November 12, 2007


The Storm Over Pakistan (Fouad Ajami, November 10, 2007, US News)

Musharraf may not be a devoted democrat, but in all fairness, he has hitherto ruled with a light touch. There is in him a soldier's earnestness, a preference for order. His hero is not Lincoln but rather Turkey's soldier-founder, Kemal Ataturk. Musharraf had picked that romance for Ataturk early in life, when his father was assigned to Pakistan's embassy in Ankara. The Musharrafs spent seven years in Turkey, and the creed of Kemalism—for the people, despite the people, the Army as a guardian of the nation's order, and "progress" in the face of religious reactionaries—is basic to Musharraf's worldview.

Back from the brink. Things had not been pretty in Pakistan when Musharraf seized power in 1999. The country was virtually ungovernable, corruption was rampant, and the Pakistani state was a pariah, sanctioned for crossing the nuclear threshold with its detonation of six nuclear devices in 1998. Musharraf pulled it back from the brink of disaster. He joined America's campaign against terrorism. He understood the meaning and the magnitude of 9/11 for American strategy and opinion. True, he has not given America all the cooperation it wanted, and there have been persistent reports that his intelligence services have been duplicitous on the Pakistani-Afghan frontier, but we take the world as it is, and Musharraf has been the best that could be hoped for in a country with Pakistan's temperament.

In the scheme of things, U.S. policy has been careful and measured. We can't cast Musharraf adrift, for Paki-stan's potential disorder is great. Nor can we give a green light for emergency rule. His promise to hold parliamentary elections in February is a sign of his sensitivity to American opinion.

...the point of bringing Ms Bhutto back is that she'd be more repressive than the General has been.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 12, 2007 8:40 AM

... and more corrupt.

Posted by: ic at November 12, 2007 2:27 PM

Yeah, she won't lask more than a year before somebody gets rid of her again.

Posted by: Brandon at November 12, 2007 8:02 PM

Why would the ISI do her bidding? Or will she set up a competing secret police?

Posted by: ratbert at November 13, 2007 12:33 AM