Arabs Prefer to See Pakistan as "The Superpower"

Pakistan figured as the only Muslim majority country as a potential superpower in 2011 Arab Public Opinion Poll survey conducted by Professor Shibli Telhami, senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institution. The poll surveyed 3,000 people in Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates in October 2011.

Asked if there could be only one superpower in the world, which country they would prefer it to be, China was favored by 23% of the respondents (up from 14% in 2009) followed by Germany 15% (down from 25%), Russia 12% (up from 7%), France 10% (down from 23%), Pakistan 7% (up from 3%), US 7% (down from 8%) and Britain 5% (down from 7%). In answer to another question about the preferred country they would like to live in, France topped the list with 28% (down from 36% in 2009), followed by Germany 22% (down from 25%), Britain 15% (up from 10%), China 11% (up from 9%), US 10% (up from 5%), Russia 4% (flat) and Pakistan just 2% (up from 1% in 2009).

Among the key poll findings are:

1. Turkey is the biggest winner of the Arab Spring. In the five countries polled, Turkey is seen to have played the "most constructive" role in the Arab events.

2. Overall, Arabs polled strongly take the sides of the rebels against the government in Yemen (89%), Syria (86%) and Bahrain (64%). But there are regional differences. Those polle din the UAE mostly favor the government of Bahrain. The Lebanese are divided on Syria; the Jordanians are divided on Bahrain; and the Egyptians' support for the rebels in Bahrain is weaker than their support for the rebels in Yemen and Syria.

3. While a majority of Arabs polled continue to express unfavorable views of the United States (59%) the number of those who have favorable views has increased from 10% in 2010 to 26% in 2011. This improvement could be related to the perception of the American handling of the Arab Spring.

4. A majority of Arabs polled (52%) remain discouraged by the Obama administration's policy in the the Middle East, though this is down from 65% in 2010 and up from only 15% in 2009.

Coming back to the idea of Pakistan as a potential superpower, it is not as far-fetched as it may be appear to some who currently see it as a nation beset by multiple serious crises. Pakistan is a very large country. In fact, Pakistan is one of the largest countries in the world. With population exceeding 170 million, it is one of only eight nations armed with nuclear weapons. The nation ranks as sixth largest in population, seventh largest in its army size, 7th largest diaspora, 8th in number of mobile phone users, 9th largest workforce, 10th in educated English speaking population, 17th largest in number of Internet users, 27th in economy and 34th in land area.

Today, Pakistan's economy is the 27th largest in the world. As Part of "the Next 11" group of nations, it is one of the top 15 emerging economies (BRICs+Next11) picked by Goldman Sachs. Goldman forecasts Pakistan to be among the top 20 biggest economies in the world by 2025. With rapidly declining fertility and aging populations in the industrialized world, Pakistan's growing talent pool is likely to play a much bigger role to satisfy global demand for workers in the 21st century and contribute to the economic well-being of Pakistan as well as other parts of the world.

Pakistan continues to face major problems as it deals with the violent Taliban insurgency and multiple crises of stagnant economy, scarcity of energy and the lack of political stability and sense of security. The unfolding Memogate scandal is yet another reminder of the daunting challenges the nation must deal with. The bumbling political leadership of Pakistan is incompetent and corrupt. However, what the prophets of doom and gloom often discount are key factors that keep the nation going, including the resilience of Pakistan's people, the extraordinary capabilities of its large and growing urban middle class, and the stabilizing influence of its powerful military. Pakistan is just too big to fail. I fully expect Pakistan to survive the current crises, and then begin to thrive again in the n....

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Comment by Riaz Haq on November 27, 2011 at 2:02pm

Here's a Guardian story about anger in Pakistan after the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers by NATO troops:

Readers of Dawn newspaper, commenting online, were in no doubt how the Pakistani government should respond to Saturday's killing by US forces of 24 soldiers on Pakistan's side of the Afghan border. "Pakistan should acquire anti-aircraft defence systems ... so that in the future Pakistan can give Nato forces a proper reply," said Ali. "This is outrageous," wrote another reader, Zia Khan. "We should cut off all ties with the US. As long as we are getting US [anti-terror] aid ... Pakistan will be attacked in such a manner. They can never be trusted." Another, Obaid, turned his wrath on the Pakistani authorities: "Our self-centred establishment with their fickle loyalties can't even demand that the killers be tried in a neutral court ... What is the ability of our armed forces? If they can't repel or intercept an attack of this intensity, then what's their purpose? This is not a time to get mad. It's time to get even."

The fury of these respondents comes as no surprise, but Washington should treat it with deadly seriousness all the same, for this latest outrage is another fateful signpost on the road to a potential security and geostrategic disaster that may ultimately make Afghanistan look like a sideshow.

The 10-year-old Afghan war, neither wholly won nor lost, is slowly drawing to a close – or so Washington postulates. But what has not stopped is the linked, escalating destabilisation of the infinitely more important, more populous, and nuclear-armed Pakistan. If Washington does not quickly learn to tread more carefully, it may find the first US-Pakistan war is beginning just as the fourth Afghan war supposedly ends.
-------------
Hillary Clinton and the Pentagon top brass have responded to Saturday's killing with the usual expressions of regret and of determination to "investigate", without formally admitting responsibility. Their pronouncements are worthless, transparently so.

The belief that weak, impoverished, divided Pakistan has no alternative but to slavishly obey its master's voice could turn out to be one of the seminal strategic miscalculations of the 21st century. Alternative alliances with China or Russia aside, Muslim Pakistan, if bullied and scorned for long enough by its western mentors, could yet morph through external trauma and internal collapse into quite a different animal. The future paradigm here is not another well-trained Indonesia or Malaysia. It is the Islamic Republic of Iran.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/27/pakistan-strate...

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 7, 2012 at 5:59pm

LSE study finds India can not become a superpower, reports The Hindu:

Despite India’s "impressive" rise, its ambition to be a super power may remain just that—an ambition, according to an authoritative new study by the London School of Economics to which several Indian scholars have contributed.

It pointedly dismisses what it calls the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s "unequivocal verdict" during her India visit in 2009 that "India is not just a regional power, but a global power’.

The study, India: the Next Superpower? acknowledges India’s "formidable achievements" in fostering democracy, growth and cultural dynamism but concludes that these are nullified by its structural weaknesses, widespread corruption, poor leadership, extreme social divisions, religious extremism and internal security threats.

India, it argues, still faces too many "developmental challenges" to qualify for "super power" status, or to be considered a serious "counterweight" to China, a role sought to be thrust on it by some in the West. Some of the report’s authors wonder whether India should even aspire to be a super power given its institutional weaknesses and social and economic divisions.

Historian Ramachandra Guha, currently the Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs at LSE, suggests that rather than being seduced by the bright lights of great power diplomacy, India should instead focus on reforming its institutions and repairing the social fabric that seems to be coming off its seams.

“We need to repair, one by one, the institutions that have safeguarded our unity amidst diversity, and to forge the new institutions that can help us. It will be hard, patient, slow work,” he writes.

The study, a summary of which was released on Wednesday, starts off by acknowledging that" India’s rise has certainly been impressive, and warrants the attention that it has commanded".

"India has been one of the world’s best-performing economies for a quarter of a century, lifting millions out of poverty and becoming the world’s third-largest economy in PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) terms. India has tripled its defence expenditure over the last decade to become one of the top-ten military spenders. And in stark contrast to Asia’s other billion-person emerging power, India has simultaneously cultivated an attractive global image of social and cultural dynamism," it says. But then come the "ifs" and "buts".

Plunging the knife into Indian ambitions, the report says:"Still, for all India’s success, its undoubted importance and despite its undisputed potential, there is cause for caution in assessing India’s claim to superpower status. India still faces major developmental challenges. The still-entrenched divisions of caste structure are being compounded by the emergence of new inequalities of wealth stemming from India’s economic success. India’s democracy may have thrived in a manner that few ever expected, but its institutions face profound challenges from embedded nepotism and corruption. India’s economic success continues to come with an environmental cost that is unsustainable."

These problems are compounded by India’s "pressing security preoccupations" arising out of "insurgent violence" affecting large parts of the country and long-festering cross-border disputes.

The best that India can hope for—the study offers as a consolation-- is "to continue to play a constructive international role in, among other things, the financial diplomacy of the G20".

"Yet the hopes of those in the West who would build up India as a democratic counterweight to Chinese superpower are unlikely to be realised anytime soon," it concludes....

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article2969252.ece

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