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View Diary: Thoughts on the Election in Pakistan (3 comments)

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  •  First lets congratulate the people of Pakistan who (2+ / 0-)
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    Be Skeptical, mishal817

    went to the polls and voted in large numbers (we'll see if it more than US turnout in 2012) - despite the very real danger presented by the Taliban and other religious extremists. Americans really have to ask themselves how they would have handled the situation considering their reaction to a relatively small scale terrorist attack in Boston.

    But the larger question of Pakistan's future is really what sort of "country" is it - and to begin to tackle that we need to remember its origins. Pakistan (west and east) was carved out of British India at the request of Jinnah's Muslim league, and the British were simply looking to leave the subcontinent with some semblance of orderly transfer. I've seen many accounts trying to blame the British for the disaster of Partition, but supposing they could have persuaded Jinnah's party to stay in a united India was about as likely as President Obama getting Republicans to help the economy.

    Pakistan was born in an "original sin" of religious identity - so that the marvellous mosiac that was India was stripped to a narrow religious identity in the creation of Pakistan, and states like Punjab arbitrarily divided in two. Although India initially continued as a secular socialist entity - it is now battling its own religious demons in the form of Hindu nationalism and the BJP. The sad fact is these religious identities feed off each other on either side of the Indo-Pakistan border - and attempts to reconcile the two countries are quickly squashed in both countries.

    The fact is the Hindi and Urdu are basically the same language with different writing, and Indians and Pakistanis have far more in common historically and culturally than they have in difference. In my own fantasy Pakistan and India both need to put religion in its place (the home, mosque, temple), and embrace pluratistic, secular democracy - at which point the natural affinity these two countries (and Bangladesh) have for each other could assert itself in a subcontinent wide association.

    One final observation on the campaign - when it became clear that militants were violently targeting secular parties and their campaign rallies, why did the religious parties continue to hold campaign rallies, and not shut them down in solidarity with the victims of intimidation? The worst offender in campaigning as though nothing was wrong was Nawaz Sharif's own party, the Pakistan Muslim League. This action puts a cloud over his victory - but one non-coup transfer of power is a start, and those who showed the courage to vote in these conditions is ground for much greater hope.

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