Argument

Debating the Failed States Index

Was this year's ranking of the world's most fragile states on target? Five countries respond.

To see the 2012 Failed States Index, click here. 

PAKISTAN | AFGHANISTAN | SUDAN | YEMEN | SOMALIA 


PAKISTAN

By Nadeem Hotiana

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the news of Pakistan's failure has been greatly exaggerated. We take exception to Pakistan's placement on the Failed States Index published in Foreign Policy magazine. The methodology fails to capture Pakistan's myriad strengths, while exaggerating its perceived weaknesses.

It would be helpful to deconstruct the methodology that is so cavalierly applied to Pakistan. The index singles out "the erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions," the "inability to provide reasonable public services," and "the inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community" as key attributes of a failing state. The compilers get it wrong about Pakistan on all these counts.

Pakistan today is on the cusp of an epochal transition. Even as it fights a full-blooded war against terrorists, it is completing a historic transformation from authoritarian rule to genuine democracy. This is the most legislatively active parliament in our history. It has cleansed the constitution of the debris of past authoritarian interludes and devolved power to the provinces, passed landmark legislation to help bring the residents of our Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Gilgit-Baltistan into the political mainstream, and taken the most comprehensive set of measures to address the grievances of the people of our Balochistan province. It has passed more legislation on women's rights than all of Pakistan's past parliaments combined, while tackling such issues as domestic abuse and property rights and establishing a National Commission on Women. It also established a National Commission on Human Rights with enforcement powers.

A boisterously vibrant media complements the coming of age of Pakistani democracy. The Pakistani military is part of this democratic evolution. It has earned the respect of the average Pakistani through its unflinching resolve to take on the terrorists and allow the political leadership to set the country's direction and policies.

This is not to say that Pakistan does not face challenges. We are on the front lines of the fight against terrorism, which has consumed precious resources. We also face pressures on a number of other fronts. Our infrastructure, for example, has suffered neglect. And yet, the work of the state continues to get done. The parliament continues to meet and make laws and even vote in a new prime minister through a peaceful constitutional change. The bureaucracy continues to deliver services. Schools, colleges, and universities continue to admit students and grant certificates, diplomas, degrees, and doctorates. The borders of the country continue to be defended and the scourge of terrorism continues to be met head on.

The economy, despite laboring under the impact of some of worst natural disasters to befall Pakistan (including the 2010 floods, when 20 percent of our landmass was under water), continues to perform creditably, managing a growth rate of 3.6 percent this year. Tax collection has surged by 25 percent, and remittances from Pakistanis abroad have increased by 21 percent as exports have surged to $25 billion. Pakistan's stock market continues to perform well. Clearly, the investors know or see something that the Failed States Index's compilers can't or won't.

Pakistan is an active and valued member of numerous international organizations. It maintains diplomatic relations with almost all countries of the world. It is currently a member of the U.N. Security Council, earning that place after a tough election. Pakistan has also historically been the top troop contributor to U.N. peacekeeping operations.

The true measure of a nation is not the number and magnitude of challenges it faces, but how it rises to meet them. Measured against that yardstick, Pakistan has hardly any equal.

Nadeem Hotiana is press attaché at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, D.C.

To see the 2012 Failed States Index, click here. 

AFGHANISTAN

By M. Ashraf Haidari

It is no surprise that Afghanistan has fluctuated between the ranks of 6 and 11 atop the Failed States Index since 2005, given that building Afghanistan's previously failed state institutions remains very much a work in progress. What the index does not highlight, however, is the history of interrelated internal, regional, international, and transnational dynamics that have contributed to the challenges facing modern state formation in Afghanistan.

This process effectively began in the 1920s. A landlocked and least-developed country, the young Afghan state lacked the requisite resources to strengthen its institutions so that they could deliver the most basic services to people. For decades, this made Afghanistan dependent on piecemeal foreign aid with strings tied to the competing blocs of the Cold War. Upon the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989 and the subsequent fall of the Soviet Union's proxy, Afghan President Mohammad Najibullah, in 1992, the United States and its allies also disengaged from the country, completely neglecting Afghanistan's post-Cold War reconstruction and development.

The vacuum left by the West was immediately filled by predatory state and non-state actors. Some countries in the region supported ethnic proxies, vying for influence in stateless Afghanistan, while transnational terrorists and organized criminal networks found a permissive environment in which to operate. The unchecked isolation of Afghanistan as a pariah state eventually allowed al Qaeda to mastermind the tragedy of 9/11.

Since the launch in 2001 of Operation Enduring Freedom -- which ushered in overdue international intervention to restore, reform, and strengthen the Afghan state -- Afghanistan has consistently made progress in delivering basic services to people and protecting them against internal and external security threats. This process is by no means linear: Some state institutions (mostly the army and police) are more capable than others in meeting popular demands. Their capacity to provide services largely depends on how much the international community has invested in them over the past decade, as well as how effectively these institutions are led by Afghans themselves.

Hence, while Afghans will continue to do their part, continued international support for the process of consolidating the Afghan state and its many achievements over the past 10 years is absolutely essential. As the Failed States Index warns, if the international community does not stay the course in Afghanistan, the country will once again face the prospect of state failure and collapse.

Aware of this fact, the international community pledged recently at the NATO summit in Chicago, as well as at the Bonn Conference last December, to help Afghanistan along its long journey toward achieving "positive sovereignty" and sustainable development. This preventive step is backed by bilateral measures, such as the U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement, to ensure that Afghanistan will never slide back into the chaos of 1990s.

M. Ashraf Haidari, the deputy assistant national security adviser of Afghanistan, was the chargé d'affaires and deputy ambassador of the Afghan Embassy in Washington, D.C.

To see the 2012 Failed States Index, click here.  

SUDAN

By Seif Yasin

It's obvious that the Failed States designation is more of a political denunciation than a reflection of reality. The inherent subjectivity of the criteria used to justify this indictment undermines and discredits the legitimacy of such an exercise, which only aims to stigmatize and make pariahs of countries disliked by the Fund for Peace's funders. If it were a legitimate project, all the countries listed would have ownership over it, not only partaking in the process of data generation but also contributing to the study financially as they would recognize the stakes. The claim that "rigorous" methodologies have been employed does not necessarily ensure the credibility of the outcome, as these self-proclaimed "researchers" argue. Analysts are notorious for only choosing data sets that fit their assumptions and ignoring the rest.

While the report may paint a truly grim and disturbing picture of countries deemed "failed," an hour's visit to Sudan is all that is needed to produce an objective account -- that Sudan remains among the more stable and peaceful countries in a troubled region despite the obvious and tremendous challenges it faces. This is not a picture that years of analyzing "reports" and "data" manufactured by politically biased "experts" and "institutions" with an axe to grind will ever show you.

To garner more credibility, this "failed" status should focus less on state failure and more on its root causes. Sudan, like every nation around the globe, has its challenges, which it is consistently working to address. But these challenges stem from several factors, some of which are external. Our security, for instance, has consistently been tested by foreign actors who see an advantage in destabilizing Sudan. U.S.-imposed sanctions are also a significant tool of destabilization as they have clearly induced mass suffering by severely constraining aid and economic activity that could otherwise improve the country's economic standing. If there is poverty, if there are internally displaced people, if there are aggrieved individuals, certainly these sanctions play a causative role.

Furthermore, we live today in a global community where much of the blame is shared because of the interconnectedness that has made it impossible for the actions of one nation to not affect others. The current global economic crisis is a case in point. There is also a legitimate argument to be made that the global institutions that govern trade, for instance, have a lot to do with the lagging economic performance of developing countries, which in turn affects development and internal stability. There is also an argument to be made that the impunity with which politically and militarily mighty countries conduct their affairs is a contributing factor in some states that the report considers "failed." Afghanistan and Iraq, for instance, would be in a better position today if it weren't for the U.S.-led invasions of both countries. The same is true for many other countries against whom a deliberate campaign of destabilization has been waged by foreign forces. The Failed States Index is useless if all it does is rank which countries are suffering from both overt and clandestine wars of attrition perpetrated at all levels by the world's most powerful.

This is not to excuse any inherent shortcomings in Sudan's governing apparatus, nor is it an attempt to deny the presence of real challenges in the country. It is instead an effort to put things in perspective. If the goal is to help resolve a problem, we must first identify the ailment in order to dispense the right prescription. Otherwise, it's a pointless exercise and a waste of resources to draw up such a list. As it stands, the Failed States Index is an exercise intended to manipulate data for the sole purpose of demonizing countries that are disliked.

Seif Yasin is information counselor at the Embassy of the Republic of Sudan in Washington, D.C.

To see the 2012 Failed States Index, click here.  

YEMEN

By Mohammed Albasha

Calling Yemen a failing state was a safe bet during the turbulent and bloody events of 2011. Thousands of youths marched to protest their legitimate grievances while Yemen's factionalized military forces were at odds. In the south, al Qaeda affiliates capitalized on the turmoil and expanded their footprint. The turmoil amplified Yemen's troubles and catapulted the nation into the international spotlight.

More than a year later, however, much has changed for the better in Yemen. The security situation is slowly stabilizing, the government is restructuring its forces, and the country is no longer teetering on the edge of a civil war. Yemen has also intensified the fight against al Qaeda, pushing out militants from territories they controlled. Most important of all, the fabric of Yemen's resilient society remains intact.

Not long after being sworn into office on Feb. 25, President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi launched an effort to convene an inclusive and transparent National Dialogue Conference, to be held in the coming months. Prominent southern activists and leaders of the northern Houthi movement have signaled their interest in participating, and youth groups, women's groups, NGOs, and other stakeholders will be able to take part in the dialogue as well. Reforming the political structure and amending the constitution in a Yemeni-led process will cement the steps necessary to implement urgent reforms. The decentralization of power, for example, can embrace the challenges of Yemeni diversity and tribal autonomy but still hold local leaders accountable. Building institutions, implementing good governance, and enforcing accountability will also help combat corrupt practices.

Despite these early successes, Yemen remains a troubled nation and faces an extraordinarily volatile mix of economic, political, security and socio-developmental challenges. It is struggling with an endemic culture of corruption and the mismanagement of dwindling natural resources. A nationwide addiction to the qat plant is diverting water resources away from agriculture and adversely affecting national wealth. Terrorism and tribal unrest have damaged Yemen's oil and gas infrastructure, leaving the economy floundering. One-third of adults are unemployed, and half a million Yemenis have been internally displaced by an indigenous rebellion in the north and an al Qaeda insurgency in the south. Humanitarian agencies are now warning of a looming hunger crisis.

These challenges threaten the nation's recent gains and may cause Yemen to collapse if they are not adequately addressed. This is a key moment, and if it is missed it may not come around again. Yemen needs the international community to speak and, more importantly, to act as one.

U.S. President Barack Obama and the U.N. Security Council recently adopted resolutions supporting President Hadi's unwavering resolve to move Yemen forward. Yemen hails the ongoing efforts of the "Friends of Yemen" group to confront the country's web of entangled and deeply rooted challenges by promoting investment, developing feasible aid policies, encouraging entrepreneurship, and strengthening educational programs. Additionally, millions of Yemenis will be anticipating the outcome of an upcoming donor conference in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Yemen looks to its global partners as it transitions to a strong, unified, democratic, and prosperous nation. But first and foremost, Yemen needs to continue getting its house in order. For reforms to be effective, the government must continue to improve security and stability.

Mohammed Albasha is a spokesperson for the Embassy of the Republic of Yemen in Washington, D.C.

To see the 2012 Failed States Index, click here.  

SOMALIA

By Omar Jamal

Since the collapse of the Somali state in 1991, there has been virtually no functional institution in the country. It therefore goes without saying that Somalia would appear in first place in the Failed States Index. What's overlooked, however, is the country's slow recovery and recent defeat of the al-Shabab militant group.

Somalia has been in a state of war for 20 years, and the Somali government, since its inception, has been bogged down in the trenches instead of performing its basic requirement to provide security, services, and good governance to its citizens. Political instability has crippled socio-economic development, and corruption has become prevalent because of uncertainty and the absence of law and order.

Nevertheless, the current administration has tackled some of these ailments and triumphed under difficult circumstance. Somali soldiers now receive their salary on a regular basis. Mogadishu is recovering, and, most important of all, security is slowly returning, at least in the capital. Were the stable and thriving parts of Somalia considered as part of this analysis?

Al-Shabab, the barbarians, are still at the gate, and there is no country in the region that has had more of its population internally displaced than Somalia. Many Somali citizens are still behind wires in refugee camps in neighboring countries, under the flag of the United Nations.

The recovery process in Somalia is now a work in progress. Whether it will bear fruit is not yet clear.

Omar Jamal is first secretary at the Permanent Mission of the Somali Republic to the United Nations.

TONY KARUMBA/AFP/GettyImages

Argument

What to Do About Pakistan

With an "ally" in a state of perpetual dysfunction, it's time for Washington to reconsider its options: containment or benign neglect.

The last year and a half has been a rocky road for U.S.-Pakistan relations -- and once again, domestic and foreign policy developments seem ever more perilous. The year 2011 opened with the cold-blooded assassination of the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, by a fanatic who denounced him as a blasphemer. Americans watched aghast as Pakistan's elite failed to defend Taseer, while many Pakistanis praised the assassin. Shortly thereafter, U.S.-Pakistan relations convulsed when two ISI ruffians confronted a CIA contractor, Raymond Davis. Davis shot the men dead. No sooner had the two "allies" managed to weather that crisis than the United States conducted a unilateral raid to kill Osama bin Laden, who was ensconced in the cantonment town of Abbottabad, near Pakistan's acclaimed military academy. Before relations could thaw, an accidental raid on Pakistani troops at the Salala checkpost in November killed 24. The United States steadfastly refused to apologize publicly. Pakistan retaliated by shutting down all ground supply routes into Afghanistan. And this is where we find ourselves today.

As Americans confront an increasingly contracting set of options to engage Pakistan, Islamabad has offered yet another twist to the ongoing policy dilemma in Washington. Just this week, Pakistan's erratic and ever-activist Supreme Court ruled that Yousaf Raza Gilani is no longer qualified to remain prime minister. Then on Thursday, another court issued an arrest warrant for Makhdoom Shahabuddin, who was President Asif Ali Zardari's first choice to replace the ousted Gilani. And just for good measure, the court also issued a warrant for Gilani's son. If Pakistan's civilian government wasn't fully dysfunctional, rest assured: it now is. Unfortunately, ensuring the stability of this civilian government has been a policy goal of the United States since the return to democracy in February 2008.

By any measure, Pakistan has squandered the last decade. The events of 9/11 afforded the country a rare opportunity to regain its international standing after having teetered for years on the brink of pariah state status. Pakistan had become renowned for spreading nuclear technology to such states as Iran and North Korea; reckless adventurism in India; insistence on supporting jihadist groups as a principal tool of statecraft; and steadfast refusal to adopt policies that might invest in its people rather than entrench the military's deep state. Had Pakistan chosen to jettison its jihad habit, sought assistance in rehabilitating tens of thousands of militants and their supporters in Pakistan, and found some amicable resolution to its longstanding dispute with India, it would still enjoy the support of the West, as well as their collective checkbooks, today.

Those years have gone. Pakistan is in crisis. Its courts act on whim rather than jurisprudence. Its political parties are vast pools of corrupt patronage networks that aggregate elite interests while disregarding the interests of Pakistan's struggling masses. Neither elected politicians nor military rulers have had the political courage to right the nation's fiscal woes by enforcing income tax or imposing industrial and agricultural taxes on the ruling elites and their networks of influence. While the army has retrenched from a direct role in politics, it has done so likely because it has no other option: Pakistan's military suffered a mighty humiliation after the bin Laden raid, which left many citizens wondering whether their country is a failed state, a rogue state, or both.

Not surprisingly, the United States is frustrated. Many in the Washington have told me that "we are ‘this close' to bombing them," yet the Pakistanis continue to somnambulate in the dream of their country's own importance. U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta may have jolted some out of their slumber with his recent comments in Delhi and Kabul. Not only did he say in clarion words that Washington is exhausted with Pakistan's various ruses, but he also addressed forthrightly the simple fact that Pakistan has taken billions of U.S. dollars to assist the war on terrorism while continuing to support the very elements killing our troops. In case Pakistan missed the reference, Panetta made clear that "anybody who attacks U.S. soldiers is our enemy. We are not going to take it."

Ironically, 11 years later Pakistan seems a whole lot more dangerous than it was on Sept. 10, 2001. Elements of Pakistan's erstwhile jihadi proxies (notably Jaish-e-Mohammed and Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami, among others) have refocused their efforts to sustain a bloody war on Pakistan itself. These groups have long targeted Pakistan's Ahmadiyya, Shia, Christian, and Hindu minorities. In recent years, they have turned their guns, grenades, and suicide vests against the majority of Pakistanis: Sufis who worship at shrines. Not only have many Pakistanis blamed "outside" elements for these crimes, but many have also even rallied about these killers. Most notably, the killer of Salman Taseer was garlanded by supporters. The judge who sentenced Taseer's killer -- who proudly confessed his guilt -- had to flee the country after receiving death threats. Such disturbing mobilization should give pause to those who champion the causes of the "silent moderate majority" in Pakistan.

Equally disconcerting, Pakistan has long refused international access to its chief nuclear black marketer, Abdul Qadeer Khan. Worse, the state and its citizenry have paraded him about the country like a super hero the nation desperately wants. Pakistan has a Nobel laureate (Abdus Salam, Physics, 1979), but he is not embraced because he is a member of the much-loathed minority Ahmadiyya community. Pakistan understands full well that it is these nuclear fears that ensure that the United States will not easily walk away from Pakistan. In recent years, Pakistan has focused its resources on fissile material production and the assembly of tactical nuclear weapons -- including nuclear artillery. Pakistan sees its nuclear program as its insurance against a catastrophic showdown with the United States.

Despite Washington's increasing demands that Pakistan disassemble its terrorism infrastructure, Islamabad has consistently chosen the most unproductive paths. Rather than shutting down the various Islamist terror groups operating from Pakistan's soil with varying degrees of explicit and implicit state support, it has pushed jihadi leaders such as Lashkar-e-Taiba to the forefront of the recent political gathering of rogues, the Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC or "Defense of Pakistan Council"). The DPC is festooned with jihadi leaders, as well as former military and intelligence personas known as jihadi apologists. The DPC, of course, is then used by the military and intelligence agencies as a foil to efforts by the political parties to renormalize relations with the United States and seek political and economic rapprochement with India.

Those in Washington who steadfastly believed that, with enough patience and assistance, Pakistan could slowly be transformed into a responsible partner for some modicum of stability in South Asia have been chagrined by a sorry trail of persistent perfidy.

Even those who believe that the intelligence, military, and/or political leadership had no knowledge of bin Laden's sprawling den in Abbottabad near Pakistan's Military Academy, cannot help but be dismayed by the choices the country has made since his death in May 2011. While Pakistan's arrest of the physician Dr. Shakil Afridi, who helped identity and eliminate bin Laden for the time-tested crime of espionage, what is abhorrent is that he is the only one who has been arrested.

Even if one accepts (for the purpose of argument) that Afridi committed espionage, what explains the lack of any investigation, much less prosecution, of the landlord of bin Laden's compound? Why has there been no investigation into who actually facilitated his sanctuary in Pakistan and his extensive travels with his terror entourage? Who are the various physicians that attended to the deliveries of his numerous children, birthed by his numerous wives with him in the compound? Pakistan has made it crystal clear that it has no interest in identifying -- much less punishing -- those who aided and abetted bin Laden.

Recently, the Pakistani Taliban have ceased polio vaccinations until the U.S. drone program is called off. Of course, the reality is that many of Pakistan's ostensible clergy have long denounced such vaccinations as a Western plot to reduce Muslim fecundity. Thus, it is not clear what the marginal impact of this recent chicanery will be on Pakistan's polio crisis. Pakistan is one of the few countries on the planet with endemic polio infections.

At long last, it seems, various agencies of the United States government have come to the conclusion that Pakistan cannot be changed. Islamabad's behavior in the region will remain staunchly pegged to its antipathy toward New Delhi. It will pursue policies that threaten the integrity of the Pakistani state for no other reason but the chimerical objective of resisting the obvious rise of India, while clinging to the delusion that it is India's peer competitor -- despite obvious and ever-growing disparities.

Finally, Americans are asking what Pakistanis have long concluded: How can the United States and Pakistan have any kind of positive relationship when our strategic interests not only diverge but violently clash?

* * *

For once there's consensus in Washington. Currently, the U.S. Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, vast swathes of the State Department, both houses of the Congress, and the White House have all joined in chorus to decry Pakistan's duplicity. While acknowledging Pakistan's dangerous policies and their implications, and holding Pakistan to account for the same, the United States needs to resist the most basal urges simply to "cut off" Pakistan. Such a move would ultimately be counterproductive.

The United States should continue to engage Pakistan where possible. The United States has no doubt learned that there is little it can do to bolster domestic stability in Pakistan. As the most recent governance crisis unfolds, there are few in Washington who harbor any belief that the United States can still help transform Pakistan. There is an increasing acknowledgement that the United States must engage the Pakistan that is rather than the Pakistan that is desired.

This means that embassies and consulates should continue to function without retrenchment. Pakistan cannot be left alone to become an Iran or North Korea -- which remain opaque to U.S. diplomatic, military, and intelligence agencies. Military exchanges should continue, as should security training missions, as long as there is Pakistani demand for the same. The United States should continue some degree of human development with modest rather than transformative goals. The United States should deepen educational ties, especially with younger cohorts of Pakistanis who face a dismal future in economically shambolic Pakistan.

However, future strategic assistance, such as the sale of F-16 fighter jets, would be misguided. After all, the founding logic of "strategic military sales" is beguiled by the simple fact that our strategic aims clash. Rather than pursuing some fantasy of a "strategic relations," these forms of assistance should be transactional and contingent on actual -- rather than hoped for -- performance. The United States should be willing to provide weapons systems and training that enhance Pakistan's capabilities to contend with its internal security crises rather than those that encourage it to resist the inevitable military dominance of India.

While the United States -- amid political outrage at Pakistan's ongoing perfidy and deepening fiscal austerity -- should continue to engage Pakistan where possible, there are larger issues Washington must confront now. If it cannot persuade Pakistan to abandon the most noxious policies of jihad and nuclear proliferation, then it must quickly embrace the realities of managing those problems in the most effective manner possible.

There are at least two approaches that should be considered -- neither of which negates the fundamental need to remain engaged at whatever level is possible and sustainable. And neither is fundamentally at odds with the other.

The first notion that is gaining momentum is the notion of containment. Proponents of some version of containment debate the contents and lineaments of this policy. If containing the country is not possible, containing the threat may be more feasible. This includes increasing pressure on Pakistani intelligence, military, and other personalities for which there is intelligence showing they enable nuclear proliferation or terrorism. It is important to sanction specific persons rather than agencies generally. Such pressure could include visa denial (which the Pakistanis routinely do to their foes and critics), working with international entities to restrict finances outside of the country, or working with Interpol to have them arrested when they leave Pakistan.

A second -- and indeed complimentary -- strategic option is for the United States to withdraw itself as an arbiter in the region and hold Pakistan fully responsible for acts of omission and commission tied to its twinned policy of nuclear proliferation and jihad. This may be best described as "benign neglect."

A policy of benign neglect could undermine the two pillars of Pakistan's nuclear jihad strategy. First, by increasing fissile materials and expanding tactical nuclear weapon production, Pakistan aims to increase the possible cost to India for any punitive action. Second, it seeks to pull in the United States to restrain India from action. These two facets taken together reduce any cost that Pakistan has paid for its nuclear jihad strategy. The United States should clearly tell Islamabad -- publicly and privately -- that it has no intention of playing this mediating role in the future. In any event, the U.S. record in solving the Indo-Pakistan dispute is abysmal at best and humiliating at worst. Making clear that Washington will no longer even attempt to try to play this role will dramatically force Pakistan to rethink the cost-benefit calculus of using militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba as instruments of foreign policy.

The United States should also consider the value of a simple statement of the obvious: For all intents and purposes, the contested Line of Control that divides Indian- and Pakistan-administered portions of Kashmir is the border. In doing so, Washington would make clear to Pakistan that Kashmir is an internal affair to be resolved by New Delhi and Srinagar. This position should be reflected in U.S. maps and other official documents, which would deprive the Pakistanis of the ability to credibly claim to have any equities in the "Kashmir issue." While there are genuine governance problems in Indian-administered Kashmir, none of these problems functionally concern Pakistan. Pakistan's militant groups and the countermeasures they have induced have plunged the province into an industrial recession that will take decades to recover from. Meanwhile, Kashmiris have paid the price for Pakistan's policies -- while those Pakistanis who oversaw the campaign of jihad enjoy a life of comfort and ease at home.

As a part of the benign neglect approach, the United States also should be willing to consider letting Pakistan fail economically by not coercing the International Monetary Fund to bail out the country unless it meets its own commitments to fiscal reforms. While many Pakistanis will no doubt see this as an unfair punitive measure, it is a near certitude that Islamabad will never make the necessary reforms to expand its tax revenues as long as it can use its inherent instability to extort ongoing assistance from bilateral and multilateral donors and agencies. This is the essence of moral hazard.

Finally, the United States should work to undermine Pakistan's continued effort to use its expanding nuclear program to extract assistance from the international community. Since 9/11, Pakistan has increased fissile material production and expanded its arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, Pakistan's vast jihadi landscape further conjures the image of Islamist barbarians banging at the nuclear gate. The United States has spent considerable effort and resources to manage this problem to the best extent possible.

These efforts may well be counterproductive. First, with respect to undesirable proliferation, Pakistan and the United States share incentives. After all, if the jihadis can penetrate the program, so can Indian, U.S., or even Israeli intelligence agencies. Thus, there is a natural incentive for Pakistan to seek and obtain assistance. Still, the United States should actively seek to neutralize Pakistan's susceptibility to allowing nuclear weapons to fall into the hands of dangerous non-state actors. It can do so by devising a declaratory policy that requires Pakistan to behave as the sovereign state it claims to be. Namely, if Pakistani assets are used in a state or non-sponsored incident, Islamabad will be held responsible. Can Islamabad's security managers fault the United States for insisting that it bear the consequences of such much-lauded sovereignty?

While some may view these offerings as unreasonable, reckless, dangerous, and irresponsible, it is equally fair to ask whether Washington's decades of policies toward Pakistan have been unreasonable, dangerous, and irresponsible? Moreover, what good have they accomplished? While many policymakers and analysts are willing to bank everything on the gamble that Pakistan is too dangerous to fail, we should be willing to consider what failure would mean and the inherent costs and benefits of this happening. After all, when the Soviet Union fell, none of the worst fears materialized. And Pakistan is hardly the Soviet Union.

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/GettyImages