A few posts ago, I wrote about my intellectual passion for South Asia. One of my favorite SA news sources is the Foreign Policy/New America Foundation Afpak blog. The contributing writers are smart and entertaining and I love it when multiple news stories are consolidated in one place. I read it every day and here are some recent stories:
Yesterday, protestors led by Tahir-ul Qadri—a Pakistani preacher/former politician who has been living in Canada—took to the streets in Islamabad to demand reform and the resignation of the current, corrupt government officials.
Today, the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and fifteen other officials for corruption.
All of this is taking place months before elections that would see the first successfully completed term of a civilian government in Pakistan. Whether this turmoil is good (this could be the push for reform that Pakistan badly needs) or bad (or it could turn into a de-stabilizing political crisis) is yet to be seen. Everyone is also wondering, who is this guy and what are his motives?
Is he wrong about the corruption of Pakistani politics? No, he isn’t. But the fact that he intervenes just before elections, that he initially supported the coup of 1999, that he speaks favorably of the military (even though the military denies any affiliation), and that the Supreme Court just ordered the arrest of the Prime Minister (who has only been in office 7 months) makes me wary. As an optimist and a believer in the power of ordinary people to create great change, I want to believe that this man is a symbol for justice and responsible leadership in a country that badly needs both. However, this wouldn’t be the first time (it would actually be the fourth) that the military has snuck up from behind and spoiled things for Pakistan.
This story is still developing and my understanding is nowhere near as comprehensive as the experts. Read on.