Musharraf berates the Muslim world
February 19, 2002 2:58 PM   Subscribe

Musharraf berates the Muslim world - "Today we are the poorest, the most illiterate, the most backward, the most unhealthy, the most un-enlightened, the most deprived, and the weakest of all the human race"
posted by revbrian (33 comments total)
Does Musharraf have any credibility in the Muslim world after helping the US? Will he have any left after this statement?

I can't help but agree with him on this though... "Muslim nations are internally involved in fratricidal conflicts and perceived by the outside world as terrorists with little attention being given on their uplift"

He later described the real jihad as "...a need for creating centres of excellence in the field of science and technology (in Muslim countries"

Visionary or Crackpot? You decide...
posted by revbrian at 3:01 PM on February 19, 2002

Visionary or Crackpot? You decide...
there's a difference?
posted by quonsar at 3:06 PM on February 19, 2002

give the man a cigar, hes right. compare the nation building of cambodia to say somalia
posted by clavdivs at 3:08 PM on February 19, 2002

Leave out religion and focus on the culture in comparing those two.
posted by clavdivs at 3:09 PM on February 19, 2002

...of course, Musharraf neglected to mention one of the prime reasons why the muslim world is in such dire straits -- manipulative politicians, oppressive royalty, and power-mad imams, all of whom have a vested interest in keeping the populace ignorant and angry.

Got an internal problem? Just point the masses in the general direction of your latest infidel, and your problems are over. Temporarily.

Pakistan itself has used this technique to great effect, and it's not coincidental that the Taliban rose out of Pakistani religious schools.
posted by aramaic at 3:10 PM on February 19, 2002

by george he's got it! but has already been written on the subject, the Muslims never bothered to separate science from religion many many years ago and that was the end of serious science; the West by comparison, separated the two gradually and each does what it does better when not co-mingled.
But as has been posted, it is as though he just woke up and till now allowed the crazies to run the school system that created the shits who were to become jihadists as a profession.
posted by Postroad at 3:15 PM on February 19, 2002

revbrian: Do you believe that all Muslims are against the US, such that anyone who helps us loses credibility?

He's certainly effectively separated himself from the Islamist movement with this. The Pak army has always had an interesting relationship with the religious movements. They're basically secular, though fundamentalists are probably as prevalent in the ranks today as anywhere else in the world. The ISI is a trickier proposition, which linked itself to Islamism as noted with the assistance to the Taliban. But that was a policy for an isolated Pakistan that was just this side of being labeled a rogue state, one that couldn't get loans and military equipment and when they sent their spymaster to Washington it was mainly to receive a lecture. The Pakistan of 2002, however, has an entirely different regional and international position. I think Musharraf has very effectively exploited this, and judging by comments in the papers (despite military control of the government, they have one of the freest presses in the Muslim world), it's really improved his domestic popularity. I think it's remarkable that this smart, critical, unflinching Musharraf has emerged in the wake of the war. Now, as far as his domestic political fortunes, I don't know -- the couper must always be wary of becoming the coupee. But so far the rumblings seem to be few. Of course, he remains on a hair-trigger confrontation with India, which certainly must encourage a rallying effect.

aramaic, you may be interested in Musharraf's just as remarkable speech to the UN last fall, where he lays into the corrupt leadership issue. (You may recall that when he deposed the elected president, the reason given was corruption. Of course, he was also trying to fire Musharraf at the time...) In particular, the following is an incredible insight, speaking directly to an issue that even the West is reluctant to address:

[Context: Extremism is bred by poverty; the developed world must face this issue, and look at debt relief.] The bigger tragedy of the third world is that their rulers, together with their minions the country’s wealth and are afforded easy access and safe havens to stash away the loot in the First World. Since long restrictions have been imposed on laundering of drug money and recently money for terrorists is being choked. Why can similar restrictions not be imposed on loot money laundering?

I appeal through this forum to all the developed countries to legislate against deposits of ill-gotten money, to assist in investigation against the looters and to ensure the early return of the plundered wealth to the countries of their origin. In fact, I would not be far off the mark if I stated that with the return of this looted money, many of the developing countries may be able to pay back their debts and revive their economies.

I'm not personally aware of any studies that would substantiate the final point, although it's certainly an article of faith that South Asia is a region where bribery and corruption are a way of life. (Not, of course, alone: it's widely assumed that billions of dollars loaned to Russia bounced right back out to private bank accounts in the West.) Addressing that by tighter financial controls -- one might say aiming "smart sanctions" at friendlies -- would be an interesting approach. The rule of expediency all too often governs humanitarian missions -- pay off an official, put a gunman or a warlord on salary, all to get the food through, all the while reinforcing corruption and ersatz power structures.
posted by dhartung at 3:48 PM on February 19, 2002

Anyone care to remember that this guy is a military dictator, who has never held an election in his country since he wrested power. There is no opposition to him in his own country save the mullahs, who have only become the opposition after his recent help to the US. All political opposition-Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto- are not even allowed to live in Pakistan.

visionary, crackpot, how about gone so fast(in political terms) that his country will not even eventually remember him favorably.

Damn, what a puppet, once the US chews him and spits him out, mark my words, he will not exist.

Remember Zia-ul-Haq, there were even some theories that it was the CIA that had had him killed, he's just making the most of this situation where he has the US on his side, which as history has shown does not carry through in Pakistan's case.
posted by bittennails at 3:49 PM on February 19, 2002

but has already been written on the subject, the Muslims never bothered to separate science from religion many many years ago and that was the end of serious science

You're kidding, right? It was when the Muslims combined science and religion that they achieved their greatest scientific feats, ones which make up the foundation of modern science and medicine. It *is* possible, folks, for religion and science to co-exist.

Oh, and kudos to Musharraf for pointing out the obvious. Next comes what to do about it.
posted by laz-e-boy at 3:50 PM on February 19, 2002

It *is* possible, folks, for religion and science to co-exist.

just not in the past few hundred years, and not in the West, and not when contradictions between the two occur...
posted by badstone at 3:54 PM on February 19, 2002


The problem of Pakistan (as opposed to the Muslim world) has not been so much the quality of its fundamental scientific research (which really isnt as bad as in the other Muslim countries), as its economy and the HUGE disparity between the educated, feudal elite who got the best of everything and large mass of religious, uneducated poor, who have been getting increasingly fanatical.

To give credit where its due, Musharraf appears to be making real efforts to pull up his country by its coller as this largely adulatory article (via dialognow) points out. Hopefully he'll prove to be good for his country. South Asia will never be stable unless Pakistan finds stability. But if the US dumps him after they pull out of Afghanistan, he'll lose a lot of face with his domestic audience, weakening him considerably.
posted by justlooking at 4:05 PM on February 19, 2002

See this article by Robert D. Kaplan about neighboring Islamic, (mostly) Arab countries that are on two different tracks - some to ruin, one to prosperity. He argues that the important distinctions date to Roman times, a thousand years prior to Isalm.
posted by Jos Bleau at 4:14 PM on February 19, 2002

and judging by comments in the papers (despite military control of the government, they have one of the freest presses in the Muslim world), it's really improved his domestic popularity

dhartung: Let me point out some issues with Musharraf:

The Pakistani Constitution has been suspended since October 1999, when Musharraf assumed power in a bloodless coup. The regime effectively undermined judicial independence on January 26, the day Musharraf ordered all senior judges to swear a loyalty oath affirming the declaration of a national emergency and promising never to challenge decisions made by the chief executive. Fifteen judges, including the chief justice of the Supreme Court, refused to take this oath and were removed from office. There is more in this article vis a vis your pronouncement of the freedom of press in pakistan, that's counterintuitive, free press under a dictator?

"Musharraf follows a long line of generals in Pakistan who have claimed that a period of military rule is the path to true democracy. In fact, he is systematically destroying civil liberties in Pakistan."

The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors declared its total solidarity with the member publication Dawn and maintained that the raid by the joint Army-KESC team for the purported purpose of checking of electricity consumption was a covert method of pressure which ran counter to the assurances on Press freedom given by the Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf.

And yes reading kaushiks post, pakistan is scientifically fairly advanced, consider the fact that it is the only muslim nation with a nuclear weapon. How much do you think that scares certain countries, Israel, for example.
posted by bittennails at 4:23 PM on February 19, 2002

'Nails, your Pavlovian disdain is getting old. Way old. There's a difference between constructive criticism and perpetual axe-grinding.
posted by donkeyschlong at 4:46 PM on February 19, 2002

There's a difference between constructive criticism and perpetual axe-grinding.

'Schlong, send that quote in a email to Musharraf regarding the Kashmir issue, and democratic freedom.
posted by bittennails at 4:55 PM on February 19, 2002

i thought this was a good interview in the idler:
In the long run, the threat posed by terrorism will not be defeated by military operations and not in Afghanistan. What can be done there is just the removal of the Taliban regime and helping to construct a stable and recognized Afghan government. It is important to give security guarantees to Pakistan and to support the development that is transforming Pakistan into a strong and relatively stable pro-Western Muslim country that can play a similar role in Central and Southern Asia as Turkey does in the West and Middle East. At best, this could even encourage a Musharraf to rise in Iran, which would yield ultimate benefits to Western interests in Asia.

But then, terrorism must be fought by other means.

This means that Western intelligence must rise to the level of the Cold War to face challenges by terrorist organizations as well as by colluding governments. The West must also resist Huntington's vision coming true, since this is exactly what the terrorists want: a clash of civilizations. And we must keep in mind that there are also many others who would like to see a worldwide conflagration between the West and Islam.
also the economist had a good article on the future of militant islam and a nice article on hawala and terrorism although it concludes:
Yet, the crux of the problem is not the Hawala or the Hawaladars. The corrupt and inept governments of Asia are to blame for not regulating their banking systems, for over-regulating everything else, for not fostering competition, for throwing public money at bad debts and at worse borrowers, for over-taxing, for robbing people of their life savings through capital controls, for tearing at the delicate fabric of trust between customer and bank (Pakistan, for instance, froze all foreign exchange accounts two years ago). Perhaps if Asia had reasonably expedient, reasonably priced, reasonably regulated, user-friendly banks - Osama bin Laden would have found it impossible to finance his mischief so invisibly.
maybe they need to implement traceable money?
posted by kliuless at 5:02 PM on February 19, 2002

send that quote in a email to Musharraf regarding the Kashmir issue, and democratic freedom.

You got his email address? :)
posted by donkeyschlong at 5:29 PM on February 19, 2002

bitten: I am not blind; he is not democratically elected, and will never have the legitimacy of a democratic leader. And my statement about "freer press" is clearly a relative measure. I have been reading Pakistani papers, from Dawn to the Friday Times, regularly since last fall. There has been much open discussion of a return to democracy and the problems with his rule. And pressure of the sort described in that link happens to businesses in Chicago for pete's sake.

TNR had a rather more balanced view, putting the hopes for democracy in context among the other problems Pakistan faces, including the commonly cited "institutional meltdown". There was also an admiring profile about a year ago (I thought in Slate) that framed the issues as I would. (I blogged it before 9/11, so you understand I'm not a thorough newbie on this topic.)

Is democracy important? Absolutely. Is it the most important thing? Not nearly as easy an answer.
posted by dhartung at 5:36 PM on February 19, 2002

He's wrong.

The worst place for humans these days is in sub-sahara africa, equaly christian as it is muslim. Not many theocracies there, hell not many functioning *cracies at all.

The AIDS rate in Afghanistan is something like 1/10th that of the US, practicaly non-existant. The aids rate in some african nations is up around 30%.
posted by delmoi at 6:06 PM on February 19, 2002

dhartung: Don't get me wrong, I am very aware that in my responses to your post, which I have found quite credible and well thought out, I need to provide some background(thus the links). I do not consider, in your words, you a newbie at this.

Rather, I feel that there is a great voice in favor of pakistan in the US today. This has a tendency in me, to feel that it is important to point out that it is not quite so straightforward an issue. The article you pointed to makes good points, but is written with a muslim sensibility, I try to provide an enemy's. That is in some cases, very important, and funnily very american...and I learnt it here in the US, in India, I have to hate the country of pakistan, here I can at least be swayed once in a while.

'Schlong: tried really hard to find his email address, was unable to, the "so-called official pakistani no way to contact him, so I left a message on their voicemail. I shall let you know if they give me one, but after I mentioned my name..."chopra" I do not know whether I shall get a response.
posted by bittennails at 6:11 PM on February 19, 2002

i saw this on pacifice news bittennails: indian expatriates say india should stand tough
posted by kliuless at 6:17 PM on February 19, 2002

Leave out religion and focus on the culture

Separating the two is a pretty difficult thing to do; they are obviously intertwined.
posted by adampsyche at 6:17 PM on February 19, 2002

Thanks for the link, kliuless, I agree with the sentiment, and I stand strong, I feel there is a window to solve this problem and what it takes is what it takes. It's about time.
posted by bittennails at 6:49 PM on February 19, 2002

In reading an article on Musharref, he is greatly influenced by Ataturk - the father of modern Turkey. Secularization was one of the top priorities for Ataturk and hopefully Musharref will follow this model.
posted by scottfree at 7:03 PM on February 19, 2002

Musharraf's ideas would certainly appeal to Russians, who have a similar respect for science and technology as a route towards advancement.

Christie Todd Whitman of EPA remarked today on C-SPAN that part of the concept behind the current global warming package is providing seed money for new US environmental technologies. These technologies would be pushed out to the developing world "to help them leap over the mistakes that we made during the industrial revolution."

If the Indian Government stepped forward with an offer to help train a new generation of Pakistani scientists and technologists, it would be a step towards constructive collaboration and peace which would strengthen both countries. India has expertise comparable to the US or Europe in many fields, and would probably find it much easier to much provide training that's well-focused and appropriate.

Let's hope that initiatives like SciDev Net and the revolution in electronic publishing are just the beginning, and that we're about to see sparks of a constructive new technological synergy between the developing countries.
posted by sheauga at 7:15 PM on February 19, 2002

"The Pak army has always had an interesting relationship with the religious movements. They're basically secular," refine they have an espirt de corp that is rather British in nature. War-Lordism is prevelant in all armies weither tis stolen canteens and MILES gear in U.S. (why would someone steal MILES?) or passage to smugglers with 500K$ in Burmese pigeon blood rubies tucked in thier tummies. I believe he is separating from the 'FUNDIES because the centralists are. The man controls nuclear weapons. (nice hair too) He's balancing power, like Sukarno or HM Sihanouk by using the oppositions weapons...discontent, poverty, negitive Islamic perceptions.
posted by clavdivs at 7:15 PM on February 19, 2002

[Do you believe that all Muslims are against the US, such that anyone who helps us loses credibility?]

No - I know a few Muslims. I thought the phrase "Muslim world" would indicate whom I was talking about. To me that means those whose Muslim religion is inseperable from their government.
posted by revbrian at 7:43 PM on February 19, 2002

sheauga, you might be interested to hear the views of Pervez Hoodbhoy a nuclear physics Professor in Islamabad. He has been calling for Pakistan to recruit science teachers from India en masse. I don't think it is going to happen anytime soon though, but it is a cool idea. Pakistan gets the teachers it needs, some unemployed Indians find jobs, and maybe (just maybe) it helps improve relations between India and Pakistan (one can always hope!)

donkeyschlong and bittennails, here is the email address for Musharraf ( It can be found on bittennails, I am interested in finding out if they ever return your call! Let me know.
posted by rsinha at 8:32 PM on February 19, 2002

Is anyone else annoyed by this tendency to call him President Musharraf? It was always General Pinochet and Colonel Gaddafi, so why should we extend the privilege of perceived legitimacy to Musharraf just because we like his policies? It implies that we should just give up on democracy in Pakistan (though hopefully he will hold elections). He does seem popular and even likable, relatively speaking, but it still bothers me.
posted by Gaz at 8:32 PM on February 19, 2002

Gaz: Prez Musharraf, you bet I am pissed about that.

rsinha: Sent the email too, it was a funny call also ( the # is 888-325-4467 - toll free -, the ~ contact us ~ link on the left nav-bottom) will let you know.
posted by bittennails at 8:45 PM on February 19, 2002

There is certainly an argument that the world Musharraf speaks of is not prepared/capable of fostering other than hosting governments other than authoritarian governments, at present. Do you really think such places as Pakistan or Egypt would be better if they were, immediately, more democratic? I'm content to look at the efforts such governments are making (if any) to foster education and open, non-clerical societies and judge the places on their own terms. Which is not the same thing as letting them get away with terrorism.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:48 AM on February 20, 2002

Being from Pakistan, I would like to make some comments.

There is no doubt that Musharraf is a dictator. He took over power whatever the environment was at that time. But is this interim solution better than the democratic dictatorships of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif ?

I say absolutely. I for one grew up politically in the 90's. I went to listen to them speak. I dreamt of a better, stronger, safer Pakistan. Those two BASTARDS betrayed us as a nation.

Benazir and Nawaz have both had two turns at the prime ministership consecutively and both were fired for corruption.

Benazir's husband, Asif Zardari (known as Mr. 10%, because he had a 10% cut in every government contract) is still in Pakistani jail.

Nawaz Sharif was thrown into jail, and only freed because he was rescued by the Saudi royal family. He has good relations with them and Pakistanis respect Saudi Arabia. So now Nawaz Sharif, the great leader (huh!) ran away with his tribe and lives in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, setting up businesses.

In my view, there are two factors towards a strong democracy. There should be a strong checks and balance system and it should be allowed to complete its up and down cycles continuously.

Pakistan as a country lacks this basic infrastructure. I hope Musharraf does fulfill his promise of elections in October this year. I think Pakistan is taking the right steps after a decade in confusion.

I would have Musharraf as Mr. President any day instead of the sham democracy of the above mentioned BASTARDS.
posted by adnanbwp at 8:04 AM on February 20, 2002

adnanbwp, I agree with you that Musharraf seems far better than previous Pakistani leaders. At least he does not seem to be personally corrupt (more than can be said about most politicians from SOuth Asia). I have had moments of thinking the man is (or has the potential to be) a great leader. But I guess I find his lack of democratic credentials more of a barrier in thinking of him as a good leader. In the short-term, Musharraf can have many positive influences. But in the long term, unless he really starts down the road of true democracy, those gains will be diluted by the next dictator who takes over. And unless Musharraf moves fast about democracy, it will be another dictator who will take over next.

And the importance of democracy cannot be overestimated. It gives a people confidence, teaches them a sense of responsibility. And Pakistan needs that. Positive actions taken by Musharraf will have an impact in the long term only if democracy is restored. Also, I am skeptical if he truly intends to restore democracy. Sometimes he seems to have delusions of power (when recently he proclaimed that God had ordained him to be President!). Go here for a longer discussion of Musharraf (note: self-link). So I am reserving judgment on Musharraf till October when he has promised elections.
posted by rsinha at 8:50 AM on February 20, 2002

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