Elections, America, and the World

We have been actively involved in following riveting race for the White House as a consequence it seems America’s attention on International Politics has gradually declined.  The war in Iraq does not seem to evoke as much passion or tension as it did few months back, but the killings and suicide bombings continue unabated in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The intensity has been particularly high in Iraq; a recent car bombing killed 23 people in Baghdad. Few days back a pair of female suicide bombers wrecked untold misery on innocent weekend shoppers.  The United States has called upon NATO to play a larger role in Afghanistan and warned of potential disaster if greater effort is not devoted towards maintaining peace and stability.  Meanwhile, a major election is due up on Feb 18 in Pakistan.  This particular election is pivotal because it will determine the future of Pakistani politics at a time of growing militancy in the Northwest Frontier Province (NWPF), growing unpopularity of President Musharaff both within and outside Pakistan, and the reverberating impact of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination during the last week of December 2007.  We won’t even mention the consequences of economic blockade on Gaza enforced by Israel and the massive chaos that erupted on the borders with Egypt.  As Americans look internally and closely inspect their presidential candidates, it is also important to look outward see what is happening in rest of the world and specifically ask ourselves the question what is America’s role in world politics.  Importantly, we should ask our presidential candidates in what way or manner can they bring about a change in the world of international politics.

Political Transition in Pakistan Goes Kaput

Folks, I have been mired in grading endless stream of papers.  Whew, at last here is some time to catch-up with the blog and world news before the next round of papers hit me around Thanksgiving time, which is only two weeks.  I don’t want to think about it now.

Anyway, the biggest news in town is President Pervez Musharraf declaring Martial Law in Pakistan, effectively shutting down all the opposition parties, closing media outlets, quarantining the judiciary, and suspending the Constitution (for whatever it is worth).  Do Constitutions really matter in countries such as Pakistan, where it is amended at the whim of the rulers? Well, that is a question for another day.  It did not stop there, the Pakistani Police raided the homes of opposition party leaders and arrested activists and other party members by the hundreds.  According to the Pakistani Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz, the proposed Parliamentary elections could be postponed at least a year, if not longer.  Now, all of these actions have been taken presumably in the hopes of staunching the increasing volatile terrorist threat.  Importantly, the declaration of emergency or martial law will allow Musharaff to stay in office indefinitely.  After all, that is what the United States wants, right?  So that Musharaff can contain terrorism and restore stability and order, and bring peace and prosperity to the region.  However, the irony of the whole thing is that Musharaff has been in power for nearly ten years now.  One is not sure what the imposition of martial law can achieve now, i.e., in terms of restoring law and order?  What has Musharaff been up to all these years?  For sure this move is to ensure that Musharaff stays another five-year term in office.  Bye Bye elections, bye bye opposition.

Pakistan has been consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous nations in world, where a combustible mix of terror, drug trade, lawlessness, religion, militarization, nuclear weapons, and authoritarian rule has come to co-exsit since its existence.  The bigger question is Pakistan really a country or a nation-state in the true sense of the word?  Some argue that Pakistan is a failed British fantasy about the fabrication of a nation-state.  In other words, it is a failing state held together by the figment of military might, threat of nuclear weapons, and jihadi culture.

The question for the Pakistani People and the United States is: what does the future hold for Pakistan.  Is the American Foreign Policy going to be Musharaff might be a SOB, but at least he is our SOB?  As long he does our bidding it is fine.Is there is a possibility of genuine democracy ever taking root in Pakistan?

Watch out for answers in this space, the situation seems to evolving as we speak.