Military rule in Pakistan no longer helpful to US: Atlantic Monthly Report

Military rule in Pakistan no longer helpful to US: report
By Khalid Hasan: Daily Times, September 23, 2007

WASHINGTON: “Military rule in Pakistan may have been helpful to US interests for a time, but it isn’t any longer. The benefits have diminished, while the corrosive effects on society have grown and continue to grow,” according to a long article on Pakistan in the current issue of the magazine, Atlantic Monthly.

The article says, “The military’s younger generation has exhibited some of the same unsavoury tendencies as Musharraf: an inclination toward authoritarianism, contempt for civilians, indulgence of military corruption, and an unequivocal belief in the military as the country’s savior. It also appears more sympathetic to Islamist causes and more hostile to India than is Musharraf. Pakistani officers in their 30s do not believe that the US wants a long-lasting relationship with Pakistan; they have little camaraderie with US soldiers, and they feel little empathy for US political or diplomatic positions.”

According to Atlantic Monthly, while the military aims to do the opposite, it is slowly destabilising Pakistan. Eight years of usurpation of power by Musharraf have weakened secular parties, corrupted the judiciary, and implanted army men in every facet of civilian life. Pakistan’s population is now doubling every 38 years, creating severe social pressures. If the political process remains stunted, the Islamists may continue to gather strength until the country reaches a tipping point. America may best serve its interests by pulling off a balancing act: reinforcing ties to the existing power structure in Pakistan while at the same time pushing hard for democracy. These two ends are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Restoring democracy in Pakistan is no guarantee of stability, or of a friendly attitude toward the United States. But a viable multiparty system could defuse the power of the Islamists and impose some checks on a military that controls every aspect of policy. It would also leave the United States less dependent upon the whims of a post-Musharraf general answerable only to the clique at headquarters, the article points out.

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