Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Pakistani Army

Last night we were watching PTV, and my mom made a really interesting observation to add to my list of 27 reasons why people choose to leave Pakistan bringing the total to 28.

A lot of vacant jobs are filled by ex-military personnel: retired major so-and-so, retired captain this-and-that, retired colonel whats-his-name.

So where do the young and extremely talented go? If they have the means, they leave the country. If they don't, they are forced to take up menial jobs, or they starve.

Does the Pakistani government see any of this?
Of course not, because the army IS the government.

Looking forward to reading Military Incorporated by Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa.

While I am on the topic, why don't I just throw this question out there....

What is better for the people....a corrupt democracy or a righteous dictatorship?

3 comments:

Zahra Billoo said...

I think I'd personally prefer a corrupt democracy any day.

Amer said...

oh jeez, that's not a nice dichotomy! :)

Your statement 'the army IS the government' makes me wonder...you're right, we see this clearly in Pakistan amongst other military dictatorships..but can it also be seen in western liberal democracies? On the shores of World War I, Georges Clemenceau (a French politician) stated "War is too serious to be confided to the military." He then took charge of it. We see Bush today discussing strategy also debated in the houses. The lines between politician (let's not forget, originally tied to polis) and general are slowly being blurred. Maybe a little slip for Eisenhower, who said "This is battle, this is politics, this is anything."

My question then is, in all this, where does the Civilian exist? In Syria, from my experience...there is a clear (temporal) distinction between the civilian and the soldier. But is this really the case in America for example? Doesn't the military-industrial complex create the traffic-ridden bridge between the military and the labor force? Isn't this how 100% employment is achieved and economic contractions are remedied? We tend to think of there being a division between military production and civilian consumption...but don't war and politics (remember, WW1/2 propaganda posters were put out by politicians, think tax funding also?), precisely by inverting this into military consumption of civilian production, militarize the (ex-)civilian? What are we?

Sorry for the rant, just wondering!
Salaam,
Amer

Affad Shaikh said...

We are all soldiers to an extent. but if i had to choose for Pakistan, and thank God I dont, lets go with dictatorship any day of the week. I personally dont think any person exists in Pakistani politics that is worth anything- we have four choices, bhutto, nawaz, the Altaf and those cooky Mullahs (Sorry i am generalizing here for the Islamic parties)- but there is no choice and until there is one, institutions need to be built- not shut down like Pervez has done- gradual electorate participation and also a sharp increase toward high literacy levels. Democracy is a luxury for Pakistan, and thats the way I see it. Until there is a strong and stable middle class accesible to all in society, luxuries will remain only for the rich.