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pakistani soldiers

Soldiers at Wagah border [ *_*/Flickr]

Inspired by a post on Sepia Mutiny titled Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens, we’re taking a look at Pakistan. Suddenly after September 11, the most important fact about Pakistan was that it was an ally. Discover a ring trafficking nuclear material? Pakistan is an ally. Al Quaeda hiding out in the mountains? Pakistan is an ally.

Not that Pakistan isn’t an ally, but what’s going on? Pakistan is implicated in bombings in London and Egypt; President Pervez Musharraf appears in a press conference and tells the world that Al Quaeda no longer exists in Pakistan. Doesn’t it sound like the president is protesting too much?

And then, today, the BBC reports that Pakistan is expelling foreign students from its madrassas. Housecleaning or power consolidation?

Tell me.

Update, 1/19/05, 12:38 pm

Robin here. We’re picking up this show again after last week’s air strike , which killed as many as 18 people (who may or may not have been civilians). One of our potential guests pointed out that this airstrike marks an unusual occurance – military action inside the borders of an ally. It raises a lot of questions we hope to answer in the show, including, why didn’t we ask Musharraf to take out these guys, as we might have of another ally?

Ambassador Husain Haqqani

Author, Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military

Director, Center for IR, Boston University

Christine Fair

Program Officer, US Institute of Peace

Beena Sarwar

Op-Ed and Features Edtor for the Pakistani daily News International

Current Fellow, Neimann Foundation for Journalism, Harvard University

Chris’s Interview with Pakistani Blogger Omer Alvie (6.7 mb mp3)

Pakistan-born Omer Alvie studied in the US and now lives in Dubai. He plans to return to Pakistan –- for good — eventually. Alvie has been turning a critical eye on the American media in his blog The Olive Ream.

I am critical of America because I love it. I’m angry that there are American soldiers dying. You export your culture — we wear your clothes, we speak your language, we watch your Hollywood films — we are part of the scene. I am part of the US scene and so I have a right to criticize the US —- to demand something of it.

Omer Alvie, in a phone interview with Chris Lydon, 1/19/06

Alvie suggests a couple of blogs to understand Pakistan:

The Fountainhead

Teeth Maestro

SusPect Paki

What we’re reading for this

Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, Husain Haqqani

Beena Sarwar’s articles at Chowk

Global Voices: Pakistan

Global Voices: World Blog Aggregator

Wikipedia entry explaining Madrassa

Wikipedia entry on Pakistan and General Musharraf

Related Content


26 thoughts on “Pakistan

  1. These countries have distinct histories that need to be taken into account. I was in Pakastan back in the old Hippie Days when we used to travel from India through the Kyber Pass to Central Asia–as were thousands of young Americans at the time. Of all those Moslem countries, i.e. Pakastan, Afganistan, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey–Pakistan was by far the most corrupt, lawless, and rapacious. It had little civil order. A vast number of the population were the result of the partition with India, which formed a displaced sub-caste with little allegiance to the country. For instance, if you didn’t protect your women, ever minute of every day, they would literally be attacked by the men who simply thought all Western Women were ‘whores.’ They all had equal access to the information that would tell them otherwise–do it wasn’t just a Moslem thing. By contrast, Afganistan was the most ‘civilized,’ even though they were the only nation in Central Asia that wasn’t colonized. Go figure.

  2. The angle on Pakistan is wrong. These paragraphs above are not a invitation for discussion but a promotion of some propoganda.

    Pakistan has its own internal problems and only its people know how to fix those. Expelling foreign students or not is nobody’s business. Do not try to find excuses and lump unrelated issues to fabricate non-existing matters.

    President of Pakistan is not protesting nor he has to. You are trying to discuss issues without context and half-assed knowledge. Its rigjht for President to say that Al-Qaeda doesn’t exist in Pakistan, it went back to its home country – Washington DC, in Pentagon.

    The corruption in Pakistan and India are the left overs of the British occupation – Thank you bastards ! And the post by Ben Sen Dan Foley here about Pakistani men protecting their women is an absolute exageration – again knowledge coming out of the ignorants – something comon in the US main stream media and propogandists.

    US used Pakistan to destroy Russia and also maneuvered to hold secret meetings with Chinese leader using the good offices of Pakistan way back in 1969. Hey, they help turn the undeserving cowards into a world power for now… yet you ask this question??? Shame on you – ummmm cowards!

  3. Pakistan, like Iran, is much too myterious for our own good.

    It is the country, lest we forget, where the first of many internet beheadings (Daniel Pearl) began. Also it is the apparently somewhat comfortable home of “Osama bin hidin'”

    I wonder. What was the general direction of Pakistan prior to 9-11 ? More dictatorship or more liberalism?

    And how has the ‘war against terrorists’ affected the likely course of this important country?

    Also how would a repeat attack the size of 9-11 by bin Laden affect our relationship with Pakistan? Would the US invade in order to find him?

    Such are the Bizarre times we are living in.

    I am looking forward to the discussion.


  4. To Shaman, who said

    >”Pakistan, like Iran, is much too myterious [sic] for our own good.”

    It’s a surprise that we’re so mysterious to you. Pakistan’s official language is English. There are online Pakistani newspapers that you can read. You can find thousands of articles in English, written by Pakistanis of all stripes. Government websites are in English. It’s all there waiting for your perusal.

    The internet was supposed to open us up and bring us all closer together. Instead it seems to have created a means for opinionated people to find other people like themselves, and ideological echo-chambers, to confirm whatever prejudices they may have. Speaking for myself, I don’t feel that people outside Pakistan are now more understanding of us. Quite the opposite.

    >”It is the country, lest we forget, where the first of many internet beheadings (Daniel Pearl) began. Also it is the apparently somewhat comfortable home of “Osama bin hidin’â€?”

    We’re a country of over 160 million people. The one-in-a-million gruesome incident shouldn’t define us.

    It’s like saying that “the USA is *the* country of serial killers, like the homosexual pedophile cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer. A country where the post office working conditions are so harsh, every now and then a postal worker goes berserk, bringing automatic weapons to work and going on a homicidal shooting spree. ”

    See how misleading and prejudiced that is? That’s how I feel when people talk about my country.

    >”What was the general direction of Pakistan prior to 9-11 ? More dictatorship or more liberalism?”

    More liberalism, a trend that is continuing, silly media sensationalism notwithstanding.

    >”how has the ‘war against terrorists’ affected ..?”

    The Pakistani people didn’t like Musharraf giving the US the use of Pakistani airbases. Musharraf’s approval rating fell to 51% in October 1999. People were mostly opposed to the US invasion of Afghanistan, especially after the anti-Pakistan “Northern Alliance” took power instead of the pro-Pakistan “Eastern Alliance” which collapsed when its leader Abdul Haq was killed by the Taliban. The “Northern Alliance” was perceived to be dominated by anti-Pashtun groups, leading to the rise of the anti-US MMA party in the Pashtun-majority North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. That feeling has subsided somewhat since the Afghan elections, which resulted in greater Pashtun representation in the Afghan government. More recent independent polls show that Musharraf’s approval rating has recovered.

    >”how would a repeat attack the size of 9-11 by bin Laden affect our relationship with Pakistan?”

    We’re increasingly angry at these religious-heretic militants who claim to berepresenting Islam while killing innocents. On the other hand, there’s many people in Pakistan in denial about Bin Laden and think he didn’t do 9/11. The government isn’t protecting him, it’s going after him and his fighters. They’ve turned over about 700 Al-Qaeda to the USA. If they ever find out exactly where he is, they’ll get him. But how do you find him if he’s in somebody’s basement? It took you guys a long time to find Christian terrorist Eric Rudolph.

    >” Would the US invade in order to find him?”

    If you can take him out surgically, without killing innocent Pakistanis, I think many Pakistanis citizens, and the authorities might say: go for it. Or there might be a combined US-Pakistan op. How will you find him, though?

    As for invasion, Pakistan has over a hundred nukes, mostly uranium-based, miniaturized warheads, which means they’re undetectable and you don’t know where they may be. A catastrophically irrational escalation cannot be ruled out. So, no invasion is likely.

  5. Oops. I meant to put quotes around “Christian terrorist.” I didn’t mean to say that Eric Rudolph was representative of, or normative for, as a Christians or Christianity.

  6. “It’s a surprise that we’re so mysterious to you. …It’s all there waiting for your perusal…I don’t feel that people outside Pakistan are now more understanding of us. Quite the opposite. ”

    And my mistake was to ask a series of questions?

    C’mon. You can’t mean that.

    Peel the onion a few more layers … go beyond blaming the media and Pakistani websites.

    Pakistan is in an unbearably precarious position.

    And with any number of sinister moves by certain terrorists it could topple tomorrow.

  7. “[…] blaming the media and Pakistani websites”

    Huh? where did I blame the media and Pakistani websites?

    “And my mistake was to ask a series of questions? […] C’mon. You can’t mean that.”

    Of course I don’t fault you for merely asking questions. I’m just expressing what most Pakistanis feel: we’re sick of the subject of terrorism. We’re the world’s sixth most-populous country. There’s a lot more, vastly more, going on in Pakistan than would be implied by the questions you asked. Questions frame the discourse, and while I did answer all your questions, I’d like to say that I prefer talking about all the good things happening in Pakistan.

    Did you know, for example, that Pakistan grew at a rate of nearly 8.4% in the last fiscal year, making it the second-fastest growing economy (after China) among the ten most populous nations of the world? That it’s the first Muslim country to elect a woman as head of government?

    “Pakistan is in an unbearably precarious position.”

    I’m in my mid-forties. Ever since I started reading non-Pakistani newspapers, about thirty years ago, I’ve been reading that the sky is falling in Pakistan, or that the country is precariously teetering on a precipice. When the sky doesn’t fall, there doesn’t seem to be much reflection on the failed doom-and-gloom predictions of yesteryear. Perhaps the sky isn’t as fragile as they say it is?.

    Consider that Pakistan’s GDP has grown every year since the recession of 1951. Fifty-four consecutive years of positive economic growth! True, it was an extremely poor country when it was born in 1947, and one could almost say that there was nowhere to go but up. However, many other poor countries did slump, while Pakistan’s economy kept growing. Of the top hundred stock markets in the world, Pakistan’s has been the best-performing market of this century. Large-scale manufacturing growth has been in double-digit territory recently. Ten years ago, most of Pakistan’s villages didn’t have electricity. Now about 85% do.

    Revolutions happen when there’s a widespread feeling that no progress is possible without a violent overthrow of the existing establishment. I’m not seeing that in Pakistan. People are talking not about revolution but about evolutionary changes and improvements.

    “And with any number of sinister moves by certain terrorists it could topple tomorrow.”

    The word “topple” implies that Pakistan is a precariously balanced object. It also evokes the “teetering on a precipice” imagery that I mentioned earlier. I think, however, that Pakistan is quite securely grounded.

    Unless you know the country well, you might be surprised that it hasn’t collapsed already. It just came through a 4-year drought, the severest in recorded history. Before 9/11, it was, in the words of Colin Powell, “sanctioned to the eyeballs” after its nuclear tests. Its exports were affected by the Asian financial crisis. A million-man troop buildup on the Indo-Pakistan border threatened, according to foreign observers, to erupt into a war that could go nuclear. There’s a saying in finance that it’s only when the tide goes out that you find out who’s swimming naked. Well, the tide went out in a big way for Pakistan, and it turned out it wasn’t naked after all. Despite all the economic shocks, Pakistan’s economy, far from collapsing, proved to be resilient and even managed to grow a little, defying adversity.

    Is Pakistan about “topple”? How many ways can I say this? Nope. Don’t think so. Notgonnahappen.

  8. I think the whole issue of Pakistan is complex. Indians, who probably will have more opinions about Pakistan than any one else outside Pakis themselves, see Pakistan thru jaundiced eyes. There is just too much history between the two nations, joined at the hip till 1947.

    For them, the very idea of Pakistan was traitorous, severing the country into two. From then on, India and Pakistan have always been at loggerheads. The Kashmir problem has worsened things and charges of terrorism fly back and forth.

    Yet, the undeniable fact is that the two countrie share common cultures, including a common language.

    They also have a very feudal system, like India, which breeds corruption and nepotism.

    Yet, I cannot just tar the whole country with the same brush. I think it needs looking into: what the country thinks of itself, how it would like to present itself to the world.

    This is crucial because the way Pakistan functions has repercussions on the behavior of India and we must remember these are nuclear-arms-ready nations. Also, it would be a shame that when India is making strides economically, Pakistan slips into the morass of religious fundamentalism.

  9. It would be nice to see ROO (may I call you that?) tackle Pakistan in a deeper way than usual. I have followed Chris’s work both here and before this and he (and the team, I guess) seems to have a good handle on things in terms of what to ask etc.

    As has been discussed above, Pakistan has sides to it that can seem mysterious–or just plain flabbergasting–but in my humble and not-so-unbiased opinion, the fact that Pakistan is where the rubber meets the road in the interaction between Islam and other faiths; between the rest of the world and Central Asia; and so on. Just as it is the place at the top of the news when the Soviet Union (or the Russian Empire, if you will) meets its limits of expansio; or when Fundamentalist Islam decides to take on The Far Enemy (you could even go back to the limits of how far The British Empire and Alexander were able to take their empires), in the same way and for the same reasons, it also has the potential be to be where the rest of the world engages in a positive way with Islam, with Central and South Asia and so on.

    One effort I have been involved with precisely to help demystify Pakistan and help it engage with the rest of the world and vice versa is WikiPakistan ( , hosted by Wikia/WikiCities, a sister organization to the one that runs the WikiPedia). That project was not moving too fast till the earthquake hit. And then,…well, take a look:

    Will try to check in here once in a while.

  10. Brendan’s rhythmically clever tease got me wonderin’ how a government that can’t find within the borders it purports to rule the tall, charismatic Arab wanted for the mass murder of American civilians and surrounded by god-knows how many AK-47 wielding bodyguards can be called an ally.

    Then, it came to me: YES! Pakistan IS an ally!

    How, one might wonder, did I reach such a counterintuitive conclusion? How? Like this:

    For starters, governments that tap the phones of internationally famous reporters (C. Amanpour) and persecute feeble news organizations (N.Y.Times, under threat of indictment) for reporting illegal actions by said government have a happy history here in the Western Hemisphere. The famous and charmingly named Banana Republics come to mind, governed so comically (think Woody Allen’s BANANAS) by those morally upright entities called ‘juntas’.

    Now, every self-respecting junta needs a pretext to extend its righteous hold on power. No pretext serves better than: An Enemy Of The People. It doesn’t matter whether the Enemy is foreign threat (the USA to Castro), or an internal threat (Allende’s socialists to Pinochet’s elitist Chile).

    And no junta ever had it better than the double whammy of Hitler’s Enemies, The Jews, and Stalin’s Bolshevik Communism. Such a doubled Enemy is the Hall of Fame, the Livin’ End, and, (for the baddest of them): the million-life Perfecta for every aspiring junta.

    Enemies Of The People do WONDERS for juntas—like distracting the fearful citizenry from mundane issues like domestic policy. The Junta doesn’t want the middle class whose loyalty they cultivate to notice that they’ll have to pay more for grandma’s health care now that the government has slashed the budget. And the Junta REALLY doesn’t want all those sprawling subdivisions to hear the sound seeping over the borders from the ‘gated communities’. What sound?

    The ‘pop’ of all the corks from the spouts of all those Moet bottles every time the Junta pushes through another tax cut for their elite brethren.

    So, can we not say that in Osama bin Laden’s Al Quaida, God, in His infinite wisdom, has provided the Perfecta to G.W.Bush?

    An Enemy both internal and external.

    An Enemy perfect for television: visually sinister, and yet maddeningly shadowy.

    Yea, verily, our Junta NEEDS Osama bin Laden—not in custody, no, never caught—but ever on the run. If Musharraf ever hands the bugger over to the CIA, then the Enemy Perfecta, and the Junta’s claim to the Rogue’s Hall of Fame collapses.

    (A resolutely fearless democracy never did anything good for any junta, after all.)

    Yes, Pakistan IS an Ally!

  11. “Nikos”: Yes, indeedy, every junta needs its “Goldstein” (a la “1984”); it needs a bin Laden, Jews, sodomites, an opposition party, migrant workers, an Evil Empire, etc.: any central organizing principle in the form of a bogeyman of some sort, whether partially real or wholly “imagineered”, if you will, will serve…… “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” -H. L. Mencken……….Meanwhile, the real enemies are nearly never our fellow earthlings, but war itself; and those who would, and do, foment war. The same ruses work repeatedly through history. BTW, the indefatigable Justin Raimondo over at today referred to Condi as “Neville Chamberlain in a skirt”: hope the meme sticks!

  12. Having watched from behind my computer, as Musharraf went from military dictator to amazingly accepted civilian president… i find the situation quite shameful… specifically on the part of the United States. All the rhetoric about no more dictators and despots, Musharraf is no doubt from that generation and has behaved accordingly. The only difference is that the US and western allies have by convention decided to accept him as a legitimate leader, for whatever political and economic reasons. But no matter if he wears a suit or a uniform or if he shakes the hand of blair or bush… I still see the dictator who overthrew an elected leader and has somehow built a career on that.

  13. Pakistan is seemingly an interesting contrast to the situation in many troubling places. In Iraq and North Korea [and maybe the U.S. 🙂 ], e.g., we wonder if the leaders are worse than the people, and what would happen if we could only replace the leadership. Would the freed people create a better life for themselves? In Pakistan, we wonder if the leadership is more enlightened than the people, and to what extent his hands are tied by the country he leads?

    Or is this an illusion caused by Musharraf’s ability to speak English well and seem reasonable?

    More broadly, can Pakistan be fixed or de-fanged without a wholesale change in the prevailing culture?

  14. “avecfrites”: Ah, spoken like a true Empire-builder: “…can Pakistan be fixed or de-fanged without a wholesale change in the prevailing culture?” How about if the USA finally stops interfering in the affairs of sovereign nations and peoples all over the globe finally, and stops stirring up hatred for itself? We pay for more dictators and colonizing forces and satrapies and coups d’etat and establish permanent military presences in other lands and assassinate freely, democratically-elected statesmen and then wonder where the blowback comes from. Then we think of those people as savages when they shoot at us and self-detonate and take hostages. How arrogant to decide when or how or if a foreign land is to remake itself in the image of America–God’s one true, promised land! Sieg Heil! “Gott Mit Uns” (God is with us in German) is what the Nazis’ SS had inscribed on their belt-buckles. Just like Amerikkka has inscribed on its church billboards and its idiot bumperstickers now. F*** America now. It’s fascist now.

  15. Looking forward to this show. Impressive line-up of guests. I have watched and read Beena Sarwar over the years and Hussain Haqqani has had a partisan career as well as written unconventional things along the way.

    One question that arises is who has their finger on the pulse of the nation itself; what is happening and is being discussed in the drawing rooms and “bait-haks” around the country?

    Discussing Pakistan often centers on the discussion on the right of Pakistan. The protests of the airstrikes were labelled as being by “Islamists”. But the news story I saw yesterday had a group of people who most definitely are not Islamists was:

    Of the people:

    “Faraz” [Ahmad Faraz, known just as “Faraz” as a poet] is probably the most well-regarded Urdu poet alive today. And an old-timer on the socialist side of things. Spent most of Gen. Zia (Pakistai military ruler during the Soviet-Afghan war)’s regime in exile.

    Mr Minto, in the background in the picture, is the leader of a communist party.

    Notice that they are tieing together the activity in the north of the country, which is directly related to the “War on Terror” with what is happening in the south-western province bordering Afghanistan (Balochistan), where Hamid Karzai spent most of his years in exile. My own blog posts on Balochistan over the last year or two have included:

    and most recently:

    Amongst the things I am looking about attacks is an NPR Talk of the Nation segment with a Clinton advisor:

    And before I forget, a group I work with here in the SF Bay Area, the Friends of South Asia, already have a statement/action going on the Balochistan issue:

  16. Thoughts:

    Good description of FATA’s legal status by Ms. Fair.

    The back story in support for extremist “Islamists” is that BOTH the Pakistani and the American governments backed those extremists during the Soviet period. I mean, come on! Gulbuddin Hekmatyar already had a record of throwing acid in unveiled female faces.

    About puppet regimes, everyone’s been trying to put puppet regimes in that region going back to the Soviets, the Americans, the British…dare I go back further?

  17. Kudos for Ms. Fair saying that “In Pakistan, one can be anti-Musharraf, anti-US and anti-Islamist” at the same time. And who speaks for them? That’s what I meant by asking who would speak for the average Pakistani. Good to see that perspective being brought out.

  18. In conclusion:

    One thing I have to say is that Christine Fair keeps complimenting Hussain Haqqani, but the one thing that jumped out of listening to the show is her grasp and clarity on Pakistan and its society and politics. Kudos! In particular:

    Ms. Fair’s point about how many sitting members of the National Assembly are US citizens and Green Card holders needs investigating. Maybe we can put a list together at WikiPakistan [], for example….

    “Opposition of choice”. Love the phrase Ms. Fair uses for the “Islamists”.

    Shge even brang up the Uighurs and China. That’s actually one thing I’d like to hear more details about how that plays out in the region. Or is that too arcane an issue?

    On other issues:

    One thing most Pakistanis and people in the diaspora don’t realize that Musharraf has appointed a former head of the country’s major intelligence agency to head a re-write of educational curriculums. I mean, even if you love the ISI and intelligence agencies, what kind of citizen wants an intelligence agency-type person guide curriculums?

    On Omar Alvie: “You don’t expect it to happen.” Huh? What? Hasn’t this happened before? Come on! Let’s keep it real here, huh?

    His point about the role of government and about America is a necessary point. And bears saying. Good choice on who to quote, there, Chris and team.

    Great program! Wow, that went fast!!

  19. I find it very weird that (many) Americans are puzzled that Pakistanis are upset about the missile attack in Damadola… Imagine that the Pakistan government discovered a group of Indian extremists in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Imagine that they decided to ‘take them out’ because this group was planning to assassinate the Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations. And imagine that the Pakistani government decided to use a bomb to kill the ‘terrorist cell’ in Pennsylvania. Now imagine that it decided not to tell the American government that it was launching this ‘preemptive’ attack. And, finally, imagine that a dozen kids coming home from grade school, a crossing guard, and several moms standing on their front porches were killed by the Pakistani bomb. Would Americans be upset? I doubt that would even come close to describing the public’s feelings. And I doubt reassurances that the kids and moms were just ‘collateral damage’, accidentally caught up in the destruction of a dangerous terrorist cell would do much to quell the anti-Pakistani clamor. — Yes, I find it very weird that (many) Americans are puzzled that Pakistanis are upset about the missile attack in Damadola.

  20. One “issue” that did not rise much from the “murk” was why Pakistan ( and okay India as well) will not let go of Kashmir, another place on Earth of wondrous beauty threatened by war. Why wouldn’t an independent Kashmir be better for all concerned? Training camps set up for fighters to go to Kashmir provide fighters/terrorists for other purposes as well as was mentioned. ( Remember our boy John Walker Lindh was offered the option to go to fight in Kashmir by Bin Laden’s men.)

    I recommend listening to the clip above of blogger Omer Alvie. I followed the link to his web site where to my astonishment he has issued a long apology about it having to do with his shortcomings that I could not detect. Apparently the interview went on for an hour but here we have only a few minutes of it which are very worthwhile. We need more such bridges,

    The exchange above between Shaman and Syed from this summer is good.

    If Pakistanis do not hate us only our government’s foreign policy, then they are not holding us accountable for putting our government in office. Do they understand the imperfections of our system or are they judging us on the imperfections of their own? It always amazes me to hear how others like us but hate our government.

    Perhaps If they hated us all more it might be better for us ( we would care more, ask more questions). Remember after 9/11 all those questions that were being asked and answered, “Why Do They Hate Us?” and serious articles about “empire”, in the media? Gone.

  21. A couple of comments on the show and the discussion. First I thought this show, like the Sharon show, was too closed sourced. I’m not seeking a left-right type debate, god forbid, but a greater variety of perspectives to open the discussion. In the Pakistan show, it seemed that Christine Fair was mostly an apologist or disciple of Ambassador Husain Haqqani, though she did, in fairness, expand on his ideas. Why was there not an Islamic point of view or two represented (since there are many Islamic discourses)? I could be asking for too much, since I do not know exactly what goes into producing a segment. Also, in a way, this discussion board does allow for additional points of view. Hmmm… Second, since this is an American-based production, it will inevitably be at this time all about the war (of) terror, Osama, and Islam, but there is much more about Pakistan that would be intriguing to explore without having to always come back to US geo-politics.

    As for some points raised in the discussion, I would agree with Syed that the “Mysterious East” approach should be a thing of the past. I might suggest that it seems more mysterious that an “informed” US public (not one brainwashed in Islamic schools!) and many of their checked and balanced political representatives rapidly endorsed an illegal war in Iraq with little debate just because the president got on the TV and talked tough. Oops! Sorry for the Occidentalism. Also, Umkumar suggests that the “whole issue of Pakistan is complex.” I thought Pakistan was a country, a society, a diaspora, part of the global political economy, etc.; not an issue to be discussed and wrapped up in some nice box.

  22. sidewalker wrote: “I thought this show, like the Sharon show, was too closed sourced”.

    I could be wrong (wouldn’t be the first time, nor the last), but it seems to me that YOU’re the ‘open source’ (as are the rest of us) that Chris, Brendan, Katherine, (and their newbie interns) name in the show’s title.

    Brendan? (I KNOW you’re reading this!) Is this so, or am I mistaken (yet again)?

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