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  • Technorati: graph / links

    ‘Honour’ killing supporters rewarded


    by Rumbold on 16th November, 2008 at 6:00 pm    

    In July, five women were buried alive in Baluchistan, three of them teenagers who wanted to marry men of their choice, along with two elderly relatives. Despite international condemnation, Israrullah Zehri, a senator for Baluchistan, defended the action by claiming that:

    “These are centuries-old traditions, and I will continue to defend them.”

    Now Israrullah Zehri has been promoted to the national cabinet by Asif Ali Zardari, as Federal Minister for Postal Services:

    “The PPP should not forget that Zehri had ‘informed’ the Senate in August that the killing or burial of women alive for ‘honour’ is a tribal tradition of Balochistan province and should not be portrayed negatively. When the issue of five women being buried alive in Balochistan in the name of honour was raised in the Senate, Zehri asked the senators not to politicise the issue, as it was a matter of safeguarding the tribal traditions.”

    Also promoted to cabinet level was Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, shockingly as the Minister of Education:

    “[Bijarani] was part of the Jirga in Sindh that was involved in Sang Chatti (offering young girls as blood money). Bijarani was accused, along with the other members of the Jirga, of offering to hand over five minor girls to the family of a murdered man as compensation to settle a dispute in Jacobabad. Most of the girls were under seven years old.”

    The blog All Things Pakistan was suitably scathing on both appointments:

    “Now, at his [Zehri's] elevation to a cabinet position one can only say that this act has doubly shamed the government, the Prime Minister, and, indeed, all of Pakistan. His shame remains what it was, but added to it now is the shame that the PPP government would so disregard human and women rights as to make such a man a Minister - even if it is of “Postal Services”!

    The shame is further compounded - indeed, the jahalat is compounded - because he is not the only one with such public views who has been inducted into the cabinet. Even more disturbingly, it the new Minister of Education - yes, we have said it before, and let us say again, eductaion - Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani is someone who not only supports the practice of Vani but has actually facilitated it!



      |   Trackback link   |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: Cultural Relativism, Pakistan, South Asia




    53 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. Don — on 16th November, 2008 at 6:38 pm  

      A minister of education who sees children as tradeable commodities? Another minister who see mass murder as a tradition immune from criticism? Fit for public office? These people should resign from the human race.

    2. Cath Elliott — on 16th November, 2008 at 7:43 pm  

      Thanks for this Rumbold. These appointments can only serve to give the women of Pakistan the message that their government condones the despicable attitudes that these two men have publicly expressed.

      To further compound this message, these appointments come only days after female senators staged a walk-out from Parliament in protest at the so-called honour killing of another young woman, Tasleem Solangi, who was set upon by dogs and then shot.

      How can women ever hope to see change when men like Israrullah Zehri get promoted?

      Words fail me.

    3. douglas clark — on 16th November, 2008 at 8:13 pm  

      Rumbold,

      Thanks for bringing this up. As Cath Elliot says:

      Words fail me.

    4. Amrit — on 16th November, 2008 at 9:43 pm  

      “Most of the girls were under seven years old.”

      What the eff?! Why were girls under seven years old being handed over as blood money?!

      ‘When the issue of five women being buried alive in Balochistan in the name of honour was raised in the Senate, Zehri asked the senators not to politicise the issue, as it was a matter of safeguarding the tribal traditions.’

      That absolutely beggars belief. What ‘traditions’ are those, then?!

      I second what Don said.

    5. Rumbold — on 16th November, 2008 at 9:45 pm  

      Cath:

      “These appointments can only serve to give the women of Pakistan the message that their government condones the despicable attitudes that these two men have publicly expressed.”

      And this is supposed to be a welcome change from military rule.

      Sorry, your link doesn’t work. Is it this story?

      http://www.taiwannews.com.tw/etn/news_content.php?id=774859&lang=eng_news&cate_img=logo_world&cate_rss=WORLD_eng

    6. Cath Elliott — on 16th November, 2008 at 10:05 pm  

      Rumbold - Yes, it’s that story. Sorry about the link - dunno what I did wrong there.

    7. shariq — on 16th November, 2008 at 11:46 pm  

      Thanks for posting this Rumbold. I’m flying out to Pakistan tomorrow and will try and report on what reaction there has been to this if any.

    8. Sunny — on 17th November, 2008 at 5:29 am  

      Completely shameful. But then, most Pakistanis already hold Zardari in contempt.

    9. platinum786 — on 17th November, 2008 at 8:31 am  

      Ahh yes, the fruits of our democracy. Do you guys think that the average Pakistani supports these kinds of people? Do you think the average Pakistani wants Asif Ali Zardari as President? The answer is no.

      Unfortunately, the way the democratic process works in our country, this is all we get, why do you think there is often support for military dictatorships?

      Get this, A lot of these guys own a huge amount of land, people, entire families, live on these lands, farm these lands and are paid in crops, not cash. These people have to ask permission from these big timers to bury their dead, and this is the story in a lot of rural Sindh and Balouchistan, even Southern Punjab. When it comes to election time, do you think these people will not vote for their feudal lords? They have no choice other than to vote for them.

      In the NWFP the democratic process is also rather shot. You vote the same way as the rest of the tribe votes, most people in the rural areas are uneducated and do as they are told by tribal leaders, as it has been for centuries.

      The only places where democratic process has a chance is the cities and towns, as well as the Northern part of Punjab where I have noticed most families own their own land (rurally).

      When two thirds of the country lives in rural areas, these kinds force their way into power, and then their sons do and then their grandson’s do.

      Everyone likes democratic process and ideals and congratulates our corrupt politicians for going through the motions of this sham process in Pakistan, but everyone ignores the realities too.

      Where is the international condemnation of these idiots being made ministers? Why has the IMF nearly given Pakistan a loan for $7 billion but not asked why we need 61 ministers, when China has 25 and Germany has 18?

    10. Golam Murtaza — on 17th November, 2008 at 9:27 am  

      I don’t generally condone assassination (honest!) but I wouldn’t shed many tears if Mr Zehri was to accidentally come into fatal contact with a rocket from an American Predator drone…

    11. Leon — on 17th November, 2008 at 10:28 am  

      These people should resign from the human race.

      How can they resign from something they’re not part of…

    12. Sid — on 17th November, 2008 at 11:49 am  

      Ahh yes, the fruits of our democracy. Do you guys think that the average Pakistani supports these kinds of people? Do you think the average Pakistani wants Asif Ali Zardari as President? The answer is no.

      A major test of strength for the Pakistani democracy would to be impeach and remove Zardari by a vote of confidence. I would have thought that that would be favourable to throwing out democracy with the bath water…

    13. platinum786 — on 17th November, 2008 at 12:46 pm  

      Democratic principles are great, but do they work in Pakistan? Look at the fruits of it’s labour. Take the issue of impeachment. Who is going to impeach Asif Ali Zardari? The goons he has put in charge? The party he is head of alongside his son, after they took over from his wife who incidentally took over from her father? The PPP is a hierarchy, it’s never broken away from it’s feudalistic manners.

      Even the comparative ray of light Amin Faheem bowed down and gave way to Zardari for leadership of the party after Benazir. this is a man who created the party alongside Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. You’d also be interested in knowing that this “Pakistan Obama (nearly)” has several sisters, all of whom are married to the Quran, a practice in rural Sindh to prevent the families inheritance being split out to women.

      The alternative is the Muslim league. They’re split right down the middle with the PML-N being the plaything of the Sharif brothers and the PML-Q being the equivalant for the Chaudary cousins. Neither of those two want to take on the PPP and their leader, rather they want some sort of way to get into “coalition” with them.

      That leaves the MQM and ANP, parties with seats only in their own provinces (Sindh and NWFP), etthnic based parties, that most people steer clear of. They’re too small to challenge the PPP dominance, and don’t want to either. The ANP has finally got into government and the MQM don’t want to swap the Sindhi PPP for the Punjabi Muslim league. At least they have Karachi, they’re main power base.

      We could ask the religious parties to impeach him, but the MMA (the alliance of religious parties that won the election last time in NWFP and got a load of seats elsewhere post 911), they’ve broken up. They’re back to their usual formations of 1 personality parties. With the JI and JUI the main factions. The JI boycotted the elections and the leader of teh JUI has a government position, that’s a success for the JUI, who’s main election aim every election is to ensure that Maulana Fazl-ur Rehman has a seat.

      Tell me who’s going to impeach him. It’s not going to happen, we have no middle ground in Pakistani politics, we either pick a general and hope for the best, or we pick the same old political faces and brace ourselves for ruin.

    14. Jai — on 17th November, 2008 at 12:48 pm  

      Another horrible example of power corrupting the corruptible, I guess.

      And some “traditions” should not be safeguarded, tribal or otherwise.

    15. fugstar — on 17th November, 2008 at 1:08 pm  

      8
      fair chunk of the buggers voted for him though…

    16. Sid — on 17th November, 2008 at 1:10 pm  

      platinum786, how did they propose to impeach Pervez Musharraf? If it can be applied to a totalitarian military dictator why not to the leader of a democractically elected party which has promoted a leader simply by stealth and dint of marraige to the previous leader?

    17. platinum786 — on 17th November, 2008 at 1:22 pm  

      Sid, nobody benefited politically from Musharraf being in charge, hence the word was banded about. Even the PML-Q found he was unpopular and a political liability. Asif Ali Zardari has 61 ministers, there are 61 people there who directly benefit from him being in charge. He is wholescale corrupt, he robs and lets everyone else rob too, as long as they’re not robbing what he is robbing. If your a Pakistani politician why would you want to change that environment?

      Asif Ali Zardari is more unpopular than Musharraf ever was (the polls actually prove this), but nothing will be done.

      Let me give you an idea of the extent to which all this works. I have a relative who is very high up in the Azad Kashmir police force (nearly as good as head honcho). In Pakistan we have a neighbour who is a staunch PPP worker and in the past has even held ministerial positions for the PPP.

      There was a right between our families and one of their lot ended up getting hurt quite badly. It went to the police, it went to court, our relative who we hoped would act has leverage, provided a minimal amount of support. He has even kept very amicable relations with our neighbours, despite his brother being involved in the case and being accused of GBH.

      Why, because if the PPP won the election in Pakistan (as was expected), they’d folow up with a win in AJK (probably) and suddenly these people who don’t even hold a seat in government, would become important again. They’ve even frozen corruption investigations against the guy.

    18. billy — on 17th November, 2008 at 1:29 pm  

      As an outside observer, it seems to me that Pakistani politics is so closely linked to feudalism, in that so many politicians come from feudal families. The Bhutto family, after all, are a family a feudal Lords. And so to govern, accomodations have to be made with other feudal lords. It’s either that or the army. In that case, Pakistan is caught between a rock and a hard place. Of course, Zardari should have been brave enough not to appoint these individuals, but if a ruling coalition depends on placating or incorporating feudal rule into the democratic structure of governance, these pressures will always be present for anyone at the helm of Pakistan.

    19. Ashik — on 17th November, 2008 at 1:38 pm  

      Westminister-style parliamentary democracy simply does not work in Bangladesh & Pakistan and is barely existent in India. These countries are quite artificial. The cultures in these countries favour family, clan, religion & region over developing workable centralised organs of state. Perhaps a benevolent dictatorship or a form of authoritarian rule would work better than feudal criminals masquerading as democratic politicians. Bangladesh is reverting to this form of ‘democracy’ in the next couple of months….hurrah!

    20. billy — on 17th November, 2008 at 1:53 pm  

      These countries are quite artificial. The cultures in these countries favour family, clan, religion & region over developing workable centralised organs of state.

      And yet for all the many flaws and failures in its democracy, India is better off and will be better off in the long term because its democratic system. Last time there was an election the incumbent party ran on a ticket of ‘India Shining’, and were voted out because the poor resented their arrogance in the face of rises in the cost of living. That’s what democracy does in its basest instinct; it makes the powerful answerable at an elemental level. The people cannot be taken for granted.

      Democracy is ugly and messy and flawed. India’s democracy is ugly and messy and flawed. But as institutions grow more robust over time, as the ongoing experiment continues, India will be stronger for her democracy in every sense.

    21. Sid — on 17th November, 2008 at 2:07 pm  

      paltinum786, Pakistan has achieved an amazing transition. A relatively-bloodless move from full-blown autocratic totalitarian state to moving back to Democracy, a project which has been oft-derailed a few times in its history.

      To abandon Pakistan’s chances of establishing a viable democracy because of the abuses of one man and the culture of venal cronyis would be a tragic mistake. The only other alternative is a military dictatorship partnered with Islamist warlords growing in power and confidence.

      The failure of democracy in Pakistan does not bear thinking for its people and that of the region.

    22. Sid — on 17th November, 2008 at 2:19 pm  

      billy:
      Democracy is ugly and messy and flawed. India’s democracy is ugly and messy and flawed. But as institutions grow more robust over time, as the ongoing experiment continues, India will be stronger for her democracy in every sense.

      Agreed.

      I daresay that Pakistan and Bangladesh would rather have a messy, dysfunctional democracy with a free press, basic rights, religion and politics separate than a “clean” military autocracy which bans free media, denies basic rights and civic liberties and partners with non-elected clerical fascists.

    23. platinum786 — on 17th November, 2008 at 2:19 pm  

      How can you call the current setup a democracy, when a huge chunk of the voters, vote effectively at gunpoint. If your feudal lord does not win a seat, you don’t have a home anymore. How is that democracy?

      What Pakistan needs is an end to this modern form of slavery, then we can have democracy. Democracy is about choice, what choice do so many of the electorate in Pakistan have? The feudalism must end first.

    24. Sid — on 17th November, 2008 at 2:32 pm  

      The feudalism must end first.

      If feudalism is to be dismantled, and I agree with you that it should, surely the only in this day and age is via democracy and by support and creation of strong, autonmous institutions such as a judiciary, local-government bodies, a free press etc.

      If feudalism needs to end, why support the double act of military elite and Islamist warlords? Both are feudalism through and through?

    25. platinum786 — on 17th November, 2008 at 2:32 pm  

      Btw, you guys should read a bit more about Pakistan.

      We’ve had free media under a military dictator, we get “democracy” and suddenly we have new E-terrorism bills being passed. We have curbs of what people can show on TV and popular shows are being cancelled. Right now GEO TV has been forced to stop broadcasting in Karachi.

      http://www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=58277&Itemid=1

      Read it you’ll be shocked;

      (d) take or distribute pictures or photographs of any person without his consent or knowledge; or

      (e) display or distribute information in a manner that substantially increases the risk of harm or violence to any other person, commits the offence of cyber stalking.

      (2) Whoever commits the offence specified in sub-section (1) shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years or with fine not exceeding three hundred thousand rupees, or with both:

      This is a part of it that will make Governor of Punjab Salman Taser quite happy, after pictures of him drinking at a party were revealed onto the internet.

      The FIA is also investigating the source of text messages found to be “abusive” towards the President.

    26. Sid — on 17th November, 2008 at 2:35 pm  

      So platinum786 - you are arguing for a return to military democracy and tribal warlords rather than democracy because you don’t want Pakistan under the PPP and Zardari?

    27. platinum786 — on 17th November, 2008 at 2:36 pm  

      The military and the Islamists, don’t enslave people. For all their ills, they don’t have generations of people who live and die on their land as slaves, paid for their services in crops, asking permission to bury their dead.

      The islamists and the military are not a solution, they are an alternative, one which is preferable in the short term to the democratic process. In the long term it’s probably as harmful, as they never go about fixing anything long term either.

      I fail to see how democracy will end feudalism, when the feudals sit in parliament. The only thing that changes every election is whether they are majority Punjabi or Majority Sindhi.

    28. platinum786 — on 17th November, 2008 at 2:37 pm  

      I’m arguing on the whole, it was better than our current setup. In the long term it is no solution, we can’t be a uniformed kingdom, nor should we be, but what is the way out? Parliament is a dead end.

    29. billy — on 17th November, 2008 at 3:37 pm  

      platinum, how long will it take to ‘end feudalism’? You’ll be waiting for hundreds of years before you think Pakistanis deserve the chance to continue on the messy, flawed line of democracy.

      Pakistan already has a semblance of a robust judiciary, one of the pillars of a democratic state. The way the judges stood up to Musharaff in the face of violence and intimidation was a credit to their nation. That’s how democracy evolves, through the struggle of institutions, through the cussedness of the checks and balances.

    30. Ashik — on 17th November, 2008 at 4:06 pm  

      The problem with South Asian style ‘democracy’ is that it is largely indistinguishable from South Asian style dictatorships; except the latter are somewhat less corrupt and more efficient than the former…..for a time.

      Party political culture simply does not evolve. It’s the same money-grabbing politician families and their descendants who are misgoverning and robbing these countries again and again. And these parasites expect their children and grandchildren to inherit their mantle as well.

      The worst people are those immigrants who now live in the West but continue to cheerlead for feudal dynasties ‘back home’ for the sake of nostalgia, outdated ideology and because their friends or family benefit personally from the current set-up.

    31. Sid — on 17th November, 2008 at 4:11 pm  

      Pakistan already has a semblance of a robust judiciary, one of the pillars of a democratic state. The way the judges stood up to Musharaff in the face of violence and intimidation was a credit to their nation. That’s how democracy evolves, through the struggle of institutions, through the cussedness of the checks and balances.

      Agree with you totally. Musharraf was toppled because he lost popular support thanks to his failure in trying to break the independent judiciary. The noise that created meant that the military withdrew support along with the loss of popular backing.

      That’s a great sign that democracy is already in place in Pakistan. The same can and should be done with corrupt democractic leaders as well, perhaps starting with Zardari. Not a return to military autocracy.

    32. Sid — on 17th November, 2008 at 4:15 pm  

      The worst people are those immigrants who now live in the West but continue to cheerlead for feudal dynasties ‘back home’ for the sake of nostalgia, outdated ideology and because their friends or family benefit personally from the current set-up.

      On the contrary, the “worst people” are those immigrants who now live in the West, benefit from all the advantages of liberal democracy, free markets, religious pluralism and advocate that their countrymen should give up democracy and choose to live in autocratic military dictatorships with power-sharing and backing of Islamists and clerical fascists. The question that should be asked is, if you favour that form of government, why are you living in the West?

    33. billy — on 17th November, 2008 at 4:23 pm  

      Ashik presents an expression of cynicism that ultimately is little more than a kind of nihilism. Because he offers nothing but exhaustion. The fact that there is corruption, cronyism, is not a reason for an attack on democracy. It’s a reason for more democracy, more accountability, more robust cussedness. What is the alternative? A submission and slide into apathy, and a myopic acquiesence to ‘moderate dictatorship’?

      Democracy is a continual experiment. It perfects itself over generations. It takes time to strengthen. Its roots need nurturing and attention. The spirit it imbibes in people gives them hopes for freedom. It gives the downtrodden a spirit of dignity that enables them to organise and improve their lives. The alternative is the heavy boot of dictatorship sapping the spirit for eternity by kicking the people in the face. You keep democracy alive for the future generations. It’s not just about you and us in the here and now. It’s about the future. You don’t submit to cynicism and apathy about it all, because you don’t have the energy or will to do anything else.

      India is the great hope of the 21st Century, precisely because it is on this path. The problems it has, the flaws of the system, the poverty, the oppression, all of these inside a republic commited to the ideals of democracy. If it can progress collectively under a democratic process, no matter how ramshackle and flawed that process is — well, if it can progress (and I believe it will), then the truth is, there is no excuse for anyone else anymore. No excuse at all.

    34. Sid — on 17th November, 2008 at 4:31 pm  

      Quite.

      Actually, I dunno why people wet themselves in paroxysms of delight about Obama’s “minority status”. India has been electing minorities to power for generations. In fact India had a woman prime minister when the UK had Enoch Powell and there was racial segregation in USA.

    35. billy — on 17th November, 2008 at 4:56 pm  

      That’s true Sid. Even Pakistan and Bangladesh have had female leaders. At that altitude of society there tends to be few barriers to women or minorities if you have a certain name or are connected to a ticket with a certain name.

      The truth is though, cynicism is the simplest, and laziest thing in the world. India, and her neighbours, deserve more than that, especially because there is so much to be cynical about. Democracy is a high line embodiment of the dignity and rights of man and woman. That is a guiding, organising principle that survives the corruption and failures and iniquities that is the reality in a country like India. What other guiding principle do you want in the 21st Century? That in one hundred years they should be ruled by Mr ‘Benign’ Dictator who (the likes of Ashik says), knows what is good for you?

    36. Sid — on 17th November, 2008 at 5:17 pm  

      Good stuff, billy. You’d think what you are saying is obvious, but what you’ve just addressed there are the very battle lines that society is fighting along in south asia today. Which is why it must be repeated again and again.

    37. Boyo — on 17th November, 2008 at 5:22 pm  

      More to the point, when so much scorn is poured upon Israel, why is Pakistan not on the radar? Why does our govt. continue to deal with these butchers? They actually make the Saudis look civilised - quite an achievement.

    38. Ashik — on 17th November, 2008 at 7:09 pm  

      Development of third world countries along Chinese lines ie. the disciplined development of the economy and free markets through government policies allied to a strong authoritarian but benevolent central authority dedicated to betterment of it’s people rather than stuffing it’s own pockets is infinitely superior to the haphazard and uneven economic development in India, lingering Fabian socialism and essentially window dressing of norms like womens’ rights; despite China not nominating a female leader like India, BD and Pak, institutional and social barriers to women advancing in society is better in China than the subcontinent thanks to decades of Communist endeavour in helping raise womens’ civil participation. China is creating forces of social change eg. middle and commercial classes which in the middle to longterm future as Platinum has stated will help evolve a more democratic tradition and decentralization which is in-keeping with Chinese sentiments and values eg. importance of group as well as individual harmony and importance of family. The results of industrialization and economic success of China as opposed to India is there for all to see. This is why many country’s , especially in Africa, see China as a development model.

      Democracy is the best form of governence but requires a receptive culture to nurture and underpin it. China is developing this. Otherwise we have the likes of Bangladesh and Pakistan and to a lesser extent India where we have parliaments, parties and elections but nothing changes. Where a country’s entire national treasury is seen as nothing more than a leader/their family’s personal savings account to spend as they see fit while their countrymen starve.

      China an India suffer from many similar problems but China is better and quicker able to deal with them than India.

      And there is a school of thought which sees the only reason Indian army has not taken over as in BD and Pak is because of practicalities eg. ruling a country of billion souls rather than impediments of strong institutions and love and respect for democracy.

    39. billy — on 17th November, 2008 at 7:55 pm  

      Ashik, it’s difficult to discuss this subject with someone who makes so many generalisations, half truths and drools for the jackboot so much.

      China is creating forces of social change eg. middle and commercial classes which in the middle to longterm future as Platinum has stated will help evolve a more democratic tradition and decentralization which is in-keeping with Chinese sentiments and values

      How will that middle class develop a democratic tradition in the straightjacket of a commisariat dictatorship? Democracy is decades of disputation, cussed insitutions, independent checks and balances, a free press, an enfranchised population. You just want the state to be organised along the lines of a strong man to preserve inchoate ‘family values’. I would pity Bangladesh if your worldview gains ground. India is a stronger country, and will be a stronger and freer country in the coming century precisely because it is moving in the OPPOSITE direction to that which you describe here — a dictatorship with arbitrary notions of ‘culture’ as the justification for the power of men who you would be happy to cede all democratic process to.

      And there is a school of thought which sees the only reason Indian army has not taken over as in BD and Pak is because of practicalities

      Nonsense. The Indian Army stays in its barracks because it understands what the Indian Republic is all about. It does so because there is a culture of democracy, and the Army knows its place. The army serves the state. The state does not serve the army. Which is how the Pakistani army seems to orientate things.

    40. Muhamad — on 17th November, 2008 at 8:58 pm  

      So much for that reprobate’s dream of a secular Pakistan, the bugger (aka Jinnah) didn’t even live in it.

    41. Ashik — on 17th November, 2008 at 11:29 pm  

      Billy:

      ‘Nonsense. The Indian Army stays in its barracks because it understands what the Indian Republic is all about. It does so because there is a culture of democracy,’

      The same Indian army which has shown it’s ‘respect’ for human rights and the rule of law by committing horrific human rights violations and acting as an army of occupation in Indian Occupied Kashmir where more than 60,000 have perished? The same Indian army which is ‘trusted’ so much in Assam? How many Kashmiri elections has the army helped rig? I think you and i must differ as to meanings of the ‘culture of democracy’ of which human rights is an inalienable part.

      It is impossible to talk about democracy in the subcontinent without an eye on ground reality and how democracy works (or rather doesn’t!) in practice. Theory is all very well but ordinary people judge on results; hence as Platinum stated dictatorships are often welcomed.

    42. Sid — on 17th November, 2008 at 11:38 pm  

      It is impossible to talk about democracy in the subcontinent without an eye on ground reality and how democracy works (or rather doesn’t!) in practice. Theory is all very well but ordinary people judge on results; hence as Platinum stated dictatorships are often welcomed.

      The quantity of generalisation and hyperbole in that passage has reached the critical mass at which it sucks up all the oxygen in the room.

    43. Ravi Naik — on 17th November, 2008 at 11:48 pm  

      It is impossible to talk about democracy in the subcontinent without an eye on ground reality adn how democracy works (or rather doesn’t!) in practice. Theory is all very well but ordinary people judge on results; hence as Platinum stated dictatorships are often welcomed.

      Ordinary people have no way to exercise their judgement in dictatorships, and yes, even in your imaginary “benign” authoritarian regimes.

      India’s Democracy is far from perfect, and yes, it is inefficient when compared to China’s regime. I do not believe India could organise the Olympics, something the Chinese did spectacularly. But then again, the Chinese regime can do whatever projects they want at the expense of its people, and there are pockets of abject poverty in many parts of China. Which foreigners are not allowed to see.

      In the end, India is developing slowly… but you know what? This development is done despite the government. Governments can fall, but India is sustained by its people and private sector. Whereas, what do you think is going to happen when the communist regime goes down? Much of the private sector in China is owned by the State!

      I am also encouraged by India’s technological feats: cost-efficient cars, 4th fastest supercomputer in the world, rockets that explore the moon… There is so much that is wrong about India and its Democracy, but I would rather have our model than China’s or any of your South Asian benign dictatorial regimes.

    44. Sofia — on 18th November, 2008 at 10:03 am  

      “India has been electing minorities to power for generations. In fact India had a woman prime minister when the UK had Enoch Powell” - yeh and she was about as fascist as him…i’m waiting for the first ‘untouchable’ PM in India…

    45. platinum786 — on 18th November, 2008 at 10:18 am  

      It’s rather pointless debating with someone when they don’t bother to read your responses. Sid and Billy talk about democracy like they’re both copy and pasting from the same Wikipedia link. Take the example of “freedom of speech and free press”.

      Under President (General) Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan had freedom of speech and a free media, the same things that eventually made him immensely unpopular and bought him down.

      Under Asif Ali Zardari, The Pakistani version of the FBI is being used to track down people who send derogatory chain text messages about Zardari (this is an actual police case), anti government voices in the media have been silenced (Zaid Hamid, Ahmed Quereshi), draconian laws have been introduced, and when the president made a spelling mistake in the guest book at the Quaid’s Mausoleum and it was highlighted in the press, government officials came, tore out that page and replaced the message with another one.

      How can you say that we cannot have liberty under a military ruler, only under a democratically elected one, when Pakistan today is a documented living example that the exact opposite is true?

    46. Sid — on 18th November, 2008 at 10:35 am  

      i’m waiting for the first ‘untouchable’ PM in India…

      India has had a muslim president of parliament, the PM is a sikh, and there have been numerous dalit MPs. And even a ‘hijra’ (transgender) MP.

    47. Sofia — on 18th November, 2008 at 10:49 am  

      yeh and i said pm…and maybe a society where they aren’t classed as untouchables, or where MPs propogate communal violence and get away with it

    48. Sid — on 18th November, 2008 at 10:55 am  

      Well Dr Manmohan Singh is not an untouchable, but he does come from a religious minority. Sure India has horrific human rights abuses of minorities and women to this day, but at least they have reached electoral office. Do you agree that this needs to be case with Pakistan and Bangladesh too?

    49. Sofia — on 18th November, 2008 at 11:04 am  

      My knowledge of Bangladeshi politics is poor so can’t comment…in terms of pakistan..i reckon this is not just about a democratic system but a complete societal overhaul…however, with politics in the hands of the powerful, corrupt and closed door elite, democracy is the least of their worries.

      The education system is rubbish unless you go private…the economic system is a mess, and the political system is corrupt. Take your pick as to which one needs to be looked at first. When human rights are so low on the agenda, sod womens’ rights.

      As for India, I don’t disagree that there are great things happening there, however, it makes me sick when there is this brushing under the carpet of abuse, corruption, and religious baiting that is rife…when applauding change one shouldn’t forget those for whom change will not come.

    50. platinum786 — on 18th November, 2008 at 11:38 am  

      Sid Pakistan has had a Christian and Hindu Justice of the supreme court. The Bhutto and Zardari families are shia Muslims and have held office, both presidential and parliamentary. There are specially nominated seats in parliament for minorities and women. The system is great, it just produces rubbish, we need to change what it’s producing.

    51. billy — on 18th November, 2008 at 11:42 am  

      …when applauding change one shouldn’t forget those for whom change will not come.

      How do you know that change will not come? If you want to effect change now and in the future, which system of governance is more suited to effect responsiveness to the poor or the marginalised? A democracy, or a ‘benign dictatorship’?

    52. billy — on 18th November, 2008 at 11:55 am  

      Sid and Billy talk about democracy like they’re both copy and pasting from the same Wikipedia link.

      I talk about democracy from the heart and mind, platinum. If you took the time to read my responses you’d see why I believe that India is going to be the grand narrative of the 21 st Century, precisely because there is no other nation on earth that faces so many problems, and yet is commited to progress on the path of democracy.

      How can you say that we cannot have liberty under a military ruler, only under a democratically elected one, when Pakistan today is a documented living example that the exact opposite is true?

      I know all that, I read all that. You completely miss the point I have been making. In the long term, democracy, the people enfranchised, and all attendant cultures of responsiveness and change, is more supple, and more flexible, and more progressive, than a blind, lazy faith that there will always be a strong man who knows what is best for the people. Always. Forever.

      But this democracy requires attention. It requires patience. It requires cussed determination to face down threats, to work out difficulties. That is all a part of the process of bringing change to a society. If Pakistani society only wants to trust a strong man in charge, when is Pakistan going to get on the railway tracks to take them forward, the commitment to that guiding principle that will bear fruit in the future?

    53. billy — on 18th November, 2008 at 11:58 am  

      It is impossible to talk about democracy in the subcontinent without an eye on ground reality and how democracy works (or rather doesn’t!) in practice. Theory is all very well but ordinary people judge on results; hence as Platinum stated dictatorships are often welcomed.

      Ashik, I said before that I think you offer only cynicism, shading into outright nihilism, on this issue. Human rights abuses of an army are abuses of democracy, and you correct them by punishing those who abuse the democracy, not by pining for a dictatorship.



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