Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

In Pakistan, Kashmir becomes a new rallying cry

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To understand the second-order effects in Pakistan of violence in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, look no further than the Twitter feed of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafez Saeed.

After last week’s killing of four protesters by Indian security forces in the Jammu-region town of Gool, he tweeted that “there can be no friendship, trade whatsoever” with India until the Kashmir issue is resolved. Addressing Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif – who says he wants better relations with India – he demanded that his PML-N government take a clear stance, and insisted that “strong decisions on Kashmir will strengthen and unify Pakistan”.

The comments of a man suspected of involvement in the 2008 attack on Mumbai – an allegation he denies – would be greeted in India with irritation, at best. In Kashmir itself, many ordinary people would regard with dread the prospect of a revival of the Kashmir jihad in which tens of thousands died at the hands of both Indian security forces and Pakistan-backed militants.

But in Pakistan, his condemnation of Indian security forces would resonate. The idea that fellow Muslims in Kashmir must be liberated has become so mainstream that few stop to ask whether Pakistan’s own motivations are really that different from those of India – controlling the region rather than supporting its independence or autonomy.

In Pakistan, Egypt can find some pointers on democracy

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In all the casting-about for comparisons to the confusing events in Egypt, three come easily: Pakistan, where coups were celebrated and later regretted; Algeria,    where a cancelled election led to a vicious civil war; and Turkey, where the army repeatedly intervened to nudge along multi-party democracy while retaining power behind the scenes.

None are particularly apt, not just because of national differences but also because of changes across time – Egypt’s was the world’s first coup to unfold live on Twitter, connecting people in ways that would have been unthinkable in the days when army interventions were imposed on bewildered populations.

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