The continued persistence of poverty, instability and maladministration fostered by the Pakistan Army, coupled with the presence of nuclear weapons and the large presence of religious zealots, is not only a disaster for Pakistan itself but also poses a grave danger for the entire world.
The powerful Pakistan Army, which has on occasions, overthrown democratically elected civilian governments, has always wielded considerable power in the matters of the country's internal affairs and its foreign policy.
According to The Economist, an English-language weekly magazine-format newspaper, Pakistan Army has not only defended the state ideology but it has defined it in two destructive ways since the country got created in 1947.
"The country exists to safeguard Islam, not a tolerant, prosperous citizenry. And the army, believing the country to be surrounded by enemies, promotes a doctrine of persecution and paranoia," the article stated.
Underlining the alarming effects, the piece elaborated, "Religiosity has bred extremism that at times has looked like tearing Pakistan apart. The state-backed those who took up arms in the name of Islam. Although they initially waged war on Pakistan's perceived enemies, before long they began to wreak havoc at home. Some 60,000 Pakistanis have died at the hands of militants, most of whom come under the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)."
Although the Army took action against the Pakistan Taliban following the Peshawar school massacre in 2014, "yet even today it shelters violent groups it finds useful." This is evident where Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, is roaming unharmed in the country.
Also, some leaders from the Afghan Taliban resides in Quetta, the capital of strife-torn Balochistan province.
"Melding religion and state has other costs, including the harsh suppression of local identities. Religious minorities, such as the Ahmadis, are cruelly persecuted. As for the paranoia, the army is no more the state's glorious guardian than India is the implacable foe. Of the four wars between the two countries, all of which Pakistan lost, India launched only one, in 1971-to put an end to the genocide Pakistan was unleashing in what became Bangladesh. Even if politicking before a coming general election obscures it, development interests India more than picking fights," The Economist article said.
"The paranoid doctrine helps the armed forces commandeer resources. More money goes to them than on development. Worse, it has bred a habit of geopolitical blackmail: help us financially or we might add to your perils in a very dangerous part of the world. This is at the root of Pakistan's addiction to aid, despite its prickly nationalism," it added.
For instance, China is constructing roads, railways, power plants and ports by investing over USD 60 billion under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
"The fantasy that, without other transformations, prosperity can be brought in from outside is underscored by CPEC's transport links. Without an opening to India, they will never fulfil their potential," said the piece.
Such is the situation that over 20 million children cannot go to school due to financial difficulties and less than 30 per cent of women are employed in Pakistan. Moreover, in the last 20 years, exports have grown at a fifth of the rate than India and Bangladesh.
The current Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has admitted the half of the problems the country is facing. Right now, his government is engaging with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a comprehensive bailout to thwart the balance-of-payments crisis.
The piece articulates that the Imran Khan-led government can improve the gloomy picture of Pakistan by taking strong actions against tax evasion, promoting independence to the monetary authority and unify the official and black-market exchange rates. It should also take steps to integrate the country's economy with the world in an aim to spur growth and development, The Economist reported.
However, there are challenges stating that "transformation depends on Pakistan doing away with the state's twin props of religion and paranoia and with them the army's power."
"Khan is not obviously the catalyst for radical change. But he must recognise the problem. He has made a start by standing up to demagogues baying for the death of Asiya Bibi, a Christian labourer falsely accused of blasphemy," the article said. (ANI)