BENGALURU: T V Paul’s The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World focuses on Pakistan’s inability to progress against the background of its geo-political struggles and despite the massive foreign aid pouring in from major powers and allies who have a stake in this region. In fact, the book provides an unusual perspective on Pakistan’s army-dominated unstable political system.
Torn by sectarian violence and frequent terrorist attacks from Waziristan to Punjab, Pakistan has not shown much progress or development since its formation when compared to other countries with quasi-democratic regimes. With the Pak Taliban occupying or attacking key areas of the country, it is perpetually in the danger of becoming a failed state.
A well-known strategic affairs expert and South Asia scholar, Prof T V Paul writes that Pakistan could be the world’s most dangerous powder keg as it remains a weak and insecure state despite enormous efforts being expended on its military security. A corrupt political system and a dysfunctional economy, it heavily depends on international aid which has mostly been diverted for enhancing its military capabilities.
Today, with Pak Taliban forces occupying 30 per cent of this country, there are chances of the 100 or more nuclear weapons of this country falling into their hands. Now, when other countries in this part of the world are showing such impressive growth, why is it that Pak remains a failed state on so many fronts? Going into this problem deeply, the author elaborates on how this country’s geo-strategic location has been a curse for its development like the ‘resource curse’ faced by oil-rich autocratic countries.
Since its birth, Pakistan has been riddled with one or the other problem such as its continuing conflict with India, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the Al Qaida issue, the post 9/11 issue and the US-Russia rivalry. As a result, foreign aid has been pouring in some form or the other from stakeholders in this region at all times, right from Ayub Khan to Nawaz Sharief’s regimes. The author says that with excessive focus on war-making efforts, the limited resources of this country have been drained.
On the political front, no far-reaching domestic reforms for promoting growth, higher standards of living, and strengthening of democratic institutions has ever been launched as successive governments have been lulled by the continuing aid. Further, its efforts to step up security measures has in no way stopped the terrorists from turning this country into an explosive playfield for disaffected people and mercenaries from Islamic countries.
The warrior state of Pakistan is, in part, built on religious foundation, writes the author. “In the words of Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani: Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and Islam can never be taken out of Pakistan. However, Islam should always remain an unifying force. And Pak Army will keep on doing its best towards a truly Islamic Republic of Pakistan as envisioned by Jinnah.”
However, T V Paul adds, “This quest for Islamic legitimacy tends to backfire on Pak’s ruling elite because a powerful strand within Islamism recognizes no earthly sovereignty. And in a country as divided as Pakistan, with early leaders upholding a quasi-secular vision and with deep sectarian and ethnic differences, political Islam has hardly provided national unity. Far from it, to a large degree, Pakistan’s many internal conflicts stem from intense competition over how to define the state in Islamic terms. As such, the problems of Pakistan as a warrior state are interwoven with the politics of religion. Its origins as an Islamic alternative to India’s secular model provides a key reason for its intense national security focus while at the same time, regrettably failing to serve as an adequate basis for a unified and stable state.”
T V Paul has authored and edited 15 books and contributed to scores of professional journals. Five of his books have been published as academic South Asia editions in India. He is a visiting professor at several institutes and universities and is known to use case studies as opposed to paradigms.