Solar energy would work in Karachi Pakistan

Shaken by violence

"Pakistan's biggest problem is corruption at the top of the country. If the top-level government is corrupt, corruption automatically spreads to the lower level. Our whole system has degenerated. We have to renew it from the ground up. At the same time, we also need ours Modernize agriculture, revitalize our industry. At the bottom, corruption is just an expression of poverty. But at the top it is an expression of degenerate moral values. "

Intrigue, murder and mutual recriminations - leitmotifs in Pakistani politics, not just since yesterday, since the death of Benazir Bhutto. And long before the rise of religious extremists. Since the founding of the state in 1947, Pakistan has been the prey of a wafer-thin layer of large landowners. Everyone is committed to social justice. All fight against corruption. In fact, they fight hard for the benefice - at least that's what Arnold Heredia, from the non-governmental organization "Committee for Peace and Justice" in Karachi thinks:

"There are no differences between the secular parties. They are not there to serve the people, but the party interests - not even the party interests, but those of their leaders. Corruption, there is no real controversy about this behind the scenes. Corruption, that is the generally accepted behavior. When you come to power it is to take whatever you want. Those in power don't even see that as corruption. It's the old feudal mentality. You are not corrupt. Everything is heard You. The whole state is yours. You are the boss. Do whatever you want. It's a shame that you can't do it indefinitely, but only until someone snatches power from under your nose. "

In order to visualize the gap that separates politicians and the electorate, it is instructive to talk to devious farm workers in a slum of Karachis, those who previously worked on the estates of the large landowners. In order to buy fertilizers and tools for their own small fields, the workers often borrow money from the large landowners, says one slum dweller. He went to Karachi in the hope of earning money there.

A social worker adds that many large landowners force the farmers to leave their children with them as free labor, boys aged ten to twelve - until the debts are completely paid off.

The family of the murdered opposition leader and ex-prime minister is also one of the feudal lords of Sindh, the southern Pakistani province around the megacity of Karachi. Benazir Bhutto's father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, had stylized himself as a social revolutionary in the 1970s. In a Mao Tse Tung-style smock and a balloon cap, he drove across the country and proclaimed a socialist system. Meanwhile, his daughter Benazir attended the best schools at home and abroad, including Oxford and the US elite Harvard University. When Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was overthrown and executed by General Zia ul Haq in 1977 - on charges of political murder and fraudulent elections - first his wife and then his daughter Benazir inherited the chairmanship of the party as a matter of course.

In 1988, Benazir Bhutto, who was just 35, won the elections and became the first female head of government in a Muslim country.

In 1996, Pakistani President Leghari dismissed her for corruption.

Heredia: "There are numerous allegations against Benazir Bhutto, various reputable newspapers have researched into corruption about her and her husband. It was about the fact that they wasted money from the state treasury to promote their own image or on unnecessary trips abroad with an excessively large court. Her policy consisted essentially of cultivating her image vis-à-vis other countries, that of a progressive prime minister. "

Despite her image of a secular woman-friendly politician, Benazir Bhutto allowed the Taliban to be promoted - most political observers agree on this analysis. In the mid-1990s, not only Pakistan, but also its protective power, the USA, was concerned with hegemony over Afghanistan, which was torn by civil war. The Taliban offered themselves as a force for order. It would be all the more paradoxical if the opposition leader actually fell victim to a Pakistani Taliban suicide bomber on December 27, 2007. After all, this is the thesis that Pakistan's President Musharraf announced immediately after the murder.

Benazir Bhutto himself evidently made entirely different assumptions. A few days ago she sent an American politician an email in which she expressed the conviction that should she be murdered, the army would most likely be behind the crime.

But even that is anything but certain.

Because the conflict between General Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto not only reflects the conflict with the daughter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was handed over to the executioner by the army. It also reflects the animosity between the rich landowner and the Mohajir, the son of the refugees who immigrated from India. As such, Musharraf is one of those who had to laboriously fight for their position in the new Pakistan - against the resistance of the local rich Benazir.

A few days before her death, Benazir complained bitterly that Musharraf's state power did not grant her sufficient protection.

After Benazir's death, Nawaz Sharif is the only serious contender in the spectrum of secular politicians - a foster son of the strictly religious General Zia ul Haq, who - in a well-established tradition - fights for social justice, "real" religiosity and against corruption Has written flags.

But Arnold Heredia from the Committee for Peace and Justice remains skeptical:

"Nawaz Sharif may not be a classic landowner, but an industrialist. But he always behaved like a squire. He didn't even allow unions in his own companies, he always denied workers their basic rights. And it wasn't about anything extraordinary but about basic rights. "

Perhaps the hope for violence-shaken Pakistan lies in critics like Arnold Heredia. Finally, the recent protest against President Musharraf's influence on the judiciary has shown the strength and confidence of Pakistani civil society.
Muneer Malik, head of the Pakistani Supreme Court, knows how dangerous politicians live in his country. For a few months, Malik led the protest against President Musharraf's brutal dismantling of Chief Justice Ifthikar Chaudry; and three attacks have already been carried out on his house in Karachi:

"There is no democratic culture in Pakistan," says Malik. "Parties here are vehicles of particular interests, dictatorially led by small cliques; the means of political debate are populism and violence." Politics in Pakistan: this is in fact not a fight for ideologies or programs, but loyalty to a region, a religion or a leader.

The "Peoples Party" PPP of the Bhuttos is ruled by the super-rich feudal lords of the Sindh province and elected mainly by the rural population. In the "Muslim League" of Nawaz Sharif, big industrialists from the Punjab are in charge; the party has its base in the cities of the east - meanwhile, in Pakistan's largest city Karachi, a party of immigrant Indians ruled. Several Islamist parties share the northwestern provinces; In Baluchistan, which is rich in natural resources, a secular autonomy movement is fighting against the central government. Contrasts, exacerbated and overlaid by ethnic conflicts and religious rivalry between Sunnis and Shiites.

Violence has always determined Pakistan's politics, says the journalist Imtiaz Gul in Islamabad - especially in the short phases of so-called democracy: in the 1990s there were street battles between the PPP and the Muslim League almost every week; in Karachi in 1995 alone, over 2,000 people died as a result of political violence - a level the country is now approaching again. The Pakistanis are frustrated after a decade of military rule in which soldiers killed devout Muslims and were inundated by the US with billions of dollars in return; a decade of decent economic growth in which the rich got richer but the poor remained bitterly poor. 60 percent of Pakistanis live below the poverty line; Many see a future for their children only in the madrassa and a life for true Islam - if necessary with the means of jihad, the holy war.

"Today we are experiencing a completely new generation of jihadis. Admittedly, it is not more than half a percent of our population. But half a percent of 160 million, that's over 500,000 living time bombs - brainwashed, indoctrinated, fixated on that only aim to destroy those who have abandoned jihad; jihad against Indians, Americans and Russians. "

The ideology of jihad has always had deep roots in Pakistan's army, which has seen itself as the defender of its Islamic identity since the bloody founding of the country. This self-image radicalized military dictator Zia ul Haq, who ruled Pakistan from 1977 to 1988. The deeply religious Muslim Zia saw in the freedom fighters of Afghanistan a role model for Pakistan; he brought officers like Musharraf and his successor as army chief, Ashfaq Kayani, in leadership positions; Zia made the military intelligence service ISI what it is today: a kind of secret society that wants to secure Muslim identity on the borders of Pakistan: in Kashmir and Afghanistan.

"The US dollar billions have done little to change that," says Tehseen Ullah, head of a citizens' initiative in Peshawar that is critical of Islamism. "Pakistan's army is fighting the Islamists with the handbrake on," says Ullah, referring to new Islamist fighting organizations that are springing up in the west and northwest.

It stands to reason that Benazir Bhutto, who had mutated from a supporter of the jihadists into their harsh critic, was murdered by such warriors of God. - Whether this murder benefits or harms President Musharraf remains to be seen. Perhaps now the PPP and the Muslim League are joining forces in a powerful democratic opposition to the president; but maybe also - and that seems more likely - you wear yourself out in diadoch fights.

Regardless of this, Musharraf and the army behind him so far find themselves so caught up in their chairs that their country is in danger of slipping out of their hands. From the point of view of pious Muslims, corrupted by the USA, they have stained themselves with the blood of their fellow believers on the Afghan border. From the point of view of those who dream of democracy, Musharraf has proven to be a power-hungry dictator who dismantled the rule of law, muzzled the press and threw hundreds of democrats in jail.

Apart from that, there is growing outrage over the incredible wealth of the military in a desperately poor country: the army owns banks, textile factories and freight forwarders; she is the largest landowner in Pakistan and behaves like a feudal lord.

Pakistani bitterness and disappointment are reflected in polls, according to which just 20 percent of the population are behind President Musharraf. The greatest danger now appears not to be a bloody military dictatorship, but a power vacuum in Pakistan.

A vacuum that is not only causing chaos in Rawalpindi, Karachi and Islamabad but also thwarting Washington’s plans. The Bush administration is facing a multi-billion dollar heap of its Pakistan policy. Benazir Bhutto's return in October was the result of a long behind-the-scenes tug-of-war. Washington had tried for over a year to persuade Musharraf and Bhutto to share power. In the face of many poor options, Bhutto still seemed the most reliable partner on the way to stabilizing the country. A stabilization that was apparently not achieved through massive financial aid. Only in the past few days had the "New York Times" thrown a spotlight on the eleven billion dollars that flowed into Pakistan over the past seven years. Eleven billion for the war on terror - with no visible success.

In the meantime it seems clear that a large part of the money was not used in the interests of the Americans, but instead went, for example, into weapon systems directed against the archenemy India. It can't go on like this, says Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. It was money that was mostly invested in Musharraf and not so much in Pakistan. We have attached far too few conditions to this money.

The relationship between Washington and Islamabad has deteriorated increasingly over the past year, not least because of a lack of success in the fight against terrorism. The border area with Afghanistan has become a retreat for the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden is still at large. The democratization of the country is not making any progress. General Musharraf only lifted the state of emergency a few weeks ago after massive pressure from Washington. The Americans also pushed through the January 8 election date and even after the attack they are pushing for the elections to be as quick as possible. The postponement would be a victory for the extremists responsible for the act, said Tom Casey, State Department spokesman yesterday.

So while the Bush administration is still hoping for the roadmap, different pieces of advice are coming from those who want to inherit Bush. The attack changed the election campaign. Suddenly it's no longer about the economy, but about world politics. Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico and former US Ambassador to the United Nations, calls for Musharraf's resignation:

"If I were president, I would ask him to resign and form a transitional government pending free and democratic elections."

Barack Obama of the Democrats puts the situation in Pakistan in a larger geographical context. Obama was against the Iraq war from the start and now sees himself confirmed once again:

"We have made a number of bad decisions, we made the mistake of going to Iraq, we have lost sight of Afghanistan and we have promoted anti-Americanism in Pakistan. These are issues that we will and will have to deal with I do as President. "


From the point of view of the White House, these candidates are still in an enviable position. You can write prescriptions without having to act. For the Bush administration, however, there are currently no promising options; with a view to Pakistan, the principle of hope remains at the moment.