This is, of course, not the end, nor even the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning. Personally, I foresee the most serious threats to the evolution of a better, more democratic order (and i hasten to add that my standards are not high: Indian style corruption ridden democracy would be enough for a start) to come from 4 interconnected forces: 1. The intelligence agencies that became the unaccountable masters of the state under army rule and which still have potential for mischief. Those who are simply corrupt are not the biggest threat. They can readjust to new realities and continue with several kinds of financial corruption in a more democratic, civilian led order. But there are still ideologically motivated cadres in these agencies who see their role in messianic terms and will not easily cease their various conspiracies or give up their proxies. 2. The MQM, which has real public support and ability, but may find it hard to adjust to even minimal rule of law. They are not an insoluble problem though. With some delicate handling and (this is a bitter cup for most of us, but may have to be swallowed) if not pressed too hard on May 12th, they may yet opt to function semi-reasonably in a pakistani context. But Its not going to be easy... 3. The US embassy: Ambassador Anne Patterson has not exactly covered herself with glory in this matter. Even if one accepts (and many pakistanis do not) that their intentions are not all bad, their micromanagement of Pakistani politics is not good for pakistan. I am not privy to any confidential details, but from outside it does NOT look like they have moved much beyond the "drinks whisky, so he must be pro-western" level at which they used to operate in the sixties (as shown in declassified documents) 4. The jihadis. If the first 3 problems are solved, this problem can be solved as well (at least in Punjab and SIndh). Terrorism will remain a threat for years, and not just in Pakistan. But a stronger state with more transparent security agencies will have a much better chance to contain them.
Someone on our blog wrote to say that "we have only had 60 years to build democracy" and defended the US embassy as a force for good. I thought my reply may be relevant to my earlier comment here... I dont buy this "it took them 60 years" argument. We (as humans) have been on this planet for the same amount of time. The fact is, continuous ham-handed interference from the US embassy has contributed negatively to many of our biggest problems. Forget about all they do in pursuit of their interests in the region, EVEN when they want to fix things, they tend to make a mess, because their assessment is so pathetic. I know that our elite (all of us), left to its own devices, is capable of amazing errors and flights of fancy. So, for that matter, is our underclass, but they have less power to act on whatever mistaken notions they may have. But this is not unique to Pakistan. It is a common human problem (look at the number of Indian commentators who are apparently bowled over by Musharraf). We all make mistakes and stupid statements. I make them all the time. And we will never agree about which mistakes are the worst and which statements are the most foolish. But clearly there are some things about which I know a little more and many things about which I know less. The US embassy and its staff, almost by definition, know LESS than is needed (but more than is good for us). Having said that, I am sure there will be occasions when I will go around wishing the US embassy does A or pushes B.
Great chat yesterday! Sorry for being so facetious, I was a bit delirious waiting for the speech and being inundated with Long March news all weekend.
Congratulations! Despite all the qualifications one could/should make, this is welcome news indeed...
"This is not the time for revenge. This is time for political understanding," http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090316/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/lt_el_salvador_elections Is it coincidence that restoration of Judiciary in Pakistan and above mentioned events in El-salvador happening at same time Or Does it tell something about Health of the empire