Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the author’s alone. The writer is a former Reuters Middle East correspondent who now works in documentaries for Channel 4. Here he writes about how Pakistan looks from London.
By Amil Khan
It’s nice to feel wanted. If you are British-Pakistani, British of Pakistani descent, Anglo-Pakistani, or whatever, it’s a familiar and complicated state of mind. Britain is keen that you feel British – even though no one can explain what that really means. On the other hand, if you describe yourself as “British” to a born and bred Pakistani, you might as well have “traitor” stamped on your forehead.
This identity tug of war partly explains why I have a love-hate relationship with my father’s country, but it’s not the whole story. Pakistan – like other former colonies – has a national love-hate relationship of its own with Britain. But that’s not why I have one with Pakistan. Being born of immigrant parents always means that you have more than one part of the world claiming your loyalties. But that’s not it either. After all, many people have multiple loyalties. You can be far more content being British and Indian.
One of the more troublesome aspects of the latest protests in Kashmir, among the biggest since a separatist revolt erupted in 1989, is the impact on the younger generation.
In an op-ed in the New York Times, Indian writer Pankaj Mishra writes that India’s attempt to crush the revolt in 1989 and 1990 ended up provoking many young Kashmiris to take to arms and embrace radical Islam.
You have to be living in Pakistan, or have gone through the “madness” of the last year or so to understand the despondency that is likely to be caused by the International Cricket Council’s decision to postpone next month’s Champions trophy because of security concerns, writes columnist Osman Samiuddin.
Cricket is close to most people’s hearts in South Asia, and for Pakistan to lose the game’s second most important tournament after the World Cup hurts. Yes, there is a war out there in the northwest, yes there are suicide bombings, and in the middle of all this, there is political uncertainty that can turn ugly very quickly, as has happened so often in the past.
The resignation of President Pervez Musharraf has, as expected, unleashed a new power struggle within Pakistan’s fractious coalition. Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and widower of Benazir Bhutto, has staked a claim to the presidency, setting him on a collision course with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) sees Zardari’s candidacy as an attempt to garner more power and delay the restoration of judges sacked by Musharraf last November. PML (N) officials are already saying the row could break up the six-month-old coalition cobbled together after elections in February.
So will there be a fight to the finish between Zardari and Sharif that will drag Pakistan deeper into the mire? Or are the two men simply manoeuvring themselves into the best position they can find in the post-Musharraf era?
“There’s a vast majority, a significant middle of the population of Pakistan (that) is democratic and middle-class. But what’s happening is, absent free elections, you’re forcing them underground, radicalizing them, and you’re giving great sway to that portion of the population that’s already radicalized,” he was quoted as saying.
KABUL (Reuters) – Intelligence reports said insurgents planned an ambush or might have planted an Improvised Explosive Device under the bridge west of Kandahar so a patrol was sent to check it out. “Probably bullshit,” said the U.S. major. “But we got to go take a look.”
Last week the Canadians were soul-searching about their presence in Afghanistan after three female aid workers, two of them Canadian, were killed in an ambush. ”(The) Canadian deaths in Afghanistan underscore the most troubling aspect of the West’s strategy there,” said the Toronto Star. “Put simply, it isn’t working.”
Now it is the turn of the French to ask the same questions after the deaths of 10 French soldiers in a battle with Taliban fighters: What is happening in Afghanistan? Or, for some, what are we doing there?
A comment recently by Asif Zardari, the powerful head of the Pakistan People’s Party, that the country’s next president could be a woman has set off speculation that he might propose the name of one of his sisters, both members of his party, to succeed President Pervez Musharraf.
What better way to burnish Pakistan’s credentials as an enlightened democracy than have a woman as head of state at a time when the power of Islamist militants is growing, especially in the vital northwest region where they have been burning down schools for girls.
from UK News:
Pakistani media have welcomed President Pervez Musharraf's exit and are urging the coalition government to tackle a worsening economy and extremist forces.
Now that Musharraf's nine-year reign has come to a grinding halt, what do you think the priority for his successor should be?
Given how little many people in the west seem to know about Pakistan — at most that it has nuclear weapons and, possibly, Osama bin Laden; rarely that it has 165 million people (not too far off three times the population of Britain) with individual day-to-day challenges of earning a living and bringing up children like anywhere else – it’s encouraging to see the range of debate in the U.S. blogosphere after President Pervez Musharraf announced his resignation.
Here are just a few that caught my eye, in no particular order, and with apologies in advance to anyone I’ve mislabelled as U.S.-based: