Pakistan's Dilemma

by Kamran Asdar Ali | published September 19, 2001

Catcher's Mitt

Obama, Pakistan, and the Afghan Wars to Come

by Graham Usher | published December 31, 2009

Pakistan lies at the heart of President Barack Obama’s plan to wind down America’s war in Afghanistan. If -- as he avers -- the “overarching goal” is to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” the war will be fought mainly in Pakistan. With fewer than a hundred fighters, al-Qaeda was defeated long ago in Afghanistan.

Pakistani Islamists Gamble on the General

by Kamran Asdar Ali
published in MER231

In January 2002, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who seized control of the Pakistani government in a 1999 military coup, delivered a major address to the nation—and to the world at large. Mindful of Pakistan’s designation by the global media as a crucial front in the US “war on terrorism,” Musharraf promised to curtail the activities of radical Islamist groups and to reform the curricula of the Islamic schools (madrassas) that had become infamous worldwide as incubators of the Taliban.

A Letter Misaddressed

by Kamran Asdar Ali
published in MER246

Benazir Bhutto, Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy and the West (New York: Harper Collins, 2008).

Power and Patronage

The Political Economy of Pakistan

by Sameer Dossani
published in MER246

Only a dead nation remembers its heroes when they die. Real nations respect them when they are alive.
―Abdul Ghaffar Khan

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007 sparked outrage and mourning, not least in the Western media. Exhibiting the overstated piety one might expect upon the death of an elder statesman, commentators called her an “exemplary democrat” and condemned the “fascism” of the Muslim extremists presumed responsible for her killing. Footage of emotional demonstrations and angry rioting in her home province of Sindh bolstered an image of Bhutto -- one that she herself liked to project -- as a tribune of the Pakistani poor.

The Struggle for Pakistan Continues

by Graham Usher
published in MER246

At around 5 pm on February 18 a dozen or so supporters of ex-premier Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) burst into song along the serpentine streets of Lahore’s old city. Down the road stood a phalanx of police and, behind them, a busload of flag-waving Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) activists, supporters of the slain former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

The two parties had fought head to head in this city of three million voters, the capital of Punjab, Pakistan’s richest and most populous province. Both sides knew they had won, even though the scale of their triumph was yet to be revealed. The PML-N group ringed the PPP bus, embraced their rival party’s cadre and danced on. The police did not lift a finger.

Media Matters in Pakistan

An Interview with Imran Aslam

by Kamran Asdar Ali
published in MER251

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The Bitter Harvest

Sectarianism in Balochistan

by Stephen Dedalus
published in MER251

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The Forgotten Refugees of Balochistan

by Stephen Dedalus
published in MER244

While the US “war on terror” in Afghanistan and areas in bordering Pakistan occupies the imagination of millions in the West, the simmering conflict in the Pakistani province of Balochistan (Baluchistan) an its disastrous effects on the civilian population evade the radar of popular media. In 2005, when Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, threatened Baloch insurgents with such violence that “you won’t even know what hit you,” hardly anyone outside Pakistan noticed. Soon, the Pakistani military launched a “shock and awe” campaign, involving helicopter gunships, fighter jets, heavy artillery and machine guns, against Baloch nationalists demanding greater political autonomy from the federal government.