Saturday, January 10, 2009

Unity, Faith, Discipline

On January 8, a Pakistani TV channel Dawn News broke the news that Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving attacker from the Mumbai Carnage, is indeed a citizen of Pakistan. Minutes later, an Indian news channel repeated the item and also disclosed the name of the "anonymous" informant. He turned out to be Mr. Durrani, an ex-military man and an advisor of the PM. Quite rightly, the PM fired him and while the Interior Ministry denied the confirmation, another minister and a government office confirmed it.

What I find rather obscene, Dawn News flaunted the entire thing as somethig to be proud of, while another Pakistani channel Geo News tried to jump ahead by reminding the audience that it had comfirmed Kasab's nationality on its own even before any government official did so. I feel that a minister or a government department did not have the portfolio on this issue. I do not like their jumping out of the queue to do something which was the prerogative of another ministry in the first place, and required the sanction of the PM in the second.

Mr. Durrani, moreover, had no business doing this trick in any manner. An advisor is supposed to advise the PM, and rather than attempting to oblige the people directly, he should have done his job well and stayed loyal to the man who was paying him (and I truly hope that the man paying him was our Prime Minister)!

It might be difficult for some to understand that decorum must be observed in affairs of the state. This utter disregard for decorum is a hypocrisy which has a long history in the West, and some liberals might not even be aware of it because they see the West with Western eyes, and it is usually difficult to see one's own faults that way. Nor is it generally understood how and to what extant this hypocritical attitude is responsible for the mess in which the world is today.

Short of going into an outline of history, I would only like to say that I do not consider myself to be among the oppressed victims of some mythical establishment that I might be awaiting an independent media to liberate me. I am one of the many Pakistanis who are saying, "I am not a Pakistani, I am Pakistan."

I have a right to know things but I choose to be informed in a manner consistent with my self-respect. I choose to be informed by the Prime Minister, and not by one of his subordinates. "Our watchword should be unity, faith and discipline," said Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. I choose to remember it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Is America a Failed Democracy?

While talking about failed states and failed democracies, Western academics often leave an impression as if such phenomena could exist only outside their region. “Indeed, from Uganda to Rwanda, Africa is now paralyzed by the rise of a new, but not necessarily better, form of government – failed democracy,” writes Joshua Kurlantzick in Boston Globe, November 2008. He goes on to define failed democracy as a form of government “in which a country holds elections but does not develop other institutions.”

It's a very good observation that some countries may be carrying out the drill of elections without getting substantial benefit out of it but Kurlantzick seems to have restricted his area of inquiry to African states. Otherwise he might have noticed that failure to “develop other institutions” is not the only kind of failure known to democracies. Surprising as it may be, the United States of America would appear to be the prime candidate for failed democracy if a study barred no holds.

Such a study is unlikely to come from the academics, and perhaps it would be better if general public drew their own conclusions from otherwise well-acclaimed researches. For instance, The Israel Lobby (2007) by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer. The book, actually based on a paper published by the same professors earlier in London Review of Books, suggested very emphatically that the electoral process in the US was dominated by a lobby promoting the inetersts of Israel at the cost of American interests, and even at the cost of American lives. No president could come to power without getting endorsed by this lobby, nor stay in power without its blessings.

Reworded more tersely, it would appear that although the US President is duly elected, yet in actual fact he is an "appointed" Viceroy of Israel ruling over the American nation in the interest of the foreign country.

If this is true (and the people of America would know that better), then the necessary conclusion would be that America is a democracy only in name. In real fact, it is a failed democracy. Is it?