From the Inbox

Posted by sepoy on January 23, 2008 · 3 mins read

The good folks at The Century Foundation sent this word:

Are the United States and wider international community partly responsible for Pakistan's political meltdown? Even before the year-end slaying of Benazir Bhutto, General Pervez Musharraf's abrupt imposition of emergency rule triggered a downward spiral in Pakistan, upending the country's legal institutions and putting in doubt the legitimacy of the electoral exercise scheduled for next month. The U.N. Special Representative on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Hina Jilani, a Pakistani who ironically is now herself in the situation of an embattled human rights defender, led a roundtable discussion at The Century Foundation on 20 December 2007 about Guiding Democracy in Pakistan: Has the International Community Failed?

Leading off the discussion are:
Hina Jilani, Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, and Secretary-General of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan; and
Mort Halperin, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, and Director of U.S. Advocacy at the Open Society Institute.

CM friend Anil Kalhan makes a lounge-y appearance as well!

And World Public Opinion.Org:

I thought you might like to view the results of a survey of the Pakistani public conducted by in collaboration with, and with financial support from, the U.S. Institute of Peace.

The study probes such issues as:
How much support is there among Pakistanis for democracy?
How wide and deep is support for Islam gaining a greater role in the governance of Pakistan? How much underlying support is there for Pakistan to become a fundamentalist Islamic state?
How does the Pakistani public view the country's plethora of militant fundamentalist groups? How well do they understand what these groups are doing and trying to achieve?
How do Pakistanis feel about al-Qaeda and the Taliban operating in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)? Do they want the government to try to assert more control of these areas? Do they approve of the special status for the FATA?

To view and download the report describing the findings please visit The press release is also pasted below. A Reuters article analyzing the findings of the poll can be viewed here.

And finally Devin Theriot-Orr and Shahid Buttar sent a Press Release from the Rule of Law Project - a report compiled by the National Lawyers Guild delegation of eight lawyers and law students who recently visited Pakistan and the Lahore University of Management Sciences. The executive summary, as well as a sign-on letter, are posted at The full report: Defending Dictatorship: U.S. Foreign Policy and Pakistan's Struggle for Democracy [pdf].

My travellin' ways kept me from the spreadin' and the notifyin' ....


Desi Italiana | January 24, 2008

"Are the United States and wider international community partly responsible for Pakistan's political meltdown?" Yes!

elizabeth | January 25, 2008

! Anil is not the only CM friend making a cameo. But my thinly-veiled seekrit identity is not compromised. Whew. They did a nice job of editing this, but left out some of Hina Jilani's best one-liners, and the discussion was not quite as US policy-centric as this would imply. In other news, assorted members of the NYC Chapati Auxiliary are attending Imran Khan's various speaking engagements round town today. The Asia Society was packed. While he was saying all the right things on the emergency, rule of law, media, the failings of military dictatorship etc., I'm very curious about the relability of certain appeals-to-history made in the course of his comments. If you get a chance to listen to the audio, I'd be interested to hear your take.

sepoy | January 25, 2008

e: Your seekrit identity will be revealed to the world after I go through that video with a fine freeze frame! Will listen to the AS thingie and report back ... and give everyone the seekrit CM gang sign!

Desi Italiana | January 25, 2008

From the opinion poll's summarization: "A poll of 907 urban Pakistanis reveals that this image does not fit Pakistan. As if to create a paradox for the American mind, a large majority of Pakistanis wants to see a greater role for Islam and Shari'a (Islamic law) in Pakistani society — but at the same time want more democracy, favoring liberalizing reforms and opposing al-Qaeda." This is quite interesting...I know 907 Pakistani Muslims don't represent 165 million Pakistanis, but this idea- desiring "democracy" but wanting religion to play a large role in the public sphere at the same time- is one I've heard voiced by many middle class Pakistanis. It's quite difficult for me to make logical sense out of pairing up religion with democracy, and it's hard for me to understand the need some feel to always have religion present in the state, judiciary, or whatever. I've asked folks who believe in the idea of, say, an "Islamic democracy" and what that exactly means and how that would play out. Their answers that contradict one another and to say the least, illogical. But I've been told that I should ask not them, bu people "who know this stuff a lot more" and take their word for it... I don't know if you've ever touched on this, Sepoy, but I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

Desi Italiana | January 25, 2008

It's like when I hear someone argue for India becoming a Hindu state, and/or arguing for a greater role of Hinduism in politics and governance. The two just don't mix for me.