…cobbled together by European powers in the twentieth century, Pakistan is a front-runner for the most inherently unstable and, if you’ll pardon a soupçon of hyperbole, flat-out craziest. Given that it was stitched together from four major provinces with little commonalities save Islam, its populace is fractious at best and tends to rally around anything presented as a Muslim cause—e.g., rioting in the streets about against The Satanic Verses (killing six in an attack on the American Cultural Center, despite the fact Rushdie was a Briton published by a British house—and which riots allegedly inspired Khomeini’s fatwa), celebrating the murder of the novel’s Japanese translator, assassinating a high court judge who acquitted two Christians of blasphemy charges, backing the Taliban and Islamist terrorist groups in India and so forth. This radicalization, already well advanced by the time V.S. Naipaul wrote his devastating Among the Believers in 1981, was only compounded by the continuing influence of the regional Deobandi school of Islam and the massive influx of Saudi money setting up free madrasa schools.
(N.B. This is not intended as indictment or caricature of all Pakistanis or any particular Pakistani, but an indication of some powerful and violent fault lines in Pakistani political and social life.)
As Ghettoputer pointed out, as theoretically welcome as the restoration of democracy in Pakistan is, in practice Musharraf’s resignation likely means trouble ahead for the United States. Not only will Pakistan destabilize as traditional ethnic rivalries slug it out inconclusively in the political area leaving all parties weakened, but the anti-American*, pro-Islamist sector of the public—the majority—will once again come to the fore.
This is a long way of introducing this excellent article limning some of the problems that the new Pakistan will pose by the Iranian exile journalist Amir Taheri. A couple excellent points:
“Now they may seek other diversions – demagogic tricks such as rehabilitating A.Q. Khan, the so-called Father of the Pakistani Nuclear Bomb, and the man who sold atomic technology and equipment to Iran, Libya and North Korea.
Worse, they might release thousands of Pakistani Taliban terrorists on the pretext that they were “victims of Musharraf’s dictatorship.”
The PPP and MLN have also made it clear they wish to cool down relations with America, which they see as an unreliable ally whose policies could radically change depending on who wins the White House.
In this they’re not wrong, I fear. (Cf. last ¶.)
The Bush administration’s decision not to utter a word in support of Musharraf (the man who took the strategic decision to turn Pakistan into a US ally in 2001), plus the chorus of attacks on him in the US media, confirmed that impression.
Hooray, Bush Administration public diplomacy! (To the ŒV’s mind easily the most consitently and dramatically dreadful portion of Dubya’s foreign policy.) And in conclusion:
The Bush administration played a crucial role in helping to restore democracy to Pakistan. But it hasn’t devised a policy to deal with the more complex situation that the return to democracy has created.
Let’s hope the abundantly gifted, terribly charismatic, and incredibly dynamic (for good and ill) Pakistanis and we can come up with a mutually satisfactory modus vivendi (which ultimately includes clearing al-Qâ’ida out of Waziristan). If not, that green and white flag up there may betoken a bad moon rising.
St. Thomas the Apostle, patron of Pakistan, ora pro nobis.
* Negative:Positive view of the U.S.: 68%:15%.
Dislike American ideas of democracy: 72%.
Positive view of American movies, music, and tv: 4%; American science and technology, 36%; spread of American ideas: 4%.
Favorable opinion of Iran: 68%.
Favorable opinion of China: 79%.
—Pew Global Research, 27 June 2007.
These attitudes may be superficial or passing, but they’re not ambiguous.
Don’t ask impertinent questions like that jackass Adept Lu.