The Happy Arab News Service

Thursday, January 3, 2008

9/11 comes to Pakistan

Last updated: April 9, 2009

October 20, 2007

Up to 500 of supporters of the returning opposition leader were killed and wounded when two suicide bombers struck at a huge crowd of dozens of thousands of Bhutto supporters who welcomed their leader back from exile. Bhutto was not hurt but she was visibly shocked by the sight of dead bodies scattered all around the truck she was driving in. Dozens of corpses were reported lying under a huge poster that read "Long Live Bhutto" on a day when the process of simmering discontent, rampant anti Americanism and Talibanization of the country has reached its fruition.

January 3, 2008

The World's Most Dangerous Place

This is how the Economist titled its new article about Pakistan: The world's most dangerous place. In a short and incomplete inventory of Pakistan's troubles the Economist lists:

the sectarian divide between Sunni and Shia Muslims;

the ethnic tensions between Punjabis, Sindhis, Pushtuns and “mohajir” immigrants from India;

the insurgency in Baluchistan;

and the spread of the “Pakistani Taliban” out of the border tribal areas into the heartlands.

In short, you name it, they got it. Yet the Economist believes not all is lost for Pakistan. "Nothing else has worked", it says and so "it is time for Pakistan to try democracy":

Yet Pakistan's plight is not yet hopeless. Two things could still help arrest its slide into anarchy, improbable though both now seem. The first is a credible investigation into Miss Bhutto's murder and the security-service lapses (or connivance) that allowed it to happen . . .

Second, there could be a fair election. This would expose the weakness of the Islamist parties. In the last general election in 2002, they won just one-tenth of the votes, despite outrageous rigging that favoured them. Even if they fared somewhat better this time, they would still, in the most populous provinces, Sindh and Punjab, be trounced by the mainstream parties. An elected government with popular support would be better placed to work with the moderate, secular, professional tendency in the army to tackle extremism and bring Pakistan's poor the economic development they need.


There are still some questions though. For example, what if fair elections instead of exposing the weakness of the Islamist parties will achieve just the opposite?

Or, why does the Economist think that an elected government with popular support is better placed to bring Pakistan's poor the development they need? On one hand the Economist admits that the record of both Bhutto and the surviving leader of the second major opposition party is not really impressive. "In truth," it says, "both Miss Bhutto and Mr Sharif were lousy prime ministers." On the other hand, during the few years of Musharraf's reign Pakistan has enjoyed a very robust and stable economic growth. When it comes to the economy the general has a better record than probably all of his democratic predecessors together.

The Economist seems to have an unshakable faith in this magic wand called democracy. There are many people who would be more skeptical as to how democracy is going to save Pakistan. In particular those of them who've seen Gaza.

This is why I am still procrastinating with my "Shalom Bhutto" post. Why bother if I may soon be able to deal with Bhutto (and maybe Sharif) away in one go in one big Shalom post that I'll call . . . you guess . . . "Shalom Pakistan"


All of my Shalom (farewell) posts can be accessed through Shalom Haver tag below.

April 9, 2009

Time to bid Shalom?

President Barack Obama’s new regional strategy puts Pakistan at its centre. Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Richard Holbrooke, the special envoy to the region, visited Pakistan this week. At a dinner for journalists the two men conceded that America was not winning in Afghanistan but seemed at odds over whether it was actually losing.

American prophecies for Pakistan are no more optimistic. A recent report for the Atlantic Council, an American think-tank, gave warning that “time is running out” for Pakistan. Separately, David Kilcullen, an adviser to the Bush administration, has said Pakistan might face “internal collapse” within six months.

Source: The Economist

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