Monday, November 5, 2007

Zia's Legacy Haunts Pakistan

Kevin Drum has an interesting post about Pakistan and Islamic parties gaining control of Pakistan after President Musharraf declared martial law.
Over at Informed Comment, Juan Cole suggests that the Islamist movement in Pakistan isn't really very impressive, but adds that events could change that: "What is really significant, however, is that Qazi Hussain [the leader of the fundamentalist Jamaat-i Islami] is the only major party leader openly calling for mass resistance against Musharraf, a stance which will help the popularity of his party even if (as seems likely) he winds up in jail over it."
What we’re seeing are the final results of late President Zia-ul-Haq’s handiwork blowing up in our faces. It was Zia who Islamized, not only Pakistan, but the military as well. Much of the officer corp—from junior to mid-level—are hardcore Islamists. There’s a clear nexus between Islamists and the military that wasn’t there before, but is definitely there now.

Since the military is a bulwark of stability in Pakistan, and the only institution with any real authority, what it says goes. Governments cannot rule without their blessing. The elites rely on them to maintain law and order (and their positions of power) as it is they who have the guns. If the military collapses, so does Pakistan.

And if the military is under the sway of Islamists, vote count—and, yes, even democracy—is meaningless.

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