Monday, April 02, 2007

Is Musharraf Losing His Grip in Pakistan?

This is an interesting piece about socio-political trends in that extremely important country of Pakistan. The picture included here and in the article is certainly something to consider. I found it hard to reconcile the beginning of the article with the conclusion that perhaps US interests would best be served by a democracy without Musharraf in Pakistan.

Sounds sort of like "Iraq would be more peaceful without Saddam." I'm not saying the two dictators are of the same cloth, but recent history may be proving to us that democracies don't necessarily work everywhere. Then again, the neighboring Indians run a (relatively) peaceful democracy. So, it's a gamble that I would like to get an Indian point-of-view Pakistan likely to be a more peaceful neighbor with or without a strong-armed dictator? And would they stay a democracy, or would they succumb to Islamic theocracy?

Sir Chuck, wondering out loud


  1. Dictatorship cannot succeed as a form of democracy in any nation as it is built on the principal of fear rather than confidence, trust and loyalty; Pakistan has long been a victim of military rule, Zia-ul Huq once ruled Pakistan in the same way Musharraf is doing now. Pakistan I think is torn between a true democracy and an Islamic form of government ( like Iraq/Iran). I don't see any reason to believe that Pakistan would be a more peaceful neighbor without a strong-armed dictator, at-least in case of Musharraf the interests if any are his own, unlike a democratic form of government where the interests change every 5 years.

    signing off on that note,

  2. Democracy. The word rings pleasant bells in our minds when we think about it. Images of the developed word, the EU, US etc. flow through our minds. We feel great about the freedom we enjoy, the opportunities we have and the equality of all people.

    But, I feel that there is another component that makes these developed countries developed, and that is education. All these countries have almost 100 % literacy rate. And “literacy” here means much more than just being able to read and write your name (which is criteria of calling someone ‘literate’ in most of the developing countries)

    Even by the standards of the developing countries, the literacy rates for these countries are below 60% (for India it’s 59.5%, for Pakistan it’s 48.7%). People are uneducated, poverty looms large.

    The (democratic) leaders of theses countries just want to get elected to the high offices, where they can use the power of the office to get huge bribes and secure the future of their generation to come. And since they have the law in their hand, they could never be prosecuted.

    These leaders would use any tool (religion, caste, are the favorites. ‘America is the root of all evil’ is becoming the fast favorite) to get elected. They don’t care if the common man turns into a terrorist or a suicide bomber as long as they can enjoy all the luxuries.

    You can just look at the huge fortunes these (democratic) leaders have amassed in their home countries and banks abroad.

    I believe that Musharraf is a safe bet for not only India, but the whole world. He could tap the fanatics. He is educated (unlike most of the leaders) and disciplined (comes from the army).

    Just getting people to vote (when most of them don’t even know who they are voting for) does not make a Democracy. And to tap the fanatics, Pakistan doesn’t need a populist leader but a strong-armed dictator.

  3. Thanks, Vijay, Satinder, for your comments. As I suspected, people closer to the subject at hand have different viewpoints than global bureaucrats and journalists who live in the world of theory.