Monday, January 14, 2008

Pakistan's Plight

By Tariq Ali
Source: The Nation

"(11 January 2008) With Pervez Musharraf trying to cling to power whatever the cost, a farcical succession within the Pakistan People's Party, and continued US interference, Pakistan's dark night is far from over. A multidimensional charade is taking place in Pakistan, and it is not an edifying sight. Pervez Musharraf has discarded his uniform and is trying to cling to power, whatever the cost......

Add to this the sad spectacle of supposedly reformist, Western-backed politicians assembling like old family retainers at the feudal home of the slain leader and rubber-stamping her political will: Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, has become stopgap supremo till her 19-year-old son, Bilawal, can replace his late mother as chairperson-for-life. This farcical succession occurred in a party that was born in 1967 out of the mass struggle of disenfranchised students, workers, professionals and peasants for democracy and, yes, socialism. That is why it was named the Pakistan People's Party. Its trajectory encapsulates the crisis of democratic politics in Pakistan: a party is publicly expropriated and corrupted by a single faction from an old family; its members are treated like serfs; its weak-kneed leaders told to either accept their new overlords or find another vehicle for their ambitions. Where can they go?.....

.....With the slow death of the PPP, the country also needs a genuine, radical democratic party that can respond to the social needs of the underprivileged majority and the expanding demands of civil society.

For its part, Washington should accept a self-denying ordinance: it should stop treating the Pakistani army as contract killers on a turbulent Afghan frontier, and it should refrain from encouraging military rule. This was never a panacea for the country's ills, and never can be. And Washington should encourage regional unity to solve political problems without resorting to force. Were it to do so, pigs would fly. Pakistan's dark night is far from over."

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