Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Understanding Pakistan - I

The first thing to recognize about Pakistan is that quite independently of its origins, it has a persistent institutional hostility towards India. This enables the Pakistani military to maintain its dominant position in the state. This is not just in the public exchequer but in the private sector as well. Pakistan has spent more than half of its fifty-eight year history under the rule of generals - Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zia ul Haq and now Pervez Musharraf. When there has been civilian rule, it has been under the thumb of the Army.

With that background, you are now ready to read this:

Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa is a scholar of Pakistan's military and security affairs and a regular contributor to several Pakistani and internationally renowned opinion journals. Currently she  is a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC where she is busy writing her latest book "Military Inc, The Politics of Military's Economy in Pakistan". In it, she analyzes Pakistan military's vast commercial interests and its economic predation since 1953.
despardes.com's Editor-in-Chief Irshad Salim conducted a two-part online interview with her on the subject of her upcoming book, Pakistan affairs and post 9/11 scenario.

irshadsalim28: Are you saying Pak army has institutionalized feudalism?

asidd66: I am saying that it is a feudal institution as well.


irshadsalim28: In the light of the post 9/11 scenario where the West have given a cart blanche to Pak army on all matters, where do your findings stand?

asidd66: The military always had the carte blanche from the West. They need to see that the alienation of society is one of the consequences of military's predation. Where does the poor man go in Pakistan, Turkey and Indonesia if not to God. There is no other means of transferring power except alternative ideologies, especially when the military has turned into a class and protects its interests along with other elite groups.

The interesting thing is that in Pakistan (unlike Turkey and Indonesia), the Army has coopted the religion. Thus, the chief forces in Pakistan are Allah, Army, America; and America is on the side of the Army. The Army and the Mullah are in cahoots. There is not liberation theology for the people of Pakistan. What will be the fourth force that will bring power to the people?