Saturday, April 25, 2009
Comparing Iran with Pakistan
comment: Iran was different — Suroosh Irfani
Daily Times, April 26, 2009
For Pakistan, the lessons are clear. Rather than succumbing to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, Pakistan must develop the spiritual solidarity it lacks for standing up to the onslaught of darkness
As the Taliban extend their emirate in Pakistan’s Frontier province after taking control of Swat, there are fears that “a disaster on the scale of the Iranian revolution” could unravel Pakistan, as the web-newspaper McClatchy recently noted. Earlier, during the political crisis that forced former President General Musharraf out of office, David Ignatius warned in the Washington Post that a “revolutionary earthquake” similar to Iran’s was underway in Pakistan, “with one terrifying difference: Pakistan has nuclear weapons”.
However, the fact is that while Pakistan as we know it might cease to exist if the onslaught of the Taliban-Al Qaeda revolution is not stemmed, there are hardly any similarities between Pakistan today and the revolution that erupted in Iran thirty years ago.
Pakistan today is a democratic but divided nation, unable to decide whether its principal enemy is the United States, or the violent jihadi politics that US, Saudis and Pakistan promoted in the past, and now have become hostage to. As for Iran, a quest for freedom spurred the revolutionary upheaval of 1978-1979 against an autocratic regime that the US had foisted by toppling the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mossadeq in 1953.
At the same time, there is nothing in common between the Taliban and Al Qaeda’s ‘Islamic revolution’ blasting its way from tribal highlands of the Frontier into the urban areas of Pakistan, and the Islamic revolution of Iran which erupted in the heart of urban Iran, outdoing the Russian Revolution in terms of mobilisation of urban masses.
Indeed, the major difference between the Taliban-Al Qaeda revolution in Pakistan and the Iranian revolution lies in a singular fact: the revolution that toppled the Pahlavi autocracy on February 11, 1979 was, in essence, a non-violent revolution of unarmed masses. The blood and violence that Iranian revolution got identified with is a legacy of post-revolutionary turmoil — executions, the invasion of Iran by Iraq, and ravages of armed uprising by opposition groups leading to further repression.
Indeed, when Iran’s Islamic revolution exploded in January 1978, thirty thousand US personnel and servicemen were stationed in Iran as advisors and instructors for the Shah’s army and other institutions. At the same time, 680,000 tourists visited Iran from January to December that year.
And yet, during thirteen months of revolutionary upheaval, not a single American was killed, nor foreigners kidnapped, or sprayed with bullets. On February 9, 1979, when trainees of the Air Force Technical School in Tehran led a popular armed uprising, forcing the army’s surrender, the brief armed confrontation was restricted between the young revolutionaries and a unit of the Shah’s army, even as people spontaneously surged through the various military barracks, taking away weapons and fraternising with soldiers.
For complete article, click here
The Iranian Revolution at 30 - Middle East Institute
Pakistan to draw closer to Iran - Press TV, Iran
at 9:03 PM