July 7, 2006Foreign Affairs

A disclaimer

Have you read The Economist?

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Contrary to popular belief, the Economist leader and survey of Pakistan in this week’s issue were not authored by me. But how I wish they were!

Here are some excerpts:

The West has invested a huge amount in Pakistan’s General Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in October 1999. This newspaper was prepared to give him a chance on condition that he acted swiftly and firmly to rein in extremism and sort out the economy, and then returned to barracks. He failed to do any of that. After September 11th 2001, however, he was recast as a provider of relative stability in a dangerous neighbourhood, and an essential ally in the “war on terror”. Money was showered upon him; he was feted in Washington, DC, and London. Only gradually has it started to dawn on his admirers that, in the past five years, he has not done very much to make Pakistan a less dangerous place.

…And as for al-Qaeda, none of General Musharraf’s protestations can hide the fact that Osama bin Laden is generally reckoned to be holed up on Pakistani soil. Lesser terrorists such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the planner of the September 11th attacks, have been caught and handed over by the general, but Mr bin Laden goes on evading capture. [The Economist]

But a bigger concern for most Pakistanis is the state of their broken and predatory institutions, which have helped to make Pakistan unstable and prone to extremism. General Musharraf pledged to fix them, and to promote liberal values, or “enlightened moderation”. If he were to make serious progress towards either of those goals, history would smile on his coup.

But this survey will argue that General Musharraf is unlikely to deliver on these crucial promises.

… General Musharraf has been lucky to survive three assassination attempts, and his succession is unclear. He has, moreover, limited time at his disposal to get to grips with an unlimited number of problems. His period in office has been littered with initiatives—a diplomatic proposal to India here, a promise to reduce the army there—that never got off the ground or fizzled to nothing for want of the general’s attention.

And even if he had unlimited time, he has limited understanding. [The Economist]

The Pakistani most responsible for the economy’s brilliant turnaround, it might be argued, was not General Musharraf or his technocratic prime minister, Shaukat Aziz. It was an ethnic Pakistani currently in American custody, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the attacks on September 11th 2001. [The Economist]

But excerpts are excerpts. Read the whole thing.

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