By Geoffrey Cook, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
President Musharraf fired the Chief Justice of his nation as black-suited lawyers hit the streets in protest recently. Journalists are now demonstrating on the same streets, for having freedom of the press curtailed on their reporting of this issue.
Pakistan and the US have been uneasy allies since September11, 2001–an alliance formed in the crucible of brutal American threats.
The quotes in this story are by the editor of Pakistanâ€™s Frontline and a Pakistani professor at the University of Texas (U.T.) who declared, â€œPakistan is the most ungovernable nation in the world!â€
Too often, such alliances historically have been â€œshot gunâ€ marriages forced upon Pakistan by the US, and that after 9/11 was the last such incident.
In the 1980s both the US and Pakistan were anti-Soviet partners (which goes back to the â€œGreat Gameâ€ of the British Indian Empire and the Russian Empire in the Nineteenth Century over what has now become Afghanistan). After the Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan at the end of the 1980s, so did America withdraw their aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan, leaving them floundering. Afghanistan fell into a five-way civil war, and military and civil help to Karachi, ended, leaving some to think we had betrayed our loyal allies.
Now, after their defeat in the 2001 War, the Taliban has re-organized, mainly in Pakistan itself. One of the reasons is because the U.S. has failed structurally to rebuild the Afghanistan that we have destroyed so thoroughly.
Pakistani politics are complex. The role of the Army has increased tremendously. The Armed Forces make almost all major decisions. Pak society is completely militarized. The generals interpret the law fully supported by the U.S.A. The Defense Forces have expanded their role into the corporate sector. (In fact, I was at a conference as a chair in Monterey. One of the presenters from the Peshawar [main city in the Northwest Provinces] told me that the Army even produces the breakfast cereal available in the civilian stores!)
For counter-insurgency, Pakistan must have free and fair elections for stability. The uprising in Afghanistan has emboldened Pakistanâ€™s enemies. The Taliban has retaken large chunks of the Hindu Kush, and Pakistan and Afghanistan have become Great Power pawns pulling Rawalpini into the international fray.
The West targets â€œthe land of the Pureâ€ (i.e. the great poet Iqbalâ€™s name for the Republic), too. â€œWithout a proper democracy we cannot win this War on Terror.â€
Yes, an extension of Al-Qaeda has come down from Islamabadâ€™s mountains. The upcoming three to four months are crucial for Pakistanâ€™s long-term future. â€œA change in governmental form is necessary!â€ Democratic elections are needed, but that probably will not happen any time soon.