Benazir is a remnant of the british colonialist legacy in Pak (and the rest of the muslim world to a degree). A western education that left her out of touch with her own Islamic ideology, its civilisational heritage and the Pakistani people resulting in her extreme position of calling for western emulation in contrast with those “extremists” she wanted to fight – both the antithesis of each other.
What maybe has not been understood in this whole debate is that each region needs its own model of governance that reflect its culture, history, religion and civilisation – trying to universalise normative values such as secularism, democracy, human rights, freedom etc and impose them on societies that are trying to remove the shackles embedded in all aspects of political and social life from their colonialist days is naive and ill-conceived. These societies have a unique ideology that historically worked for them, was forcibly removed from their societies with colonialist adventures, and they now desire to return to it – in the form of a unified, progressive sharia based caliphate system that brings the ill-conceived nation states together without borders and boundaries. This process is being hampered by external forces, primarily the US, who seeks her own interests which in the long run is going to bring about the famous clash of civilisations unless its direction changes.
This is a comment on the comment made by Khan. First on the issue of Benazir being cut off from her Islamic heritage, he seems to fix the islamic culture and heritage within an ideology that even Islam would have refused at its eve. Islam came with and for a change and had to face up to the hostility of the Qureishit community -people like Khan- who wanted to stick to their own heritage on the exaclty the same reasons as Khan and his likes. What he seems to forget is that Cultures are not fixed, otherwise they would be hit by stagnation.
On the second point I would partlyb agree with him that Democracy is not trasnposable. Contrary to what Fukuyama and some other thinker seem to be suggesting. But while the method to enforce democarcy is the thing not to transpose, the idea of democarcy should be pursued. For instance, French model of democracy is somewhat different from the British and from the American but the spirit that prevails is the same. To believe that other countries would hate the idea of Western democracy, which is what Khan is suggesting, is to my mind a fallacy. It is so, because it denies the fact that communities, even Muslim one, are not politically monolithic. Some would accept change if does not subvert thair basic principle. On the other hand, I don’t think that Khalifate idea is a very popular one among all the Muslims, particularly those who think that if may lead to Dictatorship. A good reading of Muslim history would show that 80% of the Khalifate rule was dictarorial.
Jav Khan: what do you mean by “unique ideology that historically worked for them”. My understanding is that a lot of things did not “work” in South Asia and the Middle East before the West colonized it. Also, if anything “worked”, it was for the benefit of a small elite group and where much oppression still existed. Not sure if the past was soo much better than what democracy and free markets can bring to these regions. Also, does the majority of people in Muslim-dominant states really want a “unified, progressive sharia based caliphate system”? How would this come about? By some small elite imposing it on people? It seems to me that only democracy can tell us if the people really want such a system. Also, this idea of a “unified, progressive sharia based caliphate system” sounds a little like something that those advocating communism in the early 20th century wanted, which turned out to be brutal and oppressive in many countries. Also, what would a “unified, progressive sharia based caliphate system” look like. Are their any contemporary examples? Thanks, Rudy.
Pakistan and every people, culture, and country should absolutely be able to self-determine their destiny. Having said that, if you think Islamist ideology is equivalent with liberal values, you’re off your rocker.
And this assassination is plenty evidence of that. The beauty of denial is that it is present whether you deny its presence or not.
Yeah, Frank, Benazir didn’t have much in the way of original ideas. But what she had was liberal commitments in a part of the world that badly needs them and clearly can and will popularly support them, given the chance, and the courage to practice and speak about them in a part of the world where an ugly, repressive reality is all too present.
What I love about liberal values, Frank, is that they are not and never will be dependent on one person alone. It is terribly tragic that someone with Benazir’s courage would be taken down in such a way. But liberal values stand on their own merits, fortunately.
All they wait for is for illiberalism and repressive governments and policies to give way to their wisdom. It is a lesson the West has much to learn from, still, as much as more repressive, illiberal parts of the world.
If cultures like Pakistan’s were to fail to recognize the wisdom of liberal values, they would continue to deal with the ugly realities that accompany that foolishness.
And, above all, and what the monsters who killed her fear most, is that Benazir Bhutto represented the very real hope and reality that Pakistanis will embrace liberalism given the chance.
Benazir Bhutto is a very tragic casuality in that terribly important cause. She will be missed.
There are two reasons, why the Muslim states are in turmoil and their populations are in a difficult situation. The first one is that, the post-colonial elites – and I mean secular nationalist, socialists, and “liberal democrats” – did not fulfill their promises, and in the age of globalization, the living standard of these societies have not improved that much since independence. To use Professor Fucuyama’s concept of “The End of History,” these elites ended history with the birth of the nation states, and the celebration of the End of History coincided with the celebration of the independence, as if the independence is the End of History. However, the Muslim societies insisted to continue history by using a various means – the overwhelming majority choose a peace full means, and tiny minority resorted to violence – the objective is to change their conditions, through implementation of the Quranic principles with Ijtihad (independent reasoning), and apply high moral standard, the way the prophet Mohamed and his companions have done – which means to stand for justice; equality; honesty; hardworking; tolerance and peace full coexistence with the people of the book and the members of other faith; and the protection of life, religious freedom, private property, honor, and the dignity of ones family. However, the last one is called the five principles of the Islamic Sharia/ law, and it is similar with the ideals of liberal democracy.
The second reason is that, the way the war on terror is executed has compromised and disrupted the lives of millions of Muslims. The premise of the war shouldn’t have been “you are either with us, or with the terrorists” as President Bush avowed at the State of the Union address. To remind David Forum who wrote that speech, Muslims migrate to the US to live American dream, and those they left behind want good governance, democracy, free market, the rule of law and descent standard of living).
The implementation of the global war on terror and its reliance on corrupted and discredited regimes made many Muslims to be suspicious of the intention of the war. The populations of Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia are facing growing insecurity, abject poverty, and uncertain future. In other word, the global war on terror should have been, the war of “winning the hearts and minds of the Muslim.
The global war on terror to be successful must address these grievances, and in return demand mutual cooperation on defeating terrorism. Unfortunately, providing money to corrupt regimes, incompetent elites and criminal warlords – as it has been the case for Somalia – is classic misappropriation of tax payer’s money. My be if you ask, the success of the global war on terror, people like Professor Bernard Lewis, Fouad Ajami, David Horwiz, Robert Spenser, and Daniel Pipe they will give A+ because they don’t give a damn the cost of the war on terror on Muslim lives, and since they believe the inevitability of “Clash of Civilizations”, they don’t see any other useful options other than military means, which is their point of view, the only way the “West” can prevail.
I agree with you that liberal values cannot be dependent on just one person. But as is the case with Bhutto and so many others in this world, the people need heroes. They need leaders who tell what they think, and what others do not want to hear.
It is in spreading these values across a people that they are very much depending on individuals. Liberal values do stand on their own merit, but values alone don’t provide change. They need leaders as well as a people that’s willing to take risks. Bhutto absolutely was one of those people. Her death can be seen, as you say, as an tragic casulity, which of course it is. But it’s also definitely a setback in the implementation of those liberal values.
I have become a bit sceptical of the wishful thinking about cultural or political change in cases as in Pakistan. Change needs heroes and leaders as much as values. And maybe Jav is right in saying that ultimately change only starts from the cultural and political foundations that are already there. I don’t know if Bhutto was ‘out of touch’ but I do believe that to establish liberal values, we better hope and pray people like Bhutto come forward now, willing to take the risks she took. A people needs leaders who give them hope. In this case the people of Pakistan will need to create a new hope for themselves, and in that, the death of Bhutto is as big as a setback as could happen. I just pray someone stands up to give voice to a new hope for the people of Pakistan. And I agree with Jav: let it be someone in Pakistan, risen from the cultural and political foundations of the country.
Bhutto showed the necessity of change, but also the impossibility of radical change. It will take time, faith and courage.
Ms. Bhutto was buried in her coffin draped with the flag of her family’s political party, not with the flag of Pakistan, nor with the green flag of Islam.
That family ideological flag is a telling metaphor: Pakistan is culturally still tribalism even at its highest levels, while as a nation-state it possesses nuclear arms.
I must confess that I know as little about Pakistan as the CIA or the Bush Administration, but in true American fashion I feel no compulsion to remain silent because of that deficit. Why all the handwringing about all these countries and tribes so far away? It’s Iran one day, Hamas or Hezbollah the next.
As I have maintained for years, had we done absolutely nothing in the wake of 9/11 I am 88% sure we’d all be sitting here arguing about one thing or another with 4,000 of our young people still alive and billions in the bank.
Now we are worrying incessantly and obsessively about Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of “terrorists”. Boy oh boy, where does this all end?
The greatest patriotic service that companies such as Calloway Golf or Titleist could do is to provide all the major Republicans and neoconservatives with a set of the most technologically advanced golf clubs on the market.
We were far better served by great presidents like Eisenhower and Ford who spent countless hours strolling the fairways and rough at the Congressional cCountry Club rather than these policy wonks who burn the midnight oil at the American Enterpruse Institute or Foggybottom crafting “The Strait of Hormuz Resolution”.
Where’s Ernest Greuning or Frank Morse when you need them?
The question that arises from the second paragraph of your writing is not who is giving up on goals but who is giving who up.
Where was her security? Where in the freaking world were they trained?
Any way as I have learned in your book
AMERICA AT THE CROSROADS, democracy has to have variables. What works for the States does not necessarily have to work for other countries. Democracy as conceived by the founding fathers was a result of a concerted effort of one people who in a vast majority believed in ONE GOD.
You can not force democracy on people.
People have to want it, to know what it is all about.
The Pakistani and Indians do not have the same background as AMERICA.
The freedom India gained from the English was the one the elite of their countrty had given up willingly and then took back when it was convenient.
The elite rule in India and Pakistan and have done so for hundreds of years.
One elemental trait of the BRITISH remains
in the area; military power.
Remember what IKE said, “BE CAREFUL WITH THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX”
I hope I made some sense.I’m only a student.
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Religion is a tool (call it Christianity or Communism, both are ideas that consolidate a population under the banner of something bigger than the self, bigger than the collective, something abstract and intangible …), and regardless of whether it has a divine or a human inspiration component at its foundation, I would hypothesize that in the absence of the religions/ ideologies that populate our culture and imagination today, if history were to unfold without these specific shisms, it would be different sure, but not significantly different, not structurally different. We would invent “religions” all over again. Religion fuels many components of our humanity including, but not limited to: fear of the future and of the unknown (alpha and omega included), hope and optimism, power and control, structure and organization, economic and social scale and scope, and my personal favorite, our propensity towards “herd” psychology etc. Unless we, humans, had evolved with an entirely different set of characteristics, we humans, as we know ourselves, would always develop systems and structures akin to religion (divine or otherwise). In trying to think through some of this mess recently, I wrote:
“Nations and their legal codes, as religions and their moral codes are needed in a society comprised of more than one person. They allow the terrible, beautiful diversity of the human collective to function together by establishing rules that enable efficient functioning through cooperation, and by minimizing conflict. They are meant to be tools that promote civilized collective action, and punish bad behavior, where bad behavior may be defined as the actions of an individual or individuals that infringe upon and hurt the rights or the capacity of another or of the collective. They help mitigate the overall risk for the collective, while allowing for trustful interaction between strangers, and providing some sense of certainty for the future. The paradox of nations as of religions, is their exclusion, when the best purpose they would serve is inclusion. The initial ideology that is founded to promote collective action, build scale, and share in combined prosperity is soon infected by the self-interested rationalism of the new, stronger, more powerful individual that has risen from a once burgeoning collective, which now competes with and possibly diametrically opposes other individuals, groups, or collectives on claims of superiority, resource scarcity, unabashed greed or what-have-you. This insularity, driven by a need to maximize personal gain, has plagued humanity from the beginning of time. When in fact the historic record would clearly advise that cooperation between humans and societies has allowed for unprecedented prosperity, the like of which would be unknown to smaller collections of humans on their own. The 21st century is a case in point, with 6.5 billion people sharing quantities of wealth and prosperity previously unknown to the planet (let’s leave aside the wealth distribution argument for now), based on a social and economic system that is highly interdependent, and requires tremendous cooperation.”
According to CNN.com, Benazir Bhutto was killed by a blast from an explosion; this is contrary to previous reports that say she was shot. A Scotland Yard analysis shows that there was no evidence of a bullet wound. Wow! Even in a high-profile murder such as this, the media can not get their facts straight!
my Benazir Bhutto blog:
I agree and I very much appreciate efforts to reconcile Islam with liberal values and, of course, I think those elements of Islam that are more reconciled to such values, just as the elements of Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism and all major religions that reconcile themselves to liberal values will be stronger values for both the cultures involved and for everyone. But I take the liberal values seriously and I do think it is the liberal values that offer the real hope and opportunity that the peoples of Pakistan and all over the world are seeking.
I have no interest in imposing those values. In fact, doing so, I’m fairly convinced, is contrary to the strongest version of those values, even as liberal democracies often violate that principle, sadly, and have very much done so, I believe over the course of much American and Western foreign policy, including the war in Iraq and the war on terror, where native populations are too often treated as tools or variables for American or Western priorities rather than taken seriously enough and consulted as more serious partners in actions that involve their interests. I very much believe that the war in Iraq would have turned out differently if Iraqis, especially opposition groups and their alligned militias, would have been consulted (covertly, likely) and allowed to lead an internal revolution against the Baathist regime that Americans backed up with overwhelming military force. There are pragmatic issues that governments have to deal with. But ignoring the practical consequences of using force to impose liberal values and the inherent contradiction in those concepts is a very serious mistake that I agree Western nations continue to engage in, sadly, in ways that do not take the lives of Muslims and others nearly serious enough in their own right.
Daud, I agree that working with corrupt regimes is problematic. On the other hand, the practical problem for the American government and Western nations is that to work collaboratively on security issues, we do, at some level, have to deal with the folks who are responsible for security in those countries. And that will generally be governments, good and bad, who have a monopoly on the use of force and which monopoly we will generally want to encourage as long as there are means of democratic reform in those countries. I completely agree, though, that more effective efforts, especially the policies we adopt, need to be engaged to win hearts and minds and to win support from local populations for to cooperation that we very much need to fight terrorists.
Bram, I agree that it matters immensely to have people of courage who stand up for liberal values. I don’t mean, at all, to demean or minimize the very courageous legacy of Benazir or any of the folks working on behalf of liberal values and liberal democratic reforms in Pakistan. But I do think that those values will prevail in Pakistan, as they have all over the world over our long history, because they offer better opportunities, more hope, and more decent lives for the people that are able to take advantage of them. I do think that people who are going to open up those opportunities need to be indigenous to the localities, countries, and regions where we want those values to flourish. And I think that local populations will need to choose those values over time.
I guess my argument is that as long as they are not adopted, those countries, Pakistan being just one of them, that do not take full advantage of the opportunities that liberal values offer will continue to deal with the oppressive and often deadly consequences that come with that bargain. And once they face that fact of life and the better opportunities that liberal values offer, then and only then will liberal values and liberal democracy find a sustainable home in those countries. It will take much time and many courageous leaders and individuals, I agree. Ultimately, it will take people giving up the pride that traditional customs and values offer them more than they do and learning to conserve values and customs that suit them, but which also give way to the liberal values that offer them the hope and opportunity and tangible progress that they need and want.
Mrs Benazir Bhutto thought she could prevent “Islamism” from swarming Pakistan.
It appears that’s beyond anyone’s capacity now. As I said in my article “On the End of History”, there’s still a tomorrow for Islam.
Many of the things we use today were invented by different peoples in different places at different times. Bronze, for example, was invented by the Chineese, glass by people in Mesopotamia, paper by the Egyptians, alphabet by Phoenicians, and so on. Each people learned from the other peoples and made their own inventions, thus expanding Man’s knowledge of the world. This knowledge spread through trade and conquest. The conquerors inherited the knowledge of the vanquished people and took it home or spread it to other places. At the same time, the conquerors brought in their own way of life, their thoughts, their arts and their religion.
The interaction between so many powers, so many civilisations and so many ways of life made it necessary for each people to defend their own existence. Each people had to defend everything that was at stake for them. That included their culture. So those who happened to believe in God had to defend their own faith by using all the tools available, including those that had been invented or developed by non-believer nations. Such tools may have included Phoenicians’ alphabet and Greeks’ logic. Thus non-believer nations were not « redundant ». They were just as useful as believer nations in that they contributed to the spread of belief in God.
It is also interesting to notice that most of those early interactions between various contending nations took place just where Abraham was once : Palestine. The Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Hittites, the Greeks, the Romans, and many more in between- all had a foothold there at some point in history. And then came the Arabs. They came from another place to where Abraham was once : Mecca. Those Arabs found themselves thrusting in every direction, going towards nations who had known impressive empires, and ended up building their own empire stretching across most of the then known world.
There followed a magnificent world interaction. The Arabs borrowed old, dormant knowledge from the Greeks, the Persians and other nations, and updated and enriched it, and then spread it in every direction. Baghdad emerged as the world capital of knowledge. And in the West there was Cordoba, where Arab knowledge was passed on to Europe through translation. Averroes spoke to Muslims and non-Muslim Europeans of God using Aristotle’s logic.
Baghdad was destroyed, but Islamic knowledge survived. It survived because it was not only in the books that the Mongols threw into the Tigris River, but also in people’s hearts and minds. Like the destruction of the Alexandria Library in antiquity, the loss of Baghdad libraries could have been a much more awful tragedy had there not been what I called interactions. Marrakesh, which was built and made their capital by Morocco’s Almoravid dynasty, was deliberately and completely destroyed by their Almohad successors. These rebuilt the whole city in the most beautiful possible way, because they had already « received » the necessary knowledge from their predecessors. As long as knowledge is intact, it does not matter how beautiful or big a destroyed place was. It can always be rebuilt.
Even the rebuilding of a whole nation is possible if there is the necessary knowledge. Europe milked the Arabs of their knowledge and rebuilt itself in a matter of generations.
But the Arabs’ knowledge was « poisonous » somehow. Averroes’ lectures taught Europeans how to look at religion differently. This led to voices rising against the way the Church taught religion. The Church defended itself by persecuting people of knowledge such as Galileo.
The conflict between the Church and new scientists resulted in new thinking. Some clung to their religious beliefs, defending themselves by use of logic and philosophy. Others broke with the Church altogether and called their way « Secularism ». They defended themselves by experimenting with their knowledge of the world, excluding any reference to the Unknown.
The new knowledge of the world, based on experimentation, led to the Industrial Revolution. The boom in industry led to the spread of knowledge on a phenomenal scale. But this knowledge remained confined to where industry was thriving.
The Church was clever enough to make good use of that thriving industry. Wherever there was a new industrial site there was a large church. Moreover, church men paved the way for their respective industrial states to seize new lands on other continents. Both church men and those who were only interested in wealth agreed on a magic word : civilisation. That civilisation had to be spread through occupation.
Occupation made it possible for more people to go to more places. Africans « went » to America, taking with them their religions, including Islam. Other Muslims were taken into Europe, where they continued to practise their faith. Orientalists (from Europe) went to the Arab and Islamic world to « return » part of the Arabic and Islamic heritage to the newly awakening Arabs and Muslims.
Now that imported material is being exported with an added value. It is done through the Internet and satellite TV stations.
Islam has become the fastest growing religion in America, which invented the Internet and satellite TV. There are now American-born imams who know the Koran and the Haddith by heart and are authorized to issue fatwas. All the Islamic literature is now everywhere, thanks to the Internet. This was made possible by American technology and Arab oil money.
Arab oil money has contributed to the building of large mosques, big Islamic institutes and libraries, and to the printing of the Holy Koran and other religious books in large quantities in many languages in many parts of the world.
Even within the poorest Islamic states Islam is growing as fast as demography. Wherever you go, there is a new mosque and a new school (where people are introduced to God) because there is a new village, town or suburb. Small towns are swelling into big cities, and so small mosques and schools are becoming bigger and bigger. Therefore, the number of people who know (of) God is ever increasing.
Modern means of communication and transport(ation) together with modern educational systems have made world interaction incredibly easier every day. More and more people are coming out of illiteracy. More and more people are learning more and more about each other. More and more people are coming towards each other. Emigration, tourism and business travel are playing a great role in the ever-increasing exchange of human experience. Globalisation will push this exchange even further.
It is again interesting to remember that Islam entered many parts of the world without having to draw the sword for it. Indonesia and parts of sub-Saharan Africa are such places where Islam was introduced through trade rather than war.
This is still possible today. There is no need for cluster bombs to promote Christianity or for suicide-bombings to promote Islam. Islam is for freedom of choice. Islam is self-confident because the Koran says it is the true Word of God. So truth will out in the end. Otherwise, why should it be called truth ? There should be no fear, therefore, for a Christian priest to talk about Christianity live on Iqraa TV, or for a Muslim imam to talk about Islam live on World Harvest Radio. Why shouldn’t there be a fair competition between all ? Truth will out !
Mrs Benazir Bhutto thought she could prevent “islamism” from swarming Pakistan. As I said in my article “On the End of History”, that’s beyond anyone’s capacity now.
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