August 3, 2005Foreign Affairs

The two-sided good-cop, bad-cop routine

Marking time on madrassa reform in Pakistan

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Gen Musharraf orders all foreign students in Pakistan’s madrassas to pack up and leave. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the civilian-political face of Musharraf’s regime publicly challenges the General’s orders. By all appearances, this is a good-cop, bad-cop routine. But the reality is more Rashomon-like.

To the British prime minister (and international audiences), it is Musharraf who is the good cop, playing his designated role of staunch ally in the war against terrorism. Shujaat Hussain, the bad cop, by standing up to his own boss, demonstrates how hard it is for Musharraf to prevail over the domestic constituency that opposes Musharraf over the madrassas — a constituency that not only includes the obvious religious parties but now also the mainstream’ ones.

Now, doesn’t Musharraf deserve the support of all those who, like the United States and Britain, are fighting the monster of Islamic terrorism?

The madrassas themselves surely would see things very differently. Shujaat Hussain is the good cop who had the courage to stand up not only to his boss, but also to the all-powerful West (read America). And Musharraf is the bad cop.

Now, doesn’t the good Chaudhry deserve the support of all those Pakistanis who think that their country should not be bullied by the the United States and Britain?

Upside on both sides. Musharraf has always been a brilliant exponent of the double game.

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