Praveen Sami looks at the prospects of an Islamist-dominated Pakistan.
Also see this piece by Myra McDonald. (both articles are inspired by the recent antics of the so-called Difa e Pakistan council, an army-sponsored show that is discussed with some trepidation by commentator Ejaz Haider)
The military-bureaucratic elite’s sponsorship of violent Islamism to “counter India”, “counter communism” (this aim is now unnecessary) and “counter democracy” (and to get money out of the USA and Saudi Arabia) is a crucial element in this equation. It is NOT the only cause of the rise of Islamofascist groups, but it is a critical cause.
Of course, this is not to say that the elite is permanently married to Islamism. In fact, they are rarely Islamist according to strict Jihadi definitions. But they find it useful and they also lack the intellectual capacity to create an alternative and less dangerous ideological basis for their so-called Islamic state (Jinnah and his colleagues can be blamed for creating that particular confusion, even if they did not consciously realize what they were doing). Which means that in some ways, they are stuck.
But having said all that, I also think the “Islamofascist cause” itself has no real future. One way or the other (one way being more painful than the other) the Islamofascist project will always fail. Iran is not a good counter-example because Iran is not a Sunni state and it has an ancient civilizational identity that goes very deep. It is a very unique situation (and even they may fail soon enough). Neither is Turkey because modern Turkey was built on explicitly European, secular, even anti-Islamic principles and only then has a domesticated “modern Islamism” been able to rise within it. That peculiar circumstance doesnt seem likely in any other Sunni country at this time.
What I am saying is this: orthodox Sunni Islam does not have a viable model for a modern state and has great difficulty freely creating one right now because blasphemy and apostasy memes hobble creative experimentation. Its a dead end. In many places, it will still be tried because the corrupt ruling elites are unable to create a working and modestly fair system and are unable to counter Islamofascists ideologically. But the Islamists are also unable to deliver an actual working system. So after many wasted years and wasted lives, even a country like Pakistan, where the textbook ideology is so primed for Islamism, will not see a true Islamist takeover and if one happens, it will fail soon enough. In the proverbial long run, Pakistan (or whatever succeeds Pakistan if it fails…I personally think it will not fail, but for the sake of argument, even if it does) will see political, cultural and economic developments that will have more in common with India’s experience than with that of Taliban Afghanistan or any imaginary Islamist utopia.
Taliban Afghanistan will itself evolve into a more modern Afghanistan (after much bloodshed). Not because the modern world is so perfect, but because the modern world is orders of magnitude more productive and creative than the imaginary fascist paradise of Hamid Gul or Mullah Omar. Many Pakistani may not wish to put it like that, but that is the world (with all its messy problems) where Pakistan already actually lives (actually lives
as opposed to imagines itself living
) and will remain.
The sooner we accept this, the sooner we can start to confront the very real and very massive problems of the modern world instead of wasting time in dead ends.
Mistah Zombie, he dead.