Dear General Pervez Musharraf:
I know you are a busy man and all, but I’d like you to consider what I have to say here. Look, I’m sure you are a cool guy and all. You kind of look like a harmless Indian uncle in a military uniform, but what you do is not harmless.
Calm the hell down, and end the state of emergency. Let the people vote.
You say you are the only person who can stand up to the Muslim fundamentalists in Pakistan and the Talibinization of Pakistan, but do you not remember that it was the military government of Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s that started the Islamicization of Pakistan? The father of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah was a secular Muslim that drank alcohol who wanted Pakistan to be culturally Muslim, not politically.
It also helps the Islamist parties when you had banned the two major Pakistani parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Muslim League just like General Zia did. If people can’t vote for them, the only ones that can still run for election will be the Islamist parties like Jamaat-e-Islami and its allied parties. That’s why they run the Northwest Frontier Province on the Afghanistan border.
Which brings us to Afghanistan (and Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts/Charlie Wilson’s War). The two radical forms of Islam in Central Asia are Deobandi Islam, which started in India, and Wahabbi Islam from Saudi Arabia which was brought to Pakistan during the Afghan-Soviet war. After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, the United States under Reagan started a massive covert war against the Russians and dropped billions of dollars into Pakistan’s military government of Zia-ul-Haq. Saudi Arabia co-funded the jihad against the atheist Soviet Union and founded many religious madrassa schools in these mountainous border areas that preached fundamentalist Saudi Arabia-style Wahabbi Islam instead of the local Barelwi tradition. The children of the mujahadeen educated from these schools are now coming to tear apart Pakistan’s secular foundation.
The Soviets eventually dropped Afghanistan like a hot potato, and we (America) dumped Pakistan too. But the children of the mujahadeen and the madrassas stayed. Now the possibly the most radical age group are the people our age: taking over schools, attacking unveiled women, and demanding an Islamic state. Even your little farce attack on the Lal Masjid to show your liberalism against the homegrown Pakistan Taliban shows which age group is such a danger.
But you know General, spending money on health, education, and public welfare (less than 3% of the budget) instead of the military (more than 25% of the budget) would keep kids out of these radical schools, reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, and make people look to the government for charity rather than rich Saudi mosques. But that would mean you would have to cut away at your own beloved military.
And General (oh sorry, I mean Mr. President), the daughter of the military’s main opponent Benazir Bhutto is back. General Zia hung her father in 1979, and I know she has no love for you and your military. What do you plan to do with her and the opposition (including that heartthrob cricket player, Imran Khan)? You are just president now. Do you want to re-start the tripartite governments of the 1990s where the president had 1/3 of the power, the prime minister another third, and the military the other third? Are you going to restore the Supreme Court that you fired? The protest by the lawyers is what started your demise. And will Daddy America still be around to support you?
I think you pampered generals have done enough to fuck up Pakistan. Go back to your barracks and get out of politics.
National Geographic – “Pakistan at 60 Islam’s fault line”