Pakistan, Pakistan....

I talked to a friend, named "Fatima", in Pakistan a few days ago.

She has been attending meetings by what is considered the liberal opposition in Pakistan. The name of this opposition is People's Resistance. I do not know if they have any relationships to the PPP or other parties in Pakistan. But from what Fatima told me it is a coalition of socialists, secular folks, lawyers, journalists-- all considered civil society. She said that they are for basic liberalizations of Pakistani political society. She also said that they have no mass base. I asked if they called for protests, would people come out. She said nope. Some key players are involved such as the labor party http://www.laborpakistan.org/.

She said other issues they are concerned about is the increase of US banking influence. That a lot of American banks have opened up in Pakistan. And there is a lot of pressure for Pakistani people to get credit cards. She said the coalition feels that these banking interests are literally robbing money in Pakistan. This is probably true. But the prominence of this issue in this coalition probably reflects the class dimensions of what makes up the liberal opposition--middle class. This is something I have read elsewhere that there has been a huge increase in the Pakistan's middle class in the last decade. This might explain why so many University of Michigan Pakistani students have gone back.

Fatima said they are worried there might be US attacks on Pakistan itself. She said her family is freaked out by CNN-English. That they are constantly talking about the loose nuclear weapons in such an unstable state. It is important we watch what the US Government does in the next few weeks. Will this be an excuse for some type of intervention in Pakistan? Perhaps a UN peace keeping force?

She also said her family is aware that Bhutto was working with Musharraf and the US to co-share power in Pakistan. They lost respect for that but saw it as a much needed transition to democratic reforms in Pakistan. That her family was willing to forgive Bhutto for these unprincipled alliances but saw them as a necessity. That without some support of the US, democratic reform was not possible.

Lastly, I cannot describe the tension and sense of insecurity she felt. It was unbelievable. Not having a sense of what would happen next to a whole country. How her life might be affected by it. A whole nation possibly under attack… under the whims of larger forces… the legacies of colonialism and the reality of Empire…


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