July 13th, 2013
12:55 AM ET

Surprising Pakistan

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By Global Public Square staff

Many of the countries we were so hopeful about only a couple of years ago are in turmoil. Egypt's stability is precarious. Turkey has been rocked by protests. The BRIC nations are sagging economically. On the other hand, there is one place, once described as the world's most dangerous country, that’s offering up a pleasant surprise: Pakistan. Yes, it's full of Islamic radicals, nuclear weapons, ambitious generals, and corrupt politicians. But things are changing.

Pakistan has just accomplished a first in its history: an elected government completed its five-year term, giving way to a new set of democratically elected leaders. This was never allowed to happen before. Every prior civilian government in Pakistan had been deposed by a military coup. You see, Pakistan's military is the world's seventh largest, and has ruled the country for almost half its existence.

The elections are even more exceptional when you consider the conditions. The Pakistani Taliban had declared war against democracy, targeting three major political parties for elimination. As a result, the campaign period turned out to be the bloodiest in Pakistan's history. At least 80 people were killed and 400 injured in dozens of attacks. Would you go to the polling booth in these conditions? And yet, voter turnout topped 55 percent – nearly the same as the last U.S. presidential election! In part, this is because Pakistan's demographics are vibrant. A third of the electorate is under the age of 30. These are voters who are not burdened by the memories and missteps of the past. Instead they're optimistic and forward-looking about their country.

Pakistan's economy remains in critical condition. Foreign investment is drying up, deficits crippling its government. But the new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, has announced a series of measures to run state-owned companies more efficiently, to get the country's fiscal house in order, and to open up the economy. Most tantalizing is the prospect of better economic relations with India, which Sharif has been hinting at. Pakistan would get a huge boost if the government would remove barriers and burdens that are a product of old animosities rather than any sensible economic thinking.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera this week leaked an astounding report on Pakistan. The Supreme Court investigated how on earth Osama bin Laden managed to live there for so long, undetected. The report reveals a completely inept police and military. And, it hints that certain elements within the Pakistani establishment may have known about bin Laden. It said: “connivance, collaboration, and cooperation… cannot be entirely discounted.”

The message should be clear. Pakistan's main enemies are not the ones its military would have you believe: India, Afghanistan, or the United States. The real enemies lie within: extremism, military dictatorship, weak institutions, and corruption. Islamabad now has a mandate – and the time – to fight those enemies. Pakistan is still a dangerous country, but for once there are hopeful signs from there as well.

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Topics: Pakistan • Protests • What in the World?

soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. svpyadav

    Pakistan also slowly following Democracy policies

    July 13, 2013 at 3:16 am | Reply
  2. Josh

    The report on how Bin Laden found safe haven in Pakistan clearly says: “connivance, collaboration, and cooperation… cannot be entirely discounted.” Muslim terrorists!!

    July 13, 2013 at 11:54 am | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      How do we know that it was the true Ussama bin Laden who got murdered back on May 2, 2011, Josh? After all, he suffered from nephritis back in 2001 and was put on a dialysis in Quetta, Pakistan in July, two months before 9/11. More likely than not, it was a bin Laden look alike who the politicians needed to keep public sentiment against "terrorism" high!

      July 13, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Reply
      • Nasser

        Why your opinion makes sense is an easy common sense mandate: neither the ISI (rated #1) nor the CIA, nor the Pakistani Military are globally inept. There is much too much that is unknown and obscure, but what is abundantly known is that a closure was necessary by the U.S. – by design, chance or manufacture.

        July 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  3. Ehsan Ali

    Fareed Zakaria a Pakistan obsessed anchorman of CNN, why doesn't he take up the issue of Kashmir, Maoists insurgences in India which is going for more than 40 years now yet no end sight and also has been declared as the gravest threat to India's internal security by the Indian prime minister.He just likes to show beautiful picture of India every now and then he takes up Pakistan.

    July 13, 2013 at 6:34 pm | Reply
    • Nadeem Shah

      CNN loves to target Muslim and Anti US nations, you never see them find any fault outside of Cuba, Mynmmar, Venzuela, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran and such.....

      July 13, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Reply
      • Paul

        The countries you have are the hell holes of humanity. That is why Fareed mentions them only.

        July 17, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Hamza

      Are you freakin Kidding me.. he is one of those anchors who always speaks against Pakistan.. he was never with Pakistan.

      July 14, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Reply
    • Jason

      This guy always puts in his two cents about Pakistan. He obviously hates Pakistan because he's Indian and his words are
      " it's full of Islamic radicals, nuclear weapons, ambitious generals, and corrupt politicians." , Fareed, isnt that almost every country in the world? dont tell there aren't Jewish and Christian extremist, such as George bush(christian) donald rumsfeld(jewish), also Israel and France who are also christian and jewish extremist countries.....FAREED LETS KEEP IT REAL PLEASE!!

      July 15, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Reply
      • amit

        Fareed is essentially a Muslim. so what ever he is , he is not biased against Islam. and Pakistanis have just got a tendency to complain about every thing Indian , American And Israeli. Which news man is not writing about Pakistan and how many of them are writing good things.
        You need to have good stories to then only would some one would be able to write it.

        July 23, 2013 at 1:28 am |
  4. Moby

    this is simpliy a propoganda stem line. Pakistan is a much secure country. while talking about the nuclear weapons pakistan is very mature nuclear weapon state.

    July 14, 2013 at 5:09 am | Reply
  5. Farid

    I fail to understand why some people never let go any moment without expressing their hate for Islam & Pakistan. Shameful really and very myopic

    July 14, 2013 at 5:18 am | Reply
  6. Farid

    And Mr Josh, its more then 2 billion Muslims that you are talking about, they are not terrorists. You have no sense of what you are saying. Prejudice, myopic, and disregard of others religious beliefs is what you represent

    July 14, 2013 at 5:25 am | Reply
  7. norman maliki

    this obsssessd with pakistan Indian always talks about pakistan so Inidas faults dont get airtime

    July 14, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Reply
    • amit

      well brother , this is an american website. american have put money into your country. so they are more interested in your stories rather then that of Indians. its simple.

      July 23, 2013 at 1:31 am | Reply
  8. Akbar Khan

    Hope Farid did not copy this from some other resource.

    Fareed is one othe worst journalist in news community and completely nonsensical.

    July 15, 2013 at 12:08 am | Reply
  9. Sonia Khan

    Its just the propoganda to portray Pakistan negatively. Pakistan is akmuch secured country. Foreign intervention have been the major cause of terrorism and political instability in Pakistan.

    July 15, 2013 at 12:32 am | Reply
  10. j. von hettlingen

    According to the BBC the Pakistani Taliban have visited Syria to set up a base and to assess "the needs of the jihad". The base was set up with the assistance of ex-Afghan fighters of Middle Eastern origin who have moved to Syria in recent years. A dozen of experts in warfare and information technology had gone to Syria in the last two months and were likely to back their Sunni brothers to fight Assad's forces.

    July 15, 2013 at 9:36 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      No doubt Nawaz Sharif would be glad to get rid of them, as they always have tried to destabilise Pakistan.

      July 15, 2013 at 9:38 am | Reply
    • Trinity

      Rebels are loosing ground. Backup is required. US/West and Saudi/Sheikdom need to hire experienced fighters. Truck loads of Pakistan Taliban are being shipped across to fill this gap. Pretty soon these thugs will be fighting should to shoulder with their big brothers Al-Qaeda.

      July 15, 2013 at 10:08 am | Reply
      • Jason


        July 15, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
      • Bob

        Isn't it funny how people think typing in all caps will make their moronic claims seem real?

        July 16, 2013 at 12:01 am |
  11. Alan

    1) The 2013 election cycle was NOT the most violent in Pakistan's history.

    2) The Pak Supreme Court did NOT investigate the OBL case.

    Why should anyone care what the GPS staff has to say if the can't get basic facts right?

    July 15, 2013 at 9:54 am | Reply
  12. fauzia shah

    Pakistan is a very violent country with mullas, nuclear weapons, ambitious generals, mafia and corrupt politicians.
    It is a country where might is right. There is no law and order and people are fearful all the time. There is no security of life and property what so ever. There is no hope and the country is deteriorating every second !

    July 15, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Reply
  13. m far

    Mr Zakaria
    Pakistan is not more dangeorous than BALTIMORE, SouthEast DC. BRONX Uptown, Flint Michigan and New Orleans where some neighborhoods are NO GO AREA

    July 15, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Reply
  14. m far

    Mr Zakaria , Did you ever travel alone at night in Southeaset DC , and Baltimore Drug neighborhood ?
    Go and visit and tell me who is more danger

    July 15, 2013 at 6:59 pm | Reply
    • Bob

      EVERY city in the world has areas that are unsafe at night. And I'm not hearing about suicide bombings and political assassinations in DC or Baltimore. One of the first things Pakistanis need to do is stop pointing fingers and start taking responsibility for the reality of their country's serious and almost wholly domestic problems.

      July 15, 2013 at 11:56 pm | Reply
      • Tahir

        We are trying our best so that US can leave Pakistan so that we can solve our problems.We also require your help for US(bases) exit from Pakistan and ME.

        July 18, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  15. muslim khan

    Mr. Zakari, you are the biggest CHUTIYA, GANDOO, MADRCHOD and a typical American azz kisser. You know nothing about Pakistan and what American has done to it. You are the biggest idiot, yellow journalist who needs to be deported or fired. Pakistan has 9% growth after 9/11, it used to be the role model for emerging free markets in the 50 s 60s, each time your boss the white man came around to screw it over.

    July 15, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Reply
    • Bob

      Um, Pakistan's economy is in shambles and grew by about 3.5% last year, not nearly keeping up with workforce growth.

      July 15, 2013 at 11:58 pm | Reply
    • No Indian in my neighborhood please!!!!

      Mr. Khan, well done......you gave the right answer to this super hypocrite person which is Fareed Zakaria. He is not more than a Indian award winner gandoo always aiming to malign Pakistan and working 24/7 against US interests in that region. I wonder why Americans are so dumb that what this USSR spy is working against them??????

      July 16, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Reply
      • amit

        well certainly Americans are dumb enough to allow entry of Pakistanis into their country.

        July 23, 2013 at 1:34 am |
    • amit

      ha ha...You idiot Muslim, this post isn't even written by Fareed Zakaria

      July 23, 2013 at 1:37 am | Reply
  16. chrissy

    Caps or not @ Bob, it is true. They were at one time trained by the CIA.

    July 16, 2013 at 12:35 am | Reply
    • Bob

      Please do provide evidence supporting the claim that the CIA trained Al Qaeda. Empty claim, caps or not, won't cut it.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:27 am | Reply
  17. Maya Khan

    Take him to S.Africa .. Than I will ask him which country is more dangerous

    July 16, 2013 at 1:47 am | Reply
  18. Sid

    Ask, how many Pakistanis would like to settle back in Pakistan if they are currently residents in the West?

    July 16, 2013 at 5:05 am | Reply
    • Commando

      All of em once they have earned enough money and many do after retirement.

      July 21, 2013 at 9:11 pm | Reply
  19. Jason

    If your want to understand timing and motive behind this article please read referenced article.......


    July 16, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Reply
    • Muntaser Zaheer

      I really don't believe it, but thank you nevertheless.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Reply
  20. Paul

    You are right that two billion Muslims are not terrorists. But all terrorists are Muslims. I hope you are up to date with the news around the world.

    July 17, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Reply
    • Muntaser Zaheer

      Paul. Your comments show how shallow and stupid you are.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Reply
    • Commando

      You are text book example of stupid.

      July 21, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Reply
  21. Rabiya

    I love zakaria he is so hot .. If he was Pakistani and not married I would marry him in 1 sec

    July 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Reply
    • Commando

      Said no normal girl ever. Fake.

      July 21, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Reply
  22. Muntaser Zaheer

    Only time will tell. I am not optimistic. I say this because my family is from Pakistan. You have to look at the realities on the ground. Things are mush WORSE for the people of Pakistan than they were 10 years ago. The coffers are running dry, there is no power, no natural gas, no rule of law. Just because the thug left peacefully makes ZERO difference. Maybe in a 100 years when the Western world has colonized Mars and are working with Alien species to better themselves, Pakistanis might be getting power to their homes and businesses 24 hours a day. Maybe then you can expect radicalism to be dead, and maybe then you can expect Pakistanis to be less corrupt than they are tday.

    July 18, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Reply
  23. Khalid Hyder

    Pakistan will be OK once the Islamic radicals take over.

    July 20, 2013 at 12:41 am | Reply
  24. Commando

    Well said Eshan.
    "Fareed Zakaria a Pakistan obsessed anchorman of CNN, why doesn't he take up the issue of Kashmir, Maoists insurgences in India which is going for more than 40 years now yet no end sight and also has been declared as the gravest threat to India's internal security by the Indian prime minister.He just likes to show beautiful picture of India every now and then he takes up Pakistan."

    July 21, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Reply

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