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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Newsweek can go to Hell

The other day, UK-based Sky News surveyed people in Pakistan, asking which political party or political leader would be the best to lead the country out of the current mess. They asked thousands of people from all over the country. The answers:

36% Nawaz Sharif (PML)
28% Benazir Bhutto (PPP)
17% General Musharraf
5% Imran Khan
3% JI (religious fundos)
3% JUI (more religious fundos)
1% MQM (Karachi-based ethnic party)
8% undecided

From what I can gather, just talking to ordinary people, and from having contacts with literally thousands of students, colleagues and parents over the years, these numbers seem about right.

This pretty neatly gives the lie to those smug bastards at Newsweek and their screeching that Pakistan is “the most dangerous country in the world.” That claim, which was splashed on the cover of the rag a couple weeks ago along with a photo of three crazed, bearded fanatics howling at the camera, would lead you to believe that Pakistan is a country full of crazed, bearded, howling fanatics who want the country to become a haven for the same. While I don’t deny that there are some of those here, mainly centered in the northwest of the country--and nor will I deny, as some Americans would, that the actions of the US have lent the fundos credibility and support--I strongly protest against the idea that they are this nation’s defining group. They’re not. They have overplayed their hand, targeting ordinary people, mosques, even kids and schools, and many of their borderline sympathizers/supporters have shunned them. Thursday’s arrest of Imran Khan, turned over to the cops by a bunch of student militants allied with JUI, will put off even more people.

Take a look at those numbers again: Six percent of Pakistanis back the religious parties. That’s a much smaller percentage than in the USA, I’m willing to bet. The Republicans have relied on hardcore Christian vote for years, for something like 20% of its core support, and drum up a lot of phony “issues” (gay marriage, anybody?) to mobilize them. If an evangelical party ran in an election with a proper organzation and a chance of gaining some Congressional seats, you can bet it would get more than 6% of the vote. I read somewhere that 40% of Americans don’t believe in evolution, for God’s sake.

So screw Newsweek. I’d love to see them run a cover with a photo of a swastika-tattooed skinhead, the latest high-school shooter, and one of the guards at Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib, with the caption: “The the most dangerous country in the world is the United States.” But then, some people might object that that representation isn’t fair.

If you think I’m biased, try this article by a BBC reporter who was in Pakistan on vacation at the time of the article:

Now on to other news.

Mush has promised to step down as Army chief by the end of the month. To which I say: so what? He has amended the Constitution (y’know, the one he suspended) so that it is the President, not the army chief, who cam impose or rescind a state of emergency. In other words, he imposed emergency while army chief, then changed the law giving the power to the president, now he’s going to resign as army chief but stay president, with the same powers he had before. This is what’s known as a “cosmetic change.” The guy makes Harry Houdini look like an amateur. In the meantime, Benazir has been released from house arrest as has Asma Jehangir (Human Rights Commission of Pakistan), but Imran Khan (head of a rival political party) has gotten thrown in jail. Some of the news channels are still off the air while others have been allowed back, and I’m having trouble accessing this blog (hmm, coincidence?) while Pakistan got hosed by India yet again in cricket on Sunday, thus icing the series for good. Oy!

Oh and, hey, I have a book coming out in three months or so. I’ll run the cover in a few days. If I can get into this site.

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