08 September 2010

Will Pakistan Become The World's First Failed Nuclear State?

A commentary published in The Washington Times paints a bleak picture of Pakistan's future in the wake of recent devastating floods.

Pakistan is reeling under the most devastating national catastrophe since independence 63 years ago. The month-long monsoon deluge flooded a densely populated area the size of Florida that suddenly became a gigantic lake, destroying one-fifth of the country's irrigation infrastructure, livestock and crops.

A month of floods left countless millions without home, food, water - and livelihood. Civil administration collapsed under the scale of the disaster.

The army, Pakistan's only solid, disciplined institution, had to move troops battling insurgents and terrorist groups in their Federally Administered Tribal Areas on the Afghan border to flood relief missions. Helicopters flew over one tiny patch of dry land, a few feet higher than the brown sea around it, to the next, dropping one parcel of canned and cooked food per cluster of huddled survivors. They are without stoves or cooking fuel and need clean water and dry milk; temporary shelter; basic medicines to save them from stomach diseases, fever and flu.

A month after disaster struck, many areas in the south remained flooded as monsoon waters cascaded down from the north to empty in the Arabian Sea. A country of 180 million lay discombobulated, 40 percent of them now below Pakistan's poverty line, one of the world's lowest; inflation hit 10 percent and is predicted to reach 15 to 20 percent. Economic growth, estimated to reach 4.5 percent before the disaster, now will probably flatline at zero.

On the brink of total economic collapse, rumors abounded of millions of desperate peasants with nothing more to lose now being organized by extremists to move against the cities. The army's 11 corps commanders debated the advisability of a fifth coup since independence to restore law and order. And the specter of the world's first failed nuclear state, coupled with the nightmare scenario of younger Islamist officers pushing the three stars aside and taking over in the name of Islam, was no longer idle cocktail chatter.

Massive job losses are expected to affect the entire country. Misery breeds violence; the only beneficiaries are extremist groups that back the Taliban insurgency, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

By: Shelldrake

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