Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Response to an old Article by Ahmed Rashid

This was an old article by Ahmed Rashid. I've reported other articles by him and written on the man before. The article I'm writing about was published about a month ago, in which he recommended putting Pakistan under international receivership, and keeping it's own hapless political elite under a leash. He explicitly said that there should be nobody related to the current government on his proposed "Pakistan Reconstruction Fund". Really Mr Rashid? Nobody who has fought and contested elections? Nobody who has gone out to try and gauge the public's reaction in a national vote? Tariq Ali, who seems to keep an eye on that snot nosed little careerist Ahmed Rashid, had some things to say about the whole idea, along the lines of, "who's got the clean hands to do it?"

In a post titled, Selling of Af-Pak - Ahmed Rashid's Strange Plan, Mr Ali, gives some responses to that specific article:

The notion that that the World Bank, IMF and friends are ‘non-political’ and ‘neutral’ is risible and not worth wasting time on, especially given that their supervision of Afghanistan’s largest bank (largely owned and controlled by the Karzai family and just as corrupt as Zardari and his cronies) doesn’t seem to have been all that effective since it collapsed just as the BBC website published the path-breaking text.

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The talk-show presenters who speak of a cleansing revolution can never make one and those below, whose sufferings become visible only when disaster strikes, are so demoralized and fearful and concentrating on feeding their children and themselves that meaningful political action is far removed from their thoughts at the moment. The religious extremists, mercifully, remain unpopular. Their development model is hardly a secret in the region.

Ahmed Rashid wants to hand the country over to the United States and institutions under its control. Surely this is a bit mean spirited to the other world powers. Given the dodgy state of the US economy he would be better advised to expand the list. Perhaps four global multinationals (based in the United States, Germany, China and Russia) could set up a consortium (AFPAKCO) and start bidding for failing states, starting with Pakistan.

Ahmed Rashid wants to hand the country over to the United States and institutions under its control. Surely this is a bit mean spirited to the other world powers. Given the dodgy state of the US economy he would be better advised to expand the list. Perhaps four global multinationals (based in the United States, Germany, China and Russia) could set up a consortium (AFPAKCO) and start bidding for failing states, starting with Pakistan.

What Blackwater, its subsidiaries and rivals are doing for the US and British armies, could be replicated in civil society by big banks, oil giants and the nuclear industry. They could take over and run a few countries and if they messed up the World Bank and IMF could bail them out. The elites, many of their number already on the payroll, would happily sell out completely. And if the consortium were broad-based enough then the Pakistan Army would willingly police the new structure in return for a larger monthly check than it receives currently from CENTCOM.

Where once the East India Company took over an entire subcontinent, all that is needed now is for the AFPAKCO consortium to buy a Northern sliver. This time economic self-interest might dictate educating the population, making sure the work force was reasonably fed (genetically modified foods would come in handy on this front) and kept relatively healthy.

Of course the media, so wild these days and out of control, would have to be restrained and tuned to the needs of AFPAKCO. Here the BBC, CNN and Fox could just take-over and Rashid would be a good person to appoint as the first Director-General of the consolidated PTV. Whether a few porn channels should be allowed for recreational purposes is a tactical question, though on this front many of the politicians currently wasting their time could provide useful advice and service.

In 25 years time, let us be pessimistic, a huge anti-AFPAKCO uprising might erupt and bring about real change and independence on a very different basis and under a new leadership untainted by blood ties, corruption or collaboration. Now that would be a new start.


The descriptions of Pakistan's deeply, corrupt and wholly compromised elite are extremely appropriate. This is an elite that has maintained its position at the expense of 150 000 000 people, demonstrating a level of self serving, self centredness not seen outside of Central Africa, or the Gilded Age. Tariq Ali, started his career out abusing them, and it is appropriate that he blasts them any opportunity that he gets.

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