Egypt and Pakistan; something borrowed, something new

February 9, 2011

candelightThe Egyptian uprising contains much that is familiar to Pakistan – the dark warnings of a coup, in Egypt’s case delivered by Vice President Omar Suleiman, the role of political Islam, and a relationship with the United States distorted by U.S. aid and American strategic interests which do not match those of the people.

President Hosni Mubarak cited Pakistan as an example of what happened when a ruler like President Pervez Musharraf – like himself from the military - was forced to make way for democracy. ”He fears that Pakistan is on the brink of falling into the hands of the Taliban, and he puts some of the blame on U.S. insistence on steps that ultimately weakened Musharraf,” a 2009 U.S. embassy cable published by WikiLeaks said.

Comparisons with Pakistan tend to make you somewhat sceptical about the chances of Egypt’s uprising turning out well.

Yet there is something quite new coming out of Egypt that has the potential to be transformative across the Muslim world. And that is the rejection of all forms of old authority, including, significantly, religious authority.

“The revolution was not just directed against the autocratic, repressive and corrupt Egyptian regime, which relied on an alliance of money, power and corruption. It was also directed against the official religious establishment and its discourse that supports this regime, either directly or indirectly.” Hossam Tammam writes in Egyptian paper Al Masry Al Youm. (scroll down to see the story as the link opens a page with a lot of space at the top).

“The Egyptian revolution has completely reconfigured the religious scene and clarified the public’s position towards religious institutions and discourses in the country. The result has been surprising. No one expected that religious Egyptians are capable of overriding the powers of religious institutions and of challenging religious discourses that they suddenly perceived as part of a corrupt and repressive regime. The official religious establishments–both Islamic and Christian–have been the biggest losers in the revolution.”

Such a trend, if it were allowed to flourish, would be tremendously important in the context of Pakistan, where political parties and the military alike have both used, and been held hostage by religious parties whose power by far exceeds their poor showing at the ballot box.  In a conservative society (as both Egypt and Pakistan are) few dare face down the accusation of “not being Muslim enough” by challenging the religious establishment. The last well-known figure to do so in Pakistan, Punjab governor Salman Taseer, was gunned down last month over his call for a reform to the country’s blasphemy laws, and his death celebrated by the religious right.  Many of the voices speaking out against his killing came from young Pakistan bloggers.

In Egypt, religion has been sidelined – but not abandoned – by an uprising which has seen Christians and Muslims protesting, and praying together, in Tahrir Square.

In his essay about the uprising, Mohammed Bamyeh writes that.” remarkable was the virtual replacement of religious references by civic ethics that were presumed to be universal and self-evident. This development appears more surprising than in the case of Tunisia, since in Egypt the religious opposition had always been strong and reached virtually all sectors of life. The Muslim Brotherhood itself joined after the beginning of the protests, and like all other organized political forces in the country seemed taken aback by the developments and unable to direct them, as much as the government (along with its regional allies) sought to magnify its role. ”

“Like in the Tunisian Revolution, in Egypt the rebellion erupted as a sort of a collective moral earthquake—where the central demands were very basic, and clustered around the respect for the citizen, dignity, and the natural right to participate in the making of the system that ruled over the person. If those same principles had been expressed in religious language before, now they were expressed as is and without any mystification or need for divine authority to justify them. I saw the significance of this transformation when even Muslim Brotherhood participants chanted at some point with everyone else for a “civic” (madaniyya) state—explicitly distinguished from two other possible alternatives: religious (diniyya) or military (askariyya) state.”

The media has made much of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the role it might play in the Egypt which emerges from the current upheaval. Many argue that the west must engage with Egypt’s most organised opposition group, noting that it has renounced violence and stressed its commitment to democracy.   Others see it as a dangerous group which inherently cannot escape its origins as an anti-colonial organisation whose thinking provided the ideological roots for al Qaeda.

Yet in a sense, that is completely the wrong way to frame the debate.  The uprising in Egypt is not about substituting one organisation with another – or even about overthrowing autocratic rule for a democratic government including the Brotherhood.   It is about something new that we don’t understand yet and probably won’t understand for some time to come. Its spontaneity so far has been its strength; its heroes, like Google executive Wael Ghonim, surprising.

Or as Tammam writes in Al Masry Al Youm, “Any discussion of the status of Islamists in a new Egypt makes little sense if it’s based on the same data that was previously used to study religious movements, and if it ignores the fact that Egypt has witnessed a revolution that destroyed many of the old features of its religious scene.”

Writing in Pakistan, in a very different context, Yasser Latif Hamdani argues in the Daily Times that the current fury over the blasphemy laws is a last-ditch and doomed attempt by the mullahs of the religious right to reassert their authority. “The march of history is irreversible. Today there are more women in the workforce than before and the internet revolution is a permanent revolution.”

“Pakistan’s future lies in ensuring that the democratic process is allowed to continue, that internet proliferation and the technological revolution reaches everyone in this country. When enough people are exposed to the world at large, enough women are in the work force and the youth of this country are no longer susceptible to false religious frenzy, the mullah will wither away or turn on himself. ”

His views may turn out to be wishful thinking.  The Egyptian uprising may yet be crushed, or exploited. No one can predict the outcome of a revolution.  But we do seem to be seeing something here that goes well beyond the way people choose to be governed.

(Photo: candlelit vigil in Tahrir Square)

28 comments

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[...] Egypt and Pakistan; something borrowed, something new – Reuters Blogs (blog) [...]

Make no mistake, the heroes in Egypt rose from nowhere and touched the hearts of millions natioanlly and worldwide. These were young tech savvy people like Google executive Wael Ghonim who flew in to join the protests from UAE to Cairo, was captured and tortured by Mubarik regime. Mubarak regime resembles the aparthied regime of South Africa which was on its last legs in late 80s.
The Egyptian uprising was as heroic as the Soweto uprising in South Africa, except for one difference. The revolution in South Africa was led by Nelson Mandela, while in Egypt every ordinary person was a freedom fighter on its own. There were twitter and facebook users, bloggers like sandmonkey who later revealed his identity. Muslims and christians stood up united and fought together. BRAVO BRAVO EGYPT!!!

The tectonic plates are shifting in Pakistan as well, it is my hope that it should be only a matter of time before Pakistani youth revolt against the bigots, looters over here too. And Egypt has provided an inspiration how to rise unitedly and fight for your rights.

Here are some extraordinary scenes from the Egypt uprising

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThvBJMzmS ZI

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

The biggest positive is that along with rest of old authorities people in Egypt are also rejecting religious authority as well which in my opinion is a big deal. It is heartening to see that the youth is no more finding solutions to their problems in religions. These guys are going to set examples for everyone else to follow!!!

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive

Pakistan has always been a tolerant society where minorities are well protected and given their rights. Events like the death of Salman Taseer are exceptional cases where one has acted on his own emotions. This does not truly reflect the mindset of Nation as a whole. Moreover the young generation of Pakistan is much liberal and open minded.

Posted by sincere_pak | Report as abusive

I also think that the principal reason this uprising has gained favour and support internationally is because it has significantly side lined religion. It is about ordinary people, specially young people coming to the front and being supported whole heartedly by their elders.

Recent noises coming out of the US are back pedalling, due to pressure from the other authoritarian regimes in the region. Gone is the bravado of the first few days when the language coming out from the States was about transition being made now “Now being yesterday.” There is a definite shift from the early rhetoric. Is the US going to again find itself riding a tiger?

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

While parallels between Egypt and Pakistan are being listed, Pakistan is a very different case. Egypt is mostly one ethnic group – all are Arab Egyptians who are mostly Muslim, with Coptic Christian groups. Pakistan has four different ethnic nations stitched into one – Pashtun, Punjab, Sindhi, Balochi, and other groups. These are distinctly different groups. Whenever ethnic diversity is present, changes do not spread uniformly across. Movements do not gain momentum quickly. Any movement begins to get side stepped by ethnic dominance by one group and loses steam. Urban populations are the only ones which are used to mixing in with others more.

The second difference is the strength of the Islamic radical groups in Pakistan compared to Egypt. Pakistan currently is in a war zone with the US launching its operations in Afghanistan. Mumtaz Qadri’s popularity is a shocking revelation on where the public sentiment in Pakistan is. In Egypt, the public are rejecting fundamentalists as well. In Pakistan that does not seem to the case.

Egypt can go back to tourism as soon as things are settled which is a huge industry there. Pakistan has nothing of that sort or any other business to go back to

Based on the above, it is highly unlikely that Pakistan will undergo a similar revolution. There are more guns per capita in Pakistan than in many other similar nations.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

Let us wait for our rhetoric about Egyptians past and future, according to a CIA( not wikileak) operative that Mubarik has decided to step down! This could also mean that the German Govt. has probably granted Mr Mubarik the asylum for medical treatment. Mind you he already had undergone a surgery in Germany last year. If this was to happen then my guess is that the 82 year old Pharaoh want to spend the rest of his life in Germany with people like Gorbachov who is the resident of Germany.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

Important parallels have been shown in the previous responses and distinct differences pointed out. I hope you took the time to read each. My concern is drawing conclusions based on yesterday’s news. Many revolutions start, fizzle, fade and are then forgotten. So the “what if” crowd chimes in and usually based on old norms. And what they say or how it is presented can skew reality on the ground. Bottom line- power is rarely relinguished without a fight. Freedom isn’t free but tastes great. Guard it with your life just my hero Patrick Henry stated,”No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.”

Posted by pHenry | Report as abusive

Sincere_Pak:”Pakistan has always been a tolerant society where minorities are well protected and given their rights. Events like the death of Salman Taseer are exceptional cases where one has acted on his own emotions. This does not truly reflect the mindset of Nation as a whole. Moreover the young generation of Pakistan is much liberal and open minded.”

-I did not imply that youth of Pakistan should resort to violence/civil disobedience. Rather must rally together and create awareness. Currently the youth in Egypt have been very peaceful largely, and do not forget they are all educated, working class, and intellligent people protesting peacefully. Though it is true emotions are running high there.
Coming back to Pakistan, you can sure decieve yourself by stating minorities get rights in Pakistan or that there is so much tolerance. We have to do lot of hard work to create a tolerant society. Facts are facts, take into account the entire country and we know intolerance has risen over past few years. I am not a social expert on the socio-political issues though and my assessment can be wrong as well though.

Going back to Egypt again, their struggle is different, it is a big deal for them to even go out in streets and exercise the right of freedom of speech and expression, something we take for granted in Pakistan. That is precisely why so many freedom loving people across the world has supported the people of Egypt.

We can only find solutions by confronting the problems, not by denying them and making excuses.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

PS

Though I agree with you; sincere_pak that Pakistan’s young generation is liberal and open minded. But when these educated ones will not get jobs ( not the elite but middle class majority) that is where the problem will start. A corrupt Pakistan government, a failing economy not able to create enough jobs, an educated middle class out of work, this is the recipe for disaster.

This is precisely what set off the chain of events in Tunisia and swept across Egypt. An college educated fruit vendor set himself on fire and died in Tunisia, and that is where it began.

We have to look for these trends in Pakistan and prevent it, unless the country set its priorities right we can all talk but nothing will change into good.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

Just to add, anyone who thinks religion has been sidelined in this Egypt protest. That is wrong, if u watch carefully, thousands of them prayed together in Tahrir square, pictures of Friday prayers etc. Is that not religious devotion in a way? Christians on their part were present with their religious symbols.

What sets this uprising apart is simply people standing up for what they beleive, they believe in freedom of expression, freedom of speech, pursuit of happiness, choose their representatives have democracy, a part in governance of their country and have a say in national matters of importance. Oppose a dictator who rules with iron fist, treats the country as his property. That is what makes this important, not that religion is at the center or religion is sidelined. We often have a habit to drag religion into the middle of everything.

Lastly, while in Pakistan freedoms are not restricted and economic conditions are not worse, they can be bad but not worse.

In Egypt on the other hand, freedom was severely restricted and majority was not economically well off, which set off this uprising.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

pak_sincere

one more thing comes to my mind, when back in 1980 Anwar Sadat signed the peace treaty with ISRAEL, he was assassinated by soldier’s bullet 2 years later. Might be work of a bunch of soldiers but there was a section of society in Egypt not in agreement with President Anwar Sadaat policy of peace with ISRAEL.

Since you mention the assassination of Salman Taseer, his assassin might have a twisted mindset, but a section of our wrongly society supported his action.

Any thoughts?

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

typo * a section of our society WRONGLY supported his actions.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

Egypt has shown that it is much easier to stand up against an official system. In Pakistan, they did the same against Musharraf. The parallel ends there. In Pakistan, they have radicalism and violence that have become routine. Suicide killings are no longer a front page news. To take them on is a different matter. Even if people came out into the streets protesting violence by militants, there is no single entity that they can stand up against. It is easy to overthrow governments. But it is next to impossible to contain criminals. Pakistan has a very different problem on hand.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

The second ally of the American Govt. against terrorism is down, others are going to follow. What a great awakening for the American Think Tank and the American foreign policy strategists. The man who agreed with CIA and accepted the randitions of foreigners and their torture in Egypt has also vacated his office.

So straightforward is the organic revolution from bottom up, after six thousand years of history for the first time Egyptian youth has been successful in making their voices heard by their leaders.

It is upto Mr Obama now to correlate its policies with dignity of the muslim people. Roll back the monsters and dummies which were created by the CIA in the past decade. Humanity and not the degradation, almost two billion odd muslims could become the friends of america if it follows a policy of justice and friendship with the people and not seeking autocrat leaders and dictators who take aid from the west only to reinforce their rule and deny its people the freedom and democracy.

Rex Minor

PS Democracy in Egypt through a military take over. pakistan experience using the sam route was not successful? let us hope that the Egyptian military is going to behave this time.

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

Unfortunately common conception that biggest threat in Pakistan is the relegious radicalism and violence is not correct. Those who conclude this from Salman Taseer case are ignoring the support of general public to military opperations againts same radicalism and violence. People openly supported military operations against so called talibanisation in Swat and other parts of country along Afghan border. Political parties using religion as tool always failed to get public support in general elections.

Unlike Egypt where basic demand was democracy and freedom of speach; Pakistan already have that. Media is more than free in Pakistan. Peaceful public movements like Egypt were observed in Pakistan against Musharaf’s dictatorship and in support of free Judiciary, reviving Chief Justice.

However, growing believe among Pakistanis that the real threat to their country is actualy the corrupt polititions at top and foreign backing of radical groups could spark another public movement.

Posted by MianPK | Report as abusive

I’d be cautious in drawing parallels between the two countries. There’s similarities to be sure. And you’ve pointed them out. But I think the contexts are vastly different.

To start with, both the US and the entire rest of the world was hesitant until it looked like the Islamists weren’t leading this thing. In Pakistan, there’s certainly no such guarantee. For all the about Pakistanis being moderate, the state of affairs in the country and the the free run that Islamists and their more violent compatriots are being given is very contextually different.

Egypt doesn’t have nukes and has peace arrangement with Israel. It’s also on the periphery of the West. Pakistan is in the middle of South Asia, is bristling with nuclear weapons and has India (with whom it has never settled its history) next door.

Egypt are by and large composed of a single ethnicity (Arab) who are religiously divided (and their religious minorities are larger and much more influential). The appeal to unite is centred around their ethnic commonality, secular values, etc. In Pakistan, everybody from official government leaders to their revolutionary leaders have always used religion to unite Pakistan’s various constituent ethnicities in a very lopsided federation heavily dominated by one ethnic group.

In Egypt, there is less and less worry of this revolution going the way of Iran. In Pakistan, there’s much more of a possibility of any sort of youth/student revolution yielding to a bunch of mullahs a la Iran….especially if Pakistani history holds and the call to revolt centres around their common element: Islam.

Now that’s not to say that an Islamic revolution can’t be peaceful or even create a government that’s friendly to the West and its neighbours. However, when you have Islamic groups that routinely play up conflict (with India or the West or Israel) just to whip the public into a fervour, there’s good reason to be skeptical that Pakistan will go the way of Egypt. And that means, should something start in Egypt, there will scarcely be any real international support for it. Officially or unofficially.

And all this doesn’t even take into account the role of the Army. In Egypt’s case, for all their influence, the Army was not necessarily as pre-eminent in the country’s day-to-day existence as it is Pakistan….and they’d made peace with their arch-foe. In Pakistan, given how much the Pakistan Army is enmeshed into the day-to-day existence of the state and how much it’s members benefit from this arrangement, any Pakistani uprising would essentially be a revolt against the Army. One has to wonder how well that will play out in Pakistan.

Are there similarities? Yes. Does that mean Pakistan will be another Egypt? Colour me skeptical.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

Umair,

When I say that one of the reasons this revolution got international support was because religion was sidelined, it did not imply that the people were atheist!

What it means is that religion was not the issue – as you yourself mention it was all about freedom from oppression. Because they prayed, proves they believe in religion and are devout, like millions around the world.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

The third ally of the USA against terrorism is now the next candidate to be removed from his post. Yemenites are the next on the hook to leave their bunkers to restore their dignity.

Let us also not ignore that the top brass of Egypt and other muslim countries armies who receive USA military aid are under the influence of the USA military brass. Watch what the performance of the Egyptian army. Also not to ignore the classic egyptian trick, the army received their orders from no other person than the defence minister who was appointed by Mr mubarik. which has been ordered by no other person than Mubarik.

Egypt is now under martial law and Mubarik appointed ministers are till in power. Egyptians must stay on watch- the revolution was supported by the west- to orderly transfer the reins of the Govt. to a democraticaly elected Govt. without loss of Egyptian role in middle east politics. Egyptian people need to keep a close watch with their intellect and patience. The departure of Mubarik to the sea side is just the beginning.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

Myra,

How about doing a story on the Raymond Davis fiasco? I think that’s at least a little more important than a story on a separatist kashmiri leader who was hanged 27 yrs ago. After all, this could very well be the final nail in the coffin of US-Pakistan relations.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

> How about doing a story on the Raymond Davis fiasco? [...] After all, this could very well be the final nail in the coffin of US-Pakistan relations.

I second that! The Davis affair is the most crucial Pakistan-related development of the last few weeks and it’s incredible that it hasn’t so far merited a piece on this blog.

On the topic of US-Pakistan relations, I understand Pakistan’s dependence on the US (the economy would collapse without the life support of US aid) but confess I cannot understand the nature of US dependence on Pakistan. What exactly are the aims of the “War on Terror” anyway, for which Pakistan’s cooperation is essential? The Taliban have no ambitions beyond Af-Pak and are what I would call Saddam Hussain-class villains, i.e., bad guys who still don’t provide enough of an excuse to invade a country.

Al Qaeda is more of a credible reason for staying, but even that is more a question of “face” than national security, I think. The US can’t be seen as retreating without punishing those responsible for 9/11. But doesn’t that simply mean that if Osama bin Laden is captured tomorrow (heh, like that’ll ever happen), it’ll be a sufficiently symbolic success for the US to declare victory and go home? Once they leave, they can throttle all hostile forces in the Af-Pak region by stopping aid and imposing a quarantine on people from the region. It’s a cheaper and cleaner solution than fighting a war that has delivered very questionable results.

No, I believe there’s some other mysterious hold that Pakistan has over the US, and I struggle to understand what that is. Is it a geopolitical strategy to prop up a counterweight to India? After all, if Pakistan collapses, India becomes the unquestioned South Asian hegemon, right?

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive

I was going to say Pakistan has a Svengali-like hold over the US (and follow that up with a Seinfeld-ian comment on “Svenjolly”), but I hesitated for a moment. I winced at the thought that it would bring the vitriolic comments of CommonSensLogic, Janeallen and jo5319 crashing down upon us (they travel in a pack and are probably the same person).

But what the hell? One can’t let fatwas curb freedom of speech!

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive

Ganesh:

Find me a country in the world that is 180 million, has hundereds of nuclear weapons, a well trained significant military, is a muslim nation, and some terrorist groups like Al-qaeda try to find refuge there(obviously not supported by Pakistan). Pakistan has it all, it is the strategic importance, and it is probably the only country whose stability, directly relates to that of US. Anything goes wrong in Pakistan it would affect US. Also correct, US will never let India become the sole power in the region, to an extent Pakistan will be propped up.
You do not have to be a rocket scientist to understand how Pakistan matters in a number of ways. It is vital that Pakistan’s Army remains strong and cohesive, is able to defend nuclear arsenal. Also, the country’s economy improves, its people meet the challenges faced by the country. If a huge muslim nation like Pakistan implodes, it will create nightmares for US and its interests of stable region will be shattered. That is why Pakistan continues to matter.
Coming to Raymond Davis affair, in a big country like Pakistan, it made story but their are other things to worry about.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

Pakistan thus was created for strategic reasons in South Asia – to counter balance any chance of independent India becoming a power and facilitate enough centrifugal force inside to keep it busy. The primary reason at the time of independence was to create a garrison for staging any kind of defense to block the expansion of Russia. The fears of the colonial empires and the succeeding super power were justified when USSR (which replaced the Tsarist empire) walked into Afghanistan.

If one reads the persistent anti Indian stance in UK sites like the Guardian and Reuters, one can realize that colonial sentiments are still present. India has frustrated them quite a bit by still being around and emerging as a power despite all the machinations. Kashmir was left unsettled to throttle India periodically. Kashmir is the valve using which India has been somewhat contained.

The rise of radical Islam, Islamic militancy etc happened mostly in the 1990s where the Af-Pak region was left like a muddy pond that allowed these mosquitoes to breed and multiply.

The colonial powers and the US could not contain Pakistan building its nukes. They grossly underestimated the potential of the natives in developing the needed technology. In addition, containing the Soviets took precedence over everything else, as this was a golden opportunity not only to avenge them for Vietnam, but also to bleed them to their demise.

The sudden loss of a big enemy has hurt the US deeply as well. After the collapse of the USSR, the need for cold war defensive approach has lost its meaning. This has led to defense budget cuts, lay offs, emergence of other nations as economic powers, ad basically has hurt the US badly. Therefore the emergence of Islamic terrorism is a great opportunity for it to rebuild its muscles. Super powers need an enemy to stay healthy. They’d love to be in a dead lock with their enemies so that they can use that justification to build their muscles. So they are not going to destroy this enemy that quickly. China can be the next enemy. But that is a few more years away. For now, Islamic terrorism has become the next big thing. It will be propped up and kept alive to sustain geo-political interests.

In this new alignment, Pakistan will become a part of the enemy camp ground. During cold war, it was on the side of the US. This time, it will be on the opposite side. In addition, the sudden explosion of people’s power in the Middle East will be a major cause for worry to the US. They do not want any chaos there at this juncture. While they pay lip service to democracy, freedom etc for others, they are hurting deep inside about losing Mubarak in Egypt. If Al Qaeda changes its strategy and starts triggering similar revolutions in other pro-US Muslim countries, it will derail the Americans a lot more. Of course Al Qaeda will do it in its own way – eliminate anyone who can become potential US ally, cause more public frustration in order to alienate them from the pro-American governments.

These are all long term strategic wars, where sometimes real battles are staged. Most of the time these wars are fought over many fronts diplomatic means, revolutions, terrorism, economic strains and so on. Weakening the enemy over a period of time has become the main strategy. From that stand point, Al Qaeda still has an upper hand.

They are surely eyeing Pakistanis hundreds of nukes. All they need is an anti-US revolution in Pakistan, overthrow of all pro-American generals and politicians and spread of radicalism. I am sure they are working on it. If they manage to accomplish that, Pakistan will be on their hands. They will rule through ideological means, without being directly on power. They did this in Afghanistan by means of Taliban rule. Pakistan has enough sympathy and support for Al Qaeda. Anti-American sentiments will be propped up even more. Wait for the diplomatic war between US and Pakistan over the American in custody there to escalate.

Al Qaeda has managed to stay put with the goal of slowly transforming Pakistan into a radical place and reaching far inside its guts. It has been working on infesting Pakistan. The goal is simple – instead of relying Pak military for support, which can be an unpredictable matter, why not control it by means of elements well planted inside its military? Once they achieve that they will go to war with India for sure. It will be with nukes and it will be on Kashmir.

This is like a cancer. It takes the first victim and consumes it completely. From there it is very easy for it to spread around. The US has created a much bigger enemy to take out another. They may not have time for China anymore. Things are on the edge.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

@”I believe there’s some other mysterious hold that “Pakistan has over the US, and I struggle to understand what that is.” Posted by prasadgc

The US is paying a price for the mistakes it has made wrt Pakistan. All these years, it propped up Pakistan’s military, neglected it after the Afghan war & allowed it to build nukes. The threat which started, primarily with AlQaeda, has morphed into a much bigger threat from various other groups based in Pakistan. Since 9/11, the cancer which should have been contained, has been allowed to spread due to the stupid decisions of turning towards Iraq instead of concentrating on Af-Pak & trusting the Pakistani army. What we have now, is a precarious situation where the Pakistanis are turning hostile & the threat from jihadi groups is bigger than ever. Add nukes to the mix & Pakistan resembles a criminal in the room with a gun pointing towards it’s head & bombs strapped around his waist, demanding a ransom. IMO, the US & allies have no option except wage a concentrated military action in Pakistan (with or without the support of the Pakistani army) & inflict irreparable damage to the terror infrastructure in that country. If they withdraw from Af-Pak without doing this, I suspect they will be back there very soon after another 9/11 in the US/west.

@”Is it a geopolitical strategy to prop up a counterweight to India? After all, if Pakistan collapses, India becomes the unquestioned South Asian hegemon, right?”

The comparison between India & Pakistan starts & ends with nukes. The US & the global community does not hyphenate India with Pakistan any more. Instead India is hyphenated with China & Pakistan with Afghanistan. It’s been obvious for a few years now (especially since the US-India nuclear deal) that the US considers India as a counterweight to china & Pakistan is nowhere in the eaquation.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

It is heartening to see the youth in many Middle Eastern countries taking to streets and fighting over rigid establishment. It almost feels like the early 1990s when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Berlin wall came down, leading to a wave of independent nations, overthrow of dictatorships across Eastern Europe. And this whole thing has happened on its own without any external push. Technology definitely played a part in triggering this revolution. Iran is feeling the heat. So is Yemen. I hope the youth fight against the theocratic establishments, dictators and other types of conservative leaders to bring about a new change and hope. China is watching this whole thing nervously. But China has the capability to crush any uprising and the rest of the world cannot do anything about it. I hope Pakistani youth take to the streets and fight the radicals head on. That is the only hope.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

Humanity and civilisation are synanymous and do not exist without dignty. People in Tunisia and Egypt have risen to regain dignity; yes DIGNITY and then freedom and jobs. The arabs are rising to recover their dignity, which their despot rulers have sacrificed during the 20th century for more or less personal gains. Those who loose their dignity, have a shabby legacy and no standing in History. Are there parallels among other Nations and people in this world? Certainly!! Each country and people have to decide for themselves if they have a shortfall in their dignity or not? Pakistan must decide for themselves if they treasure this phenomna ‘DIGNITY’ and how it has to be recovered. People must not be forced to take the law in their own hands!! 2011 is definitely to go in History as the year when the Arab youth rose to regain DIGNITY!

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

It will be interesting to see how Saudis react to developments in Egypt. Will youth in Saudi do an Egypt style revolution and will Saudi king try to crush it with force. World is watching. Anxiously!!

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive

@Arab Youth Revolution

The next one to go down(col Gadhafi is in the different ball game) in the Arab World seems to the yemanese President whowas taking orders from the American Govt. in war against terrorism. American foreign policy is in tatters, two people(Obama and Hillary) with different strategies and now forced by the events which the CA was not in position to imagine. This revolution is like a Bush fire which is developing with such a speed that even the 24hr cable net work cannot catch up. Aljazeera with their massive staff and knowledge of language have beaten all others.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive