What now for Pakistan?


by Sunny
30th August, 2007 at 5:14 pm    

Kamran Nazeer sums it up for me: “It is difficult to see how a deal between Benazir Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf could be a positive development for the country.”

Nothing else to say really is there? Can’t see many Pakistanis jumping for joy with Sharif or Bhutto coming back.


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  1. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 5:18 pm  

    Question:

    From a Western perspective, Pakistan comes across largely as a dysfunctional hellhole, recycling the same old failed policies and peoples time and time again. to no effect, whereas India seems to be a developing brightly glowing colossus finding its rightful feet on the world stage. Pourquoi?

  2. Rohin — on 30th August, 2007 at 5:31 pm  

    Pourquoi? Religion.

    Although neither the view of Pakistan nor India are accurate.

  3. Nyrone — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:00 pm  

    I cant believe I actually agree with something Bleh has written.

    Pakistan though, is not merely that dysfunctional hellhole from the western eyes peering outside, it’s very much the same feeling when you visit it too, especially when you shift across from India, and I REALLY wanted to give it a chance.

    India has HUGE problems (the 70% of the population that live in rural villages appear to basically not exist) but from my experience, Pakistan appears to be stuck in a time-warp that made me want to book a flight out asap.

  4. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:00 pm  

    Although neither the view of Pakistan nor India are accurate.

    Oh, I know that. But leaving that aside, how long do you think it will be, at current rates of development, before India and Pakistan join the Developed World (in a way South Korea and Taiwan have, for example)

  5. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:01 pm  

    Rohin, given that India has a sizeable Muslim minority, what are the chief differences between say an Indian Muslim and a Pakistani Muslim?

  6. Eremos — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:12 pm  

    I’ve heard it said by Indian Muslims that there are more Muslims in India than any other country in the world. Does religion really make a difference, or is something more cultural perhaps?

  7. Rohin — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:15 pm  

    Not much difference Bleh. The average Muslim in both countries is just a normal bloke/gal. But the key difference between the countries’ development is the role of religion in government. India is a secular democracy. Pakistan is neither.

    There are more Muslims in Indonesia Eremos.

    Now I really do have to get to that showroom!

  8. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:21 pm  

    So how does Pakistan advance from here then, in your view?

  9. Ms_Xtreme — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:21 pm  

    Pourquoi? Religion.

    Huh? How’d you get that? So Pakistan is dysfunctional because of its religion? Did I miss something here?

    Thanks.

  10. Ravi Naik — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:26 pm  

    “Huh? How’d you get that? So Pakistan is dysfunctional because of its religion? Did I miss something here?”

    Democracy, secularism and education. Not that India excels in either, but explains why it is several steps ahead of Pakistan.

  11. Ms_Xtreme — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:32 pm  

    I was actually talking to Rohin, but okay.

    And Religious states aren’t democratic or have good education? Because I can’t think of any other – then could you explain Saudia Arabia for me? Or UAE would work too.

  12. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:36 pm  

    Ms, huh? you’re claiming Saudi Arabia is democratic and has good education? (or have I misread you?)

  13. Ms_Xtreme — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:49 pm  

    Sorry, I was comparing it to Pakistan. Being a religious country, don’t you think that Saudia Arabia has accomplished a lot compared to Pakistan? And their country is based on Religion.

    I was trying to figure out how a country being religious or not keeps them from advancing?

  14. Natty — on 30th August, 2007 at 7:01 pm  

    I think Pakistan will begin to advance. India has had a lot of help to advance and boosted by the technology boom has been able to move forward.

    Pakistan is now seeing investment which will help build the country. Education is a key and with many people from abroad putting in money then that is going to help. Finance is improving but things do take time.

    Big Gulf Investments and oil pipelines will bring in revenue to assist build infrastructure.

    A peace with India will also bring dividends.

  15. Ms_Xtreme — on 30th August, 2007 at 7:13 pm  

    Natty, they won’t if they bring back leaders that brought the country to its knees in the first place.

    Then again – those were the very first leaders – hopefully they’ll catch up as time goes by.

  16. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 7:20 pm  

    Being a religious country, don’t you think that Saudia Arabia has accomplished a lot compared to Pakistan? And their country is based on Religion.

    Well, their “advancement” is very subjective – redolant of a cargo cult in some ways. Its hard to be advanced when you treat half the population like utter shit, and your whole economy is based upon geological happenstance.

  17. Sunny — on 30th August, 2007 at 7:28 pm  

    I’m not sure holding up Saudi Arabia as a good example works. The country does well because of oil exports and because they employ cheap labour to do all the work while their own youth do nothing. And this is from the country’s own media.

    Malaysia is perhaps a much better example of a country that has advanced a lot in the past 50 years, more than India. India gets press because its a massive country but to be honest the vast majority of the people there are still stuck in a time warp. It’s just that the urban areas are big enough to drive industrial growth and overseas acquisitions.

    I think religion has less to do with it than political leadership. We had the Gandhi family, which for all their stupidity, at least made the country democratic and fairly politically stable. If economically incompetent (until recently). Pakistan on the other hand has had terrible leadership and by the looks of it, things aren’t improving much.

    I’ve never seen anything to say people of one religion are stupider than another.

  18. Imran — on 30th August, 2007 at 7:35 pm  

    I hate this whole dysfunctional fanatical hell hole image that Pakistan is percieved as! It is not that at all! It is far from it! People are liberal! Basically it is just like India!

    Personally I always thought Pakistan was better under Musharaff’s rule! Pakistan is far better under his rule! The economyhas a grown a significant amount!
    Remember 7 years ago the country was bankrupt; today it is an emerging economy!

    I for one hate the idea Bhutto is back!

  19. tim — on 30th August, 2007 at 7:42 pm  

    Watch “Respect” swivel uncomfortably on this one.
    Bhutto’s govt funded Galloway through slush funds to Asian Voice Ltd in the mid 90s.
    Dont expect too much criticism.

  20. Zak — on 30th August, 2007 at 7:44 pm  

    The talks are being brokered by the US and UK, the guardian did a piece on how Britain helped play the mediator between Mush and BB. William Dalrymples recent article on Pakistan was a good read, but the mind boggles when one thinks of such blatant foreign involvement in domestic politics.

  21. Sunny — on 30th August, 2007 at 8:06 pm  

    through slush funds to Asian Voice Ltd

    I think you’ve got the wrong company. Asian Voice newspaper is a Gujarati Hindu owned and orientated newspaper.

  22. The Common Humanist — on 30th August, 2007 at 8:19 pm  

    The Army seems pretty entrenched into Pakistani society. If this is a bulwark to, for example, an (excuse the expression) an Islamist takeover (Would ‘Taliban-esque’ be better?) then is the Army a positive or negative force in the Country?

    (I saw the Ch4 Program ‘Between the Generals and the Mullahs’*. What did people think of it?)

    *Might be a slightly different title

  23. Ms_Xtreme — on 30th August, 2007 at 8:39 pm  

    Humanist – definately the Generals over the Mullahs. The Mullahs, sorry to say, are one of the factors that brings down the Pakistani society.

  24. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 9:12 pm  

    Bit of a Hobson’s choice there though, but I agree with Ms.

  25. Rumbold — on 30th August, 2007 at 9:44 pm  

    I think that Bhutto returning to Pakistan is a good thing, as the deal involves Musharraf giving up his military position. Thus, Pakistan will end up with a President that is not as tainted by military association, a military that will not intervene because it knows Musharraf is still its best bet, and a regime with a much wider base of support and which is edging back towards democracy.

  26. tim — on 30th August, 2007 at 9:54 pm  

    Sunny.
    Asian Voice Ltd was the parent company that published “East” in the 90s.
    Funded secretly (covertly sponsored) through slush funds to support the Pakistan Govt position on Kashmir and run by Galloway.
    Corruption revealed by the Sharif govt.
    Cash of course went missing
    http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/summary_0199-2715607_ITM

  27. soru — on 30th August, 2007 at 10:50 pm  

    Being a religious country, don’t you think that Saudia Arabia has accomplished a lot compared to Pakistan?

    I wouldn’t really compare them directly: Saudia Arabia is politically closer to pre-2006 Nepal: run by a post-colonial absolute monarchy, with some religious trappings.

    A lot better demographics though, e.g. 70% female literacy, compared to 27% in Nepal. I assume that’s the mostly the result of the oil money.

    Pakistan is more like Israel: an explicitly religious republic with a strong military that worries a lot about threats from countries bigger than it. One difference is the Pakistani military is organised on the British model of a distinct artificial tribe, rather than the US ideal of citizen-soldiers. Israel elects generals, whereas in Pakistan generals decide whether there are elections.

    The best thing that could plausibly happen to Pakistan is for that military to gradually lose power, wither away, following a comprehensive and permanent peace settlement in Kashmir.

  28. Sofia — on 31st August, 2007 at 10:54 am  

    I went to Pakistan for the first time a few months back and tried not to have any preconceptions. I visited Lahore which many Pakistanis say is the heart of the country…(I have no opinion on that particular matter)…I found Lahore to be very similar to places I have visited in India, the same atmosphere, hustle and bustle, socio economic issues, poverty as well as areas of affluence…

    However, some of the major differences at grass roots (I’m avoiding the whole specific political arena) I noticed were to do with education and the role of women as well as the use of English.

    Many of the Pakistani youngsters I met place importance on education, but often did not attend normal school classes, instead, attending “academies” which is basically tuition after school. These academies are in most cases run by teachers and children can spend 4 hours there after a normal school day. The thing is, these structures are fluid and the “normal” government run schools are not where the kids are learning, but are only registering for national exams…In India, in an equivalent city, schools would be the place for children to learn, with tuition being a top up, not the main basis of their learning.

    Also, although girls are attending these schools and gaining good qualifications, where are the working women? Many of the women I came across often owned their own boutiques or make up studios..(you’d think pakistani women were mingers the amount of these beauty places there are)..I did not meet women in any other fields..although I do have Pakistani female friends who are business consultants or run the family business. (They are however, from an upper middle class background and are based in Karachi or Islamabad). In India, women from a similar background will be found in fields such as business, architecture, IT etc. Although I must admit that the proportion of these women being from a Muslim background is low…I’ve said this before in other threads that educating women for the workplace will really help Pakistan. Whatever you think of Benazir Bhutto, she could have done a lot for advancement of womens’ rights..although I don’t think that is on her political agenda…As for Nawaz Sharif…hmmm…he’s quite popular in the Punjab, but comes from a landowning patriarchal background so advancement of women in society won’t be on his radar..
    I also think that Muslims in both countries need to quit using Islam as a an excuse for not advancing.

  29. Sofia — on 31st August, 2007 at 10:56 am  

    I also think it important to look at Pakistan’s infrastructure at partition, compared to what India inherited…it is somehow unfair although predicatable that both countries will be compared.

  30. Ravi — on 31st August, 2007 at 12:41 pm  

    Gallloway cant say a word about Bhotto.
    Tim is right.
    Up to his eyeballs in corrupt cash 1995/6

  31. bananabrain — on 31st August, 2007 at 1:49 pm  

    Pakistan is more like Israel: an explicitly religious republic with a strong military that worries a lot about threats from countries bigger than it. One difference is the Pakistani military is organised on the British model of a distinct artificial tribe, rather than the US ideal of citizen-soldiers. Israel elects generals, whereas in Pakistan generals decide whether there are elections.
    israel may have some benighted fundamentalists who make life very difficult, but they don’t run the place. the “citizen soldier” is also a sine qua non, you can’t run for office in uniform and the current pm is certainly not the military type. now israel may be a nominally jewish country, but it is still a more or less secular democracy – i’ve got absolutely nothing against pakistan (my grandfather was born in karachi which caused my mum some problems when she wanted a visa to india!) but you surely can’t compare the two in economic terms. one is more or less an economic basket case as i understand it and the other has a globally admired hi-tech sector, to say nothing of their achievements in irrigation and agriculture. instant messaging, for example, was invented in israel by ICQ.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  32. Rohin — on 31st August, 2007 at 2:53 pm  

    Huh? How’d you get that? So Pakistan is dysfunctional because of its religion?

  33. Sofia — on 31st August, 2007 at 2:57 pm  

    It’s simplistic if looking at the failings in Pakistan and blaming religion without looking at what Pakistan had in 1947 compared to India. And once again when discussing religion, it should be brought into the context of who is doing the interpreting in Pakistan..

  34. CyrusTheGreat — on 31st August, 2007 at 3:14 pm  

    It’s simplistic if looking at the failings in Pakistan and blaming religion without looking at what Pakistan had in 1947 compared to India

    What exaactly are you talking about? Pakistan inherited all of the best canal colonies and the most fertile land that Punjab had to offer, not to mention the commercial centres of Lahore and Karachi.

    Stop making excuses.

    True, Pakistan’s middle classes inherited a feudal structure but they’ve had 60 years to change it but they haven’t. Nothing to do with what ‘they had in 1947′ – more to do with what Pakistanis haven’t done to progress in a capitalist world; and yes, Islam plays a big part in that. The lack of women in emplyment, the encouragment of religous over secular education and the complete lack of a work ethic are all attributal to Islam.

    Just face it: Islam compliments feudalsim and economic impotency is the result in non-oil economies.

  35. Sofia — on 31st August, 2007 at 3:21 pm  

    i’m not making excuses..why would i..i’m not pakistani for a start.
    what i am trying to say if you bothered to read is that religion is not the only reason…duh

  36. Ms_Xtreme — on 31st August, 2007 at 6:06 pm  

    I’m sorry, I still find it difficult to understand how a country being religious or not contributes to it’s “advancement” at all fronts.

  37. Zak — on 31st August, 2007 at 7:39 pm  

    hmm nawaz sharif isn’t from a landowning family

  38. Sofia — on 31st August, 2007 at 8:44 pm  

    Zak…really?

  39. Sofia — on 31st August, 2007 at 8:45 pm  

    I stand corrected…

  40. Rohin — on 1st September, 2007 at 4:19 am  

    What the hell happened to the rest of my comment? Under Ms Extreme’s quote I had written my explanation. Has it disappeared or was it never there?

    Essentially I said that I did not personally believe religion is the only reason Pakistan has not done so well (but it IS a big factor) but I was answering Bleh’s question of why does the world see Pakistan as inferior to India.

    I also talked a bit about Malaysia as Sunny had brought it up…but I can’t be bothered to write it all over again. At 4.20am.

  41. Zak — on 1st September, 2007 at 8:50 am  

    Nope he is from a business family, with it’s origins in the steel industry. IN fact while there is a distinct feudal mindset running through Pakistani politics, even the Bhuttos are not huge landowning families. As a rule feudals tend to gravitate towards military rulers or towards any strong leader as a means of preservation of their power.

  42. Sofia — on 3rd September, 2007 at 9:30 am  

    Yes Zak, me just being lazy about him…as I know that he owns steel factories in pakistan and saudi (since his exile)..etc..i supppose it makes it odd that he is so popular in Lahore, but has that got something to do with where his family is from…??

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