US' loss of interest in Pakistan a boon: Historian Ayesha Jalal

Posted on 27th Jan 2015 04:49 pm by mohit kumar

Kolkata, Jan 24 (IANS) America's loss of interest in Pakistan was a boon, according to historian Ayesha Jalal who Saturday said encouraging signs were there for democracy to return and thrive in the country often described as a "failed state".

Delivering the 125th Sarat Chandra Bose Anniversary lecture here, the Pakistan-American historian also called for giving time to Pakistan to become a functional democracy.

"The best thing that has happened to Pakistan in years is America is losing interest. Those who want to see the return of democracy in Pakistan, they would certainly hope that America takes less interest in Pakistan because its only interest has been the army," said the Tufts University professor.

"Pakistan's problem has been continuous disruption of the political process by the military. Democracy is a conflict but a managed one and Pakistan now has come to realise that this is what is needed.

"Despite the terror and despite everything, in the present conjecture many opportunities do exist, as there is a realisation that this is the way forward," she said.

Jalal, the author of "The struggle for Pakistan: a Muslim homeland and global politics" also said the judiciary's steady assertiveness will ensure that the military will chose not to intervene directly.

"But that doesn't mean the military will not be the dominant institution. It will change only after decades of uninterrupted parliamentary government.

"The state institutions are so fragmented because of years of authoritarianism, nepotism and political interference that the break in the institutions' ethos, until that is restored, it would be difficult to ensure a proper delivery system. That is why I say Pakistan needs to be given time," she said.

Jalal also expressed displeasure about Pakistan being called a "failed state".

"I also want to ask about the narrative about Pakistan being a failed state. A failed state by whose standard, by the western standard, by India's standard? I don't think this is a useful categorisation," she said.

Jalal asserted that the Dec 16 Peshawar school attack has made the authorities intensify the fight against terrorism and called for re-imposing the moratorium on the death penalty, that was lifted after the massacre that claimed the lives of 145 people, the majority of them children.

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