“The Economist Survey of Pakistan, July 2006”:http://economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=7107838 makes for bleak reading. It starts off with the “trouble with Pakistan”:http://economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=7141272, and goes on and on to conclude that Pakistan is in a real mess. There have been many responses in local newspapers about this survey, mostly attacking the basis of the survey and it’s conclusions. The survey is a bit dated now, a year later, but currents events have proven it ominously correct. A part of the survey is “copied here”:http://politicalpakistan.blogspot.com/2006/07/economist-pakistan-desperately-needs.html and “here”:http://governmentofbalochistan.blogspot.com/2006/07/trouble-with-pakistan.html.
One of the many replies was by the “Pakistan’s High Comissioner to London’s”:http://economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=7188690 who concluded that the _survey of Pakistan were unduly harsh and unfair to the country, its leadership and its people, to say the least._ Sadly, all is not as rosy as the stock answers by all and sundry would have you believe. Some answers to one such reply:
_For further evidence, one could point to a ban on militant groups, the crackdown on hate literature and the registration and reform of madrassas._
The militant groups are still around. You can’t ban a militant group – you’ve actually got to do something about the people involved.Till than, you might as well be whistling in the wind. While some groups have been disbanded, others still operate. The Madrassas continue as before, with the only reform of them taking place in Musharraf’s many speeches. A good example is the fiasco taking place in Islamabad these days, where militants have been given free hand to roam around the city terrorizing citizens, police and even the Pakistan army. All the kings men have talked and talked, and on various talk shows on local TV channels have publicly given up on doing anything.
_Furthermore, sweeping statements such as “Osama bin Laden is widely believed to be in Pakistan” (believed by whom?)_
Believed by most of the world, including the people who matter. Even Karzai, American puppet or not, genuinely thinks OBL is here. Fox News is certain enough to lob a few nukes around the border area to smoke him out, and the rest of the American public isn’t far behind.
_and baseless presumptions such as that President Pervez Musharraf’s supporters will “rig” the next national election, bring no credit to The Economist._
Baseless? They’ve already been rigged. We might as well not have the farce of the upcoming 2007 “elections”. It’s just a gigantic waste of time and money, as some of our “elected” ministers have already said. The big boss himself recently ordered his pet politicians to reelect him or else, and to make sure told them that he will remain army chief for life. While a few politicians took that statement to mean they should start making plans to get rid of him by “other means”, the all-too many corrupt politicians under Musharraf’s wings have already started the age old dirty business of pre-rigging the upcoming elections.
_You did not cite the giant strides Pakistan has made in trying to empower women, open up the electronic media and create more press and cultural freedoms._
While Musharraf talks a lot about empowering women, the reality is once again “divorced”:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/pakistan/2004_10/mukhtaran_bibi_sentenced_to_be_raped.html from his speeches – we still have laws on the books which let rapists walk while jailing their victims.
The line about opening up electronic media is particularly sad, coming from a government which just recently blocked millions of websites on the internet! And what the hell is “cultural freedoms” anyways, when “plays are banned from being performed!”:http://pakistaniat.com/2007/05/24/pakistan-burqavaganza-drama-ban-burqa-culture-ajoka-theatre-theater/ Recently, a number of TV channels have been taken off the air for reporting the news, and just a couple of weeks ago the government refused to provide protection to the offices of Aaj TV when they came under attack. Media freedom, indeed!
The survey was written a year back, but in the lights of recent events, the authors sound a bit optimistic. Just a year ago, few could have imagined that the government would abdicate all responsibility and hand over the country’s largest city to the “MQM”:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/pakistan/2005_08/wanted_altaf_hussain.html – and than gloat in Islamabad while “Karachi burned”:http://pakistaniat.com/2007/05/12/karachi-burning-civil-war-firing-dead-violence-mqm-aaj/. There have been many horrendous incidents in Pakistan’s history – but this one takes the proverbial cake. The precedent set was horrible – that the government was willing to do anything, anything at all, to maintain it’s grip on power. Even more chilling, was Musharraf’s speeches after the incident – which showed that he, like his good friend Bush, has reached the end of the long road to becoming a power mad dictator completely out of touch with reality.