Monday, August 18, 2008

Whither Pakistan?

First question that comes to my mind is,
should we care? I mean, a non-descript
religious country 7,000 miles from the
U.S., is it in our sphere of geopolitical
interests? With a poor economy, is it
important as a trading partner? Why are
we in Pakistan? Is it because the British
were? Have we become the successor state
to the British empire? Do we have to carry
on the "whiteman's burden"? Why does over
half of Pakistan detest the U.S.? Is
Musharraf the easy "target" for Pakistanis?

It's, "breaking news" today folks, that is,
Musharraf is to step down as the leader of
Pakistan. It's being called in Pakistan as
"a victory of democratic forces." Of course,
it is easy for us to call Musharraf anti
democratic as we sit and write in a free
and democratic country. Afterall, he wore
a military uniform as his dress code. We
were brought up on the fact to fear the man
on horseback with a military uniform. Yet,
we had an Eisenhower and a Jimmy Carter.
Anyone remember the popularity of the
"Eisenhower jacket" in the 1950s? Nah, we
don't like military men; they are bad!

For us who oppose the war in Iraq, Musharraf
was the easy "whipping boy" for us to criticize
the Bush-Cheney-Rice-Rumsfeld, et al cabal for
saddling us with a pre-emptive war for petroleum
and reconquest of the "holy lands". There is,
however, another way to view and evauluate
Musharraf. Pakistan is at the same time a
modern country with nuclear weapons and a
feudal country living in terrible poverty. The
wealthy live in modern cities with large property
rights and their children travel the world and
attend western universities. When these children
return to Pakistan, the military becomes a major
source of employment. On the otherhand, there
are the mojority of the population who are poor
and controlled by the mullahs and their political
supporters. What appears to have happened in
Pakistan is that in this dichotmy of free and
unfree, of intolerant religion and religious
toleration, the force that has been able to
keep some semblance of order has been the
military. Of course, then, it is a mixed
bag. The mullahs have been kept in check, but
claims of an anti-democratic military are there
as well. Bush et al packaged Musharraf very
badly and sold him poorly. By that I am
suggesting, Musharraf was sold as anti-terrorist,
and little was done to describe or educate about
the real problems Musharraf was dealing with in
Pakistan. It seems Musharraf did not want increased
influence of terrorism in Pakistan and that became
his motivation of allowing himself to get close
to Bush et al. Now, Bush has made "Mush" of Musharraf!
Rice, commenting today, Monday, on Musharaff's
resignation said something about not interferring in
the internal affairs of other countries.

We have to learn that the word "democracy" means one
thing when applied to the U.S., but it can mean some
thing different in other areas of the world. The
Soviet Union said it had a democratic Constitution, and
it did. But, there could only be one Party! In
Pakistan, the Mullahs will say they believe in democracy
and practice it; in this case its the rule of one
religion. Will the U.S. and the West be able to keep
its hands of Pakistan after Musharraf? Especially a country
with a traditinal enemy on its southern border, India, which
is another nuclear power. But, is that sufficient for
the U.S. to be involved...Would McCain call this a sufficient
case of "U.S. national interests" being involved to broaden
us in another war over terrorism? In Pakistan, it is the
religious fundamentalist party, the second largest party, that
has forced Musharraf out, and is calling for his death as a
traitor. They want him dead as Musharraf prevented for nine
years, the Mullahs and the reactionary fundamentalists from
gaining power "through democratic means." Perhaps, we need
to evaluate Musharraf in this light...

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