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The Daily Times (Lahore, Pakistan)

Chomsky Finds Pakistan in a State of Grave Crisis

Claims alliance with US has been harmful to the country

Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON -- Eminent left-wing intellectual Noam Chomsky has said that Pakistan is the paradigm example of a failed state and has been for a long time, having had military rule, violence and oppression, and since the 1980s, an extremely dangerous form of radical Islamization.

In an interview to Fahad Faruqui of Aaj Television, Chomsky, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Pakistan is now in danger of collapsing, with a rebellion in Balochistan, the FATA territories being out of control and unrest in Sindh because of Benazir Bhutto's assassination. While conceding that the people of Pakistan want democracy, he was sceptical that those hopes are near being realised in the existing political and social system in answer to a question that democratic governments, when they do not function, can be authoritarian. For Pakistan to become a democracy, he said, it should develop political and social arrangements in which the population can actually determine effective policy.

Asked about "clash of civilizations", Chomsky answered the concept was invented by Bernard Lewis, a scholar of Islam, who has a bitter hatred for Islam. Samuel Huntington, who made it famous, picked it up. The conception is supposed to be that the United States and its Western allies are civilised, enlightened and liberal, while the Islamic world is developing in the opposite direction, towards "Islamofacism", which is backward, regressive and violent, which does not understand the West's "elevated ideals".

Alliance harmful: In answer to the question whether Pakistan can move towards democracy that it has unsuccessfully tried several times, Chomsky said, "For Pakistan, its alliance with the United States, I think, has been quite harmful throughout its history. The United States has tried to convert Pakistan into its highly militarized ally and has supported its military dictatorship. The Reagan administration strongly supported the Ziaul Haq tyranny, which had a very harmful affect on Pakistan, and the Reagan administration even pretended they didn't know that Pakistan was developing nuclear weapons. Of course they knew, but they had to pretend they didn't, so that Congress would continue to fund their support for Pakistan, for the army, and for the ISI, all part of their support for the mujahideen in Afghanistan, which was not intended to help the Afghans. We know that very well, just from what happened afterwards. It was intended to harm the Russians, so the Reagan administration was using Pakistan as a way to kill the Russians. Actually, that was the term that was used by the head of the CIA station in Pakistan that 'we have to kill Russians,' not that the poor Afghans would suffer, but who cares."

Asked if it is possible for Pakistan to become a democracy considering that it continues to pander to external pressures, Chomsky replied that it could. He cited the example of India, pointing out that there is a "lot wrong with India," including some "horrible things" but it is more or less a functioning democracy. Pakistan could move to that level, but it has to disentangle itself from the domination from the United States. Right now, he added, the US is supporting Musharraf. He asked, "Is that a way to democracy?" A large number of Pakistanis want democracy - with an Islamic flavor - but that could be a functioning democracy, he said, adding, "Their problem is to create it, and I think that the US influence has been an impediment to that." He said what is important is what the people of Pakistan find "acceptable."

Copyright 2008 The Daily Times

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