
I fail to understand how few % of population can take ride of fate of community as a whole ??? In every society there are hard liners but the majority moderate don't agree with them and contained them to minimum distortion of their faith. In Pakistan extremist are in minority even though they are allowed by moderate majority to represent as a ideology of Pakistan. If you don't contain them then don't blame others how they look at Pakistani in general. Surely I don't believe any state is become failed state. Every country gone through rough patches.
A Shah
December 23, 2012 10:19 am
FAIL FAIL FAIL! Pakistan is a 100% failed state and anybody who cant see this is either fooling themselves or blind! No industry (apart from drug smugling and terrorism) no education, no law and order.
December 21, 2012 6:26 pm
Pakistan is like a video game where every next level gets tougher and tougher. Currently it seems like everything under the sun is being thrown at it along with the kitchen sink. It's clearly at a make or break level. Mr. Kugelman's hopeful and positive words are what this nation needs at the moment to carry on struggling for a better country.
December 23, 2012 10:16 am
It would have been a better article if the author had defined (broadly) what is a failed state and applied those Parameters to show that Pakistan is not a failed state. We are genetically programmed to survive. People survive even in Sub Saharan Africa. That just can't be a parameter to call it a successful country. If a successful country looks like Pakistan I would not wish for any country to be successful.
December 21, 2012 7:00 pm
I LOVE my Pakistan
December 21, 2012 7:12 pm
Thank You for your Optimism. It is true that Patriotism runs deep that is why Pakistan have not disintegrated. May Allah give us more strength to bring peace to our land, Ameen.
December 21, 2012 7:45 pm
I love this piece..... made me wanna cry..... we love u too much Pakistan..... how loud can we say this :(
December 23, 2012 5:50 pm
when author suggested that Pakistan is a successfull country. Please read before commenting..
December 21, 2012 8:12 pm
respect to the writer... thank you very much
December 23, 2012 5:32 pm
Stratigic location...is that all u'v got...
Capt C M Khan
December 21, 2012 8:59 pm
Micheal you are correct. Pakistan's population is 180 million. 15% Educated means 20 million. These are are the ones who are fighting against all odds and holding the country together. The British gave Pakistan some good infrastructure in school, colleges, hospitals etc which is producing these 15%,
December 21, 2012 9:07 pm
Of course Pakistan is not a failed state, but if the current crop of Pakistani leadership does not change its thinking, Pakistan will not be away from becoming one. Not just keep military out, but clip its power, make it subservient to the political leadership, just the way it is in US, India or China. BUt is the voice of people adequately represented by Pakistani govt.? No. Pakistan deserved much better.
December 21, 2012 9:09 pm
You need to go back to nation 101, when people are successful the state can not be called failed. I am glad you agreed with the main part.
December 23, 2012 5:23 pm
Pakistan as state may be failing or will survive, I hope and pray by the will of ALLAH. but i can certainly see a Pakistan nation evolving and that will never fail, INSHALLAH. A nation where all Pakistanis are equal under law, regardless of creed, religion, sect ; a nation where values are respected and tolerated cause the biggest cause it to respect human dignity. May Allah help Pakistan realize a true Pakistan nation.
December 21, 2012 9:53 pm
I think you're really muddled up buddy.
December 21, 2012 10:10 pm
No, because we the Pakistanis say so.
December 21, 2012 10:32 pm
Tell people what they want to hear. Always a sure fire winner!!!
December 21, 2012 10:47 pm
Fantasy article! Far from reality. Pakistan is not only a failed state but extremely dangerous to the civilized world due to its backwardness, lack of any kind of moral and ethical value, and militant and voilent nature of its citizens.
December 21, 2012 10:50 pm
Every common person love this motherland, no question. But at the same time there no question that the majority of politicians think otherwise.
December 22, 2012 12:07 am
really Raj? your comment also proves that haters like yourself will take up any opprtunity to kill other's hope and enthusiasm....
December 22, 2012 12:10 am
Excellently done, michael.
Faiza G R Bhatt
December 22, 2012 12:36 am
Pakistanis just need rulers who could align the long term goals of the country with the aspirations of the people. i am pro PTI just for this reason. great article by a young budding writer and scholar.
December 24, 2012 3:48 pm
Before you lecture others, first write your id and full address.
Sue Sturgess
December 22, 2012 1:46 am
In most nations, the govts have developed systems to ensure taxes are paid. Paying tax is compulsory, not a choice.
December 22, 2012 1:47 am
The arguments are i the favor of Pakistan being a successful society, despite being a failed state.
December 22, 2012 1:50 am
Thank you for your kind words. We appreciate your words of encouragement. I believe in the law of attraction which simply means when you ask what you want, believe it will come true and receive it as it has already happened with utter faith, then it will come to you! Pakistan will survive and I have faith it will!
December 23, 2012 8:49 am
Down but not out.. you are never out, till you give up.
December 22, 2012 2:41 am
This November, I visited Pakistan after 10 year’s absence. This lapse was partly due to my heavy working schedule but mainly due to what I saw in the Western TV, Pakistani media and the scary stories told by my Pakistani and foreign friends living in Europe. The constant demonization of Pakistan made me scared. I was indeed afraid to set foot on the ground of a land, I so immensely love and am proud of. The situation became so absurd that every year, I made plans to visit Pakistan but at the eleventh hour chicken out. Finally, I said to myself: in spite of all the problems, millions of other Pakistanis visit their motherland every year so I should put asides my fears and make a leap of faith. One of the positive influences for this decision was an invitation from my niece who begged me to come to her wedding. I was told by friends, not to travel by PIA – Pakistan International Airline, because of the bad service, unreliable flying schedule, old planes and expensive prices. I was warned that I should not wear western clothes because it will make me a kidnapping target, do not go out in the street after 10 p.m and certainly not to walk around with my expensive camera or use IPhone in public. On top of this, another very sound advice was dished to me by many. I should not discuss Islam with anyone, even my own family because of Blasphemy laws. Since I was very critical of religious monopolists, I may end up in jail if I was reported. In short, I was told to mingle with crowd, keep my mouth shut and appear poor. In all my world travels from Indonesia to USA, I have never been so warned and alarmed as of this trip to my own motherland. Against all warnings, I bought a ticket by PIA, which turned out to be a blessing. It was cheaper than other international carriers, the service was great, the plane was a new and the flights were on time. First prejudice turned out to be false. In the ensuing 3 weeks, I spent in Pakistan, I visited the capital Islamabad, large cities like Rawalpindi, Lahore and Gujrat as well as numerous middle and small towns. I wore suits, walked on foot, rode on motorbike and cars and other means of transport. No one even looked at me with any envy, concern or suspicion, let alone try to kidnap, harass or intimidate. As far as speaking openly, I delivered lectures at the prestigious Fatima Jinnah Women University, at Islamabad Rotary club, was guest of honour at a Think Tank in Islamabad, celebrating inter-culturalism, was interviewed at radio stations, by newspapers and had heated discussions at my brothers home with relatives, guests and even two guys from Pakistan’s FBI. Issues discussed were Islam, the role of religious parties and how Pakistan can move forward. Not once, I was arrested, reported or even labelled as Blasphemous person. There were many other remarkable good changes, I witnessed during my stay. The flourishing of a fantastic amount of small businesses, the abundance of food, the schools, colleges and universities, Internet cafes and youngsters striving to educate themselves, especially girls. I especially noticed the improved infrastructures, highways, super expressways, the extensive use of mobiles, very versatile electronic media with 70 channels – broadcasting 24 hours programs, right from religion, sports, news, political discussions, family problems, music, arts, criticism of government, food, comedies, films and every other topic, you can think of. But above all, what impressed me most was the hospitality, graciousness, generosity, sincerity and willingness to please, which is the hallmark of Pakistani people. In the parties, at shops, in private get-togethers and at the homes of total strangers, the pleasure people exhibit in inviting and entertaining others to be their guests is indescribable. They do not correct you if you make a mistake, do not accuse you if you do not show good manners and are really apologetic, if they feel that you are not eating a full meal. To someone who has not been to Pakistan, this may sound a very exaggerated tale of patriotism and critic-less view of Pakistani society. It may be so but after being witness to 10 years of Pakistan bashing in the west, which has declared Pakistan a failed state, called it a country on the verge of breaking up and where Taliban are running around in streets, my western acquired prejudices were laid to rest, once for all. Having seen things with my own eyes, experienced the society at close hand and talking to ordinary Pakistanis, I came out with a very beautiful feeling about this land of the pure. No doubt, Pakistan has problems, immense difficulties – economic, social, political and institutional, like all other countries in the developing world. But we should remember that it is a country, which appeared on the map of the world only 65 years ago. It had no resources, very little money to start with and many odds stacked against it. It survived through the shear will power of its people and it is now progressing – slowly and steadily. To call it a failed state by some western countries and few international surveys is not only unfair but smells of a calculated political agenda. I would advise such armchair annalists to get out of their comfortable offices in Washington D.C, London and Paris and go visit Pakistan. You would be pleasantly surprised of the development, progress and tenacity of the people of Pakistan. They may not be rich according to your parameters of living standards but they are definitely, very rich in culture, history, in hospitality and are moving in the right path. If you can not support them in their continuous efforts to improve, please stop putting them down and discouraging them.
December 22, 2012 3:32 am
Yes that's why I love my great mother land - "Pakistan Zindabad"
December 24, 2012 3:47 pm
You are day dreaming more than the author. Equality based on religion will never exist in Pakistan. Pakistan is a very divided nation, it is feudal and heterogeneous. The author compares it to America, what a joke.
December 23, 2012 8:10 am
If Pakistan is not a failed state than by you definition what is a failed state?If this is not failure of Pakistan then what is the failure of Pakistan. Compared to America Pakistan is a failed state.
December 22, 2012 4:10 am
Pakistan is a new name for thousands years civilization called Indus Civilization. The civilization which survived thousands of years know how to survive
anand singh
December 22, 2012 4:12 am
If I were a Pakistani , I too would feel this way . I would like to see a silver lining. Furthermore, I like any other sane person worldwide would like to see my neighbor prosper & do we. So what if we have little in common- we were brothers once. However, the indicators are to the contrary. The indicators I refer to are not with regard to what is happening in Pak but with regard to what is NOT happening. What is not happening is the expected ground swell of resentment on how a few are taking the nation down the path of self destruction. The inability of the state to fight back & crush those who make the lives of the common man unsafe , the lack of will to squarely face & solve a problem thats eating into the vitals of the nation. The Armed forces today spend a large part of their resources in defending themselves from those whom they are meant to protect. I would like Pakistan to prosper and be able to fight back for two selfish reasons. One, a prosperous Pak is in India's interests, it shall help foster regional trade which in turn will help to breakdown decades of distrust & hostility. Two, a prosperous Pak will be able to fight & contain its fissiparous fundamentalist forces who if victorious will then try to permeate into India. We saw an indicator at Mumbai.
December 22, 2012 5:33 am
Pakistan is NOT a failed state, but a state which will harm itself forever; will subject its own citizens to humiliation and brainwashing of various kinds. It will not fail, but suffer it will.. There is end to this in the foreseeable future.
December 22, 2012 5:39 am
Select ten/fifteen honest and sincere people to run the affairs of the country. ( A difficult proposition) Put a total ban on politics and religious activities and also ban all actvities of armed forces for fifteen years and finally ablosih the current system of policing the state and you will get a new/reborn Pakistan. (No harm trying, no harm dreaming)
December 22, 2012 6:33 am
If Pakistani Nation was such a resilient society, then corrupts like Zardari would not have been ruling at us
Syed J. Ahmed
December 22, 2012 6:39 am
I think resilient is overused, if you think about resiliency than I think people living in parts of africa are resilient, people who live in somalia in resilient, heck people living in any 3rd world country are resilient in my book. What you have to understand is some people have no other choice. I see the word resilient used too many times by some TV anchors and politicians and that's just to pour some encouragement to a very demoralized country. Like it or not Pakistan is a failed state and it's only going to get worse and worse if people don't start figuring things out for themselves and understanding what is good for the whole nation and what is bad. There are just too many things wrong with Pakistan at the moment to consider it anything but a fail state.
K G Surendran
December 22, 2012 7:09 am
If Somalia can come back from the brink because of its people, and the basic instincts of humans is survival, no state can be declared a failed state. Most nation states could do with deep rooted democracy which foster strong democratic institutions thereby ensuring better standards of living for its citizens through more participatory forms of governance. Democracy is no five year wonder cure and by no means a perfect form of governance but it is the best available to humans as of today and its central theme is freedom of expression and choice. Pakistan will for the first time in history witness a democratically elected government finish its term and despite all the naysayers within Pakistan this is a moment to cherish for the future of a country which is facing huge challenges as the author has enumerated.
akhter husain
December 22, 2012 7:09 am
Thank you Mr Michael Kugelman for your encouraging words about us.Surely we are not as bad as people may project.We have all the courage and potential to fight, all kind of miseries and extremism that is humanly possible.
akhter husain
December 22, 2012 7:15 am
It is not all about money that makes a state successful but it is the determination to endure and survive in spite of it.This needs a firm character and faith. .
Sheikh chilli
December 22, 2012 7:15 am
When you suggest a state is failed you are suggesting it was successful once. Pakistan is not a failed state in the sense it never was successful and hence it could not get any worse. Whenever I want to hear bad news I just have turn on the Pakistani news channel. The reality is that Pakistan was formed as an after thought by the Brits to teach India a lesson. And boy what a lesson it has been.
December 23, 2012 11:12 am
well written and analysed Michael! keep writing, we follow your every article
Fuzail Z. Ahmad
December 22, 2012 7:38 am
Excellent article, Mr. Kugelman. Yes we will not only survive but we will bounce right back with every opportunity. I live and work outside Pakistan but my heart is with my homeland. I love you Pakistan, and I will say it as loud as I can, every time.
Fahad Razzaq Bhatti
December 22, 2012 7:38 am
Great Article Michael !
December 22, 2012 7:43 am
u forget the pakistani workers abroad, who send the remittance worth billion USD per month.
December 22, 2012 7:58 am
Pakistan is not a failed state but it is a failing state. Unless some dramatic institutional changes take place Pakistan will fail in a historic fashion.
anwar kamal
December 23, 2012 3:18 pm
Not failed ,but ruined.Such as law & order,security of life ,economy,education,industry,,,
December 22, 2012 8:28 am
Pakistan is a name of Love and Passion. Nice observation
December 22, 2012 8:33 am
Wah! what and Insight.
December 22, 2012 8:46 am
Pakistan is shining in resilience. :)
December 22, 2012 8:58 am
Pakistan is not a failed state or a successful state its in between,its rating is 4.5 out of 10,you need a 0 rating to call a state a failed state.
yahya Khan
December 22, 2012 10:04 am
This is a very realistic and laudable judgement of the writer. Intellectuals of his calibre should use their influence on the western governments not to support / protect the corrupt individuals who somehow climb to the top positions in the Pakistan government.
abduk karim
December 22, 2012 10:37 am
live there for a month and then write again your experience
December 22, 2012 10:54 am
Check the following news reported by Dawn and then say what kind of state Pakistan is: http://dawn.com/2012/12/22/desecration-case-lynch-mob-kills-suspect-burns-body-in-dadu/
December 22, 2012 11:26 am
the only aspect he failed to refer is Pakistan Army and Peshawar Police. no military around the world has ever fought such battle. In Swat, our Army received heaviest number of casualties in world history in terms officers against soldiers. Talk about Peshawar police. there is no street, no post in that city which has not been targeted. Our brave policemen have not abandoned a single check post ever. My country is there to live,, INSHALLAH
December 22, 2012 11:29 am
Buck up
December 22, 2012 11:58 am
those who have set foot in Pakistan, do not recognise the picture of Pakistan painted in the west. It is this picture which is wrong, and will need correcting. Despite its problems, pakistan as an emerging economy (and a member of the Next 11 group) will change this perception over the next 20 years. of this I have no doubt. Much like Mexico has changed its perception over the last 50 years.
December 22, 2012 12:05 pm
The only problem with Pakistan is its false pied that prevents it from taking India's help in dealing with its failing state.
December 22, 2012 12:28 pm
Pakistan is already a failed state. The main cause of this is the systematic destruction of institution of democracy . The ruling elite who are a minority are setting the agenda in Pakistan ie the Clergy and the goons they control , The landowners and the military. The common Pakistani is suffering and has no say in the running of Pakistan. The same disease is now also cropping up in India also , where politicians or ruling elite have lost their connect with the populace. Instead of tackling the basic issues affecting common people they are busy filling their own houses by looting the country. They are slowly but surely killing the democracy and poisoning the various institutions for their own selfish means.
reality not selected truth
December 22, 2012 12:55 pm
Certain societies have a tendency to absorb and digest its problem.
reality not selected truth
December 22, 2012 12:59 pm
Reminds me of my own experience when i came abroad i did not know which pakistan people were talking about. I have most probably lived a dangerous life than the average. Working in a govt. hospital taking taxi regularly at any time of the day and yes that includes night as well. Only after a long time i understood the paranoia people had about pakistan. In the beginning i thought these were just polite conversations of a country noone knew about.
December 22, 2012 12:59 pm
Well, Its another article over an article, but very true that exaggeration is all around from both positive and negative perspective. This is just like the same propaganda we heard about Karachi from rest of the Pakistan who seems over concerned about the overall situation of city but Karachites feel in altogether different way as the person who is experiencing good and bad due to his physical presence knows better than those who are just watching/observing from outside.
Miss Riaz
December 22, 2012 1:06 pm
well said..
December 22, 2012 1:18 pm
Wow... civilization is good idea... its indus valley civililzation but oday only the invaders are glorified.. If you want to stick to civilization part then try to see the level gori, babar etc in your society and in a second you would know what is wrong with pakistan... you gave pakistan its true and glorious identity... but pakistanis feel proud to celebrate the people who tried to crush it.. if you guys take out the religion part. you have every reason to hate these invaders who turned most of pakistani cities into rubble centuries back...
December 22, 2012 1:38 pm
So when are you returning to Pakistan permanantly ??? You may have taken admission of kids in Pakistani Schools ( Madressas ) and Universities I believe.
December 22, 2012 2:27 pm
No Pakistan has never been burden on any one. How can it be a burden for any country like India which is already a burden for so many ! First solve your problems Mr. Akhilesh.
December 22, 2012 2:33 pm
I too live outside. I have now the parallel citizenship of another country also. Of course I am happy about that. BUT my pride is being a Pakistani which is my identity. Corrupt Politicians of PP, PML, ANP or MQM does not mean that Pakistan is a failed state. A time will soon be there when these politicians will be got rid off (Insha Allah). Just wait.
December 22, 2012 2:45 pm
your country also have many of its own problem from poverty to lawlessness, Insurgencies to religious extremism and many other .. so better to look at them first ...
December 22, 2012 3:08 pm
Get real bq45
December 22, 2012 3:09 pm
Unbelievably candid and accurate post my dear. I visit Pakistan every 2 or 3 years and my experiences are an exact replica of yours. Thanks from the bottom of my heart for the post.
Mahvesh Khan
December 22, 2012 3:14 pm
This must be absolutely the worst article about Pakistan that I have ever read. The only good thing about it is the response left by bq45. I grew up in Lahore & Islamabad, Pakistan. I live a very comfortable life here in Islamabad and so do most of the people I know. I have required very little "resilience" to live here in Pakistan. Of-course, from what I can gather from American Media coverage of Newtown, Americans appear to have lost the ability to cope with any stress life throws their way. The word "stoic" does not appear to be part of the American dictionary. Luckily, being Pakistani, I have the sense not to base my judgment of any country or its people on what the media says about it. And most especially not on what the "expert" says about it. I'd be interested to know when Mr. Michael Kugman last visited Pakistan, how much time he spent in Pakistan and where he stayed? I'm betting he visited for the first and last time at-least eleven years ago (before 9/11), spent one week at a five-star hotel and became an instant "expert" on all things Pakistani! I find it interesting that in the catalogue of disasters he recites, he skips: both Afghan wars, the American role in setting up the Madrassah system (including,by the way, the syllabus that created the "Jihadists" they demonize so much today),the American drone attacks on Pakistani people that kill our children on a daily basis -- you know, a few of the "disasters" we have to be "resilient" against. Let me re-create his analysis of Pakistan for America: "Americans are a resilient people. Despite the corrupt electoral system that disenfranchised black voters in order to ensure George W. Bush won the elections the first time around, despite George W. Bush's mishandling of Hurricane Katrina which demonstrated the lack of care for the poor in America, despite Obama's inability to provide health insurance coverage to the poor, despite the Trayvon tragedy, despite the gun lobby, despite the Newtown tragedy, despite the constant, aggressive and illegal wars that America policy-makers continue to push even without public support, despite the collapse in the banking system that has led many to lose their homes, despite the fat bonuses given to bankers and the punishment meted out to creditors, they continue to live in and survive America" And I'm certainly not a Sr. Program Associate at the Wilson Woodrow International Center for Scholars. If Mr. Kugman is a sample of the quality of scholars they produce, I am delighted to have escaped this honor!
December 23, 2012 12:24 pm
Compared to America, many countries are failed states.
December 22, 2012 3:43 pm
Pakistan is not a failed state because the rest of the world cannot afford for it to fail due to its strategic geographic position, and therefore the country keeps getting bailed out. Please do not give any credit to the people of Pakistan - they keep trying their level best to "fail" the state.
December 22, 2012 3:49 pm
Thank you for your note. I am glad to hear some positives about Pakistan. After reading your post, I would love to visit my motherland. It is been almost 10 years now!
December 22, 2012 4:08 pm
That is one well written comment. It should be an article on its own. Thank you for that
December 22, 2012 4:29 pm
I routinely visit and share the same feelings.
December 23, 2012 2:08 pm
Pakistan is not a failed state.Look at Karachi Stock Exchange.The index is running very high.
Jawad U Rahman
December 23, 2012 11:56 am
With due respect, this is no cause to celebrate that the state has not failed yet, remains on the brink of failing any time, and that its people come to its rescue from the 'cliff' every time. Ultimately, the law of averages will catch up and things will reach a point of no return. Pakistan, at some point, will have to start behaving and performing like all other nations in the mainstream of global community who are firmly on the path to development and prosperity. Or else, God forbid, it will actually fail. You can't chance your way out of poverty and lack of development.
December 24, 2012 9:50 am
This is just ridiculous!
December 22, 2012 5:36 pm
I hope you feel better now thats off your chest.
December 23, 2012 12:58 pm
Dear Mahvesh I agree with you that Michael's article is not very coherent, scholarly or even well researched but he is trying to be supportive of Pakistan in his own way.Let us give him his due. Thank you for appreciating my comment. I have updated and expanded the orginal comment and I would be delighted to send it to you if you so wish. Please send me an e-mail on; bashy@mail.dk Kind regards bq45 Bashy Quraishy www.bashy.dk
December 22, 2012 5:41 pm
bq45, I'm glad you had a nice trip to Pakistan. Any one who's ever been here knows its not about to fail or implode. We for sure know it. We face a lot of troubles on the terrorism front at present so a few negative lines from our neighbours hardly matter to us. Dont worry we'll be fine.
December 22, 2012 5:54 pm
You are a true son of soil!
December 22, 2012 5:57 pm
Which world do you live in?
December 22, 2012 5:58 pm
Pakistan is the best!
December 22, 2012 6:29 pm
I really don't know why nobody is not protesting against anything here...i really don't know what happened to our youth..Around the world changes are happening due youth protest and agitation for freedom,safety,proper living etc.. .... but i never expect that to happen here as we jus go for words but no deeds...We have to bring the change ourselves we cant expect a leader to bring the change otherwise we will always remain a failed state....
December 22, 2012 7:32 pm
If Pakistan was not a failed state then people would have some hope left in the country and would not have been commiting suicides like they do now.... The hope lies in PTI, Judiciary and an independent media....
December 22, 2012 7:34 pm
please dont come....
Raj Deshpande
December 23, 2012 12:45 pm
15% of 180 is 27 million--
December 23, 2012 12:36 pm
Nish by your definition, India has been a failed state since 2002 when hordes of Hindu fanatics lynched thousands of Muslims.
December 22, 2012 9:18 pm
Until religious extremism is State supported it is not possible. It will take few nerves of steel to pull back.
Aqil Siddiqi
December 22, 2012 9:23 pm
The whole world can see, that Pakistan is a failed state except for Mr.Kugelman. Please do visit Pakistan very very soon, and when you return back, write the truth this time.
December 22, 2012 11:19 pm
When terrorism is the policy of state, what else could you expect?
December 23, 2012 1:13 pm
Compared to America, most of third world countries should be called failed states. Many a countries in the world have gone through turmoil, particularly when big powers use their backyards for power struggle. Who thought Vietnam and Cambodia back in '60s of where they are today.
December 23, 2012 1:32 am
Sorry sir pak have no connection with indus valley civilization but india has pakistan history start with invasion of muhmad bin kasim
December 23, 2012 1:40 am
If Pakistan is not a failed state, what is it?
Sad but not bad
December 23, 2012 2:18 am
Well said, The same way no one can win Afghanistan ever.
Sad but not bad
December 23, 2012 2:35 am
Wow, BQ45. Your comment definately encourages to fullfill one of the 10 things I want to do before I die. 1 of them was to finish a route by car and the only obstacle in route was ''Taftan to Wagha''. Many of my Pakistani friends scared me a lot till now, the way they scared you. By reading you , I'm less worried.
December 23, 2012 3:07 am
Pakistan is sure a great nation. By far in survival mode Pakistanis beats everyone on the planet. I'm surprised how day to day life can be so difficult where nothing is safe. Human life price can some time be the least priced on the list. Still with all these difficulties facing by the average person, Pakistan still survive and still produce great doctors, engg, rocket scientists etc., I pray for the peace for everyone on this planet. Hope God makes life easy for all the mankind. Pakistanis should always held their heads up high, and get good leadership and then there is nothing they can't achieve. If there is any other country facing difficulties like Pakistan, I think they might not be able to face the music. So please elect right leaders.
December 23, 2012 9:01 am
Thanks Michael - INSHALLAH we will survive ...
December 23, 2012 4:13 am
I sincerely, hope that they do the same when they cast their vote.....They have never done that in the past......... They have never dared to stand up against wrong...........The freedom that Jinnah got them, they had taken it for granted. They will have to stand up to get it, just like any other nation did......Nothing is for free
Nabidad Khan — Sharjah
December 23, 2012 1:29 pm
Very well written piece, but, how the writer forgot about the role of the rising Judiciary in Pakistan. Pakistan is a name of spirit and spirit never defeat. Inshallah, we, the Pakistanis will be back on track soon with full strength.
December 23, 2012 8:25 pm
Sarcasm at its best :)
December 23, 2012 8:30 pm
Just little information 59 hindus burnt alive in train resulting in riots , which caused 790 muslim casualities 253 hindu casualities In a state with just 10% muslim Population. Gujarat is a victim of media, many more muslims or hindus or christians were killed in many parts of world , but didn't make a big news.
December 24, 2012 10:23 am
The writer is certainly day dreaming. Pakistan is not a failed state because of US dollars.Once US stops aid Pakistan economy and than Pakistan itself would collapse.
Michael Kugelman
December 24, 2012 3:07 am
Thanks to all, as always, for these very instructive and inspiring responses. As for my detractors. First, @Mahvash Khan, it's unclear why you're so unhappy with the article. It seems you believe that just because you and most people you know lead comfortable lives in Islamabad, then I am hopelessly naive for assuming that other people actually suffer in Pakistan. I'm also not sure why you launch into a screed about how America has brought such harm to Pakistan. My simple objective here was to recognize how Pakistanis pull through amid such hardship, and I can't understand why you'd object to that. Feel free to email me to chat further; I'd be curious to hear your perspective. @bq45, sorry you found the piece incoherent. As for not being "scholarly"--alas, it's a blog post, not a PhD dissertation!
December 24, 2012 4:29 am
good effort ..:)
December 24, 2012 5:26 am
write your identity or else do not make these statements. It goes to show you do not want to be identified, have an ulterior motive.
December 24, 2012 5:33 am
It what context is it failed state. The USA is a failed state also in so ways, for examle, some 30 million people here do not get enough to live by. 6 million children go hungry everyday. Thousands of its returning vertrans live on skid row (on the streets in downtowns) across the nation. This from a country which is the richest on earth. So you have to compare apples to apples not oranges.Leave Pakistan alone, it will be alright.
December 24, 2012 2:19 pm
A good article and points to a rarely mentioned fact of Pakistani Society. Pakistani people are truly resilient and come to each others aid in the hour of need, far more effectively than Government agencies or other organisations. Seldom see such good articles in Dawn these days.
December 25, 2012 7:55 am
Thank You Michael ! Atleast somebody noticed the truth.
Mariam Ahmed
December 24, 2012 7:32 am
Agreed with your Mr. Micheal. The dire need of this country is committed and visionary leadership and if we will get it we will be out of all these turmoils Inshallah.
December 24, 2012 7:38 am
State is absent in the affairs of the people....what more you want ....Pakistan is a failed or failing state...If you have said that DAWN wouldn't have published that
Ihtesham Kayani
December 24, 2012 4:41 pm
Very well said sir.
Naresh sharma
December 24, 2012 4:57 pm
ha ha ha.. chander gupt morya won and many indian king ruled over afganistan.. alexender the great was one of them
anwar kamal
December 24, 2012 5:16 pm
Shame to the rulers of pakistan.
Kay Ess
December 24, 2012 7:27 pm
Spoken like a true Indian. Thanks for confirming my belief in 'friends' across the border.
December 24, 2012 9:56 pm
We are not a failed state because of society and culture now things are changing thanks to media and just wait and see what kind of state we will be after one generation.
Amir Bangash
December 25, 2012 9:36 am
Pakistan is blessed with every thing you name any, say beautiful land, excellent weather conditions,5 rivers making the land fertile,vast energy resources sites on the rivers, talented maximum young population,unlimited sites for sea ports,vast natural resources and the nation is waiting for sincere leadership to take the country to the leading position.
December 26, 2012 9:15 am
Terms like failed state are coined by countries like America that believe only they are important Pakistan is struggling but has a good chance to improve. Who will improve it except its own citizens.
December 26, 2012 11:54 am
Pakistan has so much potential , it will someday be among the world leaders. The country also has the most beautiful flag.
December 28, 2012 1:59 pm
A prosperous Pakistan is not only in the interest of Pakistanis, it is in the interest of India and South Asia as well. I wish that soon Pakistan overcomes her problems and become one of the best places to live in the world.
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