It is hard to dispute The Economist’s view that Pakistan is a weak state where the government has little interest in enforcing the law. Leaving aside the blatant defiance of judicial verdicts, for which the authorities themselves are responsible, there would hardly be a sphere of life where law in the real sense would be prevailing. The target killings; and even murders of rivals on the premises of a court of law; the police brutalities; the daylight robberies and thefts; the widespread prevalence of graft; the currency of substandard and spurious goods, not excepting the life-saving drugs; and the unchecked rise in prices manipulated by the manufacturer-shopkeeper combine – the list covers varied fields where law is openly flouted with impunity.

The British paper, apparently referring to the term of the present political setup, said that 30,000 people lost their lives to acts of terrorism during the past four years and 300 were killed in Balochistan and 7,000 in Karachi in 2011 alone. It also points to the death of 11 journalists in Pakistan last year. Besides, the paper quotes from a report of the human rights commission to reinforce its accusation of the prevalence of lawlessness in the country and says that 675 women were killed in the first nine months of 2011.

However, in a sarcastic allusion to the common perception in Pakistan that the physical entry of the US in the region has driven the country to this sorry pass, The Economists maintains that these deaths cannot be blamed on the US. Nothing could be more naïve and, indeed, absurd than this conclusion. The rise of terrorism that at one time threatened to tear apart the very fabric of our society owes itself, directly or indirectly, to the US-led war on terror. No doubt, the menace did exist even before, but it was in a form that hardly posed a serious, existentialist threat to the country. Terrorism assumed dangerous dimensions for us only when the Pashtuns living in our tribal region directed their anger at Pakistan for the unstinted and wholehearted support Musharraf had lent to the Nato military operation directed against the Taliban (largely Pashtuns). Of course, our own leadership’s failings are no less grievous and merits severe condemnation. However, at the same time, Washington would be hard put to dissociate itself from the manoeuvrings that ultimately made for the present political setup to assume the reins of power. One would also take issue with the paper when it puts the entire blame of murders in troubled Balochistan on the security forces. That the dissidents, patronised by foreign agents, are also responsible for killing locals as well as settlers from other parts of the country cannot be denied by any area watcher.

Nevertheless, all said and done, the ruling leadership cannot absolve itself of its own responsibility for the present mess. A keen regard for the national interests would have prevented anyone from pointing a finger at us. All-out efforts must be made to come to grips with the real issues so that the depressing scenario could take a turn for the better.