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Posted by on Oct 11, 2006 in At TMV | 5 comments

Pakistan: Islam, Militarism, and the Coming Elections


I read yet another fascinating article by author Frederic Grare “Islam, Militarism, and the 2007–2008 Elections in Pakistan”.

Those who wish to read the Pakistan elections article in full may visit the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace website.

Here are some excerpts from Frederic Grare’s article on “Islam, Militarism, and the 2007–2008 Elections in Pakistan”:

“The year 2007 will be crucial for the future of democracy in Pakistan. If the election schedule announced by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sher Afghan Niazi is followed, presidential elections will be held in the fall and the general and provincial elections will be held on January 30, 2008.

“Many commentators in the West believe that the Pakistani regimewill portray the elections as a contest between Islamists represented by the MMA and the enlightened moderation of President Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistan Army.

“In a new Carnegie Paper, Islam, Militarism, and the 2007–2008 Elections in Pakistan, Frederic Grare argues that the reality is that the Islamic forces will not be a defining factor. They are a dependent variable whose power is largely determined by the army.

“The only real questions are whether the army’s tactics for manipulating the 2007–2008 elections will differ from those used in 2002 and what role the Islamic parties will play in the process.”

(For Frederic Grare’s earlier article on “Pakistan: The Myth of an Islamist Peril” please click here.)…And for my earlier post on “Pakistan Elections 2007: President Musharraf is Jittery” please click here.)

In a parallel argument, retired Pakistani Lieutenant General Asan Durrani elaborates on the consequences of military manipulation of the political process in his article “It is Not a Tiger” in The Nation newspaper of Pakistan.

Here are some excerpts from Pakistani General Durrani’s article:

“Militaries have exercised political power in all times and in most places. There are good reasons all the same that over time it has become an aberration.

“Civil and military are two different cultures. One aims at the evolution of the society and the other is trained to use organised violence. The civil society for its growth must allow pluralism and is therefore accommodative.

“The military, on the other hand, while encouraging innovation and initiative, acts in a well-defined framework to achieve specific goals. When it assumes political power, usually in messy conditions, the military can restore order in the short term. Its regimented approach, nonetheless, does more harm than good to the polity.

“The civil society and its institutions are obviously affected. They either cease to function effectively or become monolithic. In either case they abdicate all responsibility to deliver to their uniformed rulers.

“When it takes over, the military suspends the political process. In due course, for legitimacy and to reach out to the people, it needs some politicians on board. Those who sign up, lose credibility and respect. (No wonder that all our military regimes were succeeded by their detractors.)

“To keep them in good humour and in power, elections have to be rigged. Smaller and backward political units are the worst affected. In a democratic order, they have a semblance of representation. In its absence, they depend upon the ruler’s goodwill for a token presence.

“For routine administration, the military, unschooled in civil affairs, depends on the civil bureaucrats. Not used to the military’s pushy methods and exploiting its ignorance, they find ingenious ways to discredit the regime.

“The ire of the masses, normally reserved for the officialdom, is now directed against the military. The military, too, is not spared the fallout. It is distracted from the main mission and its ability to perform suffers. The military culture gets corrupted and the quality of leadership is starkly affected.

“Loyalty to the coup and its maker now counts more than the professional competence. Pakistani society, subjected to repeated army rules, is an apt illustration of all the assorted implications.”

There is an interesting article why military generals cling on to power after the coup at the BBC…”Coup leaders’ addiction to power”.

The elections scene seems to be hotting up in Pakistan,according to The Gulf Times.

Here are some excerpts from The Gulf Times:

“A new opposition alliance could emerge with coordination among the Pakistani opposition parties if Benazir Bhutto-led Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) strikes a deal with the government, sources have said. (Benazir Bhutto is a former Pakistani Prime Minister)

“The sources said that top leaders of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) had contacted each other and discussed ways to form a new political grouping before the forthcoming general elections.

“The sources said the new alliance would also contact the like-minded parties to give it full strength. The final touches to the proposed alliance would be given after a meeting between PML-N patron-in-chief Nawaz Sharif and Bhutto on October 19 in London.” (Nawaz Sharif is a former Pakistani Prime Minister who was ousted in a coup by President General Pervez Musharraf)

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Copyright 2006 The Moderate Voice
  • Tommy

    Swaraaj Chauhan,

    I disagree with the thrust of your recent articles which suggest that the military in Pakistan is the primary problem and the Islamists are merely some sort of dependent variable of the military. The Islamists clearly have a life of their own in Pakistan.

    If it were truly the case that the military is the decisive factor in Pakistan, Musharraf should have been able to reform Pakistan’s crazy rape laws without too much trouble. After all, he is the most powerful military figure in Pakistan. The Islamists strongly opposed it and Musharraf gave in to their demands. Musharraf and the military have not demonstrated they can stand up to the Islamists on most issues.

    Also, what many westerners fear about Pakistan isn’t necessarily internal instability (the country is alreay a crazy place) but regional instability. Musharraf already refuses to act decisively against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Waziristan. How much worse will it be with an Islamist government in power? What will happen when the ISI is fully-backing the Taliban once again?

  • Swaraaj Chauhan:

    Your regularly scheduled Islamphobic article attempting Pakistan bashing has serious errors in it.

    The article has serious errors in it and is flawed in it’s logic, content and thesis. Swaraaj Chauhan does not list the external factors that changed Pakistani history. Nor does he mention the tough neighborhood that Pakistanis live in, a belligerent India on the East, a fundamentalist Iran on the West and an always occupied and fighting for independence Afghanistan on the Northeast.

    Pakistan’s setup is a direct result of the belligerence of India.

    Swaraaj Chauhan also fails to mention the fact, that it was 52 countries and their intelligence agencies that brought in 30,000 Arab fighters to Pakistan to fight the USSR. President Musharraf is right, the West owes Pakistan a historical debt for defeating and destroying the USSR.
    A simply country was transformed by 3 million refugees, and the culture was changed by drugs, terror and Klashnikovs. Pakistan paid a heavy price for this.
    To top it all, as soon as the USSR retreated from Afghanistan, the West dumped Pakistan like a used Kleenix

    Swaraaj Chauhan in her tirade on everything Pakistani, could not find an iota of anything positive about either the country, her leaders or her population. Pakistan has 150 million people who aligned themselves with America and the West against the USSR and her allies like India. For this Pakistan paid a very heavy price. The Generals usually rode on American tanks, and the elected leaders were removed after being threatened by American Secretary of States. Henry Kissnger for example told wrote to Bhutto that “he would make an example out of him”. Soon afterwards a coup was supported by the USA, and the general remained in power, ’till he was no longer useful.

    Writings like this remind Pakistan of the ugly Indian, and Swaraaj Chauhan perfectly fits that role. Next time, perhaps her visa to Pakistan should be cancelled. There is no cure for bigotry Pakistan bashing and Islamphobia. I am disappointed by the blog that prints such nonsense.

  • Swaraaj

    Of late whenever I write a post on Pakistan in the TMV there are certain people (like “Patriot” and “Tommy”) who just cut and paste their familiar rantings and hysterical outpourings in the comments column. Making wild allegations against me.

    I am not bothered because in the first instance they do not even read the post completely. My recent posts on Pakistan do not carry even a single paragraph that contains my views.

    My Post is based on the well-researched articles by a French expert, another by a Pakistani General, yet another one by the BBC and so on.

    Let me repeat these articles are not written by me. How stupid can some people be to keep repeating that these are “my views” or “my articles”.

    People like “Tommy” and “Patriot” do not wish to discuss the real problems/issues facing Pakistan, or the plight of its people. The whole discussion by such people revolves around the military dictator, and how useful he is to the West.

    And then these people present statistics/arguments that are not relevant to the discussion on hand.

    For them the welfare of the Pakistani people does not matter…and the democracy can go to the dogs in that country. Such people are basically ill-informed and have fascist tendencies…they are fascists in the guise of democrats.

    But it is good that their real identity is revealed in such discussions.

    However, they are great cowards because they operate under anonymous psyeudonyms. And have a sole aim of indulging in propaganda, instead of healthy discussion/debate based on important issues raised in the articles written by experts and others.

  • AustinRoth

    Swajaari – and your culturally based hatred of Pakistan tinges and colors everything you write about them.

    IMHO, from the body of work you have posted on this site, you are bigot when it comes to Pakistan, and your ramblings about Pakistan have no probative, intellectual, or academic honesty to them.

  • Swaraaj

    Austin Roth your comments show near myopia and refusal to read the post. You cannot even spell my name correctly. I challenge you to point out even a single paragraph which, in your words, shows “your culturally based hatred of Pakistan tinges and colors everything you write about them”.

    Why are you so hostile when Pakistan comes under a microscope? Is there a personal reason? Or are you just opposed to any discussion on the subject? You have not discused a single issue raised in the post but have begun to attack me personally with all the venom in your system.

    Your hysteria and personal attacks are meaningless and do not bother me. This situation normally arises when the bitter truth comes to the fore and the person concerned has no answer, except to spit out venom and start calling names!!!

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