There has been much speculation about the future of democracy in Pakistan these days. Prophets of gloom are seeing generals at the ready. Optimists are hoping for a reconciliation. Reality lies between the two extremes.
Steve Inskeep, co-host of NPR's Morning Edition, has written a most readable, informative, entertaining, and provocative narrative of contemporary Karachi. I recently had an email discussion with Inskeep about the city and the region.
Imran Khan has populist appeal with his stand against corruption and his criticism of US policy in Pakistan. But will he have enough support and gravitas to lead his country out of its economic slump and lack of moral direction?
Pakistan needs new leadership to take the country out of this spiral down into further poverty and despair, which historically leads to anger and extremist violence. More spending on the military will not prevent violence; it will only make it worse.
Politicians negotiating positions, impassioned youth taking to the streets, public debate about important issues -- these are the signs that the people of Pakistan have embraced democracy, not that they are turning it away.
In a nation of 180 million people, only two million Pakistanis pay taxes. This may at first glance seem a tragic consequence of poverty, but bear in mind that roughly 30 percent of Pakistanis live in poverty, not 99 percent.
Adm. Mullen may be right in saying that the Pakistani military "knows what it has to do" to rout the Taliban and al Qaeda from their Pakistani sanctuaries, but does the U.S. military know what it has to do? The answer is increasingly apparent.
Terrorism will always make headlines, but given the political jockeying in Pakistan, many media groups are running alarmist, nearly hysterical headlines predicting the imminent doom of Pakistani democracy.
On Friday, Imran Farooq, a founding leader of MQM, the fourth-largest political party in Pakistan, was stabbed to death in London. Since 2009, more than 200 MQM workers and supporters have been the victims of targeted killings.