Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pakistani Mess

Considering the realistic possibility of Benazir Bhutto would have been elected as the PM of Pakistan, Pakistani future would have still unfolded along the lines of a faltering democracy. I say faltering because Musharraf would still be the president, Pakistani Military would be still hogging the prime resources of Pakistani nation and ISI still would be continuing devil schemes. Further, we have the history of Benazir’s past two premierships to indicate clearly that she would not have necessarily put Pakistan on the ‘irreversible’ path of Democracy.

With her assassination that path towards to ‘irreversible democracy’ or ‘faltering democracy’ is far too distant now. However flawed leader Benazir was; she would have been better than unstable Pakistan on the brink of ceasing to exist as a united nation with real possibility of splintering into fanatics ruled mini states throwing entire South Asia into the vortex of instability and bringing down Bush’s Global War on Terrorism further. Whichever way one cuts it, Benazir’s assassination is a victory for Al Qeda and Jihadhi forces opposing to America and Western Liberalism. It is sad that Benazir did not understand the importance of her presence and in a way gave up the caution. As a vanguard of Liberal Democracy she should have understood the dangers of her absence from the future of Pakistan. Without her, liberal cause in Pakistan has suffered the irreparable damage.

So with Benazir’s demise Pakistan is back to its predictable course – perpetually on the brink of disaster. It is a mute point in absence of Benazir how much stability another leader of Pakistan People’s Party can bring to the table.

Rest of the world needs to have interest in Pakistan and its stability. But apart from America and its known allies, few others are likely to come forward and offer anything constructive. Other than America, India has maximum stakes in the stability of Pakistan, but it can only be a passive partner here – not to meddle in the affairs and not to take advantage of the situation (a la separating East Pakistan like 1971). That may not be good enough, but not adding to the problems will be a big positive from the perspective of rest of the world.

For America, three things are very clear:
- Musharraf must go (primarily because Pakistani public will view Musharraf as the reason for Benazir’s death) and he must be succeeded by a non-fanatic leader vested enough in the territorial integrity of Pakistan as well as in it’s stability;
- elections do take place for the federal elected body as planned (even if delayed) with the participation of another flawed but essential leader Nawaz Sharif and
- finally movement away from the ‘personality based foreign policy towards Pakistan’ as followed by most of the American Administration.

There are two other countries which have stakes in Pakistan’s stability – China and Saudi Arabia. But for obvious reasons, those will not be on the side of America and India when the goal is to institutionalize ‘irreversible democracy’ in Pakistan. However, these countries would not want any Jihadist element to take root in their next door country and to that extent will be partners in bringing stability. America must work with them wherever it makes sense and applicable. These countries need to be parties to the solution of ‘Pakistani Mess’.

Can President Bush do all these things in his final year? He can and evaluation of his legacy will be based on that. Meanwhile, if any presidential candidate wants to run a meaningful campaign for 2008 election; that candidate would better address how he or she will attain these goals if he or she were in the Oval Office.

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