Pakistan Matters

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

There are few more controversial figures in the so-called War on Terror than General Pervez Musharraf. He's both a military dictator and a critical ally to the U.S. His March suspension of the top judge in Pakistan caused an outcry, and now the Pakistani Supreme Court will consider the case. For some more background, listen to this story by our intelligence correspondent, Mary Louise Kelly, and then call us with your questions: why does Pakistan matter?

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Will America ever learn? The U.S. continues to shore up and support regimes that are unpopular with their people but "good" for American foreign policy. We've seen it in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, etc. America always ends up paying a heavy price for such short-sighted, selfish, foreign policy. Is is any wonder Americans are so reviled?

Sent by Donald Quinn | 2:17 PM | 6-11-2007

For the last 10 years this administration has created such doubt world wide as to the ability of the United States to keep the world safe. This has allowed the rise of such groups as the Taliban and Al'Quida to win over the hearts and minds of the people in the middle east. Our occupation in Iraq will continue to create supporters of these ratical groups. President Musharraf is the one person who stands in the way of these groups from having a control of Pakistan which is a nuclear powered nation. It is in our extreme best interest to support him.

Sent by Benny Kennedy | 2:18 PM | 6-11-2007

Why is it that the interests of the US are never questioned. These interests are a bane for Pakistan just like they are for the middle east and are a manifestation of absolute world hegemony. US should stop interfering in the affairs of other nations, we have enough internal problems to deal with and a super power interfering only worsens the situation.
The US citizens HAVE to realize the responsibility of being the super power and should be actively involved in the affairs of their government.

The tirade against the so called 'fundamentalist' is an absolute propaganda by the local as well as international elites. They have their faults, but they provide the basic honest governance to the people like they showed in Karachi municipal governance.

Sent by sarah | 2:45 PM | 6-11-2007

The three biggest reasons that Pakistan matters that I see are Pakistan is a nuclear power, It is the most immidiate rival and nieghbor of India, another nascent nuclear power, who would otherwise be occupied rivaling China.

Sent by MattC | 2:49 PM | 6-11-2007

Pakistan matters to the US for another huge reason. Yes, there's the Taliban - and allegedly Bin Laden - on the border with Afghanistan, but the border with India is, arguably, even more of a (nuclear) powder keg. They have fought 3 wars over Kashmir. Just this week Al Queda declared war on India; they would love to provoke a nuclear war between India and Pakistan, and they wouldn't even need to get nukes themselves. What do you thin?

Sent by John Sheff | 2:53 PM | 6-11-2007

The notion that al-Qaeeda has " won over the hearts and minds of the people in the middle east" could not be farther from truth. The political awareness of the common people in the third world is much greater than what we are used to in the US. The common people recognize the dangers in these extremist groups, so they are very careful in lending their support. In any case, the main criticism by Osama bin Ladin is not US but his own Saudi government.
As far as the al-qaeeda and nuclear 'threats' go, the US public is again being consumed by the politics of fear. After all, if the root of all the troubles in the Middle East and the most overtly belligerent state, Israel, can have triple the amount that Pakistan has, then we can rest assured that Pakistan would be very responsible. Pakistan's nuclear weapons are only to deter the threat of India (which incidentally took the first steps in acquiring nuclear weapons for regional hegemony).
Yes the powers that be will be very happy and satisfied if the oppressed are quite and meek. But unfortunately this is unrealistic and people will demand justice and fair treatment no matter where they are.

Sent by Sarah | 3:24 PM | 6-11-2007

With all due respect to Ahmed Rashid and the "suited booted intelligentia". The common man of Pakistan has seen relative properity (GDP growing by 6% for the last 5 years) during Musharaff rule.
As a Pakistani, what matter the most to me is that Musharraf is not corrupt himself unlike the demoractically elected Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. Just as in the U.S, certain civil liberties have been curtailed as a compromise for security against terrorism, Pakistanis like myself would rather live under a Military dictatorship in relative economic prosperity rather under corrupt democraticly elected autocrats like Benzair/ Sharif.
The bottom line who puts 'Pakistan first" and as history tells us anything the civilian rulers have not done that.

Sent by A Malik | 11:52 PM | 6-11-2007

I am quite surprised when I hear fellow Pakistani's claim that Musharraf is not corrupt. How did he rise to power superceeding 6 other generals above him? The fact is that he is another general in a long line who has ruined democratic institutions in Pakistan. The main claim that Musharraf is indespensable is false. Didn't Generals Ayub, Yahya, and Zia claim the same importance? The US also claimed that all these generals were indispensable to the cause of the US. If only, the American public knew how the US goverment is hated because of its support to these despots.
I visit Pakistan regularly and see the effects of authoritarian rule. It has gotten worse under Musharraf, not better. 6% GDP growth means nothing when inflation is at 9-10% and when we have news in the press that a father killed his children, wife, and then himself because he could not feed his family.
The Lal Mosque drama in Islamabad should open the eyes of the US government about how harmful their support to Musharraf really is. Musharraf's response to the episode makes a mockery of his friendship with the US.

Sent by A Rauf | 12:37 PM | 6-12-2007