The problem…

…is beyond Musharraf writes Hussain Haqqani.

Pakistan has become a dysfunctional state, a tinderbox that may not light up for years, but could also go up in flames in an instant. The military’s ability to keep a lid on dissent has diminished with the emergence of well-armed militias, both Islamist and secular, in various parts of Pakistan.

Read the entire article here

New York Times agrees. May 23rd’s editorial states:

Washington’s uncritical support has also reinforced the general’s arrogance and insularity, which are at the heart of his current political problems. In March, he arbitrarily suspended Pakistan’s independent-minded chief justice, setting off protest demonstrations which have continued ever since. The suspension came as the court was preparing to hear challenges to the general’s schemes to keep himself in power — as both army commander and president — with his presidential candidacy ratified by the current, submissive Parliament, not the new one due to be elected later this year.

A succession of uniformed dictators has misruled Pakistan for more than half of its 60-year history. All have advertised themselves as great friends of Washington, but all have fanned extremism while discrediting America’s reputation among ordinary Pakistanis. There is no security with General Musharraf. The United States belongs on the side of Pakistani democracy.

Its hard to believe that its been eight years since I watched TV anxiously, to see the first images of the Pakistan Army seizing control of state run television, and hoping that things would change. I can never come to terms with the fact that we all believed that the worst was over. And now, in these critical times, we hope again, that things will become better.

I wonder what true freedom feels like.

  1. Questioning Mind said:

    Husain Haqqani has been making that argument for some time, including right after the 1999 coup when everyone else was so happy. He was a party pooper at that time, writing in ‘The Nation’ that the army is part of the problem and may not be part of the solution.

    Another person to consistently make that point was Ahmed Rashid.

    Haqqani’s book ‘Pakistan Between Mosque and Military’ was also excellent. But many of us got bogged down with his past party political affiliations and did not pay attention to his analysis until now. In other words, the focus on the messanger took attention away from the message.

    Now things are so bad everyone is waking up to the Haqqani-Rashid reasoning. I wish we had the ability and foresight to see beyond the moment and look at the big picture, which obviously is more complex and difficult.

  2. thesouthtoday said:

    Would you like for the United States to come to Pakistan and give you freedom? Does Pakistan have vast oil resources and are you an enemy of Israel. If so freedom could happen for you at any moment but it may cost you your culture, history and most of your infrastructure and half the population.

    If you desire freedom threaten Israel and we will show up at your doorstep tomorrow with bombs and we will hang your current military leader. No worries.

  3. Questioning Mind said:

    I think Pakistanis can take care of ourselves.

    In fact, it is U.S.-sponsorship of our military rulers that has brought us to the present sitaution.

    the nation is gradually working to get rid of that.

  4. thesouthtoday said:

    I was being ironic. My comments were not meant to be taken seriously. I was referring to our current holocaust against Arabs which 70% of the American population are dead against.

    By saying that the US props up your military you are saying that the US already controls the world. Why would we need to build an empire by invading nations in the middle east.

    In the era of Globalization there are no empires any longer. We didn’t have to invade Iraq to control its oil. We don’t have to invade China to take advantage of its markets nor do we have to invade India to take advantage of cheap labor.

    We are in the middle east because Zionist Jews use their money to run our government may they burn in hell. those who say it is about empire are lying propagandists. And of course they control our media.

    I doubt that you will be rid of the USA unless we destroy ourselves from within by bankrupting ourselves as a result of the damn jews in our government. Anytime we need to tweak Pakistan on behalf of corporate America there is no limit to what the ruling class is capable of. Perhaps it is the American people who need to get rid of some ruling elites.

  5. Massive said:

    So i take it that thesouthtoday is american. Nice to know. You are in great company you know. We often hear about Hitler’s anti-semeticizm (which for the record i dont condone), but its funny how Churchhill’s theory of the international jewish conspiracy (which i dont condone in public 😉 is considered a footnote and a lapse in otherwise reasonable thinking.
    Anyway about the anti-Mush’izm. What sort of friend of pakistan quotes that New York Times editorial. I mean SHIT! “There is no security with General Musharraf. The United States belongs on the side of Pakistani democracy.” It even goes on to say that eventhough previous governments of BB NS were tainted by corruption there would be no democracy without them, so they should be allowed… or something such. Does that article even pretend it doesnt just look out for USA’s interests and nothing else?
    I can understand if the people living in Karachi blame Musharaf, cuz they still have to deal with these strikes and blasts and stuff. But someone tell me whats the alternative to him. And please do not go into highflown MacroEconomic and Political discussions, you will just sound like the Musharaf you hate so much.

  6. Massive said:

    A friend of mine says that Miss Imtiaz was being sarcastic and she will laugh her head off when she reads my comments regarding the “friend of pakistan” stuff. I suppose its not beyond the realm of possibilities. If it is the case then this is slightly embarassing.

  7. thesouthtoday said:

    Here is an excerpt from an article by Pat Buchanon


    In Pakistan, the most dangerous country on earth – one bullet away from an Islamic republic with atom bombs – our erstwhile ally, President Musharraf, is caught in a political crisis over his ouster of the chief justice.


    Is Pakistan the most dangerous country on Earth? I don’t understand this reasoning. Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, all would be suicidal to attack the USA. Is Pakistan dangerous because the people of Islam are suicidal?

    Massive – isn’t killing Palestinians anti-semitism? Isn’t dropping 500 pound bombs on Iraqis who never did anything to us anti-semitism. Isn’t stereotying and spreading hatred of Islam and the entire Arab world anti-semitism?

    The Jews are tribal and they care about Israel and themselves and they do not assimilate into the countries where they live. Eventually they cause problems for the nation in which they live and its population.

    Consider that the United States of America fought against an Aryan Christian nation, Germany, and most of us are Aryan Christian. The ideology of ethnic or religious states goes against our Constitution which has served us well for over 200 years. We are a nation of laws. We do not believe in ethnic cleansing or genocide like in Israel.

    Today, because of Jewish money and influence in our government we are supporting the Jewish state and we have been bombed and targeted because of it.

    The Jews are behind an effort in the USA to “get Christians out of government” because our Consitution is against government sponsered religion at the same time they use their money to run our government. How do you think we are supposed to feel about that? Jews in our government are ok?

    This nation was founded and built by Aryan Christians and there has never been a time when Christians were not running the government. The jews are world class assholes who rant on about the Nazis and THE holocaust in order to label others Nazis if they dare criticise them and they claim that we should remember THE holocaust so it never happens again.

    The neocons in Bush’s White House and the ones behind our middle east policies are sleasy Jewish Zionists. What? I’m an antisemite if I speak the truth? When they rounded up Arabs and locked them away at Gitmo without due process do you know how many other jews took to the streets? None. So much for their bullshit propaganda bout never letting it happen again. They are the ones doing it. Do you think I like for my country to support a Jewish state and the ideology of ethnic or religous states? Has our entire history been a lie?

    We once had wonderful Arabists in our State Department but now Jews run everything with their money. Do you think this endears them to us. No wonder they can make money they have no responsiblity to government, our nation, nor to the general welfare.

  8. Questioning Mind said:

    So much sarcasm and comedy on such a serious issue.

    Maybe I should read some other blog where serious issues are considered seriously.

    When I want comedy and sarcasm, I watch TV.

    And to be so dismissive about leaders capable of winning elections (BB and NS)and claiming there is no alterantive to Mush and dont want macro-political or macro-economic analysis betrays the “I don’t want to think” approach of affluent Pakistanis.

    In politics there is always an alternative. Question is will it be one planned by someone or will an unplanned alternative manifest itself out of the blue some day. For example, an alternative to Mush will surely surface the day he dies.

  9. asad said:

    “And to be so dismissive about leaders capable of winning elections (BB and NS)and claiming there is no alterantive to Mush …”

    i think it’s possible, and appropriate, to make a clear distinction between a ‘ruler’ and a ‘leader.’ the clear distinction being that a ruler is someone in a position of authority and exercises power. a leader, on the other hand, is someone with the capacity to take a group of people somewhere they want to be.

    in a political system like most of those around the world today, i guess a ruler is someone who is elected to, or seizes, office, while a leader does not need to be elected to, or seize, office to make a difference.

    i think this links in nicely with the common observation – for those of you who take douglas adams’s words as sacred, i remember something to this effect in “restaurant at the end of the universe” – that the people who get elected are often not the best, or even good, leaders. that is, election-winning, or office-seizing, skills and leadership skills do not really have much to do with each other. hence, benazir, nawaz, pervez, george, etc.

    the transition to democracy in pakistan, or a transition to democracy in pakistan, cannot happen now or by the end of this year without a miracle, no matter how free, fair, and well-attended an election is. the ‘lawyer’s movement’ is inspiring, yes, but it was also clearly begun as a reaction in self-defense. they are not, and were not earlier, protesting against poverty, unemployment, misogyny, environmental degradation, easily avoidable deaths, etc. people in pakistan – hell, anywhere – need, desire, value food, healthcare, jobs, homes, a good environment, etc. democracy does not begin or end in a voting booth. people need to be able to express themselves freely in representative, participatory institutions when they wish, or no democracy. at least, not as i see it. and institutions can be as formal or informal as people wish. a shared set of ideas and values is the vital, but the litmus test of an institution – social movement may be a better term – is that people be able to support each other in action towards those ends they desire. leaders are discovered and recognised this way.

    self-expression, participation, representation: this is the democracy in my head.

  10. asad said:

    damn, i didn’t close the bold tag. sorry. i meant “or a transition to democracy in pakistan …”

    i guess that was bound to happen typing this out twice at DXB standing up with just a couple of hours of sleep and many hours of stress.

  11. Massive said:

    Listen lady, it aint my blog, i was just making a few comments i thought should be considered by Musharaf ( i really dont want the Mush title sticking to the poor fellow, that would just be cruel) bashers. So if you wanna threaten to leave this blog, do so to Miss Imtiaz.

    I dont know what it is about you QuestioningMind but i just pictured you as lady. I really dont mean anything by it, it would just be nice to have a confirmation or otherwise. (you have my word that upto this point there was no sarcasm, but after this there probably will be some)

    And who are you calling affluent? I dont belong to the class of people who have had direct porsche purchasing benefit from that 7%GDP growth in the last 4 years in Pakistan. Yeah i do expect there is a certain class of people that benefited from it disproportionately, but thats Pakistan whether Musharaf runs it or someone else runs it. The difference is someone else would be running to their swiss bank accounts after running it to the ground.

    And no offence, really, but i really dont know whether you are that stupid or think that people writing here are that stupid, presenting BB and NS (with their imaginable swiss visas) as great leaders just cuz they won elections. Sure there are alternatives to Musharaf, there are also alternatives to eating, but i dont go around with IV’s stuck in me. When someone says alternatives in these contexts, it usually means reasonable alternatives.

    And Asad thanx for that follow up about the bold thing. Firstly it makes a bit more sense and secondly it reinforces my perception that parliament is not in session as QM would like to believe.

    And finally since my preferring not to go into MacroEconomics seems to have triggered this whole thing. I retract my statement. If my permission is needed to start a MacroEconomic debate, it is hereby rendered.

    Cheerio then.

  12. Huma Imtiaz said:

    Hello commentators. I have not taken offense at any comment been published here, so why would I threaten to leave this blog? Carry on with the debate, everyone is entitled to an opinion and censorship is evil.

    Now in response to the content of the comments:

    QM: I’d agree with you – when Hussain Haqqani joined the PML, it put me off his op-ed pieces completely, but this article and his comments on CNN on May 12 did make him regain my respect somewhat.

    thesouthtoday: I’d disagree with you on the no empires bit – what about the great Neocon empire? 🙂

    Massive: I never implied that I agreed with the editorial in NYT. And I did laugh my head off 🙂

    QM – 2: I’m sure the corps commanders have a plan of action chalked out in the event of Musharraf’s untimely / timely death. The question though is what direction will the new president [if from the armed forces] take the country in? And more importantly, who is Musharraf’s successor?

    asad: can we really call them elected rulers when there have always been allegations of rigging in the polls? Hell, even George Bush stole an election!

  13. Massive said:

    Well nice to know you got a laugh out of it at my expense 🙂
    But you gotta admit, i wasnt all THAT quick in making my conclusion, cuz i dont know your political views that well and that was a mighty small para you wrote over there expressing your comments. One could possibly infer umm…. slightly differing conclusions on your views from it 🙂

  14. asad said:


    [i think massive was referring to questioningmind’s last comment about leaving (“Maybe I should read some other blog where serious issues are considered seriously”)]

    as for the legitimacy of pakistan’s elections, i don’t know how fair they have been. i’m not fully clear about your comment, but yes, if these people were elected unfairly, it’s incorrect to call them ‘elected,’ and it’s incorrect for me to use them as examples of bad leaders winning elections.

    just to be clear, it’s not that i have no faith in elections altogether. it’s just that a free and fair system of electing people to office should be, in my view, just one product of a democratic society. in other words, elections don’t make democracies; democracies hold elections.

    if the last few elections in pakistan – say from the early 90s on – had been fair, i don’t know if it would have made a huge difference because, as i wrote above, i feel democracy is overwhelmingly about the times in between elections. unfortunately, in pakistan, most social life exists in a thoroughly undemocratic atmosphere.

    one of my fears is that elections without social change will just set up a dictatorship of the majority. i think that might be better than the plunderbunds we have suffered to rule us – because i feel the majority in pakistan is made up of decent people [like myself :o)].

    but would it be better for people outside the majority? i think it would be sad to have that dictatorship of the majority pass for democracy.

  15. Wasiq said:

    Huma, Surely you mean “When Husain Haqqani joined PPP…” in 1993 because he has been with BB since then. He has also held no office since 1996 and has been teaching in the US since 2000 0r 2001. He changed opinions since his student politics days in the 1970s but has been consistent on the subject of democracy for the last ten or twelve years.

    Or are you confusing him with Mushahid Hussain who was with PML (N) and then joined PML (Q) and is now Secretary General of the Chaudhries’ party?

    Regarding the rest of the debate above, let me say democracy is a political system to which there is no alternative. Pakistan’s problems will not disappear if democracy comes but at least it would be a beginning. Without democracy, our country will only continue to increase its problems.

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