Pakistan and the view from the U.S. blogsphere

August 18, 2008

President Musharraf leaves presidential house after resignation speech/Mian KursheedGiven 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:

Larisa Alexandrovna writes that Musharraf’s departure could lead to a “catch-22 of epic proportions” for the United States because of the threat of terrorism and the nuclear black market: “Forget the Russian-Georgian conflict for a moment. Forget Iraq for a moment. Forget everything for one moment and understand, that if Pakistan explodes into a power struggle, that struggle/conflict will be the match that lights a world war of epic proportions. A war that we are not equipped to deal with anymore,” she says.

PPP supporters celebrate Musharraf’s resignationThe Punditburo agrees that Pakistan is “far more important than Iraq as far as the issue of terrorism and Al Qaeda go”  but draws a different conclusion: “Democracy managed to arise in Pakistan, even though the Bushies fought it tooth and nail, and failed to even embrace democracy even when it was clear that Musharraf had no future. This should be tonic for our arrogance.”

Sepia Mutiny highlights an article in counterpunch by Fatima Bhutto, the niece of the late Benazir Bhutto, from whom she was estranged. In it she attacks both Bhutto’s widower, Asif Ali Zardari, and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — who forced Musharraf to quit after their parties won elections in February.  “We have options,” she says. “Zardari is not an option. Sharif is not an option. The army is not our one and only option. The mullahs have not become an option yet. There are close to 200 million of us: I’m sure we can think of something better.”

But it would be wrong to suggest that Musharraf’s departure for once overshadowed the U.S. presidential election. The Huffington Post used it to attack presidential candidate John McCain, arguing that he had been an “outspoken” supporter of the former army general.


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