Monday, August 18, 2008

The Rise and Fall of Pervez Musharraf

Photo courtesy: Financial Times

I often wonder about military dictatorships in the developing world. These work quite well sometimes (eg. General Park's influence on South Korea; and arguably Fidel Castro's effect on Cuba, and all the kingdoms of yore that had good kings); but generally the end result is quite the opposite (too numerous to mention). I'm torn about dictatorships. My own theory is that benevolent dictatorship is the best way out of the instability of war or poor governance that afflicts so many countries in the developing world. Democracy doesn't work so well because of the time it takes to bring consensus, and because the consensus is so corrupt (votes are bought from the uneducated masses).

Sadly, benevolent dictatorships rarely happen. Its TOO easy to get drunk with the power and wealth that come with the position. And while many start with good intentions, they are quickly seduced by the "fringe benefits" and the country does far worse very quickly.

Musharraf started off similarly. He took over Pakistan in a bloodless coup, and replaced a truly useless politician (Nawaz Sharif). People were only too happy to support the change. But then Musharraf was quickly seduced, as everyone else is. I can't say that he's done much for anyone but himself in the past few years. And now he's "stepping down" and being replaced by another lacking politician. I wonder...when will Pakistan be finally able to be something truly great??

Watch this great Time photoessay on the "Rise and Fall of Pervez Musharraf." Also read this past post about my thoughts on Pakistan - a country with tremendous potential, suffering under mediocre leadership!

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