Why did the Kashmiris celebrate Pakistan's victory?

Wolfgang-Peter Zingel
South Asia Institute at Heidelberg University, Department of International Economic and Development Policy

Pakistan: Endless Military Rule?
In: Joachim Betz, Stefan Brüne (Hrsg.): Yearbook Third World 2001: data, overviews, analyzes. Becksche series 1384. Munich: C. H. Beck. 2001. pp. 116-130.

On October 12, 1999, the military took over government in Pakistan for the fourth time; the army ruled almost half the time since the country was founded. If you add the years in which the army pulled the strings in the background, it is almost a quarter of a century ago that a civilian government could determine its own policy. It was not always very democratic, so that the country can at best have a patchy democratic past. After independence (August 14, 1947), the MPs elected during the British-Indian era discussed a constitution without reaching a conclusion until the Governor-General dissolved this constituent assembly and called a new assembly, the draft of which was adopted in 1956, but was soon overridden. The dictator General Ayub Khan (1958-1969) enacted the country's second constitution in 1962; the attempt at a controlled democracy failed and the country came under martial law again under his successor, General Yahya Khan (1969-1971). Although this hosted the first democratic elections in the country in 1970, but without accepting the result. The result was the civil war in East Pakistan, which had voted for the greatest possible autonomy in this part of the country, in which India finally intervened and which led to the division of the country. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (1971-1977), the populist and increasingly repressive election winner in the western part of the country, took over rule in the rest of Pakistan and lost it in 1977 when the military under General Zia ul-Haq (1977-1988) was accused of massive election fraud the first election of the rest of the state fell. Under pressure from the opposition, the dictator gradually relaxed military rule, changed Bhutto's (third) constitution of 1973 and made himself president. These extensive powers enabled the presidents, succeeding Zias, to oust the elected governments of Benazir Bhutto (1988-1990, 1993-1996) and Nawaz Sharif (1990-1993, 1997-1999) from office; It was only when the two bitter adversaries joined forces that they had the majority required to defuse this constitutional amendment. Power now rested with the Prime Minister, who took full advantage of it until he was stopped by General Pervez Musharraf (since 1999) in a military coup that was bloodless this time too.

Foreign interests

Foreign interest in the development of Pakistan's political order has always been less of a fundamental nature than of concern about increasing tensions in the region. At the time of the Cold War, Pakistan was initially a reliable ally (Baghdad Pact, CENTO, SEATO) in the ring of alliances that the West sought to contain (containment) the "Red Flood" had entered Asia, especially since Afghanistan, India and Burma closed themselves to the stubborn bid to join this alliance system and there was a gap in the south of Asia. It soon became apparent that Pakistan's interest in these alliances stemmed solely from its fear of its two neighbors, India and Afghanistan, from whom it saw itself as existentially threatened; in addition there was the ongoing dispute over cashmere. The West, on the other hand, did not even consider letting itself be drawn into the military conflicts in Pakistan and India (1947-49, 1965, 1971, 1999); good relations began to deteriorate, despite the fact that a well-disposed western dictator, General Ayub Khan, took power in 1958. The rapid economic rise in the period of the Second Five-Year Plan (1960-65) came to an abrupt end when Ayub Khan tried to exploit India's (supposed) weak leadership after the death of Pandit Nehru and to resolve the Kashmir conflict militarily. Neither the USA nor its friendly Muslim states were willing to allow themselves to be drawn into this conflict; on the contrary: the USA successfully exerted pressure to force the adversaries to the negotiating table. This was all the easier for them when a devastating drought hit South Asia in the mid-1960s; Famine in Pakistan and India could only be avoided with massive American food aid. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, until then Pakistan's foreign minister, opposed the agreement with India from the start (Tashkent 1966); with the one he (co) founded Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) he won the 1970 elections in the Western Province, today's state of Pakistan. As president and later as prime minister he knew how to use the army's loss of reputation; His claim to the realization of an "Islamic Socialism" could not be put into practice: the costs of the military adventure, the loss of the foreign currency source in East Pakistan, the paralysis of the economy after its large-scale nationalization measures and his only rhetorical declarations of Islamization alienated and created his former following increasingly enemies. When he finally held the first elections in the rest of the state in 1977, accusations of massive election fraud provoked civil war-like unrest, which the military under General Zia ul-Haq ended with a Coup d'Etat on July 5, 1977. Relations with the former ally USA were already disrupted at this point; they deteriorated further when Zia had his predecessor convicted of murder in what was classified as a farce, and executed on April 4, 1979, against worldwide protests from governments that were friendly to him. In the autumn of the same year, Pakistan fell under the restrictions of the pursuit of its nuclear weapons plans Symington Amendments on the American Foreign Trade Act, in November several thousand schoolchildren and students burned down the complex of the American embassy in Islamabad, within sight of the presidential palace, without the police or the military intervening.

Dramatic changes in the international constellation freed Pakistan from its isolation, helped the country to get the long-lacked military and economic aid and stabilized the military government. In early 1979, the government of neighboring Iran was overthrown and the Shah was driven out of the country; Muslim scholars took power under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini, and a little later fanatics occupied the American embassy in Tehran and took the American diplomats hostage for the next year and a half. With that, Iran was no longer a regional regulatory power for the USA, the supply of the "free world" with oil from the states around the Persian Gulf seemed to be extremely jeopardized, especially since the oil-exporting states united in OPEC are for the second time limiting the amount of oil Had agreed delivery rates. Again with success: after the crude oil prices quadrupled in the first round (1973), they have now doubled to levels not previously (and since) achieved.

In neighboring Afghanistan, the swing policy between East and West failed: in 1973 Prime Minister Daud overthrew his cousin, the king, and leaned more and more to the Eastern bloc. In 1978 he was overthrown by radical forces who called the Soviet Union into the country after internal feuds at Christmas 1979. Their invasion finally meant the end of the timid rapprochement between East and West, the clearest expression of which in Germany Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik ("change through rapprochement") had been perceived. The degrees of cold fell again during the Cold War; the USA had the opportunity to take revenge for the defeat in the Vietnam War (1975); Pakistan's location as a neighbor of Afghanistan made the country an ideal deployment and retreat area for the mujahideen and an indispensable front-line state in this new proxy war between East and West. The peace negotiations in Geneva between Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Soviet Union and the USA dragged on for years until an agreement on the withdrawal of the superpowers from the war in Afghanistan was signed in the spring of 1988; According to the treaty, the Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan by February 15, 1989, but the war continued.

From military rule to military rule

On the Pakistani side, the Geneva Agreement was signed by Prime Minister Junejo, who was by no means acting as a puppet Zias and was dismissed from office by him shortly afterwards. The development of 1988 was also dramatic: first the huge ammunition depot, which the Pakistani secret service maintained for the supply of the Afghan resistance fighters on the outskirts of Islamabad, exploded, and on August 17th the president fell along with some of the highest-ranking generals and the American ambassador the plane after they watched a demonstration of the new American main battle tank together. The circumstances of this accident have not been clarified, the investigation report has not been published: reason enough for conspiratorial theories. This also ended the military rule of Zia ul-Haq. The President of the Senate, Ishaque Khan, took over the leadership of the country as the incumbent president and held elections that fall that were originally scheduled by Zia and then canceled. The elections were won by Benazir Bhutto, the daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto; however, it was dependent on a coalition and its power was restricted by the powerful president and the military. Two years later she was ousted by the president and replaced by Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the Islamic Alliance, who was to suffer the same fate in 1993. Benazir's second term also disappointed many of her former supporters, with the president dismissing her in 1996. After a transitional government and new elections, Nawaz followed again in 1997; this time by a large majority. Together with the opposition led by Benazir, he was finally able to amend the constitutional amendment that Zia had tailored to the body and that had given the president far-reaching powers. In the further course Prime Minister Nawaz succeeded in exchanging the President, the Supreme Federal Judge, the Federal Returning Officer and the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and bringing his political opponents to trials and putting them behind bars.

As in 1977, the Prime Minister's plan to make the military submissive with a supposedly weak commander in chief did not work out. Nawaz therefore used his chief of staff's stay abroad to drop him on his return flight and refuse to land at a Pakistani airport. With this action he endangered the 198 passengers (including 50 US-Americans) and crew, especially since the fuel of the machine was not enough to reach an airport abroad. Only after the military took over Karachi Airport, the plane could land there; General Musharraf took over government as commander-in-chief of the army. In April 2000, Nawaz Sharif was tried by a special court (Anti-Terrorism Court) sentenced to twice life imprisonment, a heavy fine and confiscation of his property for hijacking an airplane; Nawaz Sharif has appealed against the ruling.

The recent takeover of power by the military has in no way brought about an improvement for the former head of government Benazir Bhutto: she was sentenced to five years in prison in absentia for corruption in April 1999 and was barred from assuming political office for up to ten years [FT 16.4. 1999]; the military government has asked Interpol to search for her. Her husband has been in prison for years, also for corruption.

Nuclear weapons tests and sanctions

It is thanks to its neighbor India that Pakistan is gaining international attention again after the end of the Cold War and the declining global interest in the civil war in Afghanistan. There, after its election victory in May 1998, the BJP, known as the fundamentalist Hindu party, carried out several nuclear tests, to which Pakistan responded with a series of tests of its own, despite all international attempts at influence. The international outcry and the imposition of economic sanctions were just as predictable as their de facto lifting within a few months. They had a much stronger effect in Pakistan than in India, whose economy is less dependent on foreign countries and was in a much more resilient state in the late 1990s. In the spring of 2000 India stepped up again and announced an increase in defense spending by an unprecedented 28% while reducing the number of troops. Even if a large part of the funds will be used for a considerable increase in wages, it should still be sufficient for improved technical equipment. Pakistan is expected to respond by lowering the nuclear threshold, an obvious alternative if military "parity" is to be achieved with limited financial resources, in the expectation, of course, that India will take spectacular steps in Kashmir in the face of Pakistani nuclear retaliation would forego. However, when the Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee unexpectedly came to Lahore in February 1999 to inaugurate a direct bus connection to New Delhi [Economist, February 27, 1999], he plunged Pakistan into a conflict. Regardless of whether this was just a tactical maneuver or an expression of deep concern about the broken relations between the two states, the hospitality dictated that he be received with due honors, which did not prevent radical Islamist and nationalist forces from to agitate politically so violently that the diplomatic corps could not take part in the event. As an expression of relaxation, the two heads of government signed the on February 21, 1999 Lahore Declarationaimed at a peaceful settlement of the bilateral dispute.

Only a few weeks later, the international public was all the more surprised by the violent fighting in Kashmir, which was reported very differently in Pakistan and India. While from a Pakistani point of view it was a question of Kashmiri freedom fighters, supported by volunteers from Pakistan, who held and heroically defended some strategically important positions in the Kargil section, from an Indian point of view it was a military operation by regular Pakistani armed forces who had already been doing this before the onset of winter had occupied strategic heights and now interrupted the Indian supplies to the Siachen Glacier, the highest theater of war in the world, where a bitter war has been raging for years. The fact that this large-scale military operation could go on unnoticed by the Indian army was primarily blamed on the Indian intelligence service, much to the delight of the Pakistani. The fighting, which killed more than a thousand soldiers and civilians [FT 12.7.1999], increased in intensity by July 1999; the outbreak of open war was prevented when Nawaz's request for support in Beijing failed and American President Clinton expressed his "personal interest" in resuming talks between India and Pakistan and restoring the "line of control" [Economist 7/10/1999].

The Kashmir adventure was by no means welcomed by everyone in Pakistan, and it was also criticized in army circles as politically unsuccessful. The Indian leadership and the public were outraged by the breach of trust in the "spirit of Lahore", since it was not plausible that Nawaz Sharif should have known nothing of this action when he greeted his Indian counterpart in Lahore, the export of electrical energy from Pakistan to India seemed imminent [FT 8/2/1999] and an Indo-Pakistani Chamber of Commerce was established [Economic Times, 2/22/1999], not to mention Pakistan's sugar deliveries to India [FT 4/20/1999], of which the family of the Pakistani Prime Minister benefited with their sugar factories. Nawaz Sharif's pledges of innocence were of little help and also showed his weak leadership: when confronted with surveillance photos and tapped phone calls, he had to admit that the military was by no means uninvolved and order a withdrawal. The attempt to exculpate at the expense of the army leadership led to a further loss of reputation among the military. The question also arises whether the Indian military reconnaissance was not working better than it was admitted and whether it only had to play the scapegoat to the outside world. Then the bus diplomacy would have been a discreet warning from India that was not recognized by Nawaz Sharif and ultimately cost him the office and Pakistan its reputation abroad. The military responsible for the Kargil action and new "Chief Executive" of Pakistan, General Musharraf, now wants to approach the Kashmir problem differently.In an interview with the Indian newspaper "The Hindu" [from January 17, 2000] he announced that he would now place Kashmir at the center of all talks and not, as before, exclude it and start with less intrusive questions: "We will Kashmir and everyone other disputes and not all other disputes and discuss cashmere because cashmere is the main concern ". This does not suggest any relaxation in South Asia.

South Asia after President Clinton's visit

Given that all economic sanctions are largely ineffective, it is not surprising that President Clinton rewarded the two emerging nuclear powers with a state visit. It is more desirable than likely that he succeeded in encouraging the two opponents to moderate. The first state visit by an American president in decades to India and Pakistan will certainly be celebrated as a political success, but both countries know that at the end of his term in office the president will no longer be able to carry out his promises and threats, and in economic matters the power of the president is in any case curtailed by Congress. The extent to which economic interests determined politics became apparent immediately after the sanctions were announced on the occasion of the nuclear tests: the first exceptions were enforced by the conservative US Congressmen of the farm lobby in favor of grain exports to Pakistan and the possibility that Restricting Indian software exports to the USA - which are certainly also security-relevant - was not even discussed in view of the outstanding position of Indian experts in the upcoming conversion of computers to the year two thousand.

The fighting in Kashmir, which continued during the US president's visit, is likely to reflect his assessment that South Asia is and will remain "the most dangerous place in the world" as long as the Kashmir conflict is not resolved [Economist. Mar 18, 2000: 18]. In the eyes of the Pakistani public, Kashmir and India's indomitable stance also justify the size and importance of the army and thus the political structure and the absorption of considerable financial resources to an extent that virtually prevents the country's economic development. In this way, the army must repeatedly ask itself whether the priority it attaches to itself and its tasks in the state and society is not endangering this state and this society in a profound way.

That is certainly not what the military intends to do; However, their model of the professional soldier is threatened by the changing social composition of the armed forces and the increasing influence of the Islamists. The Pakistani army emerged from the colonial army of British India, which stood outside the independence movement and (almost) had no part in the liberation of the "motherland". In 1947 its leadership consisted almost entirely of British officers, who kept the army out of the turmoil of the partition of India. Since the army itself was also divided, this can be seen as a success, nevertheless the question is repeatedly asked whether the army could not have made a constructive contribution as a force for order when the internal order in parts of India collapsed and hundreds of thousands and millions were killed were evicted. The (first) Kashmir war took place without the (open) participation of the Pakistani army, the then British commander in chief took care of that. Since Pakistan had hardly been given a chance outside the country's borders, the army was soon able to present itself as the guarantor of the state, especially when it was in power itself. That changed in 1971 when the army leadership was accused of losing half of the country. Nothing has been as popular in recent history as the detonation of nuclear devices and medium-range missile flights. Even in the unsuccessful Kargil adventure in 1999, it was enough to have stood up to India - from a Pakistani point of view -.

Development performance and deficits

The development achievements of the military can be classified as rather modest, especially since the military has been (partly) responsible for the development of the economy, both directly and indirectly, in the last few decades. In doing so, the military has refrained from taking measures that have earned it respect and success elsewhere, for example in the areas of public education and public health, the creation of the further education, research and development required for the armaments industry and the corresponding infrastructure. To date there is no compulsory schooling, in terms of social indicators (education, health), Pakistan ranks at the bottom in an international comparison, in research and development Pakistan has, as is well known, to show some successes, namely in nuclear technology, but in the field of information technology Pakistan is compared to India fallen far behind; in the armaments and armaments-related industry (Karachi steelworks) the initiative goes back to the civilian Bhutto. In terms of infrastructure, more than India has relied on the expansion of the highways and the railways have been neglected. In telecommunications, however, the earlier liberal import policy is paying off. As before, however, the social permeability of the military is limited. In principle, all those who do not have any formal qualifications are excluded, and entry into the coveted (because it is economically attractive) higher military career is only available to those who are prepared for the strict aptitude tests based on origin and upbringing. Even if the classic pattern, namely that the officers come from the group of the large landowners, the NCOs from the group of the larger peasants and the simple soldiers from the group of small farmers and farm workers, no longer applies as it did decades ago, there is a system in which the influential feudal families delegate their sons to the most diverse management positions, so that landowners, military officers, bureaucrats, liberal professions and politicians of all stripes can be found in the same family. Today, however, the military is no longer necessarily the first choice of career, so that the still prevalent thesis that Islamist currents have no chances in the Pakistani military no longer has to stand for long. In the middle and far less lavishly paid ranks there are many today who feel repelled by a system of kleptocracy and have found refuge in religion. The demand for social equilibrium and the obligation to active charity are serious concerns for them; they often see themselves as (ideal) supporters of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the "freedom fighters" in Kashmir.

One of the dangers for the new military government lurks here. It too has started again with the aim of eliminating the blatant grievances. These include the billions in loans that the mostly state-owned banks have granted to political rulers and favorites without paying attention to the creditworthiness of the debtors and without bringing about regular debt servicing. Most of the major debtors would be able to make the contractual repayments and interest payments; but they fail to do so in the sure expectation that one day these obligations will be paid off the books of the banks as bad debts without further consequences. Such practices have been known for decades and were the subject of violent complaints from international donors as early as the 1970s, without this having changed. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had a kind of audit office (National Accountability Bureau - NAB), which was primarily aimed at persecuting political opponents. This office has now been reorganized by the military and given additional powers. However, individual groups were spared the investigation, in particular the sterit forces, with which the military government disavowed itself. She will not be able to free herself from this situation either, because either she renounces her moral claim to punish all credit fraud impartially, or she messes with her own clientele. Because from the described constellation it follows that the higher military personnel do not come from a pure soldier caste, but are related to all privileged groups, above all to the landowners.

Can we conclude from this that the military will soon run out of steam and will give way again to a civilian government? From the experience of Pakistan, this question cannot be answered in the affirmative. Obviously, it is much easier to take power than to wield it and withdraw with honor. When it recently came to power, the military refrained from announcing that they would hold any parliamentary elections in the near future. For the time being, only elections at the local level and purely personal choices are planned. To this end, the lowest political organs are to be mobilized again, a praiseworthy undertaking in principle, if the exact counterpart, namely the "grassroots democracies" of Ayub Khan, had not failed. In addition one has to know that the lowest administrative organs cannot be compared with our cities and communities. They have practically no income of their own, are dependent on meager financial allocations from the upper administrative bodies and accordingly lead a miserable political life.

The announced measures in the social field, namely the introduction of compulsory schooling, could have a greater effect. However, the empty coffers stand in the way of this and there are still political and religious resistance, since the local feudal lords and clergy are not always interested in general educational emancipation, especially among girls. Without significant efforts in education, Pakistan will not be able to emerge from its crisis.

The visit of US President Clinton in March 2000 highlighted the US’s turn to India and its departure from Pakistan. Such a dramatic change of course was not inevitable. After the Indian nuclear tests in May 1998, it seemed as if India had lost its edge in sympathy in the West, the civil war in Kashmir had come into the focus of the international public and there was definitely understanding for the Pakistani position. Attempts to prevent Pakistan from testing its nuclear explosives as well, however, were unsuccessful; this made the danger of a nuclear conflict in South Asia obvious. It was foreseeable that the economic sanctions would achieve little: this instrument has been used too inflationarily by the USA in the last decade. It was also to be expected that the sanctions would hit Pakistan harder than India, but not that Pakistan's economy would be in such a dire state. Part of the reason for this is the fact that statistics have been embellished [FT, 1.5.2000].

Erosion of political and economic culture

The erosion of the political and economic culture in Pakistan and the establishment of a popularly elected and parliamentary approved "democrature" can be blamed for this. The World Bank has repeatedly criticized the low tax base in addition to the abuse of the credit system. Agriculture in particular traditionally enjoys a general tax exemption; other broad areas are de facto tax exempt. This prosperous so-called informal sector extends across all economic sectors and is largely beyond state control. This is why it has become difficult to determine the position of the Pakistani economy.

The problem can be demonstrated on the basis of foreign trade: Afghanistan, as a landlocked country, is dependent on transit traffic through its neighboring countries. Karachi has traditionally served as the main port of entry. The imports are transported by truck; The Pakistani railroad runs to (almost) the border near Peshawar and Quetta, but is of no great importance today. Under the transit agreement, Pakistan does not impose any tariffs on transit, and since the border with Afghanistan is porous, this has always tempted people to smuggle goods back into Pakistan from Afghanistan. This is so easy because the Durand Line drawn in 1893 cuts through the settlement area of ​​the Pashtuns, but the tribal people living on the Pakistani side (today) were able to maintain many of their colonial privileges, including complete tax exemption. In addition, the state's founder, Jinnah, gave them the defense of the border after independence. The resulting "no man's land" with a population of several million is still open to both Afghanistan and the "settled districts" of Pakistan. The Pakistani government has seldom allowed a confrontation with the tribes, as there was always the danger that they would join Afghanistan, which already claimed "Pashtunistan", ie the areas to the right of the Indus, and once vetoed it Pakistan's UN membership. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the tribal areas became the most important retreat and deployment area of ​​the mujahideen, the Afghan freedom fighter. A great cult of arms has always been practiced here and narcotics (hashish, poppy seeds) have been grown. The arms and drug trafficking is today more economically important than ever. The fact that the tribal population is also religiously Orthodox and is close to the Taliban complicates the situation for the Pakistani government, which sees itself under pressure from the US and other major donors to do something against the arms and drug trafficking distancing themselves from the Taliban and increasing their tax revenues. The volume of "merchanting" was estimated at US $ 2 billion years ago; the Financial Times quotes an estimate that the loss of customs revenue alone would amount to US $ 2.9 billion, half as much as tax revenue [FT, April 26, 2000]. The attempt by the military government in April 2000 to curb "transit trade" is therefore being followed with great attention from all sides. Technically, it shouldn't be difficult because a large part of the transit never reaches Afghanistan and is unloaded on the way there. However, a whole economic system has arisen around this "transit": in every major city today there are so-called Bara-Markets with contraband. In protest against this attack on their business base, traders across the country closed these markets in late April 2000 to force the government to back down. For the military government this means a dangerous test of strength; it also threatens the credibility of the military, which runs large commercial enterprises whose roles and activities are the subject of much speculation.

There is allegedly considerable illegal trade across the border with India. This extends, including Kashmir, over several thousand kilometers from China to the Arabian Sea. The Pakistani Chamber of Commerce estimated the volume of illegal imports from India at US $ 1.5 billion, ten times the official imports from the neighboring country [The News, 7.3.1999]. In contrast to the border in the west, however, in the east it is a militarily well-secured and guarded border, which is hermetically sealed except for the crossing at Lahore (railroad and road). An unexplained border war is taking place in Kashmir; in southern Punjab and Sind the border runs through deserted deserts and steppes. The border area is densely populated in northern Punjab alone; but here the Indians have put up a fence to protect themselves from Sikh terrorists, so that one cannot imagine smuggling on a large scale. However, the amounts mentioned would have to be a trade of considerable (physical) volume and weight, far more than can be inferred from eyewitness reports of occasional cattle drives across the border. The situation is different if one includes those imports from India that reach Pakistan via third countries and / or as part of the Afghanistan transit trade. In any case, large-scale smuggling from India would not be conceivable on a direct route without the help of the military.

A large part of capital movements with foreign countries also moves past the state organs. Pakistan had liberalized its payments more than India and allowed its citizens to have accounts in foreign currencies; Pakistani overseas were rewarded with high interest rates for investing in Pakistan, the assurance not to ask questions about the origin of the money (whitener bonds), had to be withdrawn in order to avoid the allegations made by the USA of state-sanctioned money laundering. The trust of the citizens was suddenly disappointed when Pakistan froze foreign currency assets amounting to US $ 11 billion after the sanctions were implemented.This measure had also been rejected as an overreaction by leading Pakistani economists; the fact that circles close to the government were able to transfer their assets abroad in good time contributed to the fact that the Nawaz Sharif government was perceived as unsustainable.

Democratization and Islamization

Effective controls can only be achieved through democratic institutions. Like the "true democracy" sought by the military (real democracy) should look like, but it can hardly be guessed at in mid-2000. In March 2000 the "Chief Executive" presented his ideas about decentralization (devolution). After that, the democratization process should begin in autumn 2000. At the "local" level there should be elected bodies at three levels: Union Councils (which each form several villages), Tehsils (tax districts) and districts; the community councils of the Union Councils and the district councils should be elected directly, the Tehsil councils indirectly. All in all, 200,000 local politicians would have to be elected. The districts (divisions), which each include several districts, should remain purely administrative units; the provincial and national parliaments are to be elected later. The central question of the decision-making competence and financing of the lower elected bodies remains open. It has also been shown that such half-hearted attempts at democratization are no substitute for elected central bodies.

So today, too, there is a danger that important time will pass without the necessary reforms mentioned being able to be tackled. At the same time, Clinton's visit made the political second class clear. If the planned pipeline from Turkmenistan to the Arabian Gulf were to be laid through Iran and not, as planned, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, Pakistan would lose the hoped-for transit fees and Pakistan would lose its importance again if relations between the USA and Iran improve could expect even less leniency from donors and less foreign aid (because it is strategically less important). Economically, Pakistan has fallen far behind India anyway, which it cannot oppose in terms of service exports (software, tourism). There would remain a certain potential for military interference, which is becoming more and more expensive to maintain in the face of Indian armament and at the expense of the indispensable investments in economic and social infrastructure (training).

At the beginning of May 2000 the Pakistani press proudly reported that the new 300 MW nuclear power plant, built with Chinese help, had started work near Chasma on the Indus. This and the NPP near Karachi are the only two NPPs "in the Islamic world" [Dawn, 4.5. 2000]. The power plant is to replace the import of half a million tons of crude oil and relieve the balance of payments; if weapons-grade material can be obtained here, this will be perceived as a threat, especially in India. Outside of South Asia, there are fears of a nuclear escalation, especially in the USA. All the more so since the border war in Kashmir continues even after the Pakistani withdrawal. Another test of strength with the overpowering neighbor would distract from the economic difficulties in Pakistan and can therefore not be ruled out.

Negotiations with donors have dragged on since the nuclear tests. Musharraf will have to explain how he wants to deal with the Islamization of the economy and society. In November 1999 the Supreme Court asked the government to stop all interest-bearing transactions by mid-2000 [FT 4.12.1999]. In doing so, the court was guided by the idea that a fixed, success-independent interest rate constitutes usury and is therefore un-Islamic. However, this does not apply to the foreign debt, since the widespread opinion is that the interest prohibition does not apply to business dealings with non-Muslims. Nevertheless, considerable political explosives are stored here, as the bypassing of the interest ban, which has been officially imposed over and over again for two decades, is seen by the Islamists as a clear violation of Islamic law. On the issue of honor killingsMusharraf has already taken a position on murders for reasons of "family honor" which, according to the Islamic scholars, are in no way compatible with Islamic law; In doing so, however, he is opposing Islamist populists who will fight him as well as the supporters of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. There is also a threat from the USA, where sanctions are once again threatening due to the continued widespread use of child labor. After almost a year of military rule, there are no signs that the military has the strength to develop and implement consistent policies. Given the lack of alternatives, it is to be expected that the military will continue to play a decisive role in Pakistan's politics (and economy) for the foreseeable future.

Further reading:

Brian Cloughley: A history of the Pakistan army: wars and insurrections. Karachi: Oxford OUP. 1999.

Hasan Askari Rizvi: Military, state and society in Pakistan. London: Macmillan. 2000.

Wolfgang-Peter Zingel: Restrained Reform Policy in Pakistan. In: Joachim Betz and Stefan Brüne (eds.): Yearbook Third World 1995. Data, overviews, analyzes. Munich: C. H. Beck. 1994. pp. 172-189.

Lawrence Ziring: Pakistan in the twentieth century. Karachi: Oxford UP 1997.


Dawn 2000: Chasma Nuclear Reactor goes 'critical'. In: Dawn. International edition. May 4, 2000.

Economic Times February 22, 1999: Indrani Bagchi: New vistas open as Indo-Pak Chamber of Commerce is born. In: The Economic Times. Feb 22, 1999. p. 1.

Economist, February 27, 1999: On the bus to peace. In: The Economist. Feb 27, 1999.p. 59-60.

Economist 3/18/2000: The world's most dangerous place. In: The Economist. Mar 18, 2000. p. 18th

FT 8.2.1999: Peter Montagnon: India to purchase surplus electric power from Pakistan. In: Financial Times. Feb 8, 1999. p. 16.

FT 04/04/1999: Farhan Bokhari, James Mason: Bhutto sentenced to five-year term. In: Financial Times, April 4, 1999, p. 4th

FT April 20, 1999: Kunal Bose: Indian sugar growers take Delhi to task over imports. In: Financial Times. Apr 20, 1999. p. 30th

FT 6/29/1999: Farhan Bokhari: Pakistan's PM seeks backing in China In: Financial Times, June 29, 1999, p. 8th.

FT 4.12.1999: Farhan Bokhari: Court ruling on Islamic banking poses a challenge for Pakistan interests. In: Financial Times. Dec 4, 1999. p.2.

FT April 26, 2000: Farhan Bokhari: Pakistan's smugglers fall upon taxing times. In: Financial Times, April 26, 2000, p. 4th

FT 1.5.2000: Farhan Bokhari: Musharaf may seek at least $ 2bn new IMF loan. In: Financial Times. May 1, 2000. p. 3.

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