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Is Tunisia a signpost for Pakistan?

The Jasmin Revolution of Tunisia has raised the world’s hopes for the Arab world - it’s raised mine for Pakistan.  There are so many similarites between the two countries it’s hard to know where to start listing them - endemic corruption from top to bottom, a lack of opportunities for young people, a ruling family that’s treated the state buget like its own piggy bank, greedy relatives and friends of the rulers who’ve occupied every major job in the country and proceeded to use it as a tool for looting….

But there are differences - Tunisia has in recent years, been fostering an educated class - Pakistan has all but shoved its educated system down the toilet.  Tunisia has been expanding its middle class, fostering gender equality and dealing with the outside world, whereas Pakistan has been stifling and threatening its moderate middle class, and moving towards Islamic fundamentalism in recent years.

But watching the extraordinary photos of the Tunisian street in revolt, my heart lifted at the possibility of such a sight on the streets of Karachi or Islamabad.  Isn’t it time for Pakistanis to re-claim their country, currently being held hostage by the fundamentalists, and by the politicians who foolishly harness their preached poison for short term gains?  Isn’t it time to get rid of the Mr 10 per cents and the handful of feudal families who have pillaged and looted for years?  Isn’t it time for the moderates, the young, the sane majority to come out en masse and say “Enough is Enough”?

3 Comments on “Is Tunisia a signpost for Pakistan?”

  1. #1 David Berridge
    on Jan 19th, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    One especially fundamental difference remains, Dheera, that of the ISI national intelligence service in Pakistan. While no such counterpart is able to potentially fill and exercise a commanding role of the ISI in Tunesia, the ISI has demonstrated its ability to act as an independent entity during the time the war with the Taliban has seen Pakistan serve as a front. The ISI has acted in place of the government striking agreements with NATO forces while simultaneously breaking other agreements and working in co-operation with the Taliban. The armed forces of Pakistan must also work within the deadly duplicity of the ISI’s policies and exercise of power. What makes the ISI the leading and predominent entity now in Pakistan, is its ability to act and structure its power base over Pakistan’s society as a streamined, rationalized , organizational force, within an instituional mode. This modernization of social and political control has the traditional factions of power mentioned earlier in the article, outdated, segmented, and dependent upon the ISI at the very least for an overwhelming capacity to deal with external powers outside of Pakistan. The very fact that the ISI and CIA deal with each other on airdrone strikes through the Pakistani government is greatly illustrative of this point.Since the recent devasting floods of the Sindu river in Pakistan, it has been estimated that the country has been set back by five decades or so,weakening the coherent power of the government to retain full powers of social organization. The ISI has inheirited both the vaccum of authority and the means to profit by it, whereby no faction in Tunesia has yet emerged to control and stabilize the country there.

  2. #2 dheera
    on Jan 20th, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    The ISI was fed and nurtured by organizations like the CIA and the Pakistani military lobby - but there have been people’s revolutions all over the world, many of them successful in overthrowing hugely powerful dictators backed by sinister shadow power brokers like the ISI - but as I read the other day, dictatorial governments are not overthrown because they have too many enemies, but because they lose too many friends.

  3. #3 David Berridge
    on Jan 20th, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    The ISI still has plenty of breathing room left, no matter how unsavory a cast of characters it is. The Tunesian crisis is not one of a congruent reflection to that of Pakistan, as the leadership of a number of North African countries is highly nervous of where this situation will lead. Pakistan does have a fall-back position in the ISI, given its ability to form “working relationships” outside of Pakistan. The successor to the USSR’s KGB (the FSW, if my memory serves) is a sterling example of even within the framework of victorious “People’s Revolutions”, new entities are created from the old networks. Poland and East Germany have their surviving bad guys still enjoying some degree of power that the new capitalism provides.However, Dheera, the debate continues of course, and I would brave a prediction cum warning not to wager against the ISI for well into the coming future. In all too many cases, the regimes may change, but so do the accronyms.

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