Country Profile: Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Historical Background: While Pakistan has been a nation for thousands of years, it did not become a sovereign state until the end of British colonial rule in the Indian subcontinent that resulted in the separation of India and Pakistan along religious lines, the mostly Hindu Indians, and the mostly Muslim Pakistanis. The border region between India and Pakistan, known as the Kashmir region, has been consistently contested and is one of the most heavily guarded borders in the world.
Political System: Pakistan is regarded as a federal parliamentary republic. The legislative and parliamentary body of Pakistan is known as the Majlis-i-Shoora. It is divided into two entities, one upper house (the senate) and a lower house (the national assembly). In addition, on the eastern border is an area known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which is a semi autonomous region that has governmental protection and oversight. The laws in Pakistan have an islamic influence, though is would be incorrect to say that Pakistan is ruled under Islamic Law.
Economic System and Standing: Despite Pakistan’s size in area and population, decades of internal struggle and political instability has resulted in underdevelopment. The volatile political and social climate tends to decentivize foreign investment from around the world. Foreign investment into the country over the past several decades has been reduced to almost nothing. While the country continues to industrialize, much of the economy is still agriculturally based. 42 percent of the working force in the country works in agriculture, another 22 percent in industrial fields, and 35 percent in service jobs. The per capita GDP in Pakistan in 2017 was $5,400. This makes Pakistan 172nd out of 229 nations where data is available. Additionally, the Gini Index, which measures the wealth inequality between citizens of a particular country, in Pakistan as of 2013 was 30.7.
Military Strength: The Pakistan Armed Forces is the sixth largest military in the world. With over 650,000 active military personnel, the Pakistani Army is formidable and large. Pakistani armed forces have no permanent military bases outside of their borders. Although, Pakistan does operate a military advisory role in Saudi Arabia. Pakistan is one of seven world powers to have developed and successfully tested nuclear weapons.
Geographic Location and Features: Pakistan is strategically located in one of the most important and historically violent regions in the world. It borders world powers, and failed states. The region, considered south Asia, Pakistan is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, China in the north, India in the east, and the Arabian sea towards the south.
Political Culture: Politics in Pakistan is can be classified as highly corrupt, fractured, and undemocratic in nature. Power politics and intimidation are prevalent at all levels of government, from local municipalities, to the parliament and even Prime Minister. For years, lack of national leadership has disillusioned many and resulted in an ever increasing internal struggle for influence across the nation.
Internal Strengths: Pakistan has a tremendous oil and natural gas reserves. 542.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas, 32nd most in the world, and 350 million barrels of crude oil reserves, 56th in the world. With its large military and extensive intelligence apparatus, Pakistan has tremendous hard power strength. Literacy rates have been consistently increasing over the years, as well as access to amenities like internet access and clean food or water.
Internal Weaknesses: Widespread corruption, lack of leadership, and internal conflict has made Pakistan one of the most vulnerable countries in the world in combating international terrorism. Terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and the Taliban find safe haven to plan their operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and much of the government and intelligence resources are ambivalent to their presence. Foreign intervention to try and curb terrorist activities has further destabilize the country. The United States and their allies have conducted hundreds of drone strikes over the past two decades, with some success, but also a lot of collateral damage in terms of civilians killed. Since President Bush, around 350 civilians have been inadvertently killed by coalition drone strikes. Additionally, continued fighting between citizens, military apparatus, and terrorist organizations like the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan have left more than 3 million people internally since fighting began. Since 2002, more than 50,000 Pakistanis have been killed as a result of terrorism. The economic toll of this constant fighting is believed to be more than 120 billion dollars.
Internal Objectives and Capabilities: Pakistan continues to be a central hub and staging area in south Asia for much of the illicit activities that occur in the region. The close proximity to states like Afghanistan and Iran have resulted in huge drug smuggling and human trafficking operations being conducted in Pakistan. Federal authorities have taken steps to crack down on any and all of these types of operations in the country. It is estimated that nearly 5 million Pakistanis are addicted to drugs like heroin. To help, Pakistan has entered several international committees and agreements such as the Convention against Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances 1988, or the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC)
Key Institutional Memberships: While internal struggles plague much of the nation, Pakistan still have important memberships in international agreements, intergovernmental organizations, and transnational institutions. Pakistan means to promote its economic interests domestically and abroad. The organizations they are a part of helps them with economic development and aid.
- World Federation of Trade Unions,
- International Fund for Agricultural Development
- United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
- International Trade Union Confederation
- United Nations Convention against Corruption
- United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime
- Convention against Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances
Policy Promotion: Many of the policies in Pakistan focus on health and well being for the country’s most impoverished citizens. This is done with the help of the international community.
- Nutrition for National Development Pakistan’s Integrated Nutrition Strategy (2017)
- Pakistan Infant and Young Child Feeding Strategy, 2016- 2020
Also anti terrorist policies, like the 2015 National Action Plan which is a comprehensive crackdown on terrorist activities across the country, as well as an increased effort to stop terrorist influence on civilian society. Part of this plan included revival of Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Authority.
Policy Detraction: Any efforts made by the federal Pakistani government to pursue and fulfill policy objectives, are usually overshadowed by the deep rooted internal conflicts, and large scale corruption within the highest levels of government. According to Transparency International, an organization that measures political corruption around the world, Pakistan is tied for 116 out of 172 countries that are measured.
Allies: The United States, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Russia all have a vested interest, either economically, regionally, or militarily, in the continued security of Pakistan.
Adversaries: India, Israel, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
Foreign Policy Objectives: Some foreign policy objectives of Pakistan include: A continued effort of searching for an producing new sources of energy, both at home and abroad with regional allies like Iran. A continued diplomatic relationship with the Chinese government is also imperative to Pakistan’s continued economic, and regional security. The Pakistani government also recognizes the need for continued US backing, both militarily and financially, as the US has a vested interest in the prosperity and security of the state. Finally, the Pakistani government continues to provide resources and assistance in the region to curb the ever continuing terrorism issue that has prolonged foreign policy issues for decades.
Capabilities: Regionally, Pakistan is in one of the most politically, culturally, and economically significant states in the world. It has very powerful allies and very powerful enemies. Strategically factors like their strong military, and being one of two nuclear powers in the region makes Pakistan, despite the internal strife and conflict, one of the most significant geo politically significant states in south Asia and the surrounding middle east/Arab regions.
Obstacles: In Pakistan, a historic culture of power politics, apathetic leadership, and internal corruption has made any efforts to maintain a secure and prosperous state exponentially more difficult. Any internal struggles are matched, and perhaps a result of, many of the foreign policy issues that threaten Pakistan’s transnational security.