Pakistan: A Failed State?

Pakistani protests over failed electricity distribution management. Photo: groundreporter/flickr

The term failed state is often used to describe a state perceived as having failed to meet some of the basic conditions and responsibilities of sovereign government. In international law, a failed state is one that, “though retaining legal capacity, has for all practical purposes lost the ability to exercise it.” According to the Fund for Peace that just released its seventh annual Failed State Index (FSI), a failed state is characterized by:

  1. loss of physical control of its territory or loss of the monopoly on the legitimate use of force;
  2. the erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions;
  3. an inability to provide reasonable public services; and
  4. an inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community.

The FSI is made up of 12 social, economic and political indicators − each split into an average of 14 sub-indicators. The Fund for Peace bases its assessment primarily on content analysis of thousands of electronically available articles and reports that are processed by special software.

According to the latest index scores, Pakistan ranks 12th out of 177 countries examined.


ISN Weekly Theme: Drones in Modern Warfare

US soldiers in Iraq flying a drone
US soldiers in Iraq flying a drone, photo: US Army Korea/ flickr

This week the ISN weighs in on the debate about drones, exploring both the risks and benefits associated with their use in modern warfare. The main challenge is to match the reality of the battlefield with theoretical, strategic and operational clarity and to catch up, both analytically and legally, with technological advances.

In our Special Report this week:

  • An Analysis by Micah Zenko looks at the pros and cons of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), including lower morale among drone pilots, eroding pilot skills, as well as network safety issues and argues that caution and a broader strategic context are prerequisites for the successful deployment of these tools.
  • In this week’s Podcast Peter W Singer of the Brookings Institution discusses the importance of matching our analytical, theoretical and legal understanding of 21st century warfare with the science fiction-like capabilities of modern robotic technology.
  • In our News section, Security Watch articles on technological innovations and ethical questions in military robotics, the issue of robot autonomy on the battlefield, and much more.
  • In Publications papers from our Digital Library, including an Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) paper examining US and Pakistani strategy in light of drone attacks in Pakistan.
  • Primary Resources includes a United States Air Force report on the future of unmanned aircraft systems.
  • Links to relevant websites, among them a detailed Defense Science & Technology Agency article on developmental trends in drone technology.
  • The IR Directory lists relevant organizations, including the Space Daily, a news network covering science and technology issues in the field.
Uncategorized Audio/Video

Bruce Riedel on the US Af-Pak Strategy

CIPS PodcastsBruce Riedel chaired the task force who reviewed the US strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan last winter.

The Centre for International Policy Studies (CIPS), an ISN partner, has published a podcast of his talk at the Ottawa Roundtable on Security and Intelligence.

After a long career at the CIA and advising three US presidents to the US presidency, Riedel is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

In his talk, he presents the key conclusions of the Af-Pak strategic review released in March 2009. By the way, here is the US white paper summarizing the recommendations which came out of the review.

Riedel also outlines developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the last six months and looks at the direction US policy is likely to, or should, take.

Further ISN resources on the topic:

The Power of Photography: Refugees and The Global Rubbish Problem

Sceernshot of Boston Globe and Guardian slideshows
Sceenshot of Boston Globe / Guardian slideshows: Displaced children chasing a truck spraying insecticide through a UNHCR refugee camp in Pakistan / A child swimming in the polluted waters in Cilincing, Indonesia.

Two very different issues, two powerful slideshows.

Slideshows like this tend to remind you of the power of photography- the way a photograph can say so much, awaken so many senses, give rise to so many ideas, sadness, anger, joy, curiosity, and eventually action.

We wanted to share both with you:

  • The Guardian recently ran a slideshow titled ‘World’s poor overwhelmed by rubbish‘. From mountains of rubbish in Naples and New Orleans to desolate scenes of rivers of rubbish in the Philippines and Indonesia.
  • The Boston Globe’s Alan Taylor put together a slideshow titled ‘Children in Pakistan‘ depicting the plight of those caught in the middle of the Taliban-Pakistan battles in the Swat valley and in refugee camps.