Posted on 13-10-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs, Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

A follow up to the preceding post regarding Pakistan.  The New York Times is reporting about the divides within the Pakistani establishment about conditions attached to aid from the United States.  Ever since its first military coup in 1958 the Pakistani army has held a stranglehold over its political life.  Civilian attempts to rein in the security establishments have been promptly snuffed out.  While the current head of the Pakistani Army has shown a disinclination to interfere with the day to day workings of the civilian regime, it has still protected its turf – notably after the attacks on Mumbai last November when it squashed President Zardari’s offer to send the head of the ISI to India for talks.

It is understandable why Washington does not wish to give the Pakistani military a free hand.  The dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf diverted the aid provided after 9/11 to beef up Pakistani military preparedness against India instead of tackling extremists.  However, the opposition appears to arise more from nationalistic saber rattling rather than concerns about what the Pakistani Army will be prevented from doing.  Add to that national pride bruised by American bombing of targets within Pakistani borders.

With its economy in shambles Pakistan is unlikely to refuse American aid and my guess is that after a suitable amount of bluster and the requisite face saving compromises the money will be accepted.  But it does raise an important point regarding Pakistan’s future.  Future military chiefs may not be professional soldiers who stay out of civilian affairs.  Ultimately a democracy is not created by a public franchise but by the willingness of institutions to accept the rule of law and the mandate granted by the franchise.  If Pakistan is genuinely to become a democracy civilian control of its military is a necessity, however venal the public leadership is perceived to be.  In this regard the epithet “Mr. Ten Percent” bestowed on President Zardari during his wife’s tenure as Prime Minister and the stench of corruption attached to the other national leader, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, does not help. Read the rest of this entry »

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