The fragile states index, which is the new and much kinder name for the annual “Failed States’ Index”, released by a Washington based research organization called “Fund for Peace,” has placed Pakistan at a whopping number 10. The list ranks states according to 12 general factors, concluding by the end, whether or not a country is on the brink of utter failure; a state, most importantly, failed by its own government, with a weak centre that has little or no control over the territory it governs. Pakistan has consistently been on the failed states index over the last decade; last year it was placed at number 13. This year, it comes in three places lower. In the past, those that criticized the order of rankings and Pakistan’s poor show, popularly stated that the country does not qualify as a failed state because of two main reasons. One, its geostrategic importance to the rest of the world, most notably, to the United States. The argument goes, that the United States will not let us fail because they need us not to fail. We, a nuclear armed nation and a corridor to all of South Asia; nobody in their right mind would allow us to fail. Second reason: Pakistan’s army; a powerful, disciplined institution that runs as it should.

Though these reasons may have held credence in the past, times have changed, and these points give little to go on. Pakistan has become a geostrategic nuisance to the United States, and to the area at large; bad border management and repeated militant infiltrations, not to mention the chance presence of Bin Laden on Pakistani soil, which was a turning point in fragile US- Pakistan relations. The “Big Brother” role of the United States has been utterly compromised, and significant abandonment is not outside the realm of possibility. Though the army remains a powerful force, it can only behave as armies do- defensively. The army cannot save Pakistan from utter collapse. The army cannot feed our people, provide public goods, eliminate corruption or establish state institutions that will be fair. The army is the army, and a military dictatorship is hardly the savior that will keep us from the brink. The state and public must waste no more time defending its own vices and act to save itself economically, politically, and ideologically.