Posted by: Manjeet Krpalani on November 6, 2007
A reader from Lebanon wrote in to ask about Pakistan: What does Musharraf have to do with the US’s policies in Asia? Is he really a dictator? What will become of him?
Musharraf has nothing to do with American policy in Asia. American foreign policy in Asia is focused on China, Korea, Japan and recently, India. Now, post Musharraf’s declaration of virtual martial law, he is of no use to America any more – indeed, he is a foreign policy embarrassment. That had become evident in the summer, when other Pakistani generals were invited to Washington to chum up. Now Washington has to find a way to ease Musharraf out. Then it has to stop interfering in Pakistani politics.
All these years, Musharraf has outsourced Pakistani foreign policy to the United States. It’s been a disaster, and most ironic: the extremist enemies of America and Al Qaida have been guests and part-creations of the Pakistani military for years. The ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency, began the terrorism machine, used Kashmir for target practice and then turned its sights on the real target, America.
Clearly, Musharraf’s time is up. But like a true dictator, he does not know it. Remember Hitler in his bunker? With this emergency, Musharraf has written his own execution order – and if he persists on this dangerous course, it could be the execution order for the entire neighbourhood around Pakistan.
This moment is an inflexion point for Pakistan. In a way, it’s an optimistic time. The country is maturing, and at last, finding strength in its own identity after 60 years of independence from British rule and the bitter partition from India. Pakistan is a very different Islamic country – its culture is Mughal, a rich amalgam of Persian, Central Asian and Hindu cultures. The great centres of Sufism are in Sindh, and in Kashmir.
Instead, a series of military dictators with cynical intentions has Islamicised the country in a Saudi way – very different from the DNA of Pakistan.
Now Pakistanis are finding their cultural and political place in the world. They like who they are, they like their culture, their type of faith, their democracy. And they badly want economic upliftment.
If this democracy movement succeeds, we will see the blossoming of what will almost be a new Muslim nation with great promise – Pakistan starting out all over again.
If this movement does not succeed, the outcome is too awful to contemplate – Afghanistan all over again, but with nuclear arms.