Background: Pakistan is not as bad as Burma, or is it?

Asif Ali Zardari

With the world still tut-tutting and trying to figure out what the most recent election in Burma portends, there seem renewed worries about Pakistan’s military taking charge again.  Most of this is, rightly, due to the venal incompetence of its President Asif Ali Zardari.  According to Maria Kuusisto of the Eurasia Group,

it seems that just two years after the fall of former president (and general) Pervez Musharraf, the military may once more intervene. Only don’t expect a coup like the one that brought Musharraf to power in 1999. Despite a long history of meddling in Pakistan’s politics, the army is likely to stay behind the scenes this time and force the government to improve governance or face significant reshuffling.

While Pakistan reels from the most recent floods — the misery from which the government was unable to lessen — the country’s political ruling class are passing the parcel of responsibility without any attempts at governance.  Zaradari’s PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) is doing what it does best:  fritter away the political base of its grass roots in the venal machinations of a party machine geared to making the rich leaders richer.  The PML(N) (Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz) likes things the way they are, out in opposition while they snipe at the government.  And — you guessed it — while they feather their nests.  Some of the feathers are, no surprise again, provided by the US taxpayer in the form of payments to allow transportation of NATO supplies to Afghanistan through Pakistan.

If the PPP and the PML(N) look like much of the same, its because they are.  Both parties are led by scions of large, super-rich, land-owning families.  The difference is that one (Zardari) came to his position by marriage (to the daughter of the founder, who himself came from the richest family in Sindh, the Bhutto’s of Larkana) and the other (Sharif) by birth.  Little wonder they are incapable of rising to the challenge that is modern-day Pakistan.

So where do we go from here?  Kuusisto may just be right:

Now, the army’s leadership is becoming worried that it may not have a country for long if it lets the political, economic, and security situation further deteriorate. As a result, expect Kayani to begin putting pressure on the PPP to improve governance, but from behind the scenes. The general, unlike his predecessor, will carefully evaluate the political mood (both domestically and internationally) and follow constitutional processes in challenging the current political set-up.So change is coming to Pakistan, and the military may soon be sitting in the director’s seat. But expect less drama than in its past performances; most of the action will stay behind the scenes for now.

So who’s better off?  Burma or Pakistan?  I’d say it’s a close run thing:  after all, Burma has Ang Sang Suu Kyi

3 thoughts on “Background: Pakistan is not as bad as Burma, or is it?

  1. [sic, start] i cannot understand, i read blogs by miya moin ansari according to him pakistn is a very rich country with over a trillion dollars in capital assets in hard currency, a sophisticated miltary hardware industries, ect

    so how can u equate pakistn with burma, whish is one of the poorest country in the world [sic, end]


    1. @rich05:
      No offense to Mian Moin Ansari (who, from his name, is possibly Pakistani or of Pakistani descent) but I am writing primarily as an investor rather than a booster.

      Pakistan does have a few things to recommend itself to an investor: like cotton, natural gas, pretty good agriculture, etc. However, military hardware and capital assets don’t really leap foremost to mind. The hardware is expensive if not Chinese and copied if “indigenous”. The capital assets are hard to evaluate for poor “schmucks with the bucks” like myself because of the kleptocratic elite who own them.

      To top it all off, there is the failed state next door (created courtesy the US government and the Pakistan Army), not the mention the near-failed state that is Pakistan itself.

      Burma is all that and more, albeit sans nukes. But most importantly for a long-term investor, it has potential. In spades. It could become the swing producer for rice, it has potentially huge gas reserves, and it is right next door to the two biggest potential gorillas of the global economy: India and China


  2. [sic, start] thnks for the reply

    i never though burma in that light, as for us it almost does not exsit as it is such a closed stste, we forget that it is a huge country, with gas reserve, and huge paddies

    but pakistn as we know has great agricultural land, and a good educated class, world class scientist, a open society,

    so i will take pakistn is better off, oh it has its hicups [sic, end]


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