Tag Archives: Sweeping

Turkey’s former military chief arrested over alleged anti-government plot

By Associated Press

ISTANBUL — A former Turkish military chief suspected of leading an Internet campaign to stir revolt was jailed Friday in a sweeping investigation of alleged conspiracies to topple a civilian government that has stripped the armed forces of political clout.

Gen. Ilker Basbug, 68, was the most senior officer to face trial in the anti-terror probes that began years ago, netting hundreds of suspects, many of them retired and active-duty military officers. The government casts the inquiries as a triumph for the rule of law and democracy, but suspicions of score-settling, long imprisonments without verdicts and other lapses have tainted the legal process.

The investigations serve as a pivotal test for Turkey’s ability to put its own house in order even as it seeks a higher profile in a turbulent region where the Turkish brand of electoral politics and Islam-inspired government is viewed by some as worthy of emulation.

Perhaps most notable about Basbug’s arrest was the muted public response in a country where civilian leaders were once beholden to the generals, and any hint of conflict stirred fears of a coup. The power balance shifted in the past decade as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan undermined the premise that the military brass were the untouchable guardians of secularism, as enshrined in the constitution. …

Read more » The Washington Post

Permanent revolution

by John Reiman

There will be no breaking the power of the “feudals” in Pakistan, no equality for women in Afghanistan, no establishment of stable democracy in Egypt, no resolving the tribal conflicts in Africa, and no salvation for the 15 million children who die of hunger every year on the basis of capitalism

As they did in the 1950s, once again, the winds of revolution are sweeping the former colonial world. This time, however, these winds are mixed with those of counter-revolution also, and this complication is partly a result of the failure of the previous period to resolve the problems in that part of the world. ….

Read more → ViewPoint

The myth of the ‘urban-rural’ divide

By Haider Nizamani

Shahid Javed Burki, in an article titled “The urban-rural divide”, published in the June 20 issue of this paper, has made an alarming assertion that Pakistan’s existence as a unified state will be defined by the way the urban-rural divide finally gets resolved. This shocking prognosis could have been taken seriously only if it was backed up by convincing empirical and historical evidence. What we have instead are sweeping generalisations, usage of concepts without adequately defining them, and, above all, a portrayal of the country’s past and present rid with contradictions. ….

Read more: → The Express Tribune

Many in Pakistan Fear Unrest at Home

By JANE PERLEZ

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Protests over crippling prices and corrupt leadership are sweeping much of the Islamic world, but here in Pakistan this week, the government blithely dismissed any threat to its longevity or to the country’s stability.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani insisted that Pakistan was not Egypt or Tunisia. “Our institutions are working and democracy is functional,” he said. The economy, while under pressure, is not in crisis.

But while Mr. Gilani appeared unruffled, diplomats, analysts and other Pakistani officials admitted to unease, and conceded that Pakistan contained many of the same ingredients for revolt found in the Middle East — and then some: an economy hollowed out by bad management and official corruption; rising Islamic religious fervor; and a poisonous resentment of the United States, Pakistan’s biggest financial supporter.

If no one expects Pakistan to be swept by revolution this week, the big question on many minds is how, and when, a critical mass of despair among this nation’s 180 million people and the unifying Islamist ideology might be converted into collective action.

Some diplomats and analysts compare the combustible mixture of religious ideology and economic frustration, overlaid with the distaste for America, to Iran in 1979. Only one thing is missing: a leader.

“What’s lacking is a person or institution to link the economic aspirations of the lower class with the psychological frustration of the committed Islamists,” a Western diplomat said this week. “Our assessment is: this is like Tehran, 1979.”

Mr. Gilani is right in that Pakistan held fairly free elections three years ago, when the democratically based Pakistan Peoples Party, led by President Asif Ali Zardari, won.

But the return to civilian government after a decade of military rule has meant little to the people because politicians have done nothing for voters, said Farrukh Saleem, a risk analyst and columnist in The News, a daily newspaper.

As it has been for all of Pakistan’s more than 60 years of history, Parliament today remains dominated by the families of a favored few, who use their perch to maintain a corrupt patronage system and to protect their own interests as Pakistan’s landed and industrial class. The government takes in little in taxes, and as a result provides little in the way of services to its people.

“Ninety-nine percent of Pakistanis are not affected by the state — it doesn’t deliver anything for them,” Mr. Saleem said. “People are looking for alternatives. So were the Iranians in 1979.”

There is little question that the images from Egypt and Tunisia are reverberating through Pakistani society, and encouraging workers to speak up and vent frustration in ways that were unusual even three months ago.

“There’s no electricity, no gas, no clean water,” said Ali Ahmad, a hotel worker in Lahore who is usually a model of discretion. “I think if things stay the same, people will come out and destroy everything.”

When a young banker in a prestigious job at a foreign bank was asked if Pakistan could go the way of Egypt, he replied, “I hope so.”

At the core of Pakistan’s problem are the wretched economic conditions of day-to-day life for most of the people whose lives are gouged by inflation, fuel shortages and scarcity of work.

They see the rich getting richer, including “the sons of rich, corrupt politicians and their compatriots openly buying Rolls-Royces with their black American Express cards,” said Jahangir Tareen, a reformist politician and successful agricultural businessman.

Food inflation totaled 64 percent in the last three years, according to Sakib Sherani, who resigned recently as the principal economic adviser at the Finance Ministry. The purchasing power of the average wage earner has declined by 20 percent since 2008, he said.

Families are taking children out of school because they cannot afford both fees and food. Others choose between medicine and dinner.

A middle-class customer in a pharmacy in Rawalpindi, the city where the powerful army has its headquarters, told the pharmacist last week to sell him only two pills of a course of 10 antibiotics because he did not have enough money for groceries. …

Read more : The New York Times

Extremist Intimidation Chills Pakistan Secular Society

by Julie McCarthy

In Pakistan, a battle has been joined by those who want a tolerant Islamic state against those who want a fundamentalist religious regime.

The killing in Pakistan earlier this month of Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer has cheered the religious right while chilling secular Pakistanis and exposing deep fissures in the society.

The governor was gunned down in Islamabad by a bodyguard angered at his bid to relax the country’s blasphemy laws. The assassination of Taseer, an audacious advocate for modernism, revealed the conservative attitudes about Islam that are sweeping through Pakistan. …

Read more : NPR