Pakistan’s ‘Jack Kennedy’, by Eric Margolis

Pakistan is an important country—if for no other reason than it’s a nuclear power—in an important part of the world, but it receives little attention in the US. From Eric Margolis at lewrockwell.com:

The words ‘hope’ and ‘Pakistan’ do not often appear together.  Pakistan, a sprawling nation of 205 million, is hard to govern, even harder to finance, and seething with tribal or religious violence and discord.

But Pakistan, which for me is one of the most interesting and important nations on earth, is by far the leading nation of the Muslim world and a redoubtable military power.  Created in 1947 from former British India as a haven for oppressed Muslims, Pakistan has been ruled ever since by military juntas or by slippery and often corrupt civilian politicians.

After decades of dynastic politics under the Bhutto and Sharif families, there is suddenly hope that newly elected cricket star Imran Khan and his Tehreek-e-Insaf Party (PTI) may – just may – tackle Pakistan’s four biggest problems: endemic corruption, military interference, political tribalism, and a half-dead economy.

Former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, appears to be headed for jail over a corruption scandal unless he is allowed to go into exile in London. The exiled former military dictator, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, is hiding out in Dubai awaiting charges of treason.

I spent a good deal of time with Pakistan’s former leaders, Gen. Zia-ul-Haq and his bitter foe, Benazir Bhutto, both of whom were later murdered.  Neither Musharraf nor Nawaz measured up to these colorful personalities in political skills, vision, or personality.

Imran Khan is sometimes called ‘Pakistan’s Jack Kennedy’ for his movie-star good looks, charisma and zesty love life.  He no longer plays professional cricket though he is still idolized in Pakistan and, interestingly, bitter foe India.

Khan (who is of Pashtun tribal blood) is also a philanthropist and respected thinker.  He says he is determined to begin rooting corruption out of Pakistan and to revivify its ailing economy.  Pakistan’s GDP is only $1,641 per person compared to India’s $2,134.  The illiteracy rate is about 40%, notably among women who are the primary teachers of the young.

As Imran Khan is about to take office, Pakistan’s coffers are almost empty.  Islamabad has had to take 12 loans from the International Monetary Fund in the last 40 years, in part to pay for its oil imports.

To continue reading: Pakistan’s ‘Jack Kennedy’ 

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