Doing Better than Musharraf

Juan Cole’s group blog has an interesting bit by Manan Ahmed on Pakistan. Conventional wisdom has it that the two choices for that country are Musharraf or some kind of Talibanesque regime (but with nukes!) Money quote:

“Instead of reducing this sprawling, diverse, multi-denominational and multi-cultural nation to nothing more than a caricature of its madrasas and tribal chieftans, US policy must explicitly support immediate and full democracy in Pakistan. As we continue to insist on a flat, binary world of those with us or against us; as we continue to distrust those masses populating the streets of Pakistan; as we continue to believe that the only outcome to an election in Pakistan will be power for the extremists, we ignore the birth of a real and pure movement for democracy – and we ignore it at our peril.”

If there’s one lesson that the West really, really, really ought to have learned since the invasion of Iraq is that seeing the world as good-vs-evil isn’t “moral clarity” as much is it is dangerous oversimplification. Whatever policy we take on Pakistan (and I’m still skeptical about all of the available options) we ought to do it with our eyes open.

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