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Pakistan: moment of truth?

Rumors have been circulating for weeks about contacts between the military regime of President Musharrif and the democratic party of exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the inference being that a compromise to restore Pakistan's democracy is in the works. Given the conciliatory tone of the following piece, where only acrimony and bitterness had existed between the sides before, there may be something to the whispers. Benazir Bhutto writes in the LA Times:

In a democratic Pakistan, extremist movements have been minimal. In all democratic elections, extremist religious parties never have garnered more than 11% of the vote. But under dictators -- most notably Gen. Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s, but unfortunately also Gen. Pervez Musharraf during this decade -- religious extremism has gained a foothold in my homeland.

Whether leaders like Zia exploited religion for their own political ends, or dictatorships inherently induce deprivation and desperation, the fact remains that extremism has emerged as a threat to my nation, to the region and to the world. These extremists are the petri dish of international terrorism. It need not be so. It must be reversed. And it can be done.

In both of my tenures as prime minister, my government imposed the rule of law on all areas of Pakistan -- our four provinces and also the federally administered tribal areas, including Waziristan. With the support of the people of those tribal areas, we managed to uproot an international drug cartel that had operated with impunity under dictatorship.

Today, however, the international drug barons have morphed into religious extremists and terrorists. The current government of Pakistan has ceded large areas of our nation to the pro-Taliban and Al Qaeda forces, claiming that these areas are ungovernable. I believe that they are governable and that a democratic government can better restore the authority of the state.

Read it all at the link above. Bhutto was twice elected Prime Minister; a woman leading a predominantly Islamic country! There may be hope for Pakistan yet . . .

Especially since the Telegraph is now reporting:

Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, has agreed to drop corruption charges against Benazir Bhutto to allow her to return to Islamabad as part of a power-sharing deal, the former prime minister has claimed.

Ms Bhutto, the leader of the Pakistan People's Party who lives in self-imposed exile in London, and Gen Musharraf, who is beset by challenges to his eight-year rule, are near to a deal that would pave the way for the general to be re-elected as president and Ms Bhutto to return to contest parliamentary elections.

The whole story is at the preceding link. Good news, indeed!


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Comments (8)

Someone tell Barack B52 Oba... (Below threshold)

Someone tell Barack B52 Obama?

Bhutto yapped about governi... (Below threshold)

Bhutto yapped about governing the border areas while she was in charge. I think she panders, there. And she's pretty casual about abrogating the term limits.

Still, somethings got to give. Fundamentalist madrassahs are not a new thing, but this scale is unprecedented.

The proof of the pandering ... (Below threshold)

The proof of the pandering is even present within her article. Those ungovernable areas weren't full of madrassahs when she was in charge. The Saudi money's got to stop, and may.

This was in the L.A. TIMES ... (Below threshold)

This was in the L.A. TIMES folks - who knows how much of it is the "reporter's" fevered imagination and how much is actual fact.

Gayle ~ The LAT piece is an... (Below threshold)

Gayle ~ The LAT piece is an op-ed authored by Bhutto herself. No LAT "reporter" was involved, so we might say that "no truth was harmed in producing this article."

kim ~ The "term limits" were imposed by Musharraf specifically to preclude Bhutto returning to power. It isn't as if there were anything like that in the Pakistani Constitution before. As to whether her government had full control over the tribal areas: I don't believe they did, but they exercised more authority than is being wielded now.

The Saudi-funded madrassahs are indeed a problem for Pakistan and much of the rest of the world. Teaching materials found in the US also demonstrate a radical ideology. Neither Musharraf nor Bhutto is capable of solving that problem alone. However, if they can compromise and put aside their differences, it can only help the Pakistanis resist the lure of the extremists.

I see you are way ahead of ... (Below threshold)

I see you are way ahead of me, Jim. Still, aren't term limits a good idea? Also, if not she, who?

I'm not sure I think that her brand of 'liberalism' will tame the extremists, more likely they will eat her alive; but, it is hard to argue that the Pakistanis should not have more choice than they do now.

Article in the Telegraph to... (Below threshold)

Article in the Telegraph today about Musharraf.

Bolton's worked up about Ki... (Below threshold)

Bolton's worked up about Kim, er, rather, North Korea, too.






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