Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pakistan isn't Iran

Pakistan isn't Iran

Michael Shank, government relations adviser, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University - Arlington, Va.

Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., believes that Pakistan in 2007 is similar to how Iran was in the late 1970s. The senator is exhibiting an unfortunate lack of knowledge vis-à-vis Pakistan ("Biden warns that Pakistan's crisis is more dangerous than Iran's '70s upheaval," On Politics, USATODAY.com, Thursday).

Biden believes that because Iran overthrew a corrupt, U.S.-backed leader and reinstated a conservative religious regime, that Pakistanis will similarly overthrow the inept, U.S.-sponsored President Pervez Musharraf and install a religious leadership. This won't happen. Religious political parties never have ranked high in Pakistan's public opinion. The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, the only Muslim political party that is extreme enough to mimic what happened in Iran, won only 11.3% of the vote in Pakistan's last election.

Also, most of the street protests in Pakistan are not religiously affiliated. Many of my colleagues protesting in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad are secularly minded university faculty and students, human rights activists, architects and artists. This is not Iran in the 1970s.

Moderates in Pakistan, of which there are many, should be supported. Musharraf should not be.


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