Since inception Pakistan has had to face various challenges that has threatened its very existence as one unified state. When it was created in 1947 many thought it would collapse soon and get eaten by India, yet Pakistan lived on. Again, during the height of terrorism (2007-2016) the world termed Pakistan as a failed state which will collapse soon, once again Pakistan demonstrated its willingness to deal with any challenge and survive. It is now 2022 and the world presents many new challenges for the young Islamic Republic, challenges which are both external and internally caused by our own mistakes. These challenges mainly revolve around Pakistan’s geographic position and internal politics, whatever happens Pakistan has little room for mistakes and the decisions taken in response to these challenges will shape Pakistan’s future for decades.
Pakistan sits in a very significant geostrategic position, the world’s supply lines cross its ocean beneath it, one of the most global regions of interest lie close etc, however this geographical location is both a blessing and a curse. Pakistan shares a long border with a hostile India to the East, meanwhile a long and chaotic Afghan border also stretches on the west along with a tense Iranian border. In simple terms Pakistan is surrounded by troublesome neighbors which is a challenge for Pakistan to manage. Pakistan must defend its entire eastern region from the Indian giant, all the while monitoring / handling / securing Durand line issue (Afghan border) and keeping the status quo with Iranian regime. All this consumes a big portion of national resources making it necessary to increase defense spending at the cost of reducing funds for economic / social development (That too is a challenge to manage)
“The more things change, the more they stay the same”, global geopolitics have revolved around US global dominance as a sole superpower for the last 2 decades however with Chinas emergence it seems another cold war is in the making and Pakistan is stuck right in the center. The challenge for Pakistan is balancing its relations with both the future Chinse block and US led Western Block, as Pakistan is in no position start openly opposing any side. Pakistan’s exports, aboard workers etc. many economic variables are dependent upon its relations with the west which needs to be balanced with Chinese interests. It will take much diplomatic skill to keep Pakistan on borderline between both blocks rather than falling within one.
What’s worse is Pakistan’s challenges are not limited to US and China but also within the middle east as many Arab nations start recognizing / forming close bonds with Israel. Pakistan will need to rethink its middle eastern strategy and how it might prompt a response from Iran.
Often when discussing Pakistan’s issues global warming is neglected, however it is highly important to acknowledge now that Global warming is probably going to become Pakistan’s biggest challenge to deal with soon. Pakistan is ground zero due to its geographic location, all time high temperature records are being broken in Pakistan causing major fluctuations in climate which ultimately effects all aspects within the state (Agricultural sector, industrial sector, service sector all suffering from uncertainty). Furthermore, rising sea levels endanger a big portion of Pakistani population living on the coast, including Karachi (Pakistan’s financial heartland)
Terrorism and insecurity
After many years of counter insurgency operations and military action Pakistan had largely defeated terrorism within its own territory, retaken full control of the frontier and started to redevelop the region, however the threat is not over due to shifting behavior of terror groups remnants. Various groups had started to switch tactics and focused solely upon hit and run rather than occupation making it difficult to counter. As attacks continue the development of former FATA and certain Baloch areas slows down. Additionally, Pakistan is losing a large amount of potential foreign direct investment due to terrorism threat. As things stand Pakistan is close to securing a TTP surrender however various foreign funded terror groups in Balochistan will remain even if peace talks succeed, Pakistan will have to inherit this challenge from the past and reapproach the situation using either tactical means or diplomatic.
Instability in Government’s Policies:
When it comes it internal challenges, government instability is at the top of the list as it is connected to various other smaller challenges and overall effects Pakistan’s future. Pakistan lacks stability, stability in policy and stability in consistency of policies. It is due to frequently changing policies Pakistan’s economy is unable to advance. Foreign and local investors are too cautious to invest due to inconstancy of policies. Further issues also arise due to frequently changing policies such as extremely high tax evasion which over all negatively effects the economy. If Pakistan is to survive in coming decades, it needs to get its act together in making government sector policies more stable.
Water and electricity shortage
Water and electricity are both a very valuable resource, both for maintaining a good quality of life and national agriculture/industries, unfortunately for Pakistan it is short on both. Shortage of water can be attributed to many things such as Indian dams upstream, rising global warming, rising population etc., whatever the case is water is a critical resource for Pakistan due to its agricultural needs which is already struggling to feed the nation. Meanwhile electrical energy short falls are being experienced due to high reliance upon imported fossil fuels, shortage in energy ultimately means less energy for industries to run upon. If both industry and agricultural sector fail to perform, then Pakistan can expect quick economic collapse. This challenge needs to be handled with extreme care and long-term planning.
Lack of Education and skilled workers
Another highly ignored challenge Pakistan absolutely needs to start resolving as soon as possible is lack of education that produces skilled workers for the state. It is a national disgrace that Pakistani population stands amongst the most uneducated in the world and governments continue to ignore the issue as it requires extreme long-term planning. If things are left as, it is then Pakistan will end up with a very large unqualified young labor force dragging down all aspirations of national and economic development. Without investing in people Pakistan will never truly escape its other challenges which require economic might to counter.
With all that said it is important to remember how this article started, Pakistan has always dealt with challenges since inception and will likely continue to do so. It will not be an easy road however keeping national pride and belief in Allah in mind we must all progress together towards a stronger and better Pakistan.