Islamic extremism in Pakistan?!
ISLAMABAD — Police wielding assault rifles rounded up opposition leaders and rights activists today after Pakistan's military ruler suspended the constitution, ousted the top justice, and deployed troops to fight what he called rising Islamic extremism.
The failure of American leadership to have a policy on Islamism has prevented the ability to provide a pro-active coherent policy in Pakistan that addresses both the strategic issues of pro-Islamist Pakistani public sentiment along with support in areas of the government and public for the Taliban, as well as the tactical issues of fighting “extremists” in Afghanistan who have found safe haven in NWFP in Pakistan.
Ali Eteraz suggests Secretary Rice might be insincere about democracy in Pakistan. Insincerity in diplomacy?!
Disengaged western audiences, pumped full of the current pro-democracy intoxicants, will almost universally decry Musharraf's behaviour. I decry it too, precisely because I am a disengaged westerner and I have that luxury.
However, the story in Pakistan is not so straightforward. What I am being told by bazari merchants, some young professionals, and some industrialists in Karachi and Lahore is that they merely care for stability, whether it comes in the form of the military, or in the form of democracy. Incidentally, many of them believe that it is Musharraf who is more likely to assure that stability. A couple of people, with middle class businesses, suggested to me that Musharraf should behave more like a dictator; a secular version of the previous Islamist dictator, Zia ul Haq, in order to assure stability for business and economic growth.
However, that is a minority view. The democratic push in Pakistan is not some sort of romantic affair pitting slaves against a demonic genocidal Stalin. Musharraf made his errors (like the Red Mosque fiasco and the
disappearances linked to the War on Terror) but he is not homicidal. Cinema, music, the arts and freedom of press are thriving in Pakistan. The popular satire programme - "We are Expecting" - has a regular character mocking Musharraf, which does nothing more than grunt and proclaim "Yes!" in a loud voice.
Musharraf has, in fact, helped the Pakistani economy and business, admitted even by democracy-promoting analysts. Until this year, when the democracy push struck, construction projects were booming and money from Dubai was pouring in. In fact, a study published by the anti-military newspaper, Dawn, showed that: "Nonetheless, in the eight year period since the latest take over by the military, the size of the economy increased by almost 50% and that of income per head of the population by nearly 25%."
I hope all those Islamic Bombs stay tucked away.
A.Q. Khan says Western governments repeatedly tried to prevent Pakistan from developing a nuclear weapon capability, but they were foiled by the greed of their own companies: "Many suppliers approached us with the details of the machinery and with figures and numbers of instruments and materials ... In the true sense of the word, they begged us to purchase their goods. And for the first time the truth of the saying, They will sell their mother for money,' dawned on me. We purchased whatever we required..."