Tag Archives: authoritarian

Political Islam Fails Egypt’s Test

By

LONDON — Heba Morayef voted for Mohamed Morsi last year. The Muslim Brotherhood candidate was an unlikely choice for a liberal Egyptian woman, the director of the Human Rights Watch office in Cairo, but she loathed Hosni Mubarak’s old guard, wanted change and believed Morsi could be inclusive.

“I have been extremely conflicted this past week,” Morayef told me. “I don’t support the military or coups. But for me as a voter, Morsi betrayed the trust that pro-reform Egyptians placed in him. That is what brought 14 million people into the streets on June 30. It was not so much the incompetence as the familiar authoritarian agenda, the Brotherhood trying to solidify their control by all means.”

Morsi misread the Arab Spring. The uprising that ended decades of dictatorship and led to Egypt’s first free and fair presidential election last year was about the right to that vote. But at a deeper level it was about personal empowerment, a demand to join the modern world, and live in an open society under the rule of law rather than the rule of despotic whim.

In a Muslim nation, where close to 25 percent of Arabs live, it also demanded of political Islam that it reject religious authoritarianism, respect differences and uphold citizenship based on equal rights for all.

Instead, Morsi placed himself above judicial review last November, railroaded through a flawed Constitution, allowed Brotherhood thugs to beat up liberal opponents, installed cronies at the Information Ministry, increased blasphemy prosecutions, surrendered to a siege mentality, lost control of a crumbling economy and presided over growing sectarian violence. For the Brotherhood, the pre-eminent Islamist movement in the region, the sudden shift from hounded outlaw to power in the pivotal nation of the Arab world proved a bridge too far.

Read more » The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/05/opinion/global/political-islam-fails-egypts-test.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

Times of troubles

By: Shamshad Ahmad

Looking at the dynamics of contemporary international relations, one is reminded of the ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times,” which could perhaps never have been more relevant than to our times at this critical juncture. We are passing through interesting and critical times which according to the so-called predictions of the Nostradamus Code could also be categorised as “time of troubles.” These are indeed times of trouble. More so for the world’s Muslims now representing more than one fourth of humanity.

Continue reading Times of troubles

New York Times – The Dregs of Dictatorship

By MOHAMED NASHEED, Maldives

my government asked the United Nations to help us investigate judicial abuses

DICTATORSHIPS don’t always die when the dictator leaves office. The wave of revolutions that toppled autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen last year was certainly cause for hope. But the people of those countries should be aware that, long after the revolutions, powerful networks of regime loyalists can remain behind and can attempt to strangle their nascent democracies.

I learned this lesson quickly. My country, the Maldives, voted out President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, its iron-fisted ruler, back in 2008, in historic elections that swept away three decades of his authoritarian rule. And yet the dictatorship bequeathed to the infant democracy a looted treasury, a ballooning budget deficit and a rotten judiciary.

I was elected that year, and with the help of the International Monetary Fund, my government worked to cut the deficit, while also building a modern tax base. For the first time in its history, the Maldives — a group of islands in the Indian Ocean — had a democratically elected president, parliament and local councils.

But it also had a judiciary handpicked by the former president, which was now hiding behind a democratic constitution. These powerful judges provided protection for the former president, his family members and political allies, many of whom are accused of corruption, embezzlement and human rights crimes.

Continue reading New York Times – The Dregs of Dictatorship

The alternative to the slow boat of democracy in Pakistan is failure

By Omar Ali

While the Zia-ul-Haq narrative promoted jihadist militias and covert foreign adventures, Pervez Musharraf’s regime led to open rebellion in Balochistan, an independent Islamic emirate in FATA, a nationwide terrorist problem and new compromises with the same corrupt politicians. And were Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to take over tomorrow, he will end up with the same compromises and the same old faces.

Before a democratic government can stabilise, the middle classes, schooled in the Pakistan Military Academy narrative, start aching for another saviour on horseback, but none exists.

In the current crisis in Pakistan, there has been some comment over what might work better for the country’s development — a “democratic” model or an “authoritarian” one. These categories may be misleading. Generalised arguments about “authoritarian regimes” and “democracies” hide far too many details under the hijab. There is vigorous debate about the shortcomings (real and imagined) of modern capitalist democracy and there is no reason to think that it is the final system under which mankind will live forever. But in the last 100 years, most absolute or dictatorial regimes have all either broken down, or seen capitalist development and evolved into some sort of democracy. The question then is not about democracy versus authoritarianism. It is about whether an “under-developed” state, such as Pakistan, can “develop” as a capitalist democracy without going through a fascist phase.

Continue reading The alternative to the slow boat of democracy in Pakistan is failure

The leadership conundrum

By Shahab Usto

It is the poor who suffer for state and government failures. They have hardly any political platforms of their own to protect and promote their interests, thanks to the long established authoritarian traditions and pro-elitist state policies

Though Pakistan has hardly ever seen normal times, these are supposedly the most dreadful and tragic times. …

Read more » Daily Times

We All MUST Observe 12th October as A BLACK DAY for Democracy in Pakistan

– by Zulfiqar Halepoto

All military coups, dictatorial rules and martial laws in Pakistan were illegal, immoral and unconstitutional, which polluted political culture, destroyed social cohesiveness, killed diversity and unity of federating units and turned a country of progressive, peace and democracy loving people into an authoritarian and rough state. Pakistan today is considered as heaven of terrorism and all illegal doings because of illegal rule of extremists and anti-democratic forces.

But Musharraf rule was the worst. He was a racist dictator. He divided the nation and tried to weaken the federating units. He killed Benazir Bhutto, Mir Balach Mari, and Nawab Akbar Bugti and hundreds of patriot sons of soil. He hijacked democracy and tried to divide Sindh on administrative designs through local government system. He wanted to have a war among peaceful citizens of Sindh, He started civil war in Balochistan and push KPK in to Taliban’s trap, he undermined the interests of Siraikis, he add fuel to fire to weaken Punjab on sectarian and other lines.

October 12th, 1999 was the black day in the democratic history of Pakistan when Musharraf unconstitutionally ousted an elected parliament. We have seen that only PMLN remember the day and I think this day should be observed as black day by all peace and democracy loving people. Though Mian Nawaz Sharif Saheb also wanted to introduce MALOOKAT and obsessed to be a modern AMIR UL MOMNEEN through 12th-13th and 14th constitutional amendments mandate of the people of Pakistan to decide his fate in the next elections, his overthrown was never accepted by democracy loving people by the hands of a TALE AAZMA FAUJI GENERAL.

LET US WHOLEHEARTDLY CONDEMN MILITARY TAKEOVERS AND ESPECIALLY MUSHARRAF’s RULE.

Courtesy: Pakistani e-lists/ e-groups, October 12, 2011.

Sindhi-Mohajir Rapprochement is possible

– Rapprochement is possible

By Abrar Kazi & Zulfiqar Halepoto

ONCE again, differences between the PPP and MQM have translated into a Sindhi-Mohajir confrontation. In fact, the reasons for this are inherent in the politics of both parties.

The politics of PPP which it calls ‘the politics of reconciliation’ is in fact politics without principles that negates its manifesto. For example, the party promised to undo the Musharraf-era division of Hyderabad district and the clubbing together of Karachi’s five districts, which Benazir Bhutto criticised as an administrative division imposed by a dictator. But the promise was never fulfilled.

The PPP’s major fault is, however, to take the support of Sindhis for granted. It has failed to recognise that the Sindhi people’s love for their motherland transcends party lines, all sacrifices rendered by the PPP or any other party notwithstanding, and that their unity of thought on major issues is phenomenal.

The MQM’s politics appears to be based on the ethnic sentiments of its voters, which when exploited, have the damaging effect of causing dislike for those who do not speak Urdu. The journey from ‘Mohajir’ to ‘Muttahida’ was considered a policy shift towards the integration of MQM supporters with the rest of Sindh. But it turned out to be more a change of strategy than of heart.

Such politics tend to paint all Urdu-speaking people with the same brush although most are progressive and liberal and desire peace and integration. Pakistan’s security establishment, the guardians of the ‘ideological and geographical frontiers’ of the country, have contributed their own bit to this confrontation so that the province has reached its present status of seemingly insurmountable problems.

Consciously or unconsciously, a large segment of the Urdu-speaking intelligentsia, civil society and media have either kept quiet or are perceived as supporting such an ethnic viewpoint thereby increasing the rift. Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorship further widened the gulf through deliberate design to give control of Sindh’s urban centres to the MQM as independent administrative units through the district government system. The LGO 2001 appeared to dovetail with the thinking of those who supported the idea of a Mohajir province in Sindh. This resulted in causing suspicion among Sindhis, who despite the numerous merits of the local government system, rejected the change as an attempt to divide Sindh.

Sindhis voted for the PPP and its manifesto which promised to undo all Musharraf’s actions including the local government system of 2001. Since then, there have been incessant demands for the promised actions.

One point must be noted here. Since 1988, the MQM and the PPP have shared power in Sindh three times. Without going into the deeper factors, the general acceptance of the power-sharing by the masses is indicative that by and large the voters and also the people are fundamentally in favour of coexistence between the Sindh- and Urdu-speaking-sindhis of the province.

Another point worth noting is that the ‘Sindh card’ often played by the PPP whenever it has been in trouble is in effect dead from this point on.

Rather than acting on people’s aspirations, the PPP government has resorted to unprincipled politics, refusing to understand the larger issues involved in the present controversy and thus further aggravating the Sindhi-Urdu (Mohajir) divide.

The angry reaction of Sindhis against the PPP and MQM must be seen against this backdrop. It is not about a few nationalist leaders, intellectuals and members of civil society agitating the people. Neither is it about the present district government controversy. It is the pent-up frustration and anger of many decades of authoritarian and military rule in Pakistan, especially in Sindh. It is about what is seen as the plunder of Sindh’s resources without corresponding benefits to Sindh.

It is about the ownership of two prosperous cities of Sindh, established and developed by a competent and dedicated mercantile and cosmopolitan Sindhi Hindu and Muslim class that flourished much before Pakistan came into existence. It is about the humiliation of seeing a provincial assembly passing a resolution to in effect put a ban on Sindhis getting admission in public-sector professional institutions and employment in the multinational companies. It is also about the frustration at the unending cycle of blood on the streets.This constant confrontation between Sindhis and Mohajirs (urdu-speaking-sindhis0 is a source of great loss to Pakistan and still greater loss to Sindh. Despite being secular and progressive, Sindh lags behind in terms of economic and social development because of the albatross of PPP and MQM policies. Sindh is a prosperous and resource-rich province. It is also a land of secular and liberal people who have given strong political leadership to Pakistan from Jinnah to Benazir Bhutto.

It presented the incumbent PPP government an unmatched opportunity to correct all the wrongs done to the country by the civil and military establishment of Pakistan. A strong democratic and plural society, could have been created to tackle terrorism, the sectarian and ethnic divide and violence in politics but the opportunity was lost by the PPP. The MQM’s alignment with the security establishment further damaged the cause.

There is still hope though. The present revolt against the PPP indicates that Sindhis can reject their own elected government if they fear a division of the province. This raises the opportunity for progressive Urdu-speaking Sindhis to join hands with the Sindhis to make the province an ideal homeland setting an example of peaceful coexistence and democracy.

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

The PPP in focus – by Shahab Usto

The Zardari PPP has shown less commitment to tackling the chronic economic malaise: the deepening energy crisis, double-digit inflation, abysmally low investment and rising unemployment. Its social agenda — roti, kapra, makan (bread, clothing, shelter) — stands grounded

Last week, I analysed the PML-N’s politics using the metaphors of ‘dots of hope’ and ‘morbid haze’ to signify hope and despondency respectively. Today, I will focus on the PPP’s politics using the same metaphors, though building a seamless narrative of the PPP is rather unrealistic because unlike the Sharifs-run PML-N, the existing PPP has much metamorphosed under President Zardari’s no-holds-barred style of politics.

First, the dots of hope. Undoubtedly the PPP’s ultimate plume has been its secular and liberal politics. Ironically though, its founder, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had expediently excommunicated a community of citizens, the Ahmedis, from Islam, and his political heir, Benazir Bhutto, also propped up and later legitimised the Taliban government in Afghanistan. But both were unquestionably wedded to secular and liberal values and tragically both fell victim to the very obscurantist and authoritarian forces that wanted to turn this republic into an absolutist Islamic emirate and a launching pad for the violent, Salafi version of jihad.

Indeed, from the dubious Pakistan National Alliance, which led to the fall of the elder Bhutto’s government in 1977, to the ongoing struggle between a liberal democratic Pakistan and a theocratic Pakistan, the PPP has been a bulwark of resistance to the conservative and authoritarian duo. The Zardari PPP has kept alive the liberal ethos of the party, though his detractors would claim that “he has no other option” given the US and establishment’s fight against Islamist terrorism, otherwise he would have also reneged on liberalism in the name of ‘reconciliation’.

Second, under the PPP-led government, the country has seen by far the most far-reaching constitutional reforms since the 1970s. As a result, the prime minister has become the pivot of executive power, parliament has regained its sovereignty, the judiciary is also reclaiming, though in fits and starts, its lost institutional moorings, and, more importantly, the administrative, legislative and financial powers have been devolved to the provinces, abolishing the concurrent list.

True, a real and effective constitutional democracy is still a far cry. Yet, once the initial rounds of institutional turf wars are over, the political system would find a lasting stability vis-à-vis the powerful institution, foreign powers and non-state actors. The telltale signs are already there. The executive-judiciary axes are beginning to conjoin, with occasional bouts of disruption; the defence ‘department’ is for the first time reeling from the combined judicial-public-media-political pressure due to its repeated security failures, persecution of media persons, and meddling in political and foreign policy issues.

Resultantly, the Foreign Office is coming out of the backwaters to which it had been pushed by the Inter-Services Public Relations, the media wing of the armed forces. The US-led western alliance, the old guardian of our military establishment, is also betting on a democratic Pakistan, which it believes is the only thing that can tame the fury of religious schism and bigotry, here and abroad. Amusingly, the US continues to hedge on the PPP government despite the latter’s ‘image problem’ and inability to protect it from the mounting public and institutional pressures for US unilateralism and the unbridled use of drones in FATA.

Moreover, for all the ills and fissiparous tendencies, the ongoing democratic openness has brought home a universal realisation that no strategic agendas or narrow tactical moves can achieve efficacy or success without public support. It is this realisation that makes both the US and the establishment wary of the rising power of democratic institutions, media and public opinion. As a result, the PPP government has entrenched its position vis-à-vis the US and the military establishment, knowing full well that both need it in their respective interests.

Finally, putting aside the ideological imperatives, the PPP has ended ‘tribal politics’, initially mending fences with the PML-N, and now with the Chuadhries of Gujarat, its ‘sworn enemies’. This is realpolitik at its best. This alliance has not only drastically transformed the electoral and political landscape of central Punjab, the PML-N’s stronghold, it has also enabled the PPP to exploit the three ongoing spates: the US-GHQ, the PML-N-GHQ and the media-GHQ. Also, it is no more losing sleep over being bitten by its old bed bug, the MQM.

And now the morbid haze caused by the PPP’s politics. The PPP may have come out of troubled waters, but the country remains mired in a range of existential threats. Its policy and performance failures are many but only the glaring ones are discussed. ….

Read more → Daily Times
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=201175story_5-7-2011_pg3_2

With the Mubarak gone there may be changes or the ruling elite could just find a new public face

Mubarak’s departure marks the end of an era for Egypt

If real reforms are achieved, Egypt will have witnessed a real revolution – and its impact will be felt across the Middle East

by Ian Black

Hosni Mubarak’s dramatic departure marks the end of an era for Egypt and the Middle East. Thirty years of his rule has left a deep impression on his country’s domestic affairs and external relations. Without him, much could change on many fronts — at home and across the region. …

Read more : Guardian.co.uk