PAKISTAN'S REAL CRISIS
Is not that the military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf has imposed martial law
. Much like Poland under Jaruzelski
or the recent crackdown in Burma, martial law in Pakistan was not a transition from one kind of state to another but rather a shift from the hypocrisy of a velvet glove to the honesty of an iron fist. Pakistan is no more a dictatorship today than it was a month earlier.
Pakistanis, it must be said, are not universally outraged by dictatorship per se. The wily and ruthless General Zia ul- Haq
was a fairly popular figure in his day. Wild-eyed deobandi fanatics, opposed to Musharraf's regime, long for a Sharia-state tyranny that would be far more brutal and incompetent than is the current government in Islamabad. Nor is the growing corruption of the army in Pakistan the central problem; Benazir Bhutto's
party, the democratic faction, once looted government coffers with gusto while wrecking the economy. Her father, once Prime Minister but later executed by Zia, was a notable menace to the concept of good governance.
Pakistan's central problem is a crisis of legitimacy. Nationalism is a waning force these days and even anti-Indian feeling is sustained by a marriage of nationalism with Islamist radicalism. Once, a Pakistani leader could declare that Pakistani's " would eat grass" to make their country the nuclear equal of Hindu India. No more. Musharraf's fear of "national suicide" did not rouse his countrymen to his side and there are some, even in the army, who would hold up jihad above the nation. Well above.
Without nationalism or state competence, people fall back on primary loyalties. Pakistan has no intrinsic reason to exist unless it can be welded together in men's minds.
Labels: dictator, islamic world, islamist, military, pakistan, state building, state failure, terrorism