Dreading the Inevitable

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Every morning, I wake up dreading what the day ahead will bring.   

I dread switching on the news. I dread receiving phone calls. I just dread.  

I dread because I have now started to anticipate the inevitable. Another bomb blast in Pakistan. Another mother weeping. Another child crying.  

To vent my frustration and despair after Monday’s bomb blasts in Rawalpindi and Lahore, I updated my status on Facebook…“Omar Ul Haq thinks that each Pakistani should now accept the fact that this ‘democratically’ elected government has miserably failed and that the Army should step in immediately…”

As expected, there was a flood of comments on this statement within the next few hours. In the face of adversity, it was good to see such a display of passion, patriotism, and strong emotions by my fellow Pakistanis for our country’s future. 

Personally, I find it difficult to openly express myself and may even hesitate in speaking my mind at times because of my family background. Both my grandfathers, General Zia Ul Haq and General Rahimuddin Khan have an army / military background, whereas my father, Ijaz Ul Haq, has been a part of the democratically elected governments for the past 20 years. Much of what I want to say may be misinterpreted by some, hence I tend to keep my opinions to myself. However, similar to each and every other Pakistani, I also just want the best for our country. 

I have pasted the responses in the ‘comments’ section so you can take a look at the heated debate as well. Please share your views as well.

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49 comments

  1. I agree. We aren’t as people ready for this vague system/term ‘democracy’. We really need to get over it and look at an alternative.

  2. It’s not WE the public whom are the problem, it’s the politicians we’re dumped with every time – “outside” influences decided that we may be progressing as a country. I agree with u OUH, the army should take control. But they need to do it without the help of any PML’s,PMQ’s or PPP’s

  3. No offense OUH, that’s one of the most f’d up things I have ever heard, we’re in this mess cause of repeated military interventions. Let the military continue doing what they are supposed to do and do well,ie defend the country and not interfere in politics. Let the wheels of democracy weed out the crap we’re used and in time our institutions will get stronger. Once again, we’re in this mess due to a lack of vision and development from the last two dictatorships. I hate Zardari more than you would ever know, but at least the idiot was elected, and who knows in 5 – 10 years, we might have some decent politicians running the affairs of the country.

  4. We give up so easily!! Just because the so called ‘democratically’ elected government is so damn incompetent, what did we expect? I guess we are a product of Dictatorships and Army Govt’s. its easy to look overlook their failures. History is coming to haunt us!!

  5. Augustin · · Reply

    Military Dictatorships are the Answer?!?! As an Argentinean that had to flee an Military Dictatorship blamed for killing and torturing 30,000 civilians in the late 70’s and early 80’s in a period known as the “Dirty War” , I beg to differ.

  6. What makes you think our country is even going to exist in 5 – 10 years?

  7. Because people who live here or people like myself who have left their comfortable lives in the West to bring about some positive change in whatever small niche we’ve carved out for ourselves and day in and day out risk our lives in the hope that we will come out stronger. It’s easy to critique and make extreme statements out of living rooms in London and NYC, it takes balls and guts to face it in reality and still not quit or give up. I want to give my kids the lifestyle that I had in Islamabad, but if we all give up, then we’re all fucked.

  8. Does anyone believe that during musharrafs time in office, any of us felt as if we were living under a dictatorship? I don’t think so. And I think many Pakistani’s have been waiting for those “half decent” politicians for the last 5 decades. These people won’t let any non-corrupt, intelligent, educated Pakistani get into Government, it defeats their purpose!!

    Also, living in Pakistan is far more comfortable than living in London or NYC!

  9. So you think we should continue playing this filtering game in the name of democracy while innocent Pakistanis are dying everyday just so it ‘might’ improve in a few years? Also, it’s easy to sit in your posh air conditioned apartment in F-10 and type this on your iPhone but maybe we should think about the Pakistanis who are standing in Pindi’s heat and innocently collecting their salaries outside the Bank who were blown up today…

  10. Zartasha · · Reply

    Pakistan is not ready for democracy. I agree with u, OUH.

  11. Exactly!!!! And that is why it is important for the military to focus strictly on carpet bombing Waziristan and not run tax departments, power companies, planning bureaus, oil companies, media, ngo’s, etc. The military despite the backlash is doing a fine job, and no pledged money will ever into Pakistan while Zardari is in power. He is short lived and so will next crony, we just have to wait until the Army, Bhutto and the Sharifs are no longer the only option.

  12. Sorry dude – each to their own. I don’t think we have time for waiting games anymore. At the rate we’re going, I wouldn’t be surprised if the US bombed the crap out of us by next year if things don’t drastically change…

  13. Each their own. But don’t forget, Pakistan has the nuisance factor, no single country in the world would benefit or be able to take over Pakistan. Afghanistan and Iraq are nightmares for the US, the last thing they will do is blatantly bomb a nuclear power with the 5th largest military in the world. But you know what, a little of optimism and conviction from at least the educated and exposed Pakistani’s can really make a difference in the morale of our common citizens. Pakistan Zindabad! And I am cool with them with using drone attacks on mostly Uzbeks and sheep shagging Taliban!

  14. I don’t know about that. Our optimism and conviction doesn’t really make a difference to the morale of our common citizens in any way. Instead, it only excites us because we tend to only think about how our kids might be able to walk the streets of Pakistan safely one day just like we did … instead of thinking about the common man whose brother died this morning in a bomb blast and is now forced to take care of his widow and 9 children … only to maybe die in tomorrow’s blast as well. As you can see, I have trouble seeing the bigger picture in this case as it’s all very upsetting!

  15. I view the issue slightly differently. There is a misconception that just because you don’t support a democratic government, you are suddenly a traitor. I think this stems from the Cold War and the US instilling fear amongst is citizens who were supportive of communism or other forms of govt.

    To me, being proud of Pakistan is not tied to being force fed a democratic form of governance that does nothing except appease foreign donors.

    I cannot really say what is better for us (dictator vs. corrupt elected officials) but you can certainly see the surge of violence that today that did not exist under Musharaff

    Therefore, I am hard pressed to accept that you should continue supporting a democratic process that is so evidently failing. Nothing ever is a ‘one size fits all’. Just because democracy works elsewhere does not mean it’s the solution for everyone.

  16. Point well made. I just feel the surge of violence is taking place because our military is finally focused on flushing out militants which they did not do in the last regime. The fall out/back lash was inevitable, but we had to exert extreme force, and we unfortunately had a much divided nation and military for that matter which was not capable of running WAPDA and the Baloch regiment at the same time. But you’re right, a force fed or western style democracy is not necessarily the solution, perhaps Musharaff should run Elections and put his initial convictions and intentions to work. But let the military remain professional and dedicated to defending inside and outside our borders.

  17. Well said, Shujah.

  18. – I agree with Mr. Shujah. There is certainly a misconception that ‘democracy’ is the best system and there is none better. Yes it has proven well for many countries, I understand that. However, we must understand that it is hard to instill a system in a country which historically has had none of it. Yes over-time we can become an illustrious democratic country but we can’t just jump into it, it’s not that simple. Take the US for example, it’s taken them 200+ years to get where they are, are they the perfect democracy? Certainly not, the US runs a flawed system, which looks good to the eyes but in actual fact is quite warped with things such as the electoral college, which is a separate issue. Pakistan is only 61 years old and still very young.

    Coming back to the point, I think we all know that democracy isn’t universal and each country has their own form of democracy for e.g. the parliamentary in the UK and the presidential system in the US. The US quest to instill ‘democracy’ in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to a certain degree is failing quite simply because historically these countries aren’t used to it. Also, we must look at our culture which plays a huge role, Pakistanis we all know and I’m referring to the masses not the AC F-10 ones.. we do not understand the values of democracy because we have always been taught to follow and not lead, it’s a natural instinct which exists in all of us and it’s not necessarily bad. If you want to change the mindset of the Pakistani people then give it time and patience. For now, we need stability and quite frankly, the Army can bring that, not a crook that has spent his whole life in jail. To end, I will quote Agnes Repplier when she said ‘Democracy forever teases us with the contrast between its ideals and its realities, between its heroic possibilities and its sorry achievements’.

  19. OUH, our so called democratically elected government is indeed in shambles – for Christ’s sake, Zardari is our President. It’s like a bad episode of the twilight zone. But there is a reason it’s in this state and the reason is that political governance. in our country was sent into forced comma by our army. You cannot expect a system to be asleep for 10 years and then start running at 100%, it’s like expecting a coma patient to jump out of bed and start break dancing. I think if the army had been focused on Waziristan 10 years ago as it should have been (we have the ISI for a reason), then we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place. Secondly, our elected governments would have the opportunity to mature and be functional by now. History repeats itself in our country every decade and all it has proven is that dictatorships have faired NO BETTER. Pick up a paper from ’07 / ’08 and read the headlines. Nobody was happy then either. Patience, my boy. Army is not the answer. Slow, painful this will be, it gives us hope.

  20. Hasan, I’m sorry I’m not the G-7 water cooler ones :)….but I must admit your comment was a real cliff hanger. Your end totally took a diversion, and could have gone both ways. Nice to be kept on the edge!

  21. Shaheryar · · Reply

    If one wants to lay all the blame on this government then what you have here is a case of bad governance. That doesn’t mean “democracy failed.” There is a difference between a political system and the performance of an elected government.

    For eight years the US went through George Bush. And then you saw the relief and hope when the next man came into power. Those who want to scrap democracy altogether will also be scrapping the chance to become a politically mature society which has the patience to understand that bad leaders and corruption can and will be a part of our democracy as it is during military dictatorships. Only over time does corruption and bad governance improve, and it never completely goes away. A military government is intrinsically corrupt in the process by which it acquires power.

    And the reason we have to ‘filter’ through so many generations of shit leaders is because we have had just as many generations of stunted political growth. When you open and close democracy like its a revolving door, don’t you think everyone is going to rush in and take their piece of the pie before the door turns again and kicks them on their ass? You can’t hold government accountable if you’re going to kick them out of power anyway and not even have a consistent system to hold them accountable under. Our shit leaders are a direct consequence of our shit system. I refuse to believe that Pakistani’s are incapable of good leadership. …

    That being sad, it’s a bit disingenuous to lay the blame for militancy square on the shoulders of the present government. It’s the military dictators who propped up these groups and gave them power. Now they have become the unmanageable beasts they are today because they no longer have the military kissing their asses. Musharaff never had the political will or public backing to fight them and the few half-hearted efforts that were made by Musharaff were massive failures. Precisely because he wasn’t invested in it.

    Now when one has a government that is actually taking a fight to the militants and the war is showing up on our streets, we say we want to bring those to power who wouldn’t fight these people in the first place? How is that logical? Also, it’s called a war Expect there to be casualties. When you fight guerrillas, you’re going to face guerilla warfare. That means that we have to face the consequences of our own leaders’ bad policies of the past. If you don’t agree with the military interventions in Swat, Waziristan etc then that’s a whole separate issue, but if you agree that they have to be intervened in, then these bombings and shit are expected and necessary fallout.

    And just out of curiosity, someone said democracy doesn’t suit everyone, what would you prefer? Surely anything but a perpetual military government I’m sure.

  22. I don’t feel like typing as much as Shaheryar, but I echo what he said. As we’ve seen in the past, the military has brought in as many problems as our “democracies” do – the solution isn’t to replace one bad government with another faulty one, but to actually allow the people to hold the current system accountable.

  23. Well said Haider and Shaheryar….we’ve been under dictators longer than we have had democratic rule as a result of which there are no institutions to curb the excesses of civilian governments. And Omar, what makes you think that a military distracted with the business of governance will do a good job of defending the streets of Pakistan and protecting innocent people? As the spate of attacks show, the military is one of the biggest targets of these terrorists anyway and like Haider said, the escalation of violence is happening because the military is finally showing some commitment to rooting out the same terrorists they used to aid and abet in the past.

  24. Well Haider, as a Pakistani, I’m accustom to living on the edge.

  25. OUH, you have started our very own Facebook war 🙂 but honestly what in the world is up with this F10 AC or G7 water cooler or sitting in London business. We all have the same aim so I don’t get how this is relevant.

    But really on a serious note from reading all the comments it’s very clear that 100% of the people who commented on your status want the best for the country irrespective of where they physically are.

    As much as I dislike Zardari I don’t think that the army taking over is the answer at all. We as a country really need to stop letting the ARMY take over every time something goes wrong. To be honest the people who have been elected should continue for the tenor and deal with the mess they have made for so many years and be accountable for it. Maybe then we will be able to flush these idiots out of the running and have normal people to vote for.

    I think the two recent forms of government that Pakistan has seen both been bad but we need to stick with democracy as a principle as that’s the only way we, the people, will ever truly have the chance to make a change.

    I really do believe that we should actually stop talking and start doing something about the choices we want to give the next generations to vote for. Should we form a political party (f-10, AC, Water cooler, London, NYC all welcome)!

  26. Sweet! Firstly, Zardari was installed under the guise of being democratically elected – read NRO, planned assassination of Bhutto and the American agenda for the region. What dumb a man than Zardari would fit the job description? A man who personifies the saying; “greed is the only snake that can’t be charmed”.

    Secondly, carpet bombing your own country forces me to say its “beyond understanding” and seems that that phrase would fit well with those advocating it. Realities are far larger than comprehensions. Ask yourselves this: wouldn’t it take a lot of financial backing to have a sustained militancy (Waziristan)? Then ask yourselves this: who’s in control of Afghanistan and its opium trade? It doesn’t need hypothesis testing the relationship to say that opium production increased under U.S. If all was hunky dory in Afghanistan, the Americans wouldn’t have a bloody excuse to stay there longer.

    Now imagine a chess game, strategies far reaching and the board being played on – read Asia and its periphery. Fact is that U.S. mindful of China’s growth is countering it, in its backyard. Not only that, its also keeping a tab on Iran, and the Central Asian rich energy resources. For this chaos in Pakistan is the perfect ingredient for the Americans to cook a soup to justify their stay to the world. So don’t be surprised to find out some day that they’re backing that chaos. Reports like Karzai’s brother being on CIA’s payroll, and coincidently being an opium trader, don’t surface without a rhyme

    Within Pakistan itself, we must realize that a weak body only invites viruses. And in my opinion, democracy, in it’s present essence is a failed system, the bloody world over, let alone Pakistan. To fix it to it’s rightful essence, this government – read Zardari – has miserably failed. It is true that the Army should safeguard the country as it’s their job, as it should safeguard it from within from greedy, useless, and corrupt soul selling leaders.

    And I don’t call it democracy when less than 30% of the population votes. But to agree for arguments sake, it is a democracy, then elected forces must set this present situation straight! Presently, I don’t see that happening and you can bet that the Army isn’t seeing that either.

  27. Shaheryar · · Reply

    Sure, a lot of fair points there. but a lot of the regional politics are irrelevant to how our country should evolve politically. you can make a connection, sure. but at the end of the day we have to figure out how to govern ourselves…again, because only 30 percent votes doesn’t mean that it’s not a democracy because that’s not what “you” call a democracy.. in the US voter turnout is below half the population that is of voting age. I guess you wouldn’t call that a democracy either? It still is a democracy – again, this whole idea that democracy has to meet your personal criteria, ignores the evolution of most of the world’s democracies and again you say democracy is a failed system the world over … what does that even mean? And what system would you rather see in Pakistan? I’m not saying that democracy is the most successful form of government but it’s the one we are attempting and there is a method to it, what system do you propose?

    Additionally, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the phrase ‘all politics is local’ but that phrase bears great truth .. when comparing a military dictatorship to some semblance of a democracy, you have a situation where you can either have a dictator, well, dictate, or you can have a vote, now the masses of this country bust their asses for barely anything everyday, the least you can do is offer them a vote.. why? Because out of that 30% that you quote at least some of them DO FEEL empowered by a vote and their votes directly affect their daily lives.. when nothing else is empowering in people’s lives a vote is not a bad offering..

    Now as far as democracy vs. other government system goes, that’s a valid and sustainable argument. Democracy vs. Military dictatorship, as is the case here .. leaves me dumbfounded.

  28. Whether we’ve had civilian or military rule, the fact is that the same political families have been at the helm of affairs in each setup. So comparing military vs. civilian rule is really futile. A handful of colluding players have ‘gang banged’ Pakistan over and over again. Our mainstream political parties are not democratic in their internal affairs and consequently they are not representative of true democracy. Dynasties have no place in democracy. The military steps into the political arena only when it senses an existential threat to the country. Albeit, the military also falls into the power trap and overstays it’s mandate to correct the ‘system’. Unfortunately, the current democratic façade has failed miserably, and seems to be colluding with international interests against the sovereign interests of Pakistan. In my opinion, the military will facilitate change from within, but not derail the proverbial ‘system’. The military cannot afford to be distracted from operation Rah-e-Nijat.

  29. Shaheryar · · Reply

    Best thing I’ve ever heard “a handful of colluding players have gang-banged Pakistan over and over again” HAHA love it..

    I just don’t understand on what planet it is that people think “military rule” is a system of government. It’s not. It’s a tactic and has absolutely no accountability to the people. We all know democracy is flawed, Pakistan’s democratic efforts are deeply flawed. And military governments have had some successes in office as well, as anyone should when ruling a country for a decade and being able to do whatever they like. But military rule as a system of government? Really?

  30. Right. Number one: I didn’t write democracy off. Read second and third line of the fourth paragraph in my comment again. I said democracy in its “present essence”. And I can confidently say I speak for many on this count, not just “myself”.

    Number two: I’m unaware, so forgive me for my understanding, when I question how much are you aware of how democracy actually works in Pakistan. How many of those 30% people vote? Give me a three hundred-odd buses and I’ll get you elected you from any district where factors like Baradari, Vedayra, Putwari, Numbardaar, Gang aren’t too strong (for those it’ll take more time). Oh, almost forgot, just need to “purchase” a ticket from a party of your choice – only as difficult as your pocket’s size. Point is, majority of those 30% are shuttled to the polling stations where Biryani or Nihari is served under Shamianas of various political flags. Whoever’s got more Biryani & Buses, wins. Not to mention MQM, did you know that they actually go around areas taking down National ID numbers and say your vote has been casted, a day before polling? Only a select few personalities within our political set up are genuine politicians that have a following.

    Number three: I am bloody sick to my stomach when people quote examples of U.S. being the beacon of democracy. And you got it right. I don’t believe it to be a democracy. Over there, its just red or blue, Republican or Democrat, and whichever, red or blue the government functioning is “purple”. U.S. democracy has to be the best theatrical show on the planet, not the mention the most expensive. I say this at the back of just two facts: over three trillion dollars of national debt and over twenty wars since 1945 (most unjustified), do you think the American voter voted for that?! That every child born has a circular debt on its head? Watch “Fall of the Republic” on YouTube, for some facts. For instance, Obama promised and got millions of votes on not increasing tax, guess what he did when in office? I’ll let your imagination fill the rest, but keep asking your imagination, was it because of that, which U.S. voters voted for him? Is he out of Iraq, as promised and where is that “time-line”?

    Number four: Thankfully, I never came across the phrase ‘all politics is local’ because believe me, it’s not in today’s world. When other countries finance/assist another country’s political parties, it’s not ‘local’ but it’s ‘global’ and it’s never without an agenda. Be it Pakistan or the Banana Republic. I can understand these phrases in terms of micro management of towns or districts, but on a macro level, you simply cannot state that phrase. That is if I understood the context in which you said so – as it was unclear.

    Lastly, I wouldn’t be dumbfounded in a democracy versus military scenario. If the democratic forces within Pakistan are not able to fix democracy, then the only institutionalized pillar of your country is called in by those very democratic forces. As has been the case in our past.

  31. Mr. Danish, you just hit the nail on the head. Bravo!

  32. I concur. Whatever happens, happens for the best of Pakistan! Like I always say: Pakistan wasn’t created for no reason, but that reason still needs to be realized. So wait ye, I too am waiting. InshAllah.

  33. “There is a difference between a political system and the performance of an elected government.”

    This sentence sums it up really.

    Yes, we could argue that our democracy could be tweaked, for instance, a direct one citizen one vote election for the PM, although I don’t know if any democratic leader would ever have the electoral support to bring about such a massive change. I think it is futile to argue that democracy is an inherently inferior political system to military rule. people didn’t ask the army to move in and blame democracy when bush was fucking up Iraq. instead, they worked through established process i.e. democracy to bring about change.

    Another point – I don’t see any link between more lives being saved if the army is in charge. The army is already entirely in charge of tackling the militants and I doubt that the civilian leadership has much of a say in its actions. Take the move to put the ISI under the interior ministry which was rejected instantly by the army.

    On another note, don’t forget that if the army is in charge, there will not be any aid according to the KLB Bill. It would be incredibly hard for US politicians to justify to their respective electorates to take such an abrupt U-turn and suddenly remove that condition from the bill.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m not an army hater. I just think it’s in Pakistan’s best interest for them to remain in the barracks.

  34. Wow! You have quite a discussion gong here. For what it’s worth, I agree with Shaheryar and Kalsoom. Democracy takes time and effort but one shouldn’t give up because one government is inept. The power of democracy is not necessarily in the result, it’s in the process — a sense among people that their voice is heard, even in the smallest of ways. And it doesn’t have to be based on a western model. In fact, the whole point is that after all these years Pakistanis should begin to feel that they, not America, the military, or the elite, are responsible for their destiny. A long way to go, but one needs to keep on trying!

  35. Shaheryar · · Reply

    Danish- again, you ignore the difference between political systems and elected governments. You also completely ignore the fact that the reason our democracy works in the immature and corrupt way it does is because its evolution has been stunted. You also forget that throughout history that voters have been exploited the way voters in Pakistan have been exploited but again it’s a process which has to perfect itself over decades. It’s ridiculous that you think one or two terms of democratic office every ten years constitutes a democratic process and that therefore we have ‘tried’ democracy in this country. The democratic system in this country has never been attempted. It’s longer than just one or two terms of rigged elections. Additionally, I never said America is the beacon of democracy. The reason I don’t compare Pakistan’s so called democratic system to that of say European countries is because they have a more refined system, if we haven’t reached the level of an imperfect democracy in the US then were light years away from the democracies that are more refined.

    Also it is completely ridiculous that you say America is a shit democracy because of twenty wars and a massive debt. On what logical plane does bad foreign policy and debt accumulation make ‘democracy’ a bad system? That is a completely disconnected thought process. And yes, what people do in a democracy is elect their representatives to represent their voice in the parliament or congress. They don’t vote on every little issue themselves. As far as Obama is concerned, you seem to have the same syndrome of thinking those 7-8 months is enough to not only judge an administration, but also a whole system of government.

    We all know that people get bussed to the polls in this country. Again, it’s a direct consequence of democracy’s stunted growth. You fail to grasp that concept

    Also; you forget that democracy is not just about ‘elections’ The democratic system is in its essence is meant to protect personal liberty and human rights. Now you can easily sit there and say well this democratic country commits these human rights abuses etc etc but the fact remains that even if countries commit human rights abuses, those countries will still allow their citizens to vote for a leader have more personal liberty than those under a military dictator. They have the right to protest as we do in Pakistan. And if you recall under Zia’s time, how protestors were met by the regime than you surely would agree that protesting is not a right under military rule. The most abusive regimes throughout history have been military regimes. Elections are just a mechanism of democracy; it is by no means the whole system. Democracy is a flawed system, as is any system but military rule is NOT a system of government. You can sit and compare Pakistan to America’s democracy citing all the fucked up stuff the US has done over the years but that doesn’t change the fact that these people elected their representatives. What their governments then do whatever good or bad is up to the governments. When it is bad, it is called ‘the tyranny of the majority’. And yes, that is because democracy is flawed like any other political system but that is again, the performance of the government that you elect. At least you get to pick the asshole those screws up your country instead of being a bystander in the process.

    It is easy for you or me to say that politics isn’t local because you probably don’t live in the same squalor that most people in this country live. Only those who are of considerable privilege can remain distanced from local politics. And yes, I spend nearly every day reporting in the slums of this country and politics is very local. Not only that, people actually talk about how their local representatives have or haven’t kept up their promises. And many of these representatives do and many don’t. And they change their votes, sometimes for better or sometimes for worse. At least, they are still under the impression that they are empowered. Believe me, it is more empowering than having a military dictator and healthier for a society to think that a vote can change things as opposed to remaining on the sidelines while military leaders do as they please. They are directly affected by their vote in a way that I or people in my social / economic class are not. And I don’t mean to call you elitist or anything like that; I’m just assuming that you are not in the same economic class as the majority of the country.

    Lastly, it’s easy to cite wars and debt but you fail to mention the standards of living in countries which have had prolonged democratic systems. You also don’t compare our personal freedoms under military rule to those in well functioning democracies. Now, you can say that the reason these countries are rich is because they colonized or have exploited countries of other nationals. But empires have ranged from the west to the east and some kept their fortunes and some didn’t. And guess who didn’t keep their fortunes? The ones that haven’t managed to create a stable and functioning government system. None of the countries that remained stable are military dictatorships. Additionally, the countries which are most recently colonizers may have had an advantage in getting a head-start on improving their standards of living the, but reason why they still can function internally is because they have well functioning governments. Whether it’s a hybrid of democracy and socialism or straight-democracy.

    It’s a matter of having a stable form of government and letting it run its due course and ironing out the kinks. It will always be imperfect but if you constantly have a back and forth between democracy and military rule then nothing will change. I don’t know how you can support the same shit system that we have here. And the reason that the only institutionalized pillar in this country is the army is again because of democracy has not been allowed to institutionalize so you obviously are aware of that. Why not let it institutionalize and see what happens?

  36. Omar thanks for pointing me to this ‘discussion board’. Quite surprised to see why people still supporting bloody democracy in the current state of war that we find our country in. Read some trite remarks about governments, institutions, governance etc…We have all seen populations and countries progress by instilling some discipline through these measures, however the ground reality in Pakistan is a bit different. Democracy is a luxury for peaceful times and literate nations, but we have neither! At the moment we need a leader and a unifying cause to cement this nation and its illiterate and gullible people together which otherwise has no hope of survival. Its time for all the delusional champions of democracy to accept reality and let the only organized unit in the nation, THE ARMY, lead us out of this hopeless situation.

    Just came across an astonishing link, thought I’d share it with you all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nq88egK755k

    We are a confused nation, which is torn between cultures and identities. This interview of the suicide bomber depicts the confusion that defines our society. HOW CAN YOU GIVE POWER TO SUCH A CONFUSED SOCIETY?

  37. Immaculate! Shaheryar – Ha ha – I’ll exercise the right of having the last word bestowed wisely.

    The way I see ‘political system’ and ‘elected government/democracy’ is that the latter branches out of the first mentioned. Sustainability and viability of the system hinges on the credibility of the elected government. only difference I see is that, one is a classification and the other a sub classification. If you think that this understanding of mine is correct, then you should know that I haven’t ignored it while commenting – as you mentioned.

    Please stop comparing Pakistan to European democracies. It’s really pathetic when you see we are at totally different culture and social set. Why do we have to import a skeleton of democracy and force-fit ourselves on it? We should be capable of creating our own political system, sadly though, this government is incapable of doing that. Why can’t we create a governing system that is Pakistan i patented? Doesn’t have to be democracy at all. I agree THAT WILL TAKE TIME and should be given time. However, giving time to foreign styled democracy isn’t feasible and will only lead us into more turmoil.

    The ‘logical plane’ on which I criticize the US democracy: millions of homes in US are enslaved by the debt based on tax policies ‘democratically’ elected Presidents have passed. Those millions I talk about are human beings and deserve better than that. Sadly, they might themselves are the ones who have voted. Mainly due to the uninformed issues of economics, which the majority hardly comprehends or are tricked into comprehending – ‘democratically’. Secondly, millions were killed in wars that huge protest (‘democratic exercise’) were unable to stop at all or stop in time – read Vietnam war. How can one disregard precious lives for arguments’ sake is beyond logic in my understanding.

    And since when have protest been a right under democratic rules? You mention General Zia’s regime. Ask yourself whether in the UK or other democratic states, are protestors allowed to freely protest against G8 summits – as one example? Are they not beaten up? Are they not broken apart? Tear gassed or baton charged? Were those in the US protesting and demanding an independence inquiry into 9/11 not beaten up? Was Bush not on record of saying if it were a dictatorship, it would be heck of a lot easier?

    You talk of reporting in the slums – I am proud of you in doing so and wish you all the success possible in your endeavors – but I too have seen far worse than that in slums What can be worse than a man being dependent on mice to gather wheat grain for one night’s ‘roti’ by digging burrows? That too in the richest province producing wheat? So when I cay ‘local, it’s with a heavy heart, not with ease. Plus, I mentioned ‘all politics is local’ in terms of micro management of the country. It affects every single person and is definitely important. The context of our argument was different, that is, foreign involvement in politics.

    I hope I made some sense (really exhausted today), ha ha! But would be glad to have a cup of tea and debate with you some more one day! By the end of which I would’ve made you agree with me! 😉

  38. We are at war, OUH and as painful as it is to see innocent people dying… there will be colateral damage!

  39. Once again, why do we always blame the US for all our ills Granted they have a big role to play. They are the only super power .. They will do anything to maintain that! It’s us who spread our hands out to them and do their dirty work. We have to take some blame, if none at all!

    Their system of government is not great and can’t be called a true democracy but it’s the best out there!

  40. I’ve never felt secure with the idea of democracy in Pakistan, sometimes i think democracy is just not for us, for people like us, who are after their own vested interests rather than the country.
    But then again dictatorship is not the solution– too much power in one hand > who will make sure he uses his powers where they are supposed to be ?

  41. Xeb (http://xebiliciouss.blogspot.com/ ) has an excellent Blog and you guys should check it out. I just came across something that she posted yesterday and thought I would share it with you guys here as well as it’s relevant to our discussion above. Check it out below.

    “I have said it once, and I will say it again. I remain, to this day, a Musharraf-fan. In response to outraged (oh-my-gawddd-don’t-you-support-democracyyyy) gasps, I could spout a lot of officious sounding nonsense highlighting, for example, that I have a masters degree in anthropology focusing on politics and governance, I can quote off-the-top-of-my-head facts and figures comparing this government to the previous one or, failing-all-else I can point out of the window and say ‘look, you idiot, look’. But, because it may, or may not make any difference to would-be-democrats out there, I won’t waste my time – and your energy – on any of that.

    Instead, I will tell you ‘why’ I decided – for the first time in my somewhat politically active life – to absolutely refuse to participate in a protest against le presidente, choosing instead to stay at home and shake my head at collective Pakistani idiocy. I decided to stay home that day because I did not believe then, and I do not believe now, that President General Parvez Musharraf was evil personified. Or a heartless military dictator. Or the resident idiot at the Presidency. (All of which, btw, I would – and have – said about Lord V. Except the military part, but as everyone knows, darling, you-gotta-have-balls to be in the army).

    But I digress. I did not protest against Musharraf because I truly admire him.

    I admire him because my father admired him. My father who was an average middle-class businessman, of the kind our country has precious few. Who was not interested in anything political aside from following the daily news at breakfast, and again – occasionally – at dinner. Who was concerned with his family, financial stability and a desire to live a happy – fulfilled – life. My father, who, in many ways laid the foundation for the way I think, and what I believe.

    So what, ask you, should it matter to you who my father admired? Would Hitler have been exonerated, say you, if my father was fond of the man?

    Good question.

    In response to which I elaborate: I admire Musharraf because he could reach out and talk to people like my father and convince them – despite all that they’ve seen – that he was worthy of their respect. I admire Musharraf because everything he did – the good and the bad – was focused on maintaining, preserving and keeping together – this failing mess of a nation-state. And before the democracy-dogs start growling, let’s clarify that YES he was a military man, YES he was not elected (unless you count the redundant referendum where I personally voted four times) and YES he made mistakes. But I still admire the man. I admire him because when you weigh everything (the non-democracy, the military expenditure, the violence in Balochistan, the Laal Masjid episode, the abrupt dismissal of CJ-darling) on one side, on my scale he still wins by virtue of one quality: leadership.

    Musharraf was a man who inspired confidence. He spoke honestly, truly and without artifice. No one who saw him deliver one extempore after another could doubt that he ‘knew’ what he was talking about. When he stood there on the television and told you that he’s sorry for your loss, you realized that he truly was sorry. When he stood there and told you that he honestly has no choice, you may not have agreed with him, but you had to appreciate that he deemed you worthy of explanation. When he stood in front of you and said good-bye, you would have to be truly heartless not to have cried. He was a man with many enemies, perhaps because he was intelligent, he gave as good as got and he took no quarter.

    He was a man to be admired, and I truly wish he was still at the helm because perhaps he could have done no better, perhaps he would have done worse, but he – amongst all the other worthy pretenders to the title – would given our people what they need right now: strength, purpose, determination and most of all a direction.

    Cyril asked us a question the other day: WHERE ARE OUR FUCKING LEADERS? My response is simple, they’re on the other side of the border talking to ‘India Today’. They’re there because we drove them out. They’re there because we protest against those who let us talk, but when others threaten us with 14-years in prison we shut-the-fuck-up. We are pathetic. Which would be why we don’t deserve any better.

  42. Raja Mujtaba · · Reply

    Democracy is no guarantee for the progress or stability of any country, if that was so then China should have been on the mat. I can quote many examples of this nature. France, Spain, Korea, Singapore etc all progressed under dictators.

    Democracy is the most perverted form of government says Plato. He also said that democracy is the rule of the mob. Dr Iqbal said, democracy is a system where its counted and not weighed.

    What we need to focus on is quality and not quantity, this is the essence and bottom line of Islam. Democracy has given us nothing but plunderers of all sorts. Democracy has given us cults, family rule and political jagirs.

    Please remove the blinds from your eyes and let the mind think freely. The people are interested not in democracy but in their problems being solved.

  43. We need to get over self-pity and stop blaming the world! When we have democracy, we want the army, and when we have the army, we want democracy. The day Musharaff stepped down, there was a picture of the people distributing mithai in Pakistan and next to it on the front page of Gulf News was a picture of the people on the day he took over – in which they were also distributing mithai! Humaray saath sab hee bura kartay hain. But we’ll never ask hum nay apnay liyay kya acha karna chaha? Whatever is the security situation today, it would be the same regardless of who is at the top. It’s each citizen’s responsibility to fight these terrorists and not just the governments or the army’s responsibility. The common man dies but it’s also another common man who is either harboring these terrorists or putting a blind eye to the suspicious neighbors who have just appeared out of nowhere.

  44. A very sincere piece by Pat Buchanan (see the segment on Pakistan Army). Unfortunately, mainstream American and international media will never publish this Op-Ed. I personally haven’t always agreed with Buchanan’s political views on the U.S. domestic front, but he always says it like it is!

    http://original.antiwar.com/buchanan/2009/11/02/the-american-way-of-abandonment/

  45. Shaza Haq · · Reply

    I just want to live in a Pakistan where there is security for all. What democracy are you talking about? Where the majority of our voters vote ON SYMBOLS, like a cycle, sword, and lion? And not for policies or values in which the political party believe in? Can you imagine the mindset of our innocent and simple voters who cannot even read the name of their candidate on the ballot paper and only vote by recognizing a symbol? Do you even know the literacy rate? And you think Democracy is for us? For heavens sake, stop comparing us with USA. They are not GOD and we need to get out of their shadow. Every day I am scared and think what is next? Whose turn is it to go now? What is the breaking news? Where is the bomb blast? Are the children ok? What is this life? Obviously I sit back and compare Pakistan to the Pakistan we had in the past and it was never this bad. I feel very insecure and unsafe now. May Allah help and guide us and protect us. Ameen.

  46. Sabir Khalid · · Reply

    We just sit and talk about them, that’s it. On the actual election day, how many of us actually go out and vote? None of us, right? And they are still in the parliament? How exactly?

  47. Shaza Haq · · Reply

    Yes, you are right Sabir. However, I have started to vote now. Even my parents, who had never been to a polling station in their lives have started to vote. I don’t want to just sit and talk because maybe my vote will be the one that can make a difference. Inshallah. Hopefully others, the educated and elite, will follow one day too.

    Let us all put in our share for the sake of Pakistan for we are, if Pakistan is …

  48. —-

    I agree with OUH. Democracy in the Pakistani context is severely overrated. :S

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