Understanding Pakistan Project Team July 14th, 2007
When we started the Understanding Pakistan Project, we had hoped to make a contribution by helping generate a dialogue between Pakistanis about their country’s history. While the temptation to do something more current and real, has always been tremendous, we had purposefully avoided doing so just because we thought that by understanding the events that have shaped us, we would gain the perspective to analyze and negotiate our present and future.
While there was one immediate time concern that had shaped the timeline of Understanding Pakistan Project, namely, the upcoming General Elections in October 2007, we had expected a more or less smooth ride. Alas, that was not to be…
The ongoing constitutional saga between the President and the Judiciary is shaping up to be an important and defining one in the country’s constitutional history. This is now nearing its close and keeping everyone revitted to the media. Yet, while the verdict in the CJP Case is likely to bring the fight for the independence of Judiciary to a closure, it is only going to be the starting point of an even greater struggle for the right of Pakistani people to be governed, through their consent, by a constitutional government.
Then came May 12, 2007–a black and especially unfortunate day in the country’s recent political history. It was a day when the state stood watching as tens of poor Karachiites were murdered in cold blood in political clashes throughout the city. It was an especially disturbing event because, we believe, it might have foretold of still grimmer events to come later.
The recent heart-breaking end to the Lal Masjid Episode is yet another event that has the potential of making or breaking the Pakistani nation. In the words of an online petition that calls for an independent judicial inquiry into this incident, “whether and how we learn from this episode is likely to determine if we are able to dodge our ultimate fate as the Next Afghanistan or the Next Iraq”.
In the face of such momentuous and heart-wrenching events, Understanding Pakistan Team has found it difficult not to engage with these issues that are defining Pakistan as we speak. We have, therefore, decided to expand our focus a bit by incorporating occasional posts about substantive current events as well. We hope our readers will welcome this editorial decision and will continue to remain engaged in the historical discussion as well.
Minus some defections in the Understanding Pakistan Team, the Project is on track in meeting its objective of providing you the best and most comprehensive commentary on Pakistan’s History. We encourage you to participate by visiting often, telling your friends about UPP, and commenting on the various posts. Feel free to give us your thoughts on this and more …
Understanding Pakistan Team
[Figures: Karachi Killings on May 12th, 2007 (Top), Reference Against Chief Justice of Pakistan, March 9, 2007 onwards (Middle), Military Operation Against Jamia Hafsa - July 10, 2007 (Bottom)]