Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Does Pakistan Have to Do With BRICs?

Brazil, Russia, India and China are the so-called BRIC countries, deemed to be future global leaders because of their natural resource, technology, and human capital advantages over other emerging countries.

The news from Pakistan continues to be grim, and the news coverage is extremely poor, which is a byproduct of the breathless, callow and superficial coverage accorded to international affairs by well-coiffed cable news reporters in fatigues. It seems as if the central Government of the Pakistani state is either on radio silence or on the verge of collapse. Either scenario is very bad for world business and should be covered by business reporters rather than obsessing about a meaningless first quarter earnings report by a bank.

If the Pakistani state is collapsing, the immediate question is "Who's in charge?" The answer may not be consoling. Now with India embroiled in its own election process, it is unclear how some of the extremist viewpoints that are part and parcel of parties and coalitions will react to developments in Pakistan. If extremists view a state collapse as an opportunity to settle long-standing grudges, that will be very bad for human rights, civilians, and for business.

So, India will have its own issues going forward, in addition to the glacial pace of true economic and social reform in the country. So, we don't know if this BRIC belongs in the wall of fame yet.

Related developments in Afghanistan shouldn't be surprising either, as US commanders are now citing the deterioration in the southern Afghan Taliban strongholds. Great progress has been made with limited resources, but the insurgencies in Afghanistan and Pakistan are very closely related. Developments in both countries bear much more in-depth, thoughtful dialogue and foreign policy initiatives. In the long-run, that would be good politics and good business.

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