While we as Pakistanis are aggrieved with the position Pakistan achieved in the Failed States Index, as a matter of ethics and fair play, we are posting the response to Information Ministry by Dr. Pauline Baker, President of The Fund for Peace as well as an email that was written to Associated Press of Pakistan.
The placement of Pakistan as number 10 in the failed states index caused a lot of hue and cry in the country while the Pakistani media itself gave the ranking a twist of its own to lambast the sitting government.
The Minister of Information wrote to The Fund for Peace (we do not have a copy of the letter) which was responded to by the Fund’s President, Dr. Baker on 5th July, 2010.
View: Letter to Qamar Zaman Kaira dated 5th July 2010
In response to the same, a Press Release was issued by the APP which appeared in Dawn and was posted on Let Us Build Pakistan by the author of this post.
Failed States Index: Kaira’s rejoinder acknowledged
Dawn, July 10, 2010
ISLAMABAD, July 9: Responding to points raised by Information and Broadcasting Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira in a letter, the chief of a Washington-based research organisation, the Fund for Peace (FfP), has recognised Pakistan’s stance on the validity of the Failed States Index, 2010.
The government had raised questions on the methodology used by the FfP and credibility of the data used. It objected to over-reliance on mere electronic data which was likely to produce misleading conclusions.
“We feel that Pakistan’s ranking has also suffered due to this methodology. Particularly the index appears to have erred in case of IDPs, delegitimisation of state and group grievances where substantial developments have taken place during the past 18 months, which have perhaps been ignored or overlooked by the researchers,” the minister had said.
The government had also requested the FfP to share its bibliography which was a standard practice in research projects.
The FfP has agreed to show the sources of data and invited a team of experts from Pakistan to examine more than 90,000 sources of electronic data used while compiling the index.
In her explanatory letter to Mr Kaira, FfP president Dr Pauline Baker agreed with his contention that “despite the impact of global financial crisis, Pakistan’s economy is beginning to show signs of real progress. The GDP is beginning to grow again and inflation is manageable.” Responding to the rejoinder by Mr Kaira, she said: “You rightly point out the burden that the Pakistan state has in caring for such large displaced populations. They are ‘transitory’ or ‘the fallout of a simmering crisis of state-building in the neighbourhood’. However, it does not reduce this burden.
“It is encouraging to know that the government of Pakistan is implementing a programme to rehabilitate 2.5 million IDPs.” Dr Pauline promised that next year’s report would take into account the success story of IDP management and rehabilitation.
She said it was encouraging to know that the government was taking steps in the right direction for redressing historically accumulated group grievances in various federating units.
Human rights were in “severe stress” in 2007-8, however, “Pakistan has improved on this score over the last two years”.
Supporting Mr Kaira’s arguments on ‘state legitimacy’, the FfP president said: “In the case of Pakistan, the return to civilian rule, the restoration of the judiciary and other steps constituted large steps in the right direction. The Failed States Index scores for this indicator have improved every year since 2008.” Mr Kaira had said his letter: “Provided they have representative and inclusive systems, countries can come out of troubles.
Pakistan has a functioning democracy today. Despite a continuing war in the neighbourhood featuring the US and its allies on one side and Al Qaeda and Taliban on the other, Pakistan has proved its resilience and come back strongly from economic meltdown and an unpopular dictatorship.
It is for the fourth time that Pakistani people have defeated a dictator who remained a darling of the World due to its own strategic considerations.” It is perhaps for the first time that the government of Pakistan has engaged an international think-tank into a serious academic discourse, challenging their methodology, timeliness of data and credibility of their findings.
The FfP has graciously confessed some of the limitations of its research model and recognised the positive developments in Pakistan over the past two years which will be reflected in next year’s failed states index.—APP
After the publication of the above press release, Dr. Baker has strongly resented the “spin” given to her letter by APP. Sher sent and email to APP criticising them and asking them to publish their retraction. The letter and email were both provided to us by Dr. Baker. The text of the email is posted below:
From: Pauline Baker
Sent: Friday, July 09, 2010 11:18 AM
To: ‘Amjad Bhatti’
Subject: Protest about Associated Press of Pakistan article
This morning I was surprised to see an article in the Associated Press of Pakistan’s website with the headline: “World Body Accepts Pakistan’s Stance on Issue of Failed States.” Referencing the July 5th letter I sent to the Minister of Information, this article incorrectly describes my views and grossly misrepresents what I stated in clear language. I strongly protest the piece which can be accessed at: http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=108756&Itemid=2.
The Fund for Peace did not “concede” or “accept” the views of the Minister of Information. As a courtesy and out of respect for your government, I went to some length to explain our methodology, which the Minister’s comments revealed was not well understood. I also patiently explained in detail why Pakistan received the scores it did in the 2010 Failed States Index. I stand by those scores, the original assessment, and the detailed explanations.
However, you abused our courtesy and did not return the respect. Instead, you asserted inaccurately that we had changed our views. I did not state: “We feel that Pakistan’s ranking has also suffered due to this methodology.” Nor did I write that “we erred” in rating some of the indicators. Both statements are outright lies.
In our experience, this article is extraordinary. We have been contacted before by many governments to discuss scores in the Failed States Index, some of whom also predictably challenge their ratings. We have unfailingly welcomed such dialogue. However, even if we continued to disagree, not a single other government ever deliberately misrepresented our views and used them for propaganda purposes as Pakistan has. This not only greatly disappoints me personally, but it shows the utter lack of international journalistic standards by the Associated Press of Pakistan, which appears to be a propaganda arm of the government.
Is this really how you want your government to be reflected to the outside world?
You, the Minister, and the Associated Press of Pakistan all owe me an apology, a public retraction of this article, and publication of my right of reply, provided you publish this message in full and verbatim. Selected extracts taken out of context are not acceptable.
Until these retractions and admissions are made, I do not think it is worthwhile to continue this dialogue, since your Ministry has violated the principles of honesty and good faith underlying such exchanges. The Fund for Peace will duly note this experience in considering any future communications the Government of Pakistan may seek.
Pauline H. Baker
The Fund for Peace
1720 Eye Street, NW, 7th Floor
Washington, DC 20006, USA
As LUBP is itself striving for publication of facts and is playing a leading role in exposing yellow journalism in the country, we are publishing the correspondence on the blog.
It is most important to realize that we do not necessarily agree with what Fund for Peace had written about Pakistan in their publication.