A joint survey by Foreign Policy magazine and The Fund for Peace on ‘Failed States’ was unveiled recently. The “Failed States Index” puts Pakistan at number nine, or in other words, Pakistan is seen as the ninth most likely country to fail.
The survey, which is based on “data from more than 11,000 publicly available sources collected from July to December 2005” and tracks 12 socio-economic and political factors, puts Pakistan one rank above Afghanistan. That is reason enough to doubt the results of the survey.
2005 was a traumatic year for Pakistan with insurgency gaining ground in the west, a massive earthquake that destroyed parts of north-west, continued sectarian violence in Karachi, and the continued rule of the West’s favorite military ruler—General Pervez Musharraf. All these factors were enough to cause Pakistan to lose ground from its relatively safe 34th position last year to the shaky 9th this year. The report itself counts the earthquake as the chief reason for the decline.
It seems that India’s neighborhood is getting very unstable. Burma, Bangladesh, and Nepal are consecutively placed at 18, 19, and 20 respectively. If the data from the current year were to be included, I believe Nepal would likely make it to the top 10. Sri Lanka, of course, is simmering again and is likely to lose ground from its current ranking of 25.
The surrounding instability in the neighborhood may affect India critically if one or more countries see a prolonged conflagration. Let me refine the hypothesis a bit. There is encouraging evidence that a country can withstand chaos in the neighborhood. Take for example South Africa, which borders Zimbabwe and has seen a massive flow of immigrants from the country. But India’s case is a bit different. For instance, Nepal’s resurgent Maoist movement may find support in the beleaguered northeast areas of India and the impoverished villages around Himalayan region. And this may cause unrest in India. Prolonged problems in Bangladesh may set off an even wider wave of immigrants looking for security and economic opportunity in India. There is already widespread anger against Bangladeshi immigrants in parts of North-east and any increase in immigration is likely to set off violent demonstrations.
While the prognosis for long-term stability in South Asia seems bad, things aren’t particularly hot for East Asia either. Among the other countries that saw a precipitous rise in the rankings over the past year include China, which on the basis of its “87,000” peasant strikes lost 10 points to clock in at 57th.