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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

November 5, 2007

Written by C.N.

Reactions to Pakistani State of Emergency

Many people inside and outside the Asian American community disagree about whether Pakistan and Pakistani Americans should be included under the “Asian American” category. There are valid arguments on both sides and it’s not my intention to try settle that question here.

Instead, based on the general agreement that Pakistan increasingly occupies a prominent position in international politics and this administration’s war on terrorism, it is certainly appropriate to discuss its current political situation. Specifically, as New American Media reports, many Pakistani Americans are not taking kindly to Pervez Musharraf’s latest actions:

General Musharraf said he had to declare a state of emergency because he could not “allow this country to commit suicide.” But he’s not fooling anyone, not even his own diasporan community many of whom had tentatively supported him when he seized power in a 1999 coup.

Then, says Agha Saeed, founder of American Muslim Alliance, Pakistani-Americans were so fed up with the “corrupt and inefficient” civilian administrations of Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, they’d given Musharraf the benefit of the doubt.

“At first Musharraf did introduce some amount of efficiency and stability, even increasing the number of women’s seats and minority seats,” says Dr. Saeed. “But now he’s shown it’s just business as usual.” . . .

The Pakistani American National Alliance (PANA), a coalition of Pakistani-American organizations has accused Gen. Musharraf of “high treason” and organized protests in front of the consulates in Chicago, Dallas and New York and is planning another one in Los Angeles.

The article goes on to note that in addition to the general anger directed at Musharraf, many Pakistani Americans also criticize the Bush administration for implicitly supporting Musharraf’s recent actions, despite the administration’s declarations to the contrary.

In fact, regardless of its public and official criticisms of these most recent events, the U.S.’s ongoing support of Musharraf’s increasingly totalitarian policies sounds a lot like another example of the U.S. supporting oppressive totalitarian regimes around the world merely because such governments are seen as useful allies against some “more dangerous” enemy.

In the past, that would have been communists or other “leftists.” In today’s case, it’s the Taliban and al Qaeda.

History also shows us that the U.S.’s support for such totalitarian regimes in the past frequently did more harm than good in terms of turning whole populations of citizens against the U.S. for decades and generations to come and sewing the seeds of anti-Americanism that are now flourishing around the world.

So the question becomes, is the U.S. going to learn any lessons from history here and persuade Musharraf to allow the democratic process to unfold, or will the U.S. stand by and do nothing and in the process, be complicit in the death of democracy?

In fact, as I’ve heard before, that is exactly the definition of insanity — doing the same thing but hoping for a different result.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Reactions to Pakistani State of Emergency" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/11/reactions-to-pakistani-state-of-emergency/> ().

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