With less than two weeks of Forex reserve left, Pakistan on 10th Feb failed to attain a 1.1B USD bailout package from IMF (International Monetary Fund), as the country is going through the worst economic crisis in modern times. This grabbed the headlines of several prominent news outlets and became the talk of the town all over south Asia. However, the crisis in Pakistan is not just an economic one but a multi-faceted one comprised of governance, economic, identity and cross-border terrorism crises along with a looming civil war. These events are the results of a series of events spanning back to the early days of independence. 

Incompetent Governance and Military Involvement in Legislation

There is a famous phrase used by national and international political experts regarding Pakistan, which is Military over Society. Since its independence in 1947, Pakistan has undergone three military coups and no elected prime minister has ever finished their designated terms. Pak Military officially ruled the country for half of its existence and it is the most powerful institution in Pakistan.

After the first Kashmir war in 1947, the Jinnah administration was governing the country with a constant paranoia over war with India. This made them spend almost 70% of the country’s budget on the military. However, in the crucial year of 1953, the introduction of the Doctrine of Necessity in the constitution pushed Pakistan to its long history of political instability. The doctrine was introduced after the first failed coup attempt (Rawalpindi Conspiracy) in 1951. That year Liaquat Ali Khan, the first PM of Pakistan who opposed this doctrine, was assassinated. This doctrine was later used several times by the army to remove the elected PM and establish dictatorship by the Army generals. 

It was in October 1958 that twin coups happened in Pakistan staged in quick succession by Maj-Gen Iskandar Mirza and General Ayub Khan. The first president of Pakistan, Iskandar Mirza, enacted the nation’s first martial law on October 7 and named Ayub Khan as its chief enforcer (CMLA). The CMLA overthrew the president after just 20 days on October 27, 1958, and installed an autocrat to establish a dictatorship that lasted for over 11 years!!

This Doctrine of Necessity was scrapped in 2009, but after all these years the army had taken necessary and irreversible steps to put in its stronghold in national politics. One example of them is the intelligence services of the military (ISI), which have been charged with a variety of widespread human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, and torture. The military has been charged with rigging elections in favour of particular candidates or parties and with influencing public opinion through media manipulation. The Pakistani army has become more politically active in recent years and has increased its influence on civilian governments. The military has been charged with orchestrating the ouster of elected politicians who had displeased it and with using its clout to compel the implementation of policies that favoured its objectives.

Pakistan Economic Crisis & Corruption 

Since joining the IMF in 1950, Pakistan has been provided bailouts 13 times and given loan extensions 22 times. According to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the country has a total external debt of 116B USD from IMF, Paris Club, Eurobond, Sukuk and China. Above that, the country now faces bankruptcy in 2023 endangering the common citizens. Due to broken legislation, Pakistan saw a massive accumulation of wealth through corruption by only a handful of people who either belongs to the armed forces or alai to them. Tax fraud and money laundering were overlooked by the officials. An example of this is how Pak army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa’s extended and immediate family became billionaires in a span of six years and several army officials have land and businesses all over US and Europe. 

Pakistan army as an institution also has a massive amount of wealth at its disposal, being the biggest real estate and construction company in the nation. These along with poor development policies, lead to poor infrastructure which became a massive roadblock to the development and upliftment of citizens. Talented people started migrating to developed nations. The resource-rich region of east Pakistan due to exploitation revolted and later attained freedom. Mine-rich region of Balochistan saw a rise in militant groups due to economic negligence. This resulted in hurting the source of revenue in Pakistan’s economy. Massive international loans were taken to sustain the people-pleasing subsidy policies. Pakistan also started depending on China for its power and transportation infrastructures. A global pandemic following the global recession and the flood of 2022 crippled the Pak economy. Foreign aid and flood donations were mismanaged and almost vanished without any records.

The Struggle for Identities of Different Ethnic Groups

At the time of independence, Pakistan was comprised of five provinces each having a vibrant culture and people with diverse ethnicity. However, in 1955 in an attempt to centralize power Pakistan passed a law that joined the four provinces Sindh, Punjab, NW frontier and Balochistan to form West Pakistan. These steps stripped the individual identities of people of other provinces except Punjab and affected East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) the most by alienating them from the rest of the nation. Negligence of development and exploitation of natural resources in west Pakistan give rise to several protests in that province. But sadly, those voices were suppressed with military action, mass killing and exploiting minorities by arson and rapes. However, in 1971 with the help of the Indian army East Pakistan was liberated and reinstated as Bangladesh, stopping the brutalities. 

After the separation of Bangladesh, the capital city shifted from Karachi in Sindh Province to Islamabad in West Punjab. The Sindhi language was deliberately discouraged by the administration and government. Protests were squashed by the military forces. Developments were concentrated only in a handful of places. Despite having an abundance of resources, the Pashtun tribes of the Baloch regions were lacking the basic amenities of the twenty-first century. Minorities of other religions like Hinduism, Sikh and Buddhism were abused and oppressed. Blasphemy punishments, mob lynching, forced conversion and marriages were common occurrences, resulting in a rapid decline in their numbers.

Religious Extremism and Cross-border Terrorism

In 1977 Gen Zia-Ul-Haq conducted a coup and declared himself president. At the time the country was struggling with poverty, class distinction, bad governance and inequality. To gaslight these issues Gen Haq used religious extremism. Islamic radicalization established profound roots and foreign policy is dominated by Islamisation in the 80s. After the invasion of Afghanistan by the USSR in 1979, Pakistani ISI struck a deal with the CIA. Under this deal, Pakistan agreed to prepare and train rebel forces to fight with the Soviets for America, giving birth to modern-day proxy warfare. Reports state that more than 5.3 B$ of funding along with guns and ammunition were provided to Pakistan by the USA during this period. Afghan Mujahadeen was the first organization created because of this dirty deal. ISIS, Mujahadeen, Taliban and al-Qaeda are some of the terrorist groups that formed as the byproducts of this proxy operation. However, after the dissolution of the USSR in 1989, these organizations lost their purpose and started to turn against the very entities that helped them establish. These terrorist groups since then orchestrated many attacks all over the world affecting both Muslims and non-Muslims. TTP (Tehrik-E-Taliban Pakistan), and BLA (Balochistan Liberation Army) are some of the organizations that are now fighting against the Pakistan government.

Pakistan Crisis: The Inevitable Crash

With all these factors combined Pakistan faced the inevitable crash, one of the darkest times of its history in recent months. Basic commodities like grain, oil and cooking gas are getting more expensive. People are fighting in the streets and chasing trucks for a bag of grains. Filling cooking gas with balloons while risking their lives. News of the death of police or armed forces by militants has now become a common occurrence. On 30th January of this year, 101 people were killed in a suicide bombing in a mosque in Peshawar by TTP. Balochistan separatists have already declared the region independent and POK officials already started demanding their merger with India.

Surprisingly, amongst all this chaos, the luxury goods such as branded cars, designer handbags and iPhone imports increased substantially in the year 2022. On the opening day of the expensive coffee chain Tim Hortons, Pakistani elites broke the record by forming the longest queue. This shows the petrifying contrast between the nation of Pakistan and shows how Pakistan as a nation failed its citizens.