Monday, February 28, 2005

Where do I lay down my bedroll?

In discussions of Pakistani politics it often seems that the only space allowed is for the "Musharraf-is-the-greatest-thing-for-democracy-since-Jefferson-and-the-greatest-leader-since-Washington" crowd and those that think "he is the greatest evil that ever stalked the land"? But what about those of us who think that democratic governments in our country have been sorely wanting but also think that interrupting "sultani-e-jamhoor", as the great sage we all respect called democracy, in our Home of the Pure, our "pak sarzameen", is, on balance, a bad thing? What of those of us that want to build and strengthen the republic and good government--as well as democracy, but that's NOT the same as the first two? What of those of us who despair about getting the military-industrial complex and the wadera-bureaucracy complex out of our politics? As the old folk song goes, where do we put our manjis down, hainjee? Mai kayRay paasay jaawaaN?

PS: I know a manji isn't really a bedroll but a small cot, I was aiming for a cultural equivalent.

PPS: And for non-Pakistanis reading this--and for Pakistanis and others of Pakistani origin involved in other communities--doesn't the same dichotomy come up between Republicans and Democrats in the US, or left and right in other places? What comes to mind is when, on campus in Pakistan, both the Islamists and the ethnic heavyweights would both keep up a loud drumbeat of "There is no such thing as neutral; either you're with us, or you're with them." Third parties are not viable...ring a bell? Is sanity ever an option?

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