How Pakistan’s Politicians Help the Military

Since its foundation in 1947, Pakistan has spent more than three decades under military rule. Even when out of power, the military has exerted behind-the-scenes influence to maintain its firm grip on politics and national security. Establishing democratic institutions, including civilian control of the military, has thus been an arduous process riddled with uncertainty, backsliding and reversal.

The military has often found civilian politicians willing to do its bidding. Every time civilian politicians bend laws to accommodate the uniformed autocrats, they undermine the trust of the people, damage the long-term prospects for democracy and further enhance the military’s power.

On Aug.…  Seguir leyendo »

The treason case against Pakistan’s former President and army Gen. Pervez Musharraf had languished for so long that it seemed that there would never be a verdict. On Tuesday, six years after the case had been filed, a Special Court in Islamabad finally delivered their verdict and sentenced Pervez Musharraf in absentia to death for high treason.

The decision threatens to throw an already restive Pakistan into political tumult as the judiciary sets up for a battle of wills against the military.

The charges of which Musharraf was convicted stem from the 1999 military coup that toppled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.…  Seguir leyendo »

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 »

Pervez Musharraf in 2013.Credit...Anjum Naveed/Associated Press

This week, in a verdict that was described as historic by opposition politicians, a special court in Pakistan sentenced the former military dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf to death for high treason.

The Pakistan Army responded with a statement that also was historic: It said that its rank and file felt “pain and anguish” over the decision. The military leadership didn’t talk about the national interest or regional security as it usually does, but instead used the poetic language of a long-suffering lover. How could you do this to one of us? it asked, in essence. A man who “has served the country for 40 years, fought wars for the defense of the country can surely never be a traitor,” its statement read — and with that single sentence, the army dismissed the country’s courts and Constitution.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of one of Pakistan’s largest religious parties marched across the country in October seeking the removal of Prime Minister Imran Khan.Credit...Rizwan Tabassum/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

If an airplane took off a dozen times only to come crashing down each time, the only logical conclusion would be that the aircraft requires a fundamental redesign. Pakistan’s economy, like the airplane, has crashed 13 times in the last 60 years, each time requiring an International Monetary Fund bailout.

It wasn’t always so. During the 1980s, in per capita terms Pakistan was richer than India, China and Bangladesh by 15, 38 and 46 percent. Today Pakistan is the poorest. Its most recent gross domestic product growth estimate was only 3.3 percent, barely sufficient to keep pace with population growth.

Pakistan’s federal government is effectively bankrupt.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cómo un tribunal arbitral

Fondos especulativos y abogados de Wall Street han convertido un arcano mecanismo procesal de los tratados internacionales en una máquina de hacer dinero, a costa de la gente más pobre del mundo. El último botín es un fallo por 5900 millones de dólares contra el gobierno de Pakistán y a favor de dos empresas mineras internacionales (la chilena Antofagasta PLC y la canadiense Barrick Gold Corporation) por un proyecto que Pakistán nunca aprobó y que nunca se ejecutó.

He aquí los hechos.

En 1993, una corporación minera estadounidense, BHP, firmó un acuerdo con la Autoridad de Desarrollo del Baluchistán (BDA, por la sigla en inglés), una corporación pública en la empobrecida provincia pakistaní del Baluchistán, para una operación conjunta de prospección en busca de oro y cobre; de hallarse yacimientos prometedores, el acuerdo también preveía el pedido de una licencia de explotación.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters in Pakistan continue demonstrating into their third week, first demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan and then calling for new elections. What began as a large-scale caravan into Karachi and led to a 13-day sit-in in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, is now moving to other parts of the country, where the protesters plan to block major roads and highways.

The opposition protest is led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who heads the political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F). Leaders of Pakistan’s major opposition parties have pledged their support, although they did not join the Islamabad sit-in.

This protest is the first significant political challenge Khan has faced a little more than a year after his election.…  Seguir leyendo »

Srinagar, in the Indian-controlled part of the Kashmir region, was under guard last month days after India said it would revoke the area’s autonomy.CreditCreditAtul Loke for The New York Times

Over the past few weeks, we have seen a plethora of comments from Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan and senior officials of his government painting an apocalyptic picture of India’s reorganization of its province of Jammu and Kashmir — and raising the threat of conflict, including nuclear war, with India.

Under Prime Minister Khan’s watch, the people of Pakistan are reeling under economic depression, with inflation at a five-year high, national debt exceeding gross domestic product and an International Monetary Fund bailout for the 22nd time. Mr. Khan has, of course, every right to run his own economy into the ground.…  Seguir leyendo »

We vacation hard, my family. Ideally three weeks, and always a home rental, never a hotel. We settle in like we own the place, and have always owned the place. We start with a grocery store, a thrift shop for toys, a visit to the local library. We scope out playgrounds and children’s classes, make some friends, set up play dates.

The Google map I create during my research phase is color-coded, layered, intricate. We set up temporary lives everywhere from Greece to Japan. On our last trip, to Oahu, Hawaii, we did five grocery runs and nine loads of laundry, and spent the rest of the time washing dishes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Winston Churchill decía que el nacionalismo era la ideología de los imbéciles. Y admitiendo que estuviese en lo cierto, hay que plantearse que se ha producido un enorme aumento de la imbecilidad en la política. La excitación nacionalista se ha convertido en el argumento definitivo para la conquista del poder, sin duda porque el socialismo ha fracasado y el liberalismo es demasiado racional. Nadie escapa a ello, en Europa, en EE.UU., en Brasil o en China. O en el Himalaya. Para entender lo que hoy en día inflama a Cachemira y enfrenta a India con Pakistán como dos gallos de corral, hay que remontarse a 1947, el año en que un virrey británico con prisas por marcharse dividió el Imperio de las Indias.…  Seguir leyendo »

El problema de la alfabetización de Pakistán

En todos los países, la alfabetización ha sido esencial para respaldar un amplio rango de objetivos sociales y de desarrollo, desde la participación política hasta los buenos resultados en materia de salud. Entre las madres alfabetizadas, las tasas de mortalidad infantil caen significativamente. Los niños provenientes de zonas de baja alfabetización, por el contrario, no sólo tienen peores resultados en la escuela y, por ende, menos oportunidades económicas, sino que también tienen expectativas de vida mucho más bajas que sus pares en zonas con una alfabetización alta.

Sin embargo, en Pakistán, el impulso de la alfabetización siempre ha sido relegado, inclusive en comparación con otros objetivos educativos como mejorar la transición de la escuela primaria a la secundaria.…  Seguir leyendo »

The family of Fayaz Ahmed Mir, a tractor driver who was arrested, consoling his sister, Zahida Jan, earlier this month. Thousands of people were imprisoned by Indian security forces after India unilaterally stripped away Kashmir’s autonomy on Aug. 5. CreditCreditAtul Loke for The New York Times

After I was elected prime minister of Pakistan last August, one of my foremost priorities was to work for lasting and just peace in South Asia. India and Pakistan, despite our difficult history, confront similar challenges of poverty, unemployment and climate change, especially the threat of melting glaciers and scarcity of water for hundreds of millions of our citizens.

I wanted to normalize relations with India through trade and by settling the Kashmir dispute, the foremost impediment to the normalization of relations between us.

On July 26, 2018, in my first televised address to Pakistan after winning the elections, I stated we wanted peace with India and if it took one step forward, we would take two steps.…  Seguir leyendo »

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Pakistan National Day, in March.CreditCreditFarooq Naeem/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Imran Khan campaigned to become prime minister on the promise that he would create a “new Pakistan.” The country was going to be like the state of Medina that the Prophet Muhammad founded — a welfare state — Khan promised. Less than a year after coming to power, he has delivered a new Pakistan, and it looks like a struggling dictatorship.

Major opposition leaders are in jail; others aren’t allowed in the media. Parliamentarians are arrested on terrorism or drug-trafficking charges and denied bail. In this new Pakistan, the economy has been practically handed over to appointees from the International Monetary Fund.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Bahria Town housing development in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, in 2013.CreditCreditFarooq Naeem/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Pakistan is in the middle of an unusual property boom. Developers grab large tracts of land, stealing them outright or occupying them, advertise mega development projects and then buy off regulators with the money they raise selling some of the land they dubiously claim. Poor people who have lived in their homes for generations are served eviction notices and visited by bulldozers in the dead of night.

On one side of my house in Karachi is a market. It’s a typical Pakistani market, with car mechanics, barbers, milk and bread sellers, drapers. During the last few years, many of the shops have turned into real estate agencies.…  Seguir leyendo »

L’arrivée le 8 mai d’Asia Bibi au Canada marque le dénouement d’une affaire qui durait depuis dix ans, et qui témoigne du retour de la question du blasphème dans nos sociétés contemporaines. En 2009, cette villageoise chrétienne se dispute avec des femmes musulmanes qui lui reprochent d’avoir souillé l’eau réservée aux musulmans. Asia Bibi est accusée d’avoir alors insulté le prophète Muhammad. Condamnée à mort, elle sera acquittée huit ans plus tard.

Au Pakistan, l’affaire a suscité des manifestations de masse pour exiger son exécution. Cette susceptibilité pakistanaise à l’égard du blasphème trouve ses origines au XIXe iècle avec l’introduction par les Britanniques d’un code pénal pour l’Inde coloniale.…  Seguir leyendo »

Miran Shah, the administrative headquarter of my constituency in Pakistan’s western North Waziristan tribal district, once served as the global headquarters of terrorism. Al-Qaeda, the Haqqani network and other militant organizations moved there after being routed out by the U.S. military from neighboring Afghanistan in late 2001.

As Pakistan turned a blind eye to their revival, we paid a high price for Islamabad’s misguided policies. First, we endured a decade of rule by the Taliban and al-Qaeda. After the military finally moved into North Waziristan in 2014, about 1 million of North Waziristan’s residents were displaced, and our homes and livelihoods were ruined.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Kashmiri being comforted after his house was destroyed in a battle in Tral, south of Srinagar, on Tuesday. Credit Dar Yasin/Associated Press

India and Pakistan don’t have to be on the brink of war. Negotiators painstakingly put together a way out of the crisis and a road map for resolution of the Kashmir dispute in the mid-2000s, and we need to get back to it.

Kashmir has been disputed since 1947, with India holding around two-thirds and Pakistan one-third of its territory and both claiming all of it. The unresolved future of the largely Muslim region has led to three wars between the two countries, while frustration with Indian misrule in Indian-controlled Kashmir led to an insurgency supported by Pakistan in 1990.

India and Pakistan have alternated between phases of intense hostility and moments of calm since 1947.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indian policemen wait for the return of Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman on 1 March. Photo: Getty Images.

Asia’s prominence in geopolitical theatre was on full display last week as an escalation in tensions between traditional rivals India and Pakistan unfolded simultaneously with a Hanoi summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.

The nuclear summit took place against a backdrop of India’s surprise air attack across the border in Pakistan, against what it described as ‘terrorist camps’, prompting a retaliatory strike from Pakistan a day later. When two nuclear weapon states threaten to go to war, the world has to intervene.

The nuclear summit itself was a failure, prompting the US president to turn his attention to India and Pakistan.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indian police officers in Srinagar, Kashmir, in 2016 in the wake of protests over the killing of a separatist leader. Credit Dar Yasin/Associated Press

For the past few decades, Kashmir has largely been referred to in news reports and policy papers as a “low-intensity conflict,” as if someone were leisurely making a lamb stew. But for those of us who call the region home, it means living with the constant ache of our painful history, a despair and rage about an oppressive present, and an uncertain future.

Political discontent has simmered in Kashmir since the partition of India in 1947. India and Pakistan, which each control parts of the region and claim the whole, have fought three wars over it. India eroded the autonomy of the part of Kashmir it controlled by imprisoning elected leaders and appointing puppet administrators.…  Seguir leyendo »

Students chant slogans under the shade of national flag, after Pakistan shot down two Indian military aircrafts, according to Pakistani officials, during a march in Lahore, Pakistan 28 February 2019. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

What happened exactly?

On Tuesday, 26 February, India claimed that its air force had targeted “the biggest training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed … in Balakot”. The strikes – the most significant airspace violations in nearly 50 years – followed a deadly 14 February suicide car bombing in Pulwama in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), which had been claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group. India said it launched a “preventive strike” based on intelligence that Jaish intended to attack again. At a press conference, Foreign Secretary VK Gokhale said Pakistan “failed to take any concrete action against terrorists” and that the strike on the training facility had “killed a large number”.…  Seguir leyendo »