Saturday, December 30, 2006

Two on Pakistan

Can't find the byline, but whoever wrote the following shows a perception uncommon in the Western press:

Pakistan could become next US nightmare

"Soon after he seized power in 1999 - ahead of being sacked by Sharif - The Economist magazine called Musharraf a "useless dictator". Seven years later, he hangs onto power without having achieved much in the way of reform, largely because the US regards him as key to keeping the Islamists out of power. That is turning out to be another big misconception in Washington."

Here is Tariq Ali, in a piece originally published in the London Review of Books:
The General in his labyrinth.

Two items that struck me:

On the death of one dictator yesterday, this remembrance of another dictator seems apt:

"Pakistan’s first uniformed ruler, General Ayub Khan, a Sandhurst-trained colonial officer, seized power in October 1958 with strong encouragement from both Washington and London. They were fearful that the projected first general election might produce a coalition that would take Pakistan out of security pacts like Seato and towards a non-aligned foreign policy. Ayub banned all political parties, took over opposition newspapers and told the first meeting of his cabinet: ‘As far as you are concerned there is only one embassy that matters in this country: the American Embassy.’ In a radio broadcast to the nation he informed his bewildered ‘fellow countrymen’ that ‘we must understand that democracy cannot work in a hot climate. To have democracy we must have a cold climate like Britain.’"

The second is this:
"In western Afghanistan, it is only the Iranian influence that has preserved a degree of stability. If Ahmedinejad was provoked into withdrawing his support, Karzai would not last more than a week."