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Friday, March 23

Frankly, yes.

From two comments about a December 2004 BBC article by Ahmed Rashid on Pakistan's President Parvez Musharraf's attempts to work out a deal with his major opponents:
"Western democracy is never going to work in Pakistan where there is so much illiteracy and poverty that one can buy vote in return of one time meal (DAWAT) or for a ride in the car to the polling station."
-- Mohammad Iqbal, Canada

-- "Ahmed Rashid talks of military rule not being able to work in the middle and long term. How wrong can he be. The reality is that democratically elected politicians turn Pakistan into their own fiefdoms, they deceive the public that is mostly illiterate and line their own pockets... Pakistan is like a trawler heading for the rocks in a storm in the middle of the night with no lighthouse in sight."
-- Abid Bashir, UK
From a March 21, 2007 report in The Washington Post Lawyers Press Musharraf with Protests:
To the lawyers and other Musharraf critics, the protests are about far more than a decision to suspend a judge. The larger question, they say, is whether Pakistan will be governed by the rule of law, or by one-man rule.

"People are starting to deeply resent this idea that he is the only one who knows what is right for Pakistan. Are the rest of us 160 million bloody idiots?" said Ejaz Haider, news editor of the Friday Times newspaper. [...]

The general public's failure to join the demonstration so far may be the result of the nature of the controversy. It hinges on complex constitutional questions in a country with illiteracy rates around 50 percent.
As of the 2001 census, the literacy rate in India was 65.5 %, but that's in a nation of over a billion people. And I think the commentator is closer to the truth; probably most among literate Pakistanis are not literate enough to comprehend much more in writing than street signs.

I do not know, and I do not think my nerves could take knowing, whether Pakistan is the all-time #1 recipient of multilateral agency development loans. In any case, over the decades the developed nations have poured mind-boggling amounts of aid and development loans into that country.

And what do we have to show for it? A narco state in control of nuclear warheads and under the thumb of Beijing, and which is now overrun by Taliban; a state peopled with "mostly illiterate" citizens.

Read, or re-read Ahmed Rashid's best-selling Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia or read his Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia to understand why it was childishly naive to ever assume that globalization would put an end to war-oriented foreign relations policy.

For decades to come, a truly realistic US foreign policy will lean heavily on military strategies. If the doves don't like to hear that, they should pay less attention to the European Union diplomatic viewpoint and put more attention to reality.

Read Ahmed Rashid's March 22 op-ed Musharraf at the Exit for an overview of where things stand right now in Pakistan's political climate.
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