Monday, May 16, 2011

Pakistan: Gini Index

Lieven keeps promoting the idea that income inequality in Pakistan is less than in India, and that too because of its social structure where kinship is very important, and kinship responsibilities serve to redistribute income.

The problem is that it doesn't seem to be borne out by published material.  I have not been able to find the original reports mentioned here, but for example:

According to a US State Department report, released in 2006, the Gini Coefficient for Pakistan is 68.0. According to the same report, the 'Gini Index' for Japan is 14.9, for Sweden is 21.0, for Switzerland is 21.1, for Germany is 22.3, for the United Kingdom is 23.0, for Canada is 23.1, for France is 32.7, for Iran is 41.0, for the United States is 46.6, for Argentina is 52.2, for Mexico is 54.6, for South Africa is 57.8 and for Namibia is 70.7. According to another United Nations report, from 1987 to 1999, the Gini Coefficient for Pakistan was in the range of 0.33 to 0.43, but it increased to 0.68 in 2006, yet the previous government kept on harping the tune of a 'wonderful' economic turnaround.

BBC: Lieven, Fukuyama, Hamid, Anam

20 MB Podcast:

Pakistan special - Anatol Lieven, Francis Fukuyama, Mohsin Hamid, Tahmima Anam 16 May 11

Mon, 16 May 11
43 mins
Andrew Marr talks to Anatol Lieven who argues that Pakistan, despite often being referred to as a 'failed state', has the makings of a viable and coherent country. Francis Fukuyama analyses the development of political institutions from early tribal societies to the growth of the modern state. The author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid, explores what it means to be middle class in Pakistan, and Tahmima Anam looks back to Bangladesh's fight for independence, and the relationship between religion and politics in her home country.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lieven: Terrorism against India is OK

Lieven in "The National Interest":
As I have written, I—like many other observers and, indeed, officials—was prepared to extend a measure of tolerance to the Pakistani military for its shelter to the leadership of the Afghan Taliban and past support for terrorist attacks on India (if only because this so clearly reflected the democratic will of the great majority of Pakistanis), as long—but only as long—as they genuinely and effectively cooperated in preventing terrorist attacks on the West; since after all that is what our soldiers in Afghanistan are supposed to be there to prevent.

Lieven: The nature of law in Pakistan

Lieven writes that in western societies, the purpose of the law since Roman times has been based on the principle that crimes should be punished, and the purpose of the legal system is, in principle, to eliminate crime.  However, in Pakistan and in "many other heavily armed kinship-based societies" the purpose of the law is the defence of collective honor and prestige, the maintenance of order and peace.  Therefore, the laws resemble traditional international law in that they are based in equal parts on diplomacy and rules, they "aim at compromise not punishment', and the threat of violence always looms in the background.  This arises because the idea of honour (izzat and ghairat) are fundamental to Pakistani society.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Lieven: Pakistan and Taliban

In his narration of events in Afghanistan, Lieven mentions the Taliban and the Northern Alliance; he fails to mention Pakistan's support of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. 
Wiki: From 1992 to 1996 the warring factions destroyed most of Kabul and killed thousands of people, most of them civilians during the Afghan civil war. All the different parties participated in the destruction, but Hekmatyar's group was responsible for most of the damage, because of his practice of deliberately targeting civilian areas.[29] Hekmatyar is thought to have bombarded Kabul in retaliation for what he considered its inhabitants' collaboration with the Soviets, and out of religious conviction. He once told a New York Times journalist that Afghanistan "already had one and a half million martyrs. We are ready to offer as many to establish a true Islamic Republic."[30] His attacks also had a political objective: to undermine the Rabbani government by proving that Rabbani and Massoud were unable to protect the population.
The above was during the period that Pakistan backed Hekmatyar [especially see document 29 ** (PDF)].

Incidentally, it is worth pointing out that even entirely secular members of the Pakistani establishment do not see the Afghan Taleban as morally worse than the Taleban's old enemies in the Afghan Northern Alliance leaders, with whom the West has in effect been allied since 2001.  Their atrocities and rapes in the 1990s helped cement Pathan support for the Taleban.
(Summary of document 29:
This summary details recent events in Afghanistan and the role of Pakistan in supporting the Taliban movement. It describes how Pakistan preferred to groom incompetent commanders such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar for leadership positions in Afghanistan who would then be reliant upon Pakistan. The failure of supporting Hekmatyar, which "effectively saw the lebanonization of Afghanistan," caused the Pakistanis to introduce the Taliban. The account notes that "Pakistan has lost every war it has ever fought." The cable also notes that "it must be a deeply troubling period for General (Musharraf) in Pakistan, who is asked to help hunt down the culprits that he helped to establish," and ends with a summary of the al-Qaeda agenda, the Pakistani agenda, and the death of Ahmad Shah Masoud in the context of the downing of the twin towers.

Lieven: Treatment of rivals

Lieven makes the following quotes about the Darwinian competition in Pakistani society.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lieven: Chapter 1: Understanding Pakistan

Lieven sets great store by Pakistan's kinship networks.  He tells us that whether run by civilians or by the military, the state is weak, and society is strong.  The military, he postulates, derives its strength from being like an extended clan.  He attributes the Pakistan's 2002 Gini Index of 30.6 (a relatively low value signifying greater income equality) to the obligations placed on the elite by kinship. (He doesn't tell us that the Gini Index was 41 in 1997-98, which strains his hypothesis.) 

Lieven says that "this is a cultural system so strong that it can persuade a father to kill a much-loved daughter, not for having an affair or becoming pregnant, but for marrying outside her kinship group without permission".  He also attributes to it the widespread practice of first cousin marriage, quoting a statistic that even among Pakistanis in Oxford, England, 59% of marriages are with first cousins; cousin marriage being one of the most important expressions of honoring obligations to one's kin.

(Lieven attributes the same kinship system to India; but he fails to note that among most Hindus, first cousin marriage is not allowed.)

The upshot is that Pakistan is very conservative - stuck in the mud  - and unlikely to have a revolution of any kind, Islamic or other.  This preoccupation with a violent revolt that overthows the Pakistani state and replaces with an Islamic fundamentalist order is, in my opinion, misplaced.  Lieven, like most Occidentals, thinks of the Pakistani Army as modernist.  From the Indian point of view, however, the Pakistani Army is fundamentalist to the core, with a modernist veneer necessarily in place in order to keep Western aid flowing in.   Pakistan's nukes are already in the hands of Islamists.  As Retd US Col. P.W. Lang writes 
Pakistan's military keeps it's existing and future nuclear capability out of the larger world game.  As has been discussed at SST many times, Pakistan either has or will soon have the real world CAPABILITY of ranging Israel's target set.  They have around 100 fully engineered and manufactired deliverable nuclear weapons.  They have aircraft and missiles (Shahiin 2 improved) that would do the job.  The missile launchers are fully mobile.  The US has zero control over this nuclear strike force.   Logically, the willingness of the Pakistan military to keep this "piece" off the chess board is a major boon to the US.  We do not want to see that willingness change to something else.
This Pakistani stance is not because the army is not Islamist; it is because it pays, and pays well.

Regarding Pakistan as a failed state, Lieven notes the first obituary was written in 1983, by Tariq Ali, Can Pakistan Survive? The Death of a State.  He says that Naxalites in India control a larger fraction of the territory than the Taliban ever did in Pakistan. He notes that Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Burma have had long insurgencies that have proportionally lasted longer, covered more territory and caused more casualties than the Taliban in Pakistan. Therefore "when compared to Canada or France, Pakistan inevitably fails.   When compared to India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, things not look so terrible."  If Pakistan was a state in India, it would rank somewhere in the middle in development, or "if India was only the 'cow-belt' of Hindi-speaking north India, it probably wouldn't be a democracy or a growing economic power either, but some form of impoverished Hindu-nationalist dictatorship, riven by local conflicts."

Lieven's analysis is deceptive, but I think demolishing it is not worth the time (exercise left to my few readers?).   Oh, and he translates "Bhai-sahib" (as one might use to address a bus conductor) as "Brother-Lord".  ("Brother-sir" would be better, no?)

I haven't finished the first chapter yet, so maybe more later.

Anatol Lieven's "Pakistan: A Hard Country" - Acknowledgements

These are my notes from reading Anatol Lieven's book, "Pakistan - A Hard Country".

The people Lieven thanks in the Acknowledgements includes some familiar names.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Our theory trumps your practice

In a comment on Cafe Pyala, Ali wrote:'s something to ponder. Pre-47 assumptions about Hindu dominance were not the reason behind the philosophical conception of Pakistan. Pakistan was an evolution of the United India movement, which was simply a more universal form of the Islamic awakening described by Iqbal.

Why we're nowhere close to that vision of a near utopian paradise is our own fault. That India is nowhere close to that utopian vision, is why we parted ways in the first place.

We'll get it back though...after a bit of a struggle of course.
The highlighted sentences are exactly the attitude that is driving Pakistan down the drain.