A recent analytical report suggests that Financial Action Task Force’s grey-listing over the last few years may have caused real GDP losses to Pakistan of USD 38 billion.


What ails Pakistan? Kashmir, its eternal tinnitus. It has opted voluntarily for tunnel vision, unable to look beyond Kashmir that has become its destructive obsession. Kashmir does not empty Pakistan of its sorrows, but empties it of its strengths.

George Bernard Shaw famously said that people become attached to their burdens more than the burdens are attached to them. Growing extremism and a narrow vision of Pakistan’s national identity, threaten social cohesion and stability. The country faces a mounting debt crisis and a perennial trade imbalance. Pakistan looks like a war-ravaged skeleton of a state that is not even trying to put itself back together.

In a media interview in September 2020, Prime Minister Niazi said that “the military stands with us” and that “we have an excellent relationship”

Wait a minute! Is the Pakistan military not supposed to report to the Government or is it the other way around?

Pakistan’s challenges are daunting: poverty, illiteracy, energy crisis, corruption and political instability, Chinese interference, terrorism, overpopulation, inflation, unemployment, economic crisis (Pakistan’s GDP is where India’s was in 1975).

Imran Khan Niazi is a tragic hero with one fatal flaw: imbecility combined with delusions of grandeur.

In Alice in Wonderland, the Caterpillar asks Alice, “Who are you?” Alice responds: “Who in the world am I? Ah that’s the great puzzle.”

This always reminds me of Pakistan’s quest for identity, for self-definition—from Indian to Arab to Central Asian and now Turkish.

Niazi does not seem to have a friend.

In August 2020, Javed Miandad lashed out at him: “You act like God now. It is almost like you’re the only intelligent person in this country as if no one has gone to Oxford or Cambridge…Think about the people.”

Niazi implicitly acknowledged Pakistan’s loneliness by lamenting in a media interview last year that Pakistan’s economic future was now linked to China that had stood by Pakistan in every good and bad time…China also needs Pakistan very much.

Why does China need Pakistan, Shri Niazi? To fight India to the last Pakistani, in case your narcotics-addled mind does not realize this.

In January 2021, Niazi said that “if we can learn from any one country in the world, it is China. Their development model suits Pakistan the best.”


Has Niazi’s god-substitute Xi PingPong not told him that infrastructure development alone does not bring social cohesiveness?

Sadly, Pakistan is the only country that thinks it can learn from China. Just a month earlier, at the Singapore Fintech, Bill Gates had suggested that the world should learn from India. And when iron-brother China scampered away from Ladakh in February 2021, the Pakistan army chief and his sidekicks like Niazi quickly offered peace with India, subject to Kashmir being given to them. Dancing with his rogue military, Niazi should have known that one cannot dismount after riding a dangerous monster.

With some liberty with pronunciation, do you remember that limerick about the Lady from Niger, who went for a ride on a tiger? They returned from the ride with the lady inside and a smile on the face of the tiger!

He fell for the dangerous delusion that, in a bad position, he could always conjure up some issue to extricate him from his difficulties. The Islamic BBC and parallel OIC were two such outlandish ideas that left a permanent boot imprint on his rear.

A recent Gallup poll suggested that spiralling inflation and unemployment were the biggest problems haunting the people of Pakistan and not Kashmir.

Whom the gods would destroy they first deprive of reason. To control the spiralling prices of food grains, sugar and cotton, Islamabad decided to partially rescind its ban on trade with India, and then quickly rescinded its rescindment until it got Kashmir.


He was done in by forces sinister

When he tried to be Prime Minister

Sadly, there were no gains

He was beaten for his pains

No one signed the condolence register.

His expiry date came, and he did the world a great favour, he went away.

When I visit a library and ask for a book on Pakistan’s economy, I am told to look in the fiction section. Perhaps, in a few years, when my kids want to read about a country called Pakistan, he would have to go to the history section. Today, that benighted nation has become synonymous with jihadi terrorism. It is a failed state.

A recent analytical report suggests that Financial Action Task Force’s grey-listing over the last few years may have caused real GDP losses to Pakistan of USD 38 billion. Some may recall that within two months of its birth by Caesarian section (it came out deformed, according to its father), Pakistan began to play around with non-state actors known as the tribal lashkars and soldiers in civvies trying to seize Kashmir in October 1947. It tried the same trick in 1965 (before a regular war) and again in 1999. Both times it backfired. The time it used its regular army in 1971, it lost more than half of its territory.

Terrorism, a supposedly low-cost option for troubling India, has imposed a high cost on Pakistan. No one in his right mind would invest in an international outcaste.

Someone probably told Niazi about the 17th century English poet John Milton’s line in his poem “On his blindness” (Milton was blind when he wrote it) that “they also serve who only stand and wait”. So, in August 2019, he asked Pakistanis to stand for half an hour after Friday prayers (like recalcitrant pupils) so that a miracle might happen in Kashmir. The poor man does not realize that the world’s interest in Kashmir has seriously waned, as it has in Palestine.

In 2019, Shri Niazi lamented that the world had not done anything (on Kashmir) because India has a huge market. Does he remember the catch phrase during Bill Clinton’s campaign in the 1990s—“it is the economy stupid?”

Till just over a decade ago, Pakistan’s per capita GNI was higher than India’s. Today, India’s economy is ten times Pakistan’s, and its per capita GNI is twice as much. The IMF has bailed out Pakistan 13 times, the largest being in 2019.

India is racing towards development and progress, Pakistan is retrogressing towards a primitive religion-based tribalism. One of Shri Niazi’s predecessors famously said that his countrymen would eat grass but would get the bomb. He got the sequence wrong. Pakistan does have a stolen bomb, and now it eats grass. Pakistan has wasted billions of dollars in feeding its Kashmir obsession, with each passing day Kashmir moves further away. Now it wants the UNSC and the International Court of Justice to consider the Kashmir issue. Both have scoffed at the idea.

Barbara Tuchman’s March of Folly continues.

Can impoverished Pakistan imagine the number of schools and hospitals and houses that it could have built with the money squandered on its Kashmir obsession? As the Americans would say, Pakistan is up s**t creek without a paddle.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says Pakistan’s economy is at a critical juncture. Pakistan has had more IMF programmes than all other South Asian countries combined, but none of them have impacted its profligate bureaucracy and political leadership. The 2019 IMF bailout package is worth $6 billion. Pakistan has a dubious record of borrowing money to sustain itself. As of April 2021, the country’s outstanding debt is almost 100% of GDP. Pakistan has a currency reserve of less than USD 8 billion, enough only to cover 1.5 months of imports. The country is living on borrowed money and borrowed time. Pakistan is in an unending war with itself. Its military has ruined the country, created an Islamic terrorist infrastructure that has superseded state institutions, and caused millions of people to suffer huge losses—human, material, or other.

Its Foreign Minister keeps flaunting its nuclear weapons as though it were his gateway to the international high table. The world laughs.

No one cares about Pakistan. America is worried about Afghanistan, so it tolerates Pakistan. China is worried about India, so it tolerates Pakistan. Russia is worried about the Middle East, so it tolerates Pakistan.

Its illiterate rabid clerics want to recreate the perceived ideal Islamic society of the Prophet’s times. Even Mohd Ali Jinnah boasted that Pakistan would be the new Medina. The Pakistani citizen is alienated from the State and considers it his enemy, so he sees violence as an alternative. But the military wants to convince the people that India is the real threat to their security and life.

For how long can this dumb charade continue?

Pakistan’s fatal problem is the “Establishment” that controls every vital department in Pakistan.

The Balochis, Sindhis, Mohajirs and tribals detest the Punjabi-dominated establishment.

To keep them quiet, hatred of Hindu India has to be constantly reinforced and the army projects itself as the defender of Islam and the bulwark against India’s “nefarious” designs to swallow Pakistan (despite the severe indigestion this would cause!).

“Religion is the opium of the people…the soul of soulless conditions” German sociologist and economic theorist Karl Marx had said. It is a palliative against suffering and exploitation and provides the oppressed and marginalized with pleasant illusions which gave them the strength to carry on.

School textbooks in Pakistan denigrate Hindus and extol jihadis who kill infidels.

The former President of Sudan (now jailed) had once lamented that too little Islamization broke up his country in 2011. One of Pakistan’s future leaders will lament that too much Islamization destroyed whatever was left of his pitiful nation.

Pakistan has tried to be everything that India is not. India is a responsible nuclear power, Pakistan flaunts its (stolen) nuclear nuisance value and demands relevance in regional affairs.

Pakistan is a land of troubled people, led by a reported drug addict, perpetually in a stupor, who tries to run his country through the divinations of his “mystic” third wife.

When all else fails, there is always delusion.

Ambassador Dr Deepak Vohra is Special Advisor to Prime Minister, Lesotho, South Sudan and Guinea-Bissau; and Special Advisor to Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils, Leh and Kargil.