Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pakistan's Future after the Assassination of Salman Taseer

Christian Caryl has posted an eloquent, insightful essay at the NYRB blog, in which he claims that Pakistan has perhaps reached a fateful tipping point, of no going back.  He concludes:

I am not a Pakistani. But I can’t help feeling that the killing of Salman Taseer is a calamity for everyone who lives in the country—including the people who are now strewing flowers at the feet of the man who allegedly pulled the trigger. Those who support the takfiri worldview don’t seem to understand that this is an ideology that cedes the definition of “true Islam” to the self-declared defenders of religion—and that these definitions shift according to the political wind, to selfish agendas and narrow factional interests, rather than to the uncorrupted dictates of faith. And that means that those who consider themselves right-minded believers today can easily find themselves on the wrong end of a Kalashnikov tomorrow.

The West, and especially the United States, should also take notice. It is time for policymakers in Washington to understand that Pakistan is not simply a vexing sideshow to the war in Afghanistan. Pakistan—populous, chaotic, and nuclear-armed—needs to be taken seriously in its own right. An imploding Pakistan promises immense pain and turmoil to itself and the world at large. Let’s hope that this realization doesn’t come too late.

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