Tunisian expatriates shout slogans while holding banners reading “Ben Ali & Co quisling” and ” Long live the revolution of the people” as they demonstrate on January 15, 2011 in Paris. (GETTY)
LESSONS FOR PAKISTAN
by Ahmad Quraishi
Tunisian Intifada appears to have set new trend in the body politics of the Arab world. Quite possibly this trend, may not remain restricted to various Arab regimes only but also could lead non Arab countries like Pakistan to go for its own Pakistani Intifada. Why? Because the conditions in Pakistan are not much different than the conditions that have prevailed in Tunisia till now. To be more exact, the conditions here are much worse tan they have been in Tunisia. There are many things, therefore, to be learnt by different countries. In case of Pakistan a pertinent note by Ahmad Quraishi of PakNatuionalists.com has been put on his website. Titled Tunisia & Pakistan: Ben-Ali, Zardari & Kayani Ahmed Quraishi writes…
It is just a guess but two people must be watching the Tunisian news closely: President Asif Ali Zardari and Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
President Ben-Ali’s departure is bad news for our president for it shows that such departures are possible after all and no amount of ‘revenge democracy’ [‘democracy is the best revenge’ is one of Mr. Zardari’s best catchphrases] can prevent such an ending.
The Pakistani ruling elite is not just incompetent. It is ineffective, conducts uncivilized politics, and has almost no vision for the country’s past, present or future. What is worse is that the Pakistani ruling elite will not allow any mechanism for new Pakistani faces or talents to emerge. This stagnation is what led to President Ben-Ali’s escape.
You can add one more charge in the Pakistani case that does not exist in the Tunisian example: Pakistani politics has splintered along linguistic lines, dividing Pakistanis and enticing them to internal warfare. The country’s constitution does not allow our parties to do this but there is no one to stop them.
As for Gen. Kayani, his and his colleagues’ worry is simple. They do not want to find themselves in a situation where the military intervenes again in a traditional way and clean the mess, like the Tunisians have done. Pakistan needs to create viable state institutions to run the country. The military realizes the importance of this to avoid a meltdown. But such a meltdown is almost knocking at Pakistan’s door. In the face of massive failures of the Pakistani political elite, the military knows it will have to step in eventually.
It is not hard to figure this out. But the million-dollar question is: What to do after an intervention. Traditional-style coups, where the army chief steps in and takes charge, like Pervez Musharraf had done, can no longer work. Whoever is in charge after a meltdown, tough decisions will have to be made to restyle the political system by removing crippling bottlenecks in the constitution and laws and in a manner that would stop political parties from becoming personal and family fiefdoms and allow for a healthy and civilize political growth and practice.
Like Tunisia, Pakistan will have to find indigenous solutions. Lectures and recipes from Washington and London won’t help. The Tunisians have clear red lines in this regard. But not in Pakistan, which is a contributing factor to constant instability.
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