Friday, 28 December 2007


It was a calculated risk. When Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan, chances of her assassination were high. And now it has happened. The lady had courage, returning to possible death. We must never forget that.
Al Qaeda has already claimed responsibility. And for the second time this century they have placed the world on a knife edge. Because what happens, now, in Pakistan WILL affect the world.

Bhutto offered a middle way.

She seemed the only alternative between military dictatorship and Islamic government. We, in the west, condemned the recent military take-over, but we live in the illusion of a cosy world.
Maybe, in this instance, such a dictatorship is the only possible answer, at present. Strong leadership is needed to stop Pakistan descending to civil war, and the dangers that could hold.
Those dangers are many. An Islamist government would be a nightmare. Consider western troops in Afghanistan, cut off and trapped if Pakistan becomes hostile. And need we mention the danger of nuclear weapons in the hands of Al Qaeda?

It may, of course, blow over.

Let us hope it does. But it still offers a note of caution. Pakistan is an Islamic country that so far has only see-sawed between military dictatorship and corrupt democracy. Maybe true democracy cannot exist in Islam until a separation is realized between religion and politics.
This has not yet been achieved. So why do we think it possible in Iraq?

© Anthony North, December 2007

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Mark Wadsworth said...

"Maybe true democracy cannot exist in Islam until a separation is realized between religion and politics"

There's no 'maybe' about it.

Living standards in e.g. the UK improved long before full suffrage (which we didn't have until the 1920s) because we had been moving towards a secular society for centuries.

There was a great article in The Times recently saying that, most illuminating.

anthonynorth said...

I'm not sure that living standards improved purely because of a secular society. It was more due to affluence from an industrial society, which was spearheaded by non-Conformists, so religion played its part.
But you're right, there is no 'maybe' about it regarding democracy.

Twilight said...

"Maybe true democracy cannot exist in Islam until a separation is realized between religion and politics.
This has not yet been achieved. So why do we think it possible in Iraq?"

It has not yet been fully achieved in the US, either, "true democracy" here is disintegrating fast. We do indeed live in the illusion of a cosy world, as you say, Mr. North.

I wept when I read about Benazir Bhutto's assassination yesterday - she was one of our not so cosy world's best hopes.

anthonynorth said...

Hi Twilight,
Yes, democracy is hard to fully achieve, but for many reasons. I offer a possible theory for this problem in the US

Mark Wadsworth said...

AN, I followed your last link, seems to stack up to me. By reverse logic, how about devolving as many powers as possible down to local councils? Where you bump into your local councillors in the street on the way to work, or the way to the shops?

anthonynorth said...

Hi Mark,
I'm a big believer in holding as many powers as possible at the local level to some degree, but it needs balance.
For instance, representative government is definitely the right way for democracy, but a degree of separation from the electorate is sensible otherwise you risk 'direct democracy' through intimidation of your representative.
We must protect the premise of Burke's Bristol Speech.

Twilight said...

I enjoyed reading the link you left Mr.N, thank you.

I've commented on many occasions, to my American husband and others, that the USA is just too darn big for anything to work efficiently, never mind democratically. The response is usually that state governments are key to making the system work. I don't see it that way. The states are too diverse.

I see no overall sense of community here (as there is in the UK). Love of 'the flag' is just about the only common element, and though it irks me at times, I can see the value in it.

I agree with your point about government needing to mesh more with the population, in fact just last night we started watching DVDs of the UK TV series "Mrs Pritchard" - this is her argument !
Well worth watching if you haven't seen it.

I'm still learning US politics - I'll never understand it all, but the country is certainly well under the thumb of corporations - get rid of that and there'd be an outside chance of more democratic future.

Perhaps the internet is going to be key to changing things in politics. More people are more informed now than ever in history.

We shall see.

anthonynorth said...

Hi Twilight,
I agree that the internet is the future of free speech and ideas, but not sure it is able to properly co-ordinate to a satisfactory degree to take on the 'powers that be'. Maybe such a system will arise - I hope so.
Sadly, the sense of community in the UK is not what it once was. I find this a great shame.