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Pakistan’s Long and Ordinary Crisis

Atul Mishra is doctoral candidate in international politics at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.
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  • February 09, 2012

    Longevity and ordinariness mark Pakistan’s on-going crisis. Fluttering apart, nothing dramatic or decisive has happened in the recent past. This is because the institutions – the army, the judiciary and the political-executive – that could decisively impact the crisis have gone errant. They are not performing the functions they are mandated to perform. They aren’t letting other institutions perform the functions the other institutions must perform. And though these institutions are being mutually meddlesome, they show no inclination to perform the functions of the meddled institutions. This functional derangement of key state institutions has produced Pakistan’s stalemated, and thus ordinary, crisis. Tendencies of the crisis are traceable to the October 1999 coup and its aftermath. Regime actions against the political-executive and the judiciary distorted Pakistan’s already wobbly institutional architecture. Apart from stoking general scepticism against the effectiveness of army rule, regime actions created incentives in whose pursuit the three institutions have become errant. The conditions that structure this crisis also diminish the effectiveness of policy anticipation. Whatever currently exists in Pakistan does not resemble democracy in any meaningful sense. In Pakistan, India faces an assembly of vigorously malfunctioning institutions, which should not be mistaken for a set of weak institutions servicing a fledgling democracy. Nor should Pakistan be considered a failed state. A decisive army coup could clear the space for Pakistan’s domestic politics and for sustainable bilateral relations. But given the army’s disinclination for a political role, India must adopt a studied indifference as its Pakistan policy for a while.

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