Thursday, May 25, 2006

A personal failure

With Musharraf's future dominating the Pakistani political landscape recently, it's an opportune moment to assess his performance so far. Undeniably the choice of metrics is itself a subjective process, but here goes:

1. Economy: far removed from the brink of default and healthier macro statistics; a booming services sector with promise of more to come; inflation and anemic pro-poor policies have marred the report card.

2. Militantism: 80,000 troops in Waziristan have failed to prevent the Talebanization of the area; sectarian violence in Punjab has receded, but now frequently cripples Karachi.

3. Baluchistan: alienation and mega-projects in Baluchistan (which locals believe will dilute their stake in their resource rich province) stirred up a fifth insurgency which Musharraf has shown little capacity for understanding or controlling; ignored his own party's assessment of the problem.

4. India: CBMs galore, but Indians, be it the BJP or Congress, have dug in their heels on Kashmir; dreams of a Nobel Prize have receded.

5. Women: a few firsts (1/3 allocation of seats to women in elected assemblies, appointed woman to head the State Bank), but nothing for the ordinary woman; notoriously dismissed rape victims as gold-diggers; bundled another, Dr. Shazia Khalid, out of the country; no attempt to revise the Hudood Ordinance.

6. Minorities: set back any discussion of the blasphemy law by a decade when minimal cosmetic changes were quickly shelved to placate the beards

7. Enlightened moderation: if we had late night comedy on TV, the phrase would be comedians' manna; courted the beards to get his constitutional amendment and handed over two provinces to drag further back into the dark ages; mercifully has stopped casting himself as a modern day Ataturk.

It would appear then that the General has been a personal failure. The economy has never been his forte, and credit - as well as the blame - should be laid at the feet of his team of imported economic managers. Yet, it's also the one topic he prefers to focus on because it's the only area where his government has met with success. Everything he appears to personally initiate, administer or supervise either goes into decline or is afflicted by stasis. Which brings us to the key question: how much does Pakistan really need this one man? For his western supporters, he's cast himself as the bulwark against extremism; meanwhile at home he's been quick to jump into bed with the political sponsors of that very extremism. It's widely believed that his key constituency, the corps commanders, acts on consensus, and, anway, after seven years of purging and gently nudging out rivals, it's likely they largely share his outlook.

So what use then this man in uniform? Isn't it time he took off the uniform and jumped into the mud pit of Pakistani politics? If anything, his rule has pointed to one irrefutable trait: he can can mix it up with the best of our civilian politicians.


Anonymous said...

freeing the media, to a certain extent, is the one achievement that mushy deserves some credit for.

oddly enough, the free media may eventually play a crucial role in mushy's eventual demise.

Cy said...

Ironically your point can't be read by most Pakistanis ... because this domain is banned!

rizwan said...

so is the domain still banned in pakiland?

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