Thursday, January 19, 2006
The general's dilemma
One of the people I met while researching my WSJ op-ed on Pakistan was Ejaz Haider, a noted columnist and the news editor of the Friday Times. We had a long, enlightening chat, and while I learned much from it, I was disappointed that I could use just half a quote in my piece. So here's an interesting snippet from our chat, about how it might have been necessary for General Pervez Musharraf to undermine Pakistan's institutions, and why his not rebuilding them is "Musharraf's biggest failure":
It is a paradoxical situation. When you’re a one-man show, when you want to effect a top-down approach to reform the system, you might need to undermine institutions that slow down that process of reform. But at some point, to be able to sustain the system you build, you need to strengthen the institutions again, to relinquish some of the authority you usurped. But by relinquishing authority, you risk other actors stepping into the power vacuums that result, and they could be a threat to you.Ejaz offered many more fascinating insights about Pakistani politics during our chat, which would have merited a full interview on its own, but I was caught up in a flurry of work and simply had no time to work on it as an individual story. Some other time.