What's up with Pakistan?
November 25, 2007 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Help me understand the current Pakistan situation. Whats the big picture?

What exactly is going on in Pakistan at the moment? Why are former leaders coming out of the woodwork? Has the CIA finally tired of Musharraf? How do the Islamofascist play into things?
posted by punkfloyd to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Excellent brief overview: BBC News: Pakistan's Army and its history of politics

More generally, to keep up with rapidly changing current events on the ground:

Yahoo! News - Pakistan, Full Coverage
posted by enrevanche at 7:30 AM on November 25, 2007

This would probably be a more constructive conversation without terms such as "Islamofascist."
posted by proj at 7:38 AM on November 25, 2007

Here's a timeline courtesy of the good folks at the BBC that brings shows a brief outline of the country's history up to the present day.

Oh yeah, and using terms like "Islamofascist" will only invited comments like "go pick up a newspaper you ignorant, bigoted jackss".
posted by ReiToei at 8:11 AM on November 25, 2007

Right, islamofascist is a construct of the American right-wing.

But key points:
1) US backed dictator has nukes.
2) Said dictator is very unpopular
3) Political outlet of war with India is no longer workable because India also has nukes.
4) Tribal parts of Western Pakistan resist the authority of the central government.
5) However, Osama Bin Ladin is alleged to be in that part of the country. Thus, we encourage our ally to try and go find him. This causes more instability, so our ally does this as little as possible, despite our granting large amounts of cash to him each month.
5) Former PM Bhutto didn't exactly win every race she ran for. She is also dogged by past corruption.
6) US goals are (a) airspace rights to get to Afghanistan (b) capture, kill, or harrass Bin Ladin (c) protect the pakistani nukes from getting into the wrong hands (d) trying to keep the theocrats out of power (e) peace with India, our economic ally.

All of this could be damaged by a democracy, in the administration's view, because our friendly dictator is wildly unpopular. Hence our desire for a power sharing arrangement so that we can "do something."
posted by Pants! at 8:17 AM on November 25, 2007

Here's a recent backgrounder from UK international affairs think-tank Chatham House. Some other stuff there if you poke about.
Also plenty of stuff at openDemocracy, for example this.
I agree that using the word islamofascism implies having drawn a conclusion already rather than seeking an honest answer.
posted by Abiezer at 8:21 AM on November 25, 2007

Response by poster: Sorry for misuse of islamofascist term. I meant to refer to fundamentalist elements.
posted by punkfloyd at 8:59 AM on November 25, 2007

Oh yeah, and using terms like "Islamofascist" will only invited comments like "go pick up a newspaper you ignorant, bigoted jackss".
Yes: for instance, from unreflective assholes without access to a spellchecker.

'Islamofascist' is a contentious term, and like 'political correctness' it's used primarily by one side in ongoing political debates, but it nearly balances its imprecision (and indeed its poli-sci inaccuracy) with a certain morally clarifying effect, or at least intention. It's more suggestive than descriptive; it also aims to rescue something that too often gets lost in the one-sided antiwar discussions on the (more or less) Left, e.g. here, namely that no matter what the 'root causes' (sigh) of violent discontent in the Muslim world, no matter the (relative and direct) culpability of the West in the overall state of things, that discontent in its many forms in its widely varying environments tends to manifest in dangerous, destabilizing ways - and to result in the oppression and death of many a human being. e.g. Whether the United States's hands are clean (they aren't, of course), the U.S. is very clearly hated by people who are very clearly armed and very clearly not interested in building sustainable independent democratic governments so much as fighting neverending holy wars. (The U.S. is also hated by a wide variety of other groups, some more and some even less interested in the hard work of government and open community building; cf. the Palestinian funhouse.)

Above all the word is a reaction to the tendency to (unwittingly, we can charitably assume) characterize anti-American violence, and more generally non-Western antidemocratic action, as 'resistance' and/or 'blowback' and/or the inevitable result of Western neoliberal etc. etc. and/or not such a big damn deal. 'Islamofascist' doesn't refer to a specific group, and is unhelpful/inappropriate in that way; it's also the favoured hobbyhorse of a large group of truly vile bastards, the warmongers who to a worrisome extent fill the airwaves and the halls of American power. So yes, be mindful of the freightedness of the term. But it's a serviceable bit of back-of-the-envelope poetry - doggerel, we can say - given the distinctly unpoetic discursive context into which it fits. It's the Fisher-Price version of 'what's at stake' from the perspective of a large portion of America, and 'ignorant, bigoted jackss' [sic] is an imprecise term for those millions.

Well then to sum up: you can do better, lexically speaking, than 'Islamofascist' in just about every way. But it's a monolithic placeholder for a difficult-to-attain, more nuanced sense of a real and growing force in the world.

If you're no fool, you can find your way around it; it's only a word, after all.
posted by waxbanks at 2:58 PM on November 25, 2007 [2 favorites]

This is pretty informative, however odd.

November 7: Discussing the Political Situation in Pakistan
posted by muscat at 10:38 AM on November 26, 2007

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