Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Quandary that is Pakistan

Another good piece in the NYTimes on Pakistan and the continued protests against President Musharraf.

This paragraph covers the quandary well:
Before the Iraq war, the United States might have welcomed such a vigorous call for democracy. But with the war faltering, Bush administration officials, and some Democratic presidential candidates as well, are reacting with caution, fearing that democracy could be a recipe for instability. While the country’s military has a mixed record, they fear change, however well-intentioned, could endanger American security.
And this:
Pakistani moderates find the American attitude bewildering and dangerous. Just as they are beginning to believe democracy might return, they complain, the United States is abandoning them. “This is a movement of the enlightened, urban upper middle class,” said Rasul Baksh Rais, a Pakistani political analyst, in a telephone interview from Islamabad. “Where in the Muslim world have you seen a movement going on for three months and not a single shot fired by the protesters? It is unique in many respects.”
Recall Habermas' three step push to modernity: first economic rights, then legal rights, then political rights.

Musharraf opened up the country economically as none before (8% growth rate). But he has over-stepped point 2 by the de facto rule of the country by the generals and his ignorant reach into the judiciary, which has precipitated this crisis.

Read more

It's not entirely clear to me legal rights are shored up in Pakistan yet or not. If not, moving too quickly to #3 (political rights) could bring some of the instability feared.

Throw into the mix the Pakistani ISI's (Secret Intelligence) not so secret support for the Taliban and bin Laden hiding out in the tribal regions and the inability of the army/government to govern there and you have the mess (and possible catastrophe) that is Pakistan. Oh yeah and they are nuclear armed.

It seems more reasonable, as suggested in the article, that the military and urban class make a de facto arrangement and power sharing model. Not necessarily wide open ballotocracy democratic elections. The last set of elections in the 1990s caused an erosion of civil society. Why that would not take place again?

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