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Monday, January 14, 2008

World: Pakistan - How Long?

Auntie Beeb reports that Pervez Musharraf's government has deployed paramilitary troops to guard wheat supplies around the country. Wheat is a staple food in Pakistan, and Musharraf's government is accusing hoarders and suppliers of manufacturing a crisis in the food supply.

Such crises usually occur when a deeply unpopular government gives people reason to fear for their future. People begin hoarding necessities, like food and petrol. Many flee the country or go into hiding. A substantial black market springs up. Prices go higher, scarcities get worse,and eventually, an enraged populace brings the government down. Or another power player decides the time has come to move and engineers a coup.

Anyone who thinks Musharraf will escape from this with a whole skin has another think coming. One of the reasons Musharraf can yawp about not being impeached is, he's rigging the elections. The other, more significant but never discussed, reason is - Pakistan has a history of executions rather than impeachments.

And Benazir Bhutto's assassination has opened deep ethnic rifts in the failed state of Pakistan. The tribal areas of Baluchistan and the Northwest Frontier provinces have been in open revolt for quite some time now - several decades. And the assassination has caused a break between the Punjabi population and the Sindhi population. Musharraf's status as a mohajjir (immigrant from India) plays into this, with no good consequences foreseeable.
Pertinent snips from Auntie Beeb's article:
The state-run Utility Stores Corporation has been selling flour at the official rate of 18 rupees ($0.30) per kg.

However, the BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Karachi says those queuing up outside are often told that the store has run out of stock.

There have been wheat and rice shortages across South Asia in recent weeks and world prices have reached record highs.
Yet, Musharraf claims that posting paramilitary guards at stores will prevent store owners from selling more than the government permits them to sell. Does that sound good - or sensible - to you?

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