Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Middle East/African Revolution/Protest Series: Pakistan

The protests in Pakistan kicked off on March 2, 2011.
See the whole Middle East/African Revolution/Protest Series.
Pakistan is a country I hear about a lot, especially in terms of terrorism that affects America and relations with Israel. I don't know much about their internal conflicts though and I'm glad to finally learn.
Basic History
Pakistan's official name is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Geographically, is it located in southeast Asia and is considered part of the Middle East. Important bordering countries include: Afghanistan and Iran. The capital is Islamabad. The population is estimated at 170.6 millions people. The official languages are Urdu and English. Other recognized languages are Balochi, Pashto, Punjabi, Saraiki, Sindhi .

Pakistan's most recent leader is President Asif Zardari. He is the widower of Benazir Bhutto. Click that link and read her wikipedia page. She is a person you should know. But back to President Zardari. He is elected by electoral college after the people vote in Pakistan. He is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The Prime Minister is Yousaf Raza Gillani. The Prime Minister is the leader of the political party who receives the most voted for office in the bicameral legislature. The Prime Minister is the head of government.

In terms of  independence, Pakistan as a modern state was established on August 14, 1947. This was when they declared their independence from the United Kingdom. Pakistan has fluctuated in terms of civilian, military, and religious rule over the years. As it currently stands, Pakistan is under Islamic law, but the people in charged are elected (indirectly) to office.

The Protests
The main causes cited as the reasons for the protests include: presidential corruption, oppression of women, lack of basic human rights. Some of these I was surprised to read about as being problems in a democracy, but I guess it makes more sense when looked at through the Islamic lens. Womens' rights are not a priority for Islam.

It's been pretty difficult to get a specific timeline of what's been going on in Pakistan. But I've read a number of articles that decry the use of violence against the protesters. They say the police have over-reacted to the protesters and incited more violence by doing so. You can read more about that here.

Here is the best I can figure from the posts and blogs and reports I've read. There have been various protests around Pakistan protesting corruption, economic turmoil and the like. Some of the clashes have been handled terribly by police. But for the most part, Pakistan isn't covering the protests on a large scale. They see news of it on TV, but it isn't the biggest concern. There seems to be more national concern about that cricket match they lost. But the protests are still ongoing and they are causing President Zardari to make concessions about solutions to the economic problems.

As of now, America stands with Pakistan's government against the protests, but of course condemns the violence against the protesters by police and particularly violent protesters themselves. If you know where I can find more specific information to piece together a timeline, let me know and I'll cover in more detail on this blog.

More information can be found at wikipedia.org, youtube.com, and dawn.com.

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