Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
An economy growing at an average of 7 percent for six years now with a construction and consumer boom, a rising middle-class that has just voted out a government, a free press, a thriving fashion scene. Another emerging market star?
Yes, but this is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, better known these days for its suicide bombings, a nuclear arsenal and labelled as the epicentre of Islamist extremism including perhaps the last redoubt of Osama bin Laden in the lands straddling the Afghan border. “Jihadistan” as one reader wrote on this blog.
What is the reality ? Are there two Pakistans? Is it really Pakistan: Now or Never ? Or is the image of Pakistan clouded by TV pictures of blood and gore in its streets, feeding insecurities while shutting out the important political, economic and social transformations that are underway in a nation of 150 million people.
Author William Dalrymple travels through the harsh scrublands of Sindh, home to Kalashnikov-wielding landlords and honour killings, and then back up the Punjab and he doesn’t find a country flirting with state failure or anything even approaching the “most dangerous country in the world” as it has been so commonly branded in recent months, right down to a group by that name on Facebook.
Interesting piece by Reuters Security Correspondent Mark Trevelyan about German authorities using comic strips to combat the appeal of militant Islamism to European youths. The comic strip, distributed to schools in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, features Andi, his Muslim girlfriend Ayshe and her brother Murat, who comes under the influence of a radical friend and an Islamist “hate preacher”.
The idea is to offer young people an alternative world view to combat the “narrative” of al Qaeda. ”We have learned from our opponents. This is exactly the age at which the Islamists are trying, through Koranic schools and other means, to fill young people with other values,” says Hartwig Moeller, from the German state’s interior ministry.