Daily Archives: September 20, 2010

“Regime change”: a useless debate

Raza Rumi

The cat is finally out of the bag. The MQM chief has issued a statement on how the country needs to be saved from corrupt politicians. This was followed by his arch-foe Imran Khan who assured the military of his support should they choose to rescue the country. The PPP has issued muted condemnation of this statement while the PML-N has been categorical in rejecting any extra-constitutional intervention. The ISPR has been silent (unlike its vociferous denunciation of the Kerry-Lugar Bill) and so has the apex court that is usually prompt in taking suo motu notice. Overzealous TV anchors have had a field day in proving how terrible the current ‘system’ of democracy is without indicating what the alternative is.
Several wise commentators have also pointed out public frustration over the alleged mismanagement of the floods by the civilians as a genuine reason for a no-confidence in the system of governance. Pakistan’s chatterati, especially its depoliticised, affluent classes, have perfected such an ahistorical discourse to an art form. There seems to be amnesia about the fact that although all military interventions were sought to get rid of the ‘corrupt politicians’ each of these autocratic spells weakened Pakistan. Furthermore, centralised military rule is incompatible with federalism. Pakistan’s existence was, and remains, a compact between its constituent provinces. Continue reading

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The question of reserved representation

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

During the course of the recent hearings on the 18th amendment, one of the Supreme Court justices questioned whether members of the National Assembly on reserved seats, for women and minorities, could be described as elected representatives of the people since these members are nominated by the head of a political party. Continue reading

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War and Politics

By Feroz Khan

The face of war, in the first decade of the twenty-first century, has undergone a significant change. The continuing evolution of war, as the most complex, the least understood, and extremely unpredictable of all human endeavors, has been influenced by a paradigm change in the politics of international relations. The study of international relations, and within it the hierarchy of sovereign power, has been steadily shifting, though scarcely noticed, from the confrontational assumptions of the Cold War to the euphoria of globalization to the dystopian nature of trans-internationalism. In all of this, the nuanced definition of sovereign political power has also gradually changed within a traditionalist view of political power itself. The traditional definition of political power has been understood as the ability to make others accept what they normally would not accept, but this definition differs from the idea of sovereign power, which has been historically defined as the complete authority of a state to regulate and control its affairs within its own territorial jurisdiction.

The end result of these differing understandings of political power and sovereign power, in international relations, is an implicit sense of conflict as the ideas of political power and sovereign power actually exist as an anti-thesis to each other. The hallmark of political power, in the international relations, is aggressive and the overarching aim of political power is to create a situation that continually favors and increases the options of a particular state. Whereas, the idea of sovereign power is to maintain a status-quo that ensures that a state has the option to resist unreasonable demands that might limit its own abilities to exercise authority within its own territory. It is this reality of the international relations, with its constant proclivity towards an inherent conflict that gives it the enduring image of a Hobbesian state of nature. However, despite its Hobbesian nature and the idea of every state against every state, there is a caveat, which limits this conflict and tries to manage it effectively and this caveat is known as war and diplomacy which not only regulates the dynamics of international relations but also influences it.

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