Pakistan Tug-of-War: For-sale Liberals vs Myopic Fanatics

Pakistan is caught in a struggle between two flawed sides: liberals without moral anchor who are pushed around by Indians and Americans, and Islamists who may have their hearts in the right place but are woefully unequipped to function in the 21st century.

President Zardari was recounting his obedience to a United States Congressional delegation by saying that all it took was ‘one phone call’ for Pakistan to not object to the US-India nuclear deal in the IAEA.  Pakistan could have objected but it did not.  Why? The PPP was indebted to the U.S. government, so it sold out the country for power.  This is not only unique to President Zardari — Wikileaks shows cable upon cable that shows our liberal leaders being pushed around and favours squeezed out of them for no return.

This includes civilian AND military leaders.

On the other hand Islamists may not be for sale, but they do not see that undermining law and government leads to anarchy and chaos.  Pakistan is the strongest Islamic country today, and it cannot be ruled like a village or a tribe.  Islamists gain some political power, but they do not know how to wield it to achieve it — they become too destructive.  For example, creating restrictions around the film industry in Pakistan in the 1980s resulted in the collapse of that industry.  In today’s age, films are a great way to infuse patriotism and character into people — take look at Hollywood and Bollywood, and even the Egyptian and Iranian film industries.

To end this post, here is a very accurate account of the state of Pakistan by a ‘secret’ report from the U.S. ambassador to the late U.S. envoy Holbrooke (emphasis is mine):

Not A Failed State 

  1. (C) This is not a failed state. Pakistan has solid albeit weak institutions, a robust if often irresponsible media, established although under-equipped police forces, an increasingly strong civil society, and a population with a proven resiliency to withstand everything from earthquakes to kleptocracy. However, Zardari is more adept at political maneuvering than governing; we believe he is spending too much time on his rivalry with Nawaz and too little time on rolling back a spreading insurgency and improving a weak economy.

  2. (C) Although we do not believe Pakistan is a failed state, we nonetheless recognize that the challenges it confronts are dire. The government is losing more and more territory every day to foreign and domestic militant groups; deteriorating law and order in turn is undermining economic recovery. The bureaucracy is settling into third-world mediocrity, as demonstrated by some corruption and a limited capacity to implement or articulate policy.


  1. (C) The good news is that the government has the will to fight extremism and the Army/Frontier Corps is now actively engaged in combat, . . . The military remains reluctant to expand the U.S. military footprint, but we now have the basis for increased cooperation. We are also delivering Cobra spare parts and upgrading their MI-17 and Bell 412 helicopters so the Pakistanis can operate more than two Cobras on any given day.

  2. (C) The bad news is that the militants are driving the agenda; the Pakistan military has too few forces to fight too many battles at one time. . . . The police cannot cope and largely have abandoned locals to their fate.