T.V. Paul, James McGill Professor of International Relations, McGill University

Pakistan ranked 133 out of 144 countries in global competitiveness in 2013 . Currently, Taliban forces occupy nearly 30 percent of the country, and it is perpetually in danger of becoming a failed state—with over a hundred nuclear weapons that could easily fall into terrorists’ hands. In recent years, many countries across the developing world have experienced impressive economic growth and have evolved into at least partially democratic states with militaries under civilian control. Yet Pakistan, a heavily militarized nation, has been a conspicuous failure. Its economy is in shambles, propped up by international aid, and its political system is notoriously corrupt and unresponsive, although a civilian government has come in power. Despite the regime's emphasis on security, the country is beset by widespread violence and terrorism. What explains Pakistan's unique inability to progress?

Paul argues that the "geostrategic curse"—akin to the “resource curse” that plagues oil rich autocracies—is the main cause. Since its founding in 1947, Pakistan has been at the center of major geopolitical struggles—the US-Soviet rivalry, the conflict with India, and most recently the post 9/11 wars. No matter how ineffective the regime is, massive foreign aid keeps pouring in from major powers and their allies with a stake in the region. The reliability of such aid defuses any pressure on political elites to launch far-reaching domestic reforms that would promote sustained growth, higher standards of living, and more stable democratic institutions. Paul shows that excessive war-making efforts have drained Pakistan’s limited economic resources without making the country safer or more stable.

This lecture is based on T.V. Paul’s new book with the same title published by Oxford University Press, New York, January 2014.

Event Speakers

TV Paul

T.V. Paul

James McGill Professor of International Relations, Department of Political Science, McGill University

T.V. Paul is James McGill Professor of International Relations in the Department of Political Science at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He served as the President of International Studies Association (ISA) for 2016-17. Paul is the author or editor of 18 books and over 65 scholarly articles/book chapters in the fields of International Relations, International Security, and South Asia.

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