Pakistan: Seeing from a distance | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 23, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:59 PM, July 22, 2013

Pakistan: Seeing from a distance

UTILITIES of scientific and technological advancement have strangely facilitated traditionalism and orthodoxy in many oriental societies and Pakistan is in the forefront in this category. Semi-automatic and automatic guns and conventional or improvised explosive are commonplace in many parts of the country. A suicide or planned attack on a gathering and assassinations of public figures are regular affairs. Primitive social customs and increasing religious radicalism appears to be in further ascendancy. Majoritarian intolerance is pervasive.
American war on terror has increased polarisation in the society and the Pakistani leadership had no clue how to maintain a smart balance between internal compulsion and external pressure. Reflection of public frustration is vivid on the ballot paper. Interestingly, not all the indications are too bad actually. On one hand there is the seeming popularity of the barbaric Blasphemy Law, on the other we see electoral failure of the advocates of theocracy.
Imran Khan's rise is probably a good thing for Pakistani politics despite his canniness and self-engineered metamorphosis from a liberal western to a stern Muslim and patriotic Pakistani. PTI is surely better than the far right Islamists and if it maintains its patience and play the Insaf and development cards skillfully it has all the potential to rise to state power.
The US is gradually winding up its Afghan operation. If the drone phenomenon disappears simultaneously that would ease the problem of Pakistani politicians. So far they had been playing a double game with their own populace, quite helplessly though; opposing the drone through words and tacitly allowing the US do what Pakistan Army could not do or did not want to do. Pakistan is still one of the highest American aid getter and trade beneficiary.
Pakistan is by now well known for its non-state actors who have their parochial world views and who keep waging their self-style domestic and global Jihads; often against dissenters within their own co-religionists. Pakistanis killed much more Pakistanis that the outside power. That tells it all about Pakistan's anarchy.
Pakistan is an acutely complex case. It has diverse dimensions in its complexity. Turning it into a cohesive modern state is going to be a daunting task for the leadership with potentially slow paced progress.

The writer is a former Army Officer and UN peacekeeper.

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