Can One Man End Pakistani Democracy?

December 5th, 2011 at 11:02 am David Frum | 6 Comments |

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In my column for CNN, I discuss how Mansoor Ijaz is putting Pakistani democracy in danger:

Big events do not always have big causes. The British once went to war over an injury to a sea captain’s ear. And today’s Pakistan may collapse into military rule because of one man’s eagerness to read his name in the newspaper and see his face on TV.

The man in question is Mansoor Ijaz, a Pakistani-American businessman who takes a special delight in political intrigue. Ijaz represents himself as a democrat, a secularist, and a friend of the West. Whatever Ijaz’s personal views, nobody has done more these past weeks to undercut Pakistani democracy and poison U.S.-Pakistan relations.

This weekend, Ijaz added his most extreme provocation to date. The story is complicated, but a lot is at stake and Americans would do well to pay attention.

Let’s start with the known facts.

In May, U.S. special forces raided the Pakistani city of Abbottabad and killed the terrorist Osama bin Laden.

U.S. officials had understood for years that the Pakistani military and intelligence services were deeply complicit in al Qaeda terrorism. Now the truth was revealed to the whole world.

You might have expected Pakistanis to react with embarrassment to the revelation. You’d expect wrong. Pakistani media filled with nationalist fulminations against the United States — and with rumors of military plots against Pakistan’s civilian government.

Here is where Mansoor Ijaz entered the picture.

Ijaz came to view in the United States in the months after 9/11, when he told an amazing story to anyone who would listen: In the mid-1990s, when Osama bin Laden still lived in Sudan, he — Ijaz — had brokered a deal whereby the Sudanese would surrender bin Laden to the United States. The Clinton administration had perversely rejected the deal. This story would ultimately be repudiated as groundless by the 9/11 Commission, but at the time it gained a wide hearing on Fox News and right-wing talk radio. Ijaz himself got a contract as a Fox News analyst.

Click here to read the full column.

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6 Comments so far ↓

  • armstp

    I question anyone who appears on Fox & Friends. Fox only books guest who push their political agenda. In fact, FOX has paid Ijaz to say what they want him to say. Maybe it is Murdoch and his cronies who are trying to destabilize Pakistan. The Fox News Neocons are just looking for an excuse to get more involved in Pakistan or at minimum they are looking for a way to undermine Obama’s achievement of getting Bin Laden..

  • Reflection Ephemeral

    Militant [Pakistani] nationalists accepted Ijaz’s story … Yet on that incredible supposition, Ijaz builds a conspiracy theory highly congenial to the most reactionary and anti-democratic elements in Pakistan — and circulates the conspiracy theory at a time and in a way likely to have impact.

    Just as, in the US, militant nationalists accepted Ahmad Chalabi’s tales. Afterwards, he said, “We are heroes in error. As far as we’re concerned we’ve been entirely successful. … What was said before is not important.”

    Chalabi’s goal was to have the US install him in a position of power in Iraq. Ijaz’s goal is ????. To be on TV, maybe? Regardless, he’s willing to make the claims that he knows nationalists in the US and in Pakistan want to hear– that the liberals are selling them out to their enemies.

  • Carney

    This is a story that needs to be told. Good for Frum for getting it out there.

  • Nanotek

    “Can One Man End Pakistani Democracy?”

    if course, to the same extent that one man (OBL) ended privacy rights in America

  • SerenityNow

    Pakistan is, was and always has been a state teetering on the brink of failure.

    The only reason Pakistan exists is because its “founder” Mohammad Ali Jinnah could not stomach the prospect of an independent (and democratic) India with a demographic disproportion that would/could/might favor the Hindu majority. Pakistan is now in its 64th year as an independent Islamic nation and what does it have to show for itself? Politically it is a basket case and David is correct in suggesting that it might well devolve into military rule because that has happened before. Economically it is not much above subsistence level. And, were it not for the fact that it has nuclear weapons and strategic proximity to both Afghanistan and India, it would be of even less importance to us than Uzbekistan or Sri Lanka.

    But Pakistan does have the bomb and various elements within the country are never so happy as when they are promoting mayhem in India (especially Kashmir) and serving up as much grief to their friends as they can muster. Afghanistan is only important to Pakistan because India has longstanding ties there and because we initially relied on Pakistan for almost total land-route access to supply our troops. Even if our policy was to devote every last dollar until the end of time to prop up Afghanistan the policy of Pakistan would be to publicly support that policy even as it worked assiduously to undermine it covertly to insure that when and if we ever left India would not be in a dominant position. In short, when it comes to diplomatic duplicity Pakistan makes the old Soviet Union look transparent. And, sooner rather than later, something very bad is going to happen in Pakistan that will provoke an Indian response that no one in his right mind could ever wish for. In the meantime I marvel that our government continues to treat Pakistan as an ally worthy of respect and assistance rather than as what it truly is: an ungratefully unhinged extortionist.

  • blowtorch_bob

    With the passage of the Levin-McCain bill one should be more worried about democracy in the U.S.