In each human heart terror survives
The ravin it has gorged: the loftiest fear
All that they would disdain to think were true:
Hypocrisy and custom make their minds
The fanes of many a worship, now outworn.
They dare not devise good for man’s estate,
And yet they know not that they do not dare.
— Percy Bysshe Shelley
I’ve been putting off writing about Pakistan because it’s so depressing. At one time back in 2006 I had some hope for them, but lately that’s gone down the drain. It’s uncharacteristic of me to be gloomy but there’s little light of hope at the moment in Pakistan; it is what it is.
Let me elaborate:
Pakistan desperately needs strong trade with Afghanistan, India, and the countries beyond those, but in both cases they’ve allowed the Taliban and Kashmiri Jihadis to shut that down. Their economy will continue to spiral down towards ground like a wounded bird until it impacts in some grubby midden heap in Karachi unless they do something.
“Doing Something” has become less probable as their troops pull out of the border areas of Afghanistan and move to the border areas with India post-Mumbai.
I also had some hope that post-Musharraf that the political maturity of the parties would improve, but it has not. You see the same “bazaar rumors paraded as fact” libel and accusations from all parties throughout the political dialogue and very little reasoned debate. The parties in power now have swallowed so much of the swill of the far left in the west that it’s now hard to tell them from the 9/11 troofers in the old Guard ISI factions of Hamid Gul. It’s as if the country were being run by conspiracy theorists and children.
The military operation in Swat against the Taliban has failed, and Swat is lost for all intents and purposes. Girl’s schools will close, and what was once a world class tourist destination will devolve into a primitive hell hole to which nobody in their right mind will go.
As the economy falters, the extremists of all stripes gain in power, and the strength and writ of government will contract. The question remaining isn’t whether that will happen, but only “How Far?”. Soon there will be breakaways in FATA and NWFP, which to all intents and purposes are now ruled by Al Qaeda and the Taliban warlords.
Sound Gloomy? It could get worse. Millions and Millions in Pakistan are at the edge of poverty. They’ve only recently been pulled out of the ditch of extreme poverty and third world destitution. In this worldwide recession they will fall back in – hunger will stalk the lands again and hunger drives great passions.
As long as the ruling parties and elites in Pakistan continue to externalize their own problems this death spiral will continue. If they wake up one morning however and say “No, we don’t want to be the next Somalia, we must do something” then there could be some hope, the bird could gain wing and soar again; but in the current contretemps with India over Mumbai I don’t see many signs of that.
Update: At the polls in Buner a carbomb has killed 35 people. TTP – Swat claims credit for the murders of fellow muslims.