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Easily corruptible, dominated by dynastic politics and weakened by decades of repeated military coups, Pakistan’s democracy still finds a way to fight back when it wants to make a point. And what a point it made this week when a Pakistani court sentenced former military ruler Pervez Musharraf to death for high treason for suspending the constitution in 2007. The ruling marks the first time in Pakistani history that a military general is held accountable for undermining democracy. It also boldly states that no matter how powerful or influential, the military is not above the law.

Before Musharraf, Pakistan endured two earlier periods of military rule.…  Seguir leyendo »

La decisión de Arabia Saudita de permitir el ingreso de mujeres a las fuerzas armadas (parte de su programa de reforma económica Visión 2030) fue celebrada en todo el mundo como un avance hacia la igualdad de género, en un país notoriamente desigual. Pero cuando empiecen a enrolarse mujeres, la batalla por la verdadera igualdad dentro de las fuerzas armadas apenas habrá comenzado.

Además de las restricciones explícitas que se prevén (es probable que las mujeres deban obtener autorización de sus tutores masculinos, y tal vez se las excluya de los puestos de combate) también habrá que desmantelar el rígido sistema patriarcal de las fuerzas armadas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistan’s Triangle of Hate

Pakistan has found a new ally in its never-ending war against India — and he is the public face of our most ruthless killers.

For years Liaquat Ali, better known as Ehsanullah Ehsan, was a familiar and dreaded figure on national media. It seems that after every atrocity committed by the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), he would make triumphant statements in audio messages or bloodcurdling videos, putting the fear of God in Pakistani media and causing revulsion among Pakistani people.

Soon after the TTP killed three employees of Express TV in January 2014, the television channel invited Ehsan on the air by phone.…  Seguir leyendo »

To many in Pakistan, Qamar Javed Bajwa is an unknown soldier. Yet on Tuesday, he'll become arguably the country's most powerful person when he's sworn in as its next army chief.

Testimonials about Bajwa are overwhelmingly positive. Those who know him say he's a proponent of strong civil-military relations -- the main reason, according to one account, why Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a man who has often sparred with the army, selected Bajwa for the job.

He's not seen as reflexively hostile to India, and he once served under an eventual Indian Army chief while on a United Nations mission in Congo.…  Seguir leyendo »

The July 3 coup that ousted Egypt’s first popularly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, reminds us that military putsches can happen anywhere.

Egypt and Pakistan have political similarities. Both have powerful and predatory armies, are heavily militarized and suffer from a weak civil society that does not understand that political liberalization will never occur unless the democratic process — electoral competition, independent oversight, judicial independence — is strengthened.

In both countries, the military and its intelligence apparatus have penetrated most major institutions of society, including political parties.

In Egypt, the military reportedly controls as much as 40 percent of the economy. Its thriving business empire includes interests in tourism, real estate, construction, consumer goods and much more.…  Seguir leyendo »

As you approach the entrance to the Pakistani army's general headquarters here, the dusty roads and traffic jams give way to the order of a military compound. Even the shrubs are manicured into the precise shapes of topiary.

The headquarters are only a 10-minute drive from the park where Benazir Bhutto was murdered in December. But in political terms, that is a world apart.

At its best, the Pakistani army has been a symbol of order and unity for this chaotic country in the 60 years since Pakistan was founded. At its worst, as in recent years when Pervez Musharraf was simultaneously president and army chief of staff, the military has been a politicized force that has added to the country's instability.…  Seguir leyendo »