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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Stop paying Pakistan, says nation’s former judge

By Dave Roberts

American presidential candidates are not the only politicians focusing on change.

Elections in Pakistan two weeks ago capped a tumultuous few months for the nation, leaving the country with hope for a political turnaround. Pakistan has experienced recent political unrest, including the imposition of martial law, the suspension of numerous civil liberties in late 2007 and the December assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Long-time President Perez Musharref is being pressured to step down as well.

“(The elections) seem to be changing the course of Pakistani history,” said languages and literature professor Ashok Rajput.

Rajput and former Pakistani judge Chaudry Ali discussed the current situation in Pakistan during a forum at the Hinckley Institute of Politics on Thursday. Rajput explained how Pakistan’s current problems stem directly from issues that have existed since the nation was formed.

“The people of Pakistan want a democratic and even somewhat secular constitution,” Rajput said. “No one saw it originally as an Islamic fundamentalist state.”

Rajput blamed rapid demographic shifts that took place during the country’s inception in 1947 for much of the instability that remains today. He said the country remains in the “ideological captivity of Pakistani elites” who project the fundamentalist and nationalistic mindset that is often attributed to the entire country.

Ali mostly echoed Rajput’s sentiments as he detailed the nature of Pakistan’s justice system, which he said has been blatantly abused and disrespected by Musharref and the Pakistani military.

When asked what Americans can do to help stabilize the region, Ali said he wants to see America again as “a social worker and not as a mercenary.” He said the Pakistani military is taking the money America is giving it and using it to make Pakistan into a terror state. He advised that the best remedy would be to stop giving money to Pakistan’s government.

Both men stressed that Pakistanis as a whole are not a militant people. The country has good schools, good hospitals and a good infrastructure but lacks real leadership. Ali made it a point to say that “the best minds in Pakistan are not in politics.”

Calling the students in attendance “the backbone of any society,” Ali said a similarly promising generation of young people is alive in Pakistan, merely waiting for the opportunity to make a difference in its country. He said the best way to help would be finding some way to contribute to Pakistan’s community work, a notion many of the students in attendance were satisfied with.

“I’m glad he offered a perspective about what we can do,” said Megan Tatum, a freshman in communication. “Often times we point out a problem but not a solution.”

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