Posted by: uss017 | December 13, 2007

On The Long Road To Freedom, Finally

I don’t agree with every claim and assertion in the above article, but the following acknowledgements should be noted (all emphasis added unless otherwise stated).

The economy under Musharraf:

Yet the widespread publicity given to Pakistan’s 2007 crisis has obscured the important changes which had quietly taken place during Musharraf’s rule in the years preceding the collapse of his authority. The Pakistani economy may currently be in difficulties, with fast rising inflation and shortages of gas, electricity and flour; but between 2002 and 2006, it had been growing almost as strongly as that of India. For five years, until the beginning of 2007, Pakistan enjoyed a construction and consumer boom, with growth approaching 8 percent and what was briefly the fastest-rising stock market in Asia.

More on the economic boom under Musharraf and the lie about Pakistan being the most “most dangerous country in the world” and a “failed state“:

The country I saw last week on a long road trip from Lahore down through rural Sindh to Karachi was very far from a failed State. Nor was it anything even approaching “the most dangerous country in the world… almost beyond repair” as the Spectator (among many others) recently suggested. Instead, as you travel around Pakistan today you can see the effects of the recent economic boom everywhere: in new shopping malls and restaurant complexes, on hoardings for the latest laptops and ipods, in the cranes and buildings sites, in the smart roadside filling stations and the smokestacks of the factories; in the new 4x4s jamming the roads and in the endless stores selling mobile phones. In 2003, the country had fewer than three million cell-phone users; today apparently there are almost 50 million, while car ownership has been increasing at roughly 40 percent per year since 2001. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has risen from $322 million in 2002 to $3.5 billion in 2006.

The transportation system of Pakistan compared to that of India’s and the general peace in Pakistan:

It is true that on my trip there were pockets of great poverty and frequent shortages of electricity. At one point, I was told that I shouldn’t continue along certain roads near the Bhutto stronghold of Larkana as there were dakus ambushing people after dark. But by and large, the countryside I passed through was calm and beautiful, and not obviously less prosperous-looking than rural India. Indeed, the transport infrastructure of the country is in many ways better than India’s: Pakistan still has the best airports, motorway and road network in the region. Driving last week along the dual carriageways of Sindh, a week after bumping through rural Rajasthan, there was no comparison between the roads on either side of the border.

The Pakistani fashion, books and media:

The cities of Pakistan, in particular, are fast changing beyond recognition. As in India, there is a burgeoning Pakistani fashion scene full of ambitious gay designers and some amazingly beautiful models. There are also remarkable things happening in the world of books: as well as a fine crop of major non-fiction writers — Ahmed Rashid, Zahid Hussain and Ayesha Siddiqa at the front of the pack — there has been an amazing renaissance in English-language fiction, with fine writers like Kamila Shamsie, Nadeem Aslam, Daniyal Mueenuddin, Moni Mohsin, Ali Sethi and especially this year’s Booker short-listee, Mohsin Hamid, all for the first time giving their Indian counterparts a run for their money.

Recently, Hamid, author of the bestseller The Reluctant Fundamentalist, wrote about this. Having lived abroad as a banker in New York and London, he returned home to Lahore to find the country unrecognisable. He was particularly struck by “the incredible new world of media that had sprung up, a world of music videos, fashion programs, independent news networks, cross-dressing talk-show hosts, religious debates, and stock-market analysis.

Media openness in Pakistan under Musharraf:

I knew, of course, that Musharraf’s government had opened the media to private operators. But I had not until then realised how profoundly things had changed. Not just television, but also private radio stations and newspapers have flourished in Pakistan over the past few years. The result is an unprecedented openness. Young people are speaking and dressing differently. The Vagina Monologues was recently performed on stage in Pakistan to standing ovations.

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© Musharraf Supporters 2008 All rights reserved

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