Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Trouble With Pakistan

Or... "What's the Problem With Pakistan" -- Foreign Affairs.

An interesting piece well worth a read. The "Sumit Ganguly" guy can't help himself but be an un-abashed advocate for the Indian interests but still it's a good piece and Stephen Cohen poked his ass a little in part III ! lol.

Another reason why we need Pakistani intellectuals in influential Think Tanks and in positions of influence in western capitals (and eastern capitals for that matter). How long are the crazy citizen blogger-journalists going to try to fight a losing battle for a state ruled by an exceedingly incompetent 'ruling class' ??

I will quote two passages by Aqil Shah, for the rest, run over to ForreignAffairs.Org and help yerself!

Aqil Shah: Recent events in Swat show only that the military-dominated Pakistani state is either unwilling or unable to perform its basic function: enforcing the legitimate monopoly over the means of coercion and administration in its own territory. Even if we concede that striking a cease-fire agreement with the Taliban was the only feasible option in the face of abject military failure and the rising human costs of the military campaign, how is the government going to make sure that the Taliban have made a credible commitment? What is to stop the Taliban from reneging on their promises? Press reports suggest that they have already violated the terms of the cease-fire agreement by attacking and kidnapping security personnel, just as they did in all of the previous "peace deals" in the FATA. The cease-fire agreement basically gives the Taliban a pass on their crimes against the state. They have terrorized the population, burnt down hundreds of girls' schools in Swat, and murdered civilians and military personnel. As Shaun says, it's déjà vu all over again.


Aqil Shah: The transition to democracy has done little to change the dynamics of political power. The politicians appear too busy protecting their flanks to realize the gravity of the situation. Opinion polls show a sharp downslide in public confidence in the government's performance. The Sharif-Zardari showdown may not have been unexpected, but it has certainly disappointed Pakistanis who perceived the 2008 elections and their results as a first step toward extricating Pakistan from its authoritarian trap. The political, economic, and security problems faced by the elected government are largely legacies of Musharraf's military rule. But the PPP [Pakistan People's Party] government cannot hide behind that excuse to mask its own incompetence. Power in Pakistan, as in any other aspiring democracy, needs to be restrained by the rule of law. This, in turn, requires the supremacy of the constitution, enforced by an autonomous judiciary. But the PPP-led government has used paltry subterfuges to subvert judicial independence and has held over other anti-democratic measures from the Musharraf era, such as the presidential power to arbitrarily sack elected governments. The PPP and other parties may find it inconvenient to be restrained by constitutional checks and balances, but without them democracy is likely to remain feeble and vulnerable to authoritarian backsliding. If that happens, civilian politicians will have to share a good part of the blame for squandering the democratic gains of the last few years.

And for the kicker, Shaun Gregory, uses the appropriate term for the Pakistani "ruling elite" ie; Kleptocratic ... yup! You heard it bitches! he said "KLEPTOCRATIC ELITE"

Shaun Gregory: I've just been re-reading Tariq Ali's (admittedly leftist) analysis of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, The Duel. The basic thesis is that since 1958 the major Western powers have put their own short-term interests first, propping up one military dictatorship after another and paying only lip service to support for democracy. If such a course had achieved U.S. and Western objectives, it could perhaps be countenanced. But it hasn't. For decades, Washington and others have put the interests of the Pakistan army and the country's tiny kleptocratic elite first while neglecting the Pakistani people. This is a basic error that cannot be repeated if Pakistan is to be turned around. I can't help thinking that if the same resources and intellectual energy that have been put into the Pakistani military had been put into genuine support for democracy, social progress, and development, we'd be in a very different place today. Over the past ten years, Washington has spent almost six billion dollars on the FATA, 96 percent of them on military activity and just 1 percent on development. This is a sterile, failed policy, and there surely have to be other ideas worth trying. The Obama administration says it wants to change course. We'll see if it does.

1 comment:

Jeffrey said...

CNN's current affairs show GPS hosted by Bombay born Fareed Zakaria sometimes tend to appear to be about Gandhian's Pet Statesmen.

In the Global Public Square dated 10 May 2009, it was instructive to see how Fareed Zakaria, invited an over expressive Shashi Tharoor and wedged him between analytical Richard Haas and for cosmetic representation, a nervous Columbia student, Aqil Shah. The spotlight shone over ever talkative Tharoor who Zakaria tipped to become India's next Foreign Minister if Congress wins the on-going elections. This exercise raises the question, if Zakaria used the discussion as means to promote Tharoor and other representatives of Indian Congress Party of which his father Rafiq Zakaria served as a deputy leader.