Pakistan's government: always quick to blame the world for its inadequacies
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 12:09AM
Thomas P.M. Barnett in Citation Post, Pakistan, SysAdmin, US Military

WAPO story on how Pakistan (canubelieveit!) complains that the world's aid response to the recent flooding is inadequate. Granted, it's the nation's worst disaster, but it's also a clear sign of the government's near-failed-state status.  The clearest sign of a competent government is its ability to handle a system-perturbing event of this magnitude, and Pakistan is a lot closer to helpless than help-able.

I'm not saying Pakistan isn't correct, because, by recent measures (like Haiti's earthquake), it is being shortchanged, but I suspect a certain amount of that stinginess comes from the sense that Pakistan is an incompetent, ungrateful, hate-filled place as far as the West is concerned.  How much of that is true is obviously up for debate, but the argument cannot be dismissed out of hand--and yeah, those dynamics limit the love that comes back to you in your moment of need.

Of course, the US military steps up (a generosity that will be instantly forgotten) and--as usual--the lack of helos is the long pole in the SysAdmin tent.

I will naturally be accused of blaming the victim here, but when the victim is so willing to blame the responder, that sort of feedback is to be expected.  Nobody deserves this level of pain, but people, I have learned, tend to suffer and die the same way they love and live.  That's not karma; it's human nature.  A let's-all-pull-together place goes down fighting, while a let's-point-fingers place just goes down.  Granted, you can always blame the Brits for Pakistan's fake-state status, and you can always blame us for abusing the place plenty ever since, but Pakistan--in pockets--is a place of highly inventive and ambitious people who are nonetheless trapped in a nation-state cell with a collection of Gap populations that will not be dragged into the future without a huge fight.  America was once that state:  an ambitious and go-getting East simultaneously saddled with a crazy West that needed to be tamed.  We were fairly brutal in the latter process, and succeeded dramatically on that basis.  We were lucky to be relatively isolated from threats--unlike Pakistan, but that nation faces a very similar choice on which it has punted for decades now, preferring to nurture its hatred toward India and the West in general (the source of all its woes [at least those beyond that created by nefarious India], according to the nation's unreal conspiratorial mindset), and yeah, that narrow mindset comes back to haunt the place at moments like this--which is shameful for all sides but a cruel fact.

One can only hope the disaster pushes ordinary Pakistanis to expect better from their own government and not instinctively ask what the world owes it, because, quite frankly, the world is not in a good mood right now with regard to Pakistan, and to me, that's the real tragedy here.

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