Pakistan, failed nuclear non-state
Pakistan is an enigma for us in the West. We don’t understand what is going on, in particular we don’t understand it when the new president, Asif Ali Zardari (and the husband of Benazir Bhutto, extremist assassinated twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan) has absolutely nothing to say, at least to us in the West, about the fact that the Taliban, bent on this President’s destruction, as well as the destruction of democratic Pakistan, is in the process of occupying large segments of the North-West Frontier Province, beginning with the Switzerland of Pakistan, the Swat Valley, a region that used to be a highly popular tourist destination, hardly one hundred miles from Islamabad.
Writing today, Saturday, April 25, 2009, in the Pakistani English language newspaper, Dawn, Irfan Husain makes a number of devastating and frightening (given Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal) judgments about his own country, judgments that must be hard to swallow, let alone live with, by our Department of State and our Military in their up until now mostly vain attempt to keep the country, Pakistan, from becoming another Somalia where lawless pirates rule.
To read Husain is to become painfully aware of one of the, what should I call them, civilization gaps that exist in today’s world. These gaps are everywhere, but most visible and frightening where they directly or indirectly threaten our Western civilization, such as in the heart of Africa, in the Congo and in Darfur and Somalia, in the Middle East, North Korea, and perhaps most of all in Pakistan.
Pakistan while given country status at the time of the partition of India, on August 14, 1947, in fact never became a real country, never established settled national borders, never agreed on the measure of autonomy to be exercised by the original federating units, never adopted an official language, or at least one that was spoken by the majority of the population, (English is the official language of Pakistan while Urdu is the national language although not being a native language or the mother tongue of any native group in the country) and most important, and that which must greatly frustrate the country’s rulers, never achieved a broad consensus on the nature and direction of the state.
And it’s all too painfully visible in the news from Pakistan reaching us today, that the government still has not established its monopoly on the use and means of force, essential for any government to govern. There is still too much physical power, too much use of deadly force (witness the recent assassinations of village elders in Swat, and the earlier Red Mosque and any number of other violent incidents attributed to home grown Pakistani extremists) in the hands of the opponents of the state.
According to Husain Pakistan’s failure stems largely from the long delay in forging a consensus on the constitution, and partly from the frequent military interventions that repeatedly eroded respect for the constitution and the rule of law. In Husain’s words,
“Poorly educated military dictators with no sense of history attempted to come up with half-baked concepts that have laid waste to the institutions we inherited from the British.”
On the question of the country’s borders the rulers of Pakistan have generally opted for military confrontation instead of dialogue and discourse, in particular confrontation with India where such was hardly necessary, or at least hardly foreshadowed a mortal threat to Pakistan,
“Pakistani militarists have driven foreign and defense policies, arming to repel real and perceived dangers from abroad, while creating a Frankenstein monster within the country.” [The Frankenstein monster being the Pakistani military, evidently joined at the hip with extremist, jihadi elements in their midst.]
“Money that should have been spent on education and health was diverted into the insatiable black hole of bloated military budgets…. millions of young people remain uneducated and unemployed.
“Filling the educational vacuum are the thousands of madressahs, many financed by Saudi Arabia, that do not equip students for careers in the modern world….[creating instead] a fertile breeding ground [for Taliban and Qaeda recruiters].
“Talk to any conservative Pakistani today, and he will assert that as Pakistan was created in the name of Islam the Sharia should be the law of the land. It would be futile to point out that Jinnah [Pakistan's founder] envisioned a secular state in which all Pakistanis would be equal citizens.”
“Instead of fighting [the jihadi militants] the ruling elites continue their double game of playing footsie with the Taliban, while laying claim to billions in western aid….
“Many people are confused about the issues underlying this crisis: having been told that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam, they are now being asked to accept that the real enemy is not Hindu India, but fanatics who want to impose their stone-age rule in the name of Islam.
“Such contradictions cannot be easily resolved, especially in a deeply conservative society where illiteracy is rampant. When simple, poorly educated soldiers are warned by mullahs that they will not be accorded a Muslim burial if they fall fighting the Taliban, it is understandable that they should be reluctant to go into combat.”
And into this impenetrable swamp of a country now steps General Petraeus:
In Breaking News of Saturday, April 25, 2009, we read that, Gen David Petraeus, head of the US Central Command, has sought Congressional support for a $3 billion program to enhance Pakistan’s counter insurgency capability, while stressing that the United States must be seen as a reliable ally of this key South Asian country.
What are the chances of the General’s efforts succeeding? What are our chances of lessening the civilization gap between our two lands? Given the trillion dollar amounts in bail-outs that we read about daily the $3 billion is not a lot of money. But given the situation that Husain describes is there any chance at all that these monies, or even much more, will make a difference?Explore posts in the same categories: Current Affairs