Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pity Pakistan

Founded from the religious separatism, and bigotry that Jinnah inspired in the Pakistan movement, the artificial division of India into two then three states, the hundreds of thousands murdered and who died in the population transfer, as a heterogeneous India became several lands - and Pakistan and India would be antagonists, fighting over borders and Kashmir especially. It became an "Islamic Republic" ensuring that the common law legal system and criminal law it inherited from Britain would be frittered away with Islamic law and its brutal treatment of women.
So with its cold war with India, it was inevitable sadly that it would become nuclear - and so Pakistan is the only predominantly Muslim nuclear weapons state. It also is the location of not a few madrasses, teaching hatred of the West, fomenting the Islamist attitudes of anti-semitism, anti-Americanism, and anti-individualism. So letting Pakistan slide towards the sort of rule of Iran or the Taliban, would not just be scary, it would be downright dangerous.
Fortunately, the vast majority of Pakistanis are not Islamists, there is an Islamist element, but they are, by and large, moderate. So that is why having secular leaders, which has been mostly the case in recent years, is important. Unfortunately, those who Pakistan has had have either been authoritarian or grossly corrupt.
I didn't cheer the arrival of Benazir Bhutto. She may be a pin up of the left because she is a woman in a Muslim country, secular and a socialist, but her and her husband are under charges of corruption for a reason. Apparently a rather large property outside London was found that was paid for by the Pakistani government, which was allegedly for her and her husband (though she denied it), when the government was seeking to sell it off, suddenly they came out of the woodwork. Pervez Musharraf isn't so corrupt, but his state of emergency and martial law were unacceptable.
Now he has not only surrendered control of the army, but has declared the state of emergency will be over in a few weeks, with elections allowed in the New Year. That is all good, but what Pakistan needs is leadership - secular, modernising, reforming and not corrupt. India is growing enormously because it has finally unlocked the entrepreneurship of its people and its enormous market. Pakistan could share in this, if only it wasn't shackled by socialist policies that India has been throwing away, and the stifling influence of Islamism. The former needs reforms, the latter needs a serious battle against terrorism, seeking of peace with India on Kashmir, and to ensure the judiciary is fully independent, respects private property rights and contracts, and to be open. Pakistan is not Iran, but it is a long way from being a Turkey. That is the model it should be looking to follow, and if the economy is opened up, fear of terrorist attacks against Westerners reduced, then the prosperity that would arise would be a useful antidote against Islamism.
A booming Pakistan bordering Afghanistan and Iran will speak volumes, and will be our best hope that the nuclear weapons will stay in the hands of those who are sane.

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