…and another stretched analogy
How easy it is to please those Indian op-ed writers. Saeed Naqvi, an Indian newspaper columnist, compares Musharraf to Ataturk.
Sensible Pakistan policy managed by Vajpayee and Brajesh Mishra, accelerated by Manmohan Singh and Natwar Singh, all stand out in bold relief. But it was courageous statesmanship by Musharraf which has opened up extraordinary possibilities on the subcontinent. There is, indeed, a tide in the affairs of men, and this is it for the region.
The principal outcome of the World War I was the liquidation of the Ottoman Empire. From the rump of this empire, Mustafa Kemal Pasha (Ataturk) shaped a proud nation with a clear purpose and direction, its shattered self-esteem restored. Historical circumstances bestowed on him absolute authority. He altered the social texture of his nation, even setting aside shariah law.
If Musharraf can consolidate what he has embarked on, he may well be compared favourably with Ataturk. Indeed, Ataturk transformed his secularism into anti-religious dogma. What Musharraf is attempting is something mellower, a moderation of Islamic practice, discouraging its use for extremist politics. Friendship with India is an enabling plank in this direction. The strategy weakens extremists on all sides of the equation â€” India, Pakistan, Kashmir. [IE]
Ataturk’s greatest triumph was the modernisation of his own society; and he did this not by caving in to the demands of religious extremists and obscurantists, but by prevailing over them. Gen Musharraf has done no such thing — it was under his rule that Islamic fundamentalists became a political force. Quite unlike Ataturk, Musharraf has backed down on every single issue when confronted by the Islamists — from the education system, to protecting women’s rights, to the blasphemy laws, to madrassa reform (remember that?) to that famous ‘religion column’ on the Pakistani passport. Just before he came to visit India, for all his Kemalist pretensions, Musharraf was not even able to ensure that fully-covered women athletes could participate in a marathon.
If Ataturk were alive today, he’d probably choke on his doner kebabs.