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reason vs. polemics – how Pakistani intellectuals face the looming US approach on their country

Qalandar Bux Memon has recently published an article commenting on Hillary Clinton’s visit and her statements in Pakistan. Read it here at the Samosa, but it was also published in DAWN and referred to by Yasir here. I recieved emails from Pakistani Leftist Political Activists who praised the article and I guess it was cheered by the conservatives and conspiracy theorists alike. He starts off with a cheap populist intro on how many Osamas and Mullah Omars may live in Pakistan. The “American mantra” that Osama bin Laden and the head of the Quetta shura are based there he rejects stubbornly like the country’s politicians. He goes on to rebut the picture painted by the Western media of the country with the examples of Sufis and Christians. Offended, and taking Western claims of a “failed state” too personal he acts like many Pakistanis do at the moment – negating reality, trying to paint over the failures rather than admitting them and offering home-grown solutions. Yesterday I watched a documentary on snow leopards in Chitral – wonderful pictures, an amazing animal –  where at one point notable journalist Nisar Malik understandebly laments, that the country is covered seldom for wonders like this natural one but mostly for terrorism. His contribution to get a better picture is this movie, but to just portray Pakistan as a natural paradise would hardly be the solution to its problems.

Of course the extreme adverse side of critics also does exist – Pakistani writers who continuously blame their own country (often including themselves as it’s citizens) for it’s current situation. Ahmed Rashid often does so, Pervez Hoodbhoy and Nadeem Paracha as well. I respect their assessments and find them constructive, in case of the latter they sometimes do tend to go into the all-destructive though.

Manan Ahmed on chapatimystery showed that coming up with conspiracy theories or offended negations is not necessary to counter the US push into Pakistan. He offers a straight confutation of a NYTimes OpEd by “one of the brains behind President Obama’s Afghanistan policy”, Seth Jones.

He also links to a hottly debated post at Registan which not only bashes Jones but also Michael Semple on the article I recently referred to. It sounds a bit harsh, I would have seen Semple in less critical light but Foust may be more informed (although some commenters disagree). His bashing of Kilcullen I would agree with though.

About Jakob Steiner

... lived, worked and studied in Australia, Europe and Asia.


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December 2009


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