Monday, May 14, 2007

In the Line of Fire Again...

If there is one developing country in the world Britons should really be keeping an eye on it is Pakistan. Thanks to old colonial links and the large British Pakistani community that nation's problems can have serious affects on British society. Pakistan is also crucial to the success of our mission in Afghanistan. Simon Tisdall takes a look at what is going on in that troubled country for Comment is Free. His article is a little muddled but his analysis is interesting. I think the important question is not "when will Musharraf leave", the issue Tisdall focusses upon, but "how will Musharraf leave".

Musharraf, is in serious trouble. Protests in an isolated rural area would be easy to dismiss. Riots in Karachi can imply a genuine threat to the regime. Talk of revolution is still a little premature. Hopefully, whenever change comes it will not entail too much violence. Violent political change is never fun. A bloody resolution to this crisis would be particularly unfortunate as it would increase the credibility of hardliners both in the miltary and the opposition.

Some kind of transition is needed that will convince the military its position and the person of its leaders are not threatened. Violence may encourage them to crack down in order to protect themselves from the mob. At the same time it needs to be shown that relatively secular and moderate opposition can be successful. That would undermine Islamist attempts to pose as the only effective opposition to military or corrupt rule. Once the opposition takes over it then needs to prove able to govern. It needs to prove the "apr├Ęs-moi le deluge" predictions by the military that the country will fall apart without their stewardship wrong.

Central to progress in Pakistan will be involving the wider populace in Pakistani democracy and ending the semi-feudal landlord dominance. This is easier said than done but the institutions of democracy will not last if the population is not properly invested in them.

2 comments:

Gracchi said...

Matt I concur that Pakistan needs peaceful change- just another reason is that they sit on nuclear weapons and its always best to avoid uncertainty with those around

james higham said...

The country I'm looking at is Turkey. Pakistan is also vital. As you know, I live in a Muslim republic and it's a vital question about secularism v sharia.