Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Continuing with the theme of fantastical ruin, this ranking of failed states places my homeland, the Islamic Bizzaroworld of Pakistan, in an alarming 12th position. That made Pakistan, a nuclear-armed, tyrannosaurus-shaped country of 170 million a greater failure than North Korea, Sierra Leone (at least one of my readers ought to be dead if born in Sierra Leone, where the life expectancy is 40 years), and East Timor (established one year before this blog). All this, of course, was before the current state of emergency, which just rolled into its 61st hour, as breathlessly announced by the Dubai-based Geo TV. Judges, opposing politicians, activists and generally anyone with a clue has been clubbed, drubbed and dragged into prison. All private television stations have been shut down and phone service has been cut in parts of the capital Islamabad, where barbed wire barricades have been erected. Altogether, thousands of people have been arrested, including prominent human rights activist Asma Jahangir.

The news isn't all bad for the country that gave the world 7-Eleven employees and taxi drivers. After all, politicians haven't been much better at managing or mismanaging Pakistan. I'm inclined to adopt my dad's bemused response to the situation: after two wars, the secession of what is now Bangladesh, three mostly continuous decades of dictatorship, and the repeated threat of nuclear war, how much worse can it really get? All conspiracy theories of American designs on Pakistani oil, rugs or soccer balls (that Pakistan manufactured sporting goods was a genuine source of national pride as a child) aside, not much substantial change is likely in Pakistan's short-term future.

Democracy in Pakistan would be nice, and it may come yet as Pervez Musharraf continues to embarrass himself and those who consider a dictator a suitable guest on a comedy talk show. However, at least right now, free elections would be a shuffling of Titanic deck chairs. The country's civilian political leadership mainly consists in two seasoned politicians who have considerable experience in bungling the country's affairs.

No comments: