Pakistan

Pakistan: The US's man has left

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In a long resignation speech, General Pervez Musharraf, dictator of Pakistan, finally stood down last month.

The "hard" man of Pakistani politics looked pathetic as he claimed to be acting "for the good of the country" and placing himself in "the hands of the people".

One can be forgiven for forgetting that Musharraf came to power in 1999 in a military coup. He sacked the elected government and forced its leader, Nawaz Sharif, into political exile. Claiming to be "Mr Clean", he promised an end to corruption and nepotism.

Making peace with Washington

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The crisis of legitimacy faced by Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf has been exacerbated by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto last December.

Pakistan's 60 year history has always been marked by instability, corruption and military rule. But the background to the current situation is 9/11.

As the US mobilised for war in Afghanistan, Richard Armitage of the US State Department threatened to bomb Pakistan back to the stone age if it failed to support the "war on terror". Musharraf duly obliged and the West described Pakistan as "an exemplary country in the fight against terrorism" while Pakistanis dubbed their president "Busharraf".

Democrats for dictatorship

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The election season in Pakistan has brought a feeling of disenchantment with parliamentary politics for a large section of the country.

The major opposition parties are attempting to strike power sharing deals with the dictatorship of General Pervez Musharraf. The social democratic parties have a record of forming alliances for democratic rule with the large parties, but now they have nowhere to go.

Pakistan: Compromising Opposition to Imperialism

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Before Pakistan's president General Musharraf visited the US in October, the Economist magazine commented that by doing a deal with the Taliban in northern Pakistan his military regime had used an old colonial technique - buy those you cannot defeat. In the past three decades the Pakistani military, along with a section of the ruling class, has continued a mutually beneficial policy of cohabitation with radical Islam.

General Zia, who ruled between 1977 and 1988, helped the US wage war against the Russian occupiers of Afghanistan by using religious parties and militias as proxies. The democratic administrations that followed Zia continued the policy, allowing the military to keep arming and training them. In return, Pakistan's religious political parties lent their support to both military and democratic regimes. The policy continued under General Musharraf, who came to power in a coup in 1999.

Pakistan: The Pendulum of Pakistani Politics

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Protests against the Danish cartoons, which were specifically designed to engender anti-Muslim hatred, have been taking place in Pakistan since the end of January.

Though initially very small, by the beginning of February they developed into a huge demonstration in Lahore. The next day the protests had spread to the North Western Province, and to date five demonstrators have been killed by the police. The expression of anger on the streets put the government under massive pressure.

India and Pakistan: Merchants of Death

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As India and Pakistan compete for American support the danger of nuclear war continues to threaten the subcontinent.

We are being told that we can breathe a sigh of relief. India and Pakistan, it seems, have stepped back from the brink of the worst human catastrophe since the Second World War. As so often in the past, people around the planet are being assured that they can 'learn to stop worrying and love the bomb'.

Unfortunately, a glance at the reality of the continuing south Asian crisis and the forces driving it forward leave no room for such complacency.

Kashmir: The Valley of Sorrow

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A potential nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan looms over the subcontinent. The flashpoint is the state of Kashmir.

The British ruling class quit India in 1947. But as it did so, it divided the subcontinent between two independent states, India (supposedly secular) and Pakistan (a homeland for Muslims). Pakistan was a bizarre entity which had 1,000 miles of India separating its western and its eastern wings--a state of affairs that would last until 1971 when, amidst tumult and war, the east broke away and became the state of Bangladesh.

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