Lies, Damned Lies and…Indexes?

Commentary | July 12, 2010

Writing for, W. Pal Sidhu, discusses the 2010 Global Peace Index's dismal assessment of South Asia and the role regional powers can play in reversing troubling trends towards instability.

“In what might be the understatement of the year, the GPI notes that the ‘world has become slightly less peaceful in the last year,’ and argues that in some states the decline in peace ‘appears to be linked to the global economic downturn,’” Sidhu writes.

Of the 149 ranked states, four South Asian countries are ranked in the bottom twenty—Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar—with Pakistan ranked among the bottom five.  "Of all these, Pakistan’s descent into the bottom five—sinking three places since last year—should be of particular concern.” Sidhu argues, adding: "While many in the region, including in Pakistan, do not wish that country any good, it is worth pondering the negative implications of a less peaceful and unstable Pakistan on the region."

Sidhu disagrees with the correlation the GPI draws between these negative trends in regional security and the recent economic downturn. “While this may be true for Portugal, Greece and Spain, which experience the ‘largest decline in peacefulness of any region,’ it does not resonate in the case of India and China, both of which registered high economic growth rates over the past year despite the relative decline in peacefulness,” he writes.

India has a special role in addressing the situation, Sidhu suggests. "Clearly, India, as the self-professed benign and responsible hegemon in the subcontinent, must bear the onus for building the necessary institutions and providing the essential leadership to not only police the neighbourhood (and ensure the absence of violence), but also to establish 'a positive peace of justice, tolerance and plenty,'" he writes. "New Delhi would do well to adhere to these principles while addressing internal security challenges and before embarking on establishing a peaceful external neighbourhood."

Click here to read Sidhu's column on