Comment by someone serving in American government:
Meanwhile, my pay has been frozen for the last two years and will be for the foreseeable future. Thanks, Congress! Federal employees sure are out to soak the government… it’s good you’re shaving .005% off the deficit by asking us to take a hit.
“I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.”
[Referring to “a section of civil society [that] emancipates itself and attains universal domination:] No class in society can play this part [of attaining universal domination] unless it can arouse, in itself and in the masses, a moment of enthusiasm in which it associates and mingles with society at large … and is recognized as the general representative of this society”
The great movements of enthusiasm, indignation, and pity in a crowd do not originate in any one of the particular individual consciousness. They come to each one of us from without and can carry us away in spite of ourselves… Once the crowd has dispersed, that is, once these social influences have ceased to act upon us and we are alone again, the motions which have passed through the mind appear strange to us, and we no longer recognize them as ours. We realize that these feelings have been impressed upon us … It may even happen that they horrify us, so much were they contrary to our nature. Thus, a group of individuals, most of whom are perfectly inoffensive, may, when gathered in a crowd, be drawn into acts of atrocity …
(And who were the social scientists I have quoted above? And from what publications?)
[Their enthusiasm] “was reinforced by the Quaid`s announcement of his decision to pull out all military forces from the tribal areas and to allow the people complete freedom of movement.
The successive constitutions of 1956, 1962 and 1973 of Pakistan, … retained the colonial-era administrative and legal system enacted in 1872 and embodied in the Frontier Crimes Regulation(FCR) 1901. This system is inherently oppressive, negative in purpose and authoritarian in spirit.
It gave virtually unlimited judicial and administrative powers to the political agents to fine, blockade, detain and seize hostile groups and confiscate or demolish property in the tribal areas.
Fata MNAs did not voice the true feelings of the people as, being themselves no more than glorified maliks, their own interests coincided with the continuation of the system. The larger, dominant state system bears the responsibility for continuing with the outdated parallel legal system for over six decades after Independence.
Lack of effective representation and participation of the tribal population in the decision-making process was always a sore point. At present, they are represented by 12 members in the National Assembly and eight in the Senate but these legislative bodies cannot make any laws for Fata being the absolute domain of the president.
Fata has no representation at a provincial level and no elections are held at the local level. With devolution of powers to the provinces through the 18th Amendment, representation at a provincial level has become critically important.
Neglected for decades, Fata is one of Pakistan`s poorest regions, with reportedly over 60 per cent of the population living below the poverty line.
Huge unemployment, alarmingly low literacy rates, poorhealth services and a badly underdeveloped infrastructure has set Fata apart from the rest of Pakistan. The dismal human development indicators are a clear sign that the state has failed to perform its role in Fata.
Unlike previously, the tribesmen, after some reluctance, welcomed all development initiatives of the government after Independence.
Society was well on its way to progress when it saw its `natural` course of change and development rudely interrupted with the coming of thousands of foreign Mujahideen and recruitment of locals by the US and Pakistan in the 1980s to fight what was then the Soviet Union. The story of how the world abandoned the Mujahideen and Afghanistan, following the end of the Cold War is well known. But what is, perhaps, not known is that Fata too was abandoned, leaving it with a jihadi mindset, an abundance of cheap modern weapons and easy entry and exit of foreign Mujahideen.
The weaponisation of society and the presence of foreign extremist elements has dealt a serious blow to the tribal system. This in large part is responsible for the current imbroglio.
. . . The tribal society, considered classless and egalitarian, has transformed considerably into a class-based society. Four distinct classes comprising the big maliks, the new rich, the educated and professionals and the common masses can be identified in tribal society. Their overall aspiration and social behaviour towards change and reforms are often characterised by the class to which they belong.
. . .
No serious effort was ever made by the government to change the FCR, reduce poverty and give effective political representation, basic human rights and a mechanism to redress grievances to this marginalised region of Pakistan.
By failing to fulfil its obligations, the state appears to have abandoned Fata to its fate.
Fata has suffered heavily for being consigned to the backwaters, ignored and exploited for jihadi activities.
The resulting militancy has considerably weakened the tribal structure as well as the old system of governance that cannot be revived.
A paradigm shift is required in approaching governance and socio-economic issues in Fata. It will not be easy but the path to peace and lasting solution lies in ending the isolation of Fata and integrating the region into the mainstream through a new social contract.
[A]side from a few notable exceptions, rural areas were largely left out of coverage [of the Arab Spring activities] during and after the revolution. Hence, very few people seem aware of the ways rural people in Egypt mobilized during the revolution. [Also,] during and after the revolution, vast amounts of revolution-themed popular culture were created. Moreover, popular culture is something that has always been produced in combination with the countryside. Singers, poets, actors, and actresses are more often than not from the rural and urban poor. Yet post-revolution, the interaction between popular culture and popular protest in rural areas in Egypt has gone almost unstudied. …
It’s worth noting that popular culture also has to be defined here, and more importantly defined in a context. A preliminary working definition for what I am looking at would be music, videos, and chants that are produced by non-elites for the consumption of non-elites. Such items tend to be distributed by less official channels (i.e., by individuals on youtube, facebook, and twitter instead of via record labels). In the case of revolution-themed popular culture, the themes tended to be anti-regime, nationalistic, and they tend to emphasize social and economic justice. Needless to say, they also emphasize the downfall of the regime. The context also has to be located within time, and that time would likely be January 25, 2011 and a few months after. Mobilization increased in some quarters after Mubarak’s resignation and today’s poor revolutionary singer could be tomorrow’s wealthy friend of the regime, so it is important to view people as they were then, and not as whatever they might be five years from now.
. . . I deeply believe that we cannot begin to understand the world we live in unless we understand not only history, but history as it is seen by other cultures and peoples. I think the greatest understandings I came to in Egypt were when I could momentarily glimpse history and ordinary life as the Egyptians saw it. . . . .
The military is much more powerful than most people realized in the beginning. The military owns a number of factories and a truly shocking amount of land in the countryside, which they farm for their own profits. It’s worth noting that my understanding of their ownership is fuzzy. I don’t know where the profits go. I doubt anybody but the generals themselves know that. All this is aside of the property, factories, and businesses that high-ranking military officials own privately, which is again, considerable. Sometimes I think that all the January 25th uprising did was uncover the real power in the country. Up until now, of course, there have been limitations on the military.
Unlike the police or the central security services, military conscripts in Egypt are drafted by lottery. Rumor has it you can buy your way out, but that’s far beyond the means of most Egyptians. Central security and police, by contrast, buy their way in with money and connections. So whereas the central security and the police have a lot invested in the current system, the rank and file conscripts in the military do not. Therefore it’s been harder for soldiers to do the same brutal things to citizens because the conscripts are drafted and being ordered, whereas the police and central security are doing things because they’re protecting their interests and authority. You don’t wake up one morning torturing people, you lose your humanity by degrees. Which is of course precisely what’s happening with the military right now. When this started, the military didn’t have a lot of people willing to torture, kill, and maim to suppress dissent in the Mubarak fashion. They had soldiers trained to fight wars. So they are building a suppressive force by slowly ordering progressive levels of violence and brutality towards protesters. They couldn’t have done this all at once. Though there are certainly other factors at play, this is part of why violence has been escalating since the military took power.
At any rate, there are more reasons why the military is such a problem right now, . . . The truth is, some of the things that have happened have shocked even me. The military plays up the “aww shucks” we’re just guardians of the people thing a lot, but it really doesn’t hold water. The grand picture is not one of an inept, well-meaning force trying to right the country (the initial public opinion in Egypt), but rather a focused, ruthless, and very intelligent group trying to consolidate and hold onto power.
- [Pakistan’s] biggest province Baluchistan, which comprises almost half its territory, is in a state of open revolt. Baluchis complain about government’s policy of “kill and dump”.
- An entire generation of journalists and professors is being systematically killed.
- The Tribal Areas of the former Frontier Province is a theatre of war, involving thousands of Pakistani troops.
- Suicide bombers terrorise Pakistan with impunity.
- There is no end in sight to the violence. . . . No one is safe. Kidnapping and killings are commonly reported.
- The tensions between the military and civilian authorities are barely kept under the surface and the two are often pulling in different directions.
- Add to this, the woes of the ordinary Pakistani facing unemployment, high prices, shortage of electricity, gas and water who sees his rulers plundering the country and sending their ill-gotten loot abroad and you have Pakistan today.