Iskander Mirza, Pakistan’s President between 1956 and ’58, is remarked to have said that democracy was ‘unsuited’ to the genius of the Pakistani people. Decades later, similar questions about democratic form of governance are being raised in Pakistan. Take any TV show, read the multitude of op-eds, or more worryingly, check what the youth have to say on Facebook or Twitter. The parameters of debate remain the same.
The urban Pakistani’s disdain for the ‘illiterate’, ‘rural’ politicians and their ability to rule the country is a long-running theme. More importantly, the duality of civil-military rule has generated a peculiar discourse: the weak and corrupt ‘civilians’ compromise national security as opposed to authoritarian regimes which guard ‘ideological’ and geographical borders of the country. Continue reading Pakistan 2012 – We Must Learn from History: Raza Rumi→
Endless predictions about the fall of the PPP-led coalition government in Pakistan have been made by pundits since the very day it came to power. The recent hullabaloo about this has been in the context of the forthcoming Senate Elections, due in March 2012, which ceteris paribus will ensure a simple majority to the PPP and its allies in the upper house. Given that the Senate is an equaliser in federalist politics, this would mean that legitimate representatives of smaller provinces would be permanent stakeholders in the system beyond this government. Continue reading Giving democracy in Pakistan a chance: Raza Rumi→
What comes to your mind with the mention of Asif Ali Zardari? “A cunning, vile, and corrupt man,” said my 19 year old cousin. This was a good summation of what the urban middle-class thinks of him. The more I hear people talking about him the more I am convinced of the power of propaganda. “Give the dog a bad name and hang him,” Zardai once said about himself. That is what is at work here.
Despite what has been said about him, Zardari did have a political background. His father Hakim Ali Zardari entered politics well before Partition and was a member of the Khaksaar Tehreek in 1931. He was first elected to the National Assembly in 1970s. All this talk of Zardari as a political orphan who hogged the Bhutto dynasty upon marriage with Benazir, is a non-starter. In Benazir’s husband, the Bhutto family wanted someone who would remain loyal to her. That is exactly what they got in him. For Zardari, family would always come first. This was the case at the time of Benazir’s death, when he kept the family together. Benazir would often tell close aides that despite his failings, Zardari always remained loyal to the family. Continue reading In Defence of Asif Ali Zardari: Abdullah Zaidi→