The future of Pakistan.. a view from the US

Stephen Cohen summarizes some views on the future of Pakistan.

excerpt:

Another Five Years: More of the Same

The most likely future for Pakistan over the next five to seven years, but less likely than it would have been five years ago, is some form of what has been called “muddling through”, and what, in 2004, I termed as an establish-

ment-dominated Pakistan. The military will play a key although not always and not necessarily central role in state and political 73 Quoted in The News (Lahore), May 31, 2009.

74 “Mapping the Global Future,” Report of the National Intelligence Council’s 2020 Project Based on consultations with nongovernmental experts around the world (Washington, DC: National Intelligence Council, December 2004), p. 21.

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decisions. This scenario could also include direct military rule. As several of the Bellagio participants have noted, it has not made much difference whether the military or the civilians are in power, since both had progressive moments, but each has also contributed to the long decline in Pakistan’s integrity as both a state and a nation.

In this scenario, the political system would be bound by certain parameters: the military might take over, but only for a temporary fix; it will neither encourage nor tolerate deep reform; and civilians will be content with a limited political role. The political system would be frozen in an intermediate, gray zone between full-fledged democracy and military autocracy. The state will always be in transition, but will never arrive ….

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Tahirul Qadri, the Bhutto boy, and the establishment’s last play

by Adnan Khalid Rasool

Based on the political events of the last 10 days, one of the most commonly asked questions in Pakistan is:

‘What is going on?’

As in what is going with the whole Qadri parade, what is up with Bilawal’s launch, and generally what on earth is going on in Pakistan?

Simply put, there are two sides going up against each other and all of these events, or whatever you want to call them, are just parts of that.

Who are these sides and what are they after?

One side to all this is the establishment.

For the last five years, the establishment has played one hand after another against a democratically elected government but failed, as for once, the largest opposition parties refused to play along with them. So a year ago, they launched their own horse in the race who initially did very well but later fizzled out like most of the establishment’s schemes.

The establishment learnt from this failed experiment and went back to the drawing board and came up with Tahirul Qadri. Tahirul Qadri, already having played a pawn multiple times in the establishment’s miscalculated moves, jumped right back on the horse and rode in promising to change the system. But as is the case with most of the establishment’s experiments, he came, he saw and he backed off from what he said.

So one side to this fight is these guys, but why are they doing this?

The answer to that is actually very simple but not very commonly discussed.

What the establishment is after is something dubbed as the ‘Bangladesh formula’. For years, our army and their army have been messing around in politics without much success. No matter how many times they took over, they were always kicked out eventually and in this process they ended up earning a bad name. But about four years ago, the Bangladeshi army finally cracked the code to solve this complicated riddle. The play was that the army does not get involved; instead a caretaker government needs to be formed that would include all branches of the state including judiciary and the military.

This way the army would get a seat on the table, but it would not be the bad guy as the caretaker government would make it a ‘joint effort’. And just to make things more ‘legitimate’, smaller insignificant parties would be invited to become part of the caretaker setup. That would then decide the rules for elections which would be delayed from their actual date as the new structures being designed just happen to take about two years to complete.

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