Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Links For Thursday (Mumbai Attacks Edition)

Stuff to read:

A Brookings guy says Pakistan was also a target of the Mumbai attacks last week. I'm sure that's exactly what the nationalist right in India wants to hear right now.

Speaking of stuff the nationalist right doesn't want to hear, Amitav Ghosh (The Glass Palace guy) has a column in the NYT, where he says that the attacks were not India's 9/11, and treating them as if they were would be a mistake.

Newsweek asks: Can India and Pakistan learn to cooperate? The short answer is "no". The long answer is "no, not really".

One accomlishment of Indian bluster following the attacks has been to unite Pakistan's political class. When Chaudhry Shujaat and Nawaz Sharif start greeting each other warmly, you know something's up.

Juan Cole gives Western readers a history lesson, and says Pakistan must detach itself from LeT. It bears mentioning here for those that are unaware that Pakistan's clamping down on militant groups post-9/11 has been quite asymmetric. Those that target either local populations (Pakistani Shias) and the western border have been hit a lot harder than those that target the eastern border.

2 comments:

Ismat said...

not sure if it will induce a rolling of the eyes response from the authors and/or readers of this blog, but this brief article sums up my perspective.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/03/opinion/03friedman.html?_r=2&emc=eta1

AKS said...

Ismat:

I'm sorry but let me be the first to roll my eyes, I thought that it was an inane article.

Freidman's entire article is based on the presumption that "Pakistanis" mobilize against certain causes and not others.

Take this sentence for example:

"We know from the Danish cartoons affair that Pakistanis and other Muslims know how to mobilize quickly to express their heartfelt feelings, not just as individuals, but as a powerful collective. That is what is needed here."

He assumes that such actions are civic rather than political. That ordinary Pakistanis attend these protests to show their solidarity with the cause. He doesn't even consider the possibility that these protests are political in nature, that the Danish cartoons incident was exploited by religious parties to make a political statement and forward their ideological goals.

Pakistanis don't protest one thing and not another. Pakistanis, by and large do not protest. There's a dearth of 'public space' and people are not comfortable, and actually scared, of vociferously expressing their opinion.

In my opinion, the question - "why did Pakistan's secular political parties not hold public rallies to denounce the atrocities in Mumbai?" - would've produced a much better analysis, then the question Freidman asked: "Why do Pakistanis not care?" It would've allowed Freidman to assess the constraints on Pakistan's political parties when it comes to expressing opinions on India. It would also, maybe, have led to the author appreciating some of the steps taken by secular political parties, which are largely impotent when it comes to 'security issues.'

There's a lot of anger about the actions in FATA, but no urban protests. The grotesque events of May 12th failed to mobilize the masses. Benazir's death may have caused mayhem but Pakistanis hardly protested as a "collective."

It's not that I don't support the kind of action Freidman is advocating; I'd love to see ordinary Pakistanis vociferously condemning terrorism. I'd love to see protests and civic discourse on the multitude of problems that we face.

Freidman believes that Pakistanis don't voice out against these evils because they aren't outraged enough, which I think is highly unfair.

Parting shot:

Mr. Freidman, hundreds of people died in Pakistan last year at the hands of Islamic extremists, where were the international protests / vigils?. Mr. Freidman did you advocate to the rest of world to raise their voice against the senseless violence in Pakistan? Did you demand that the people of Saudi Arabia protest against their government to put a stop to its support of fanatic preachers in Pakistan who imbibe in our youth a vitriolic ideology?