Miscellaneous / 07.01.2008

“Already, more than 300 Kenyans are dead, 70,000 have been driven from their homes and thousands have fled to neighboring countries.” This is part of an editorial in the New York Times entitled Ambition and Horror in Kenya (January 3, 2008). First, some hand wringing: “It is particularly tragic to see this happening in a country that seemed finally to be on the path to a democratic and economically sound future.” Then some advice: “Mr. Kibaki should renounce that official declaration and the embarrassingly swift swearing in that followed. He should then meet with his principal challenger, Raila Odinga, to discuss a possible vote recount, election re-run or other reasonable compromise.” Followed by a suggestion for some “outside prodding.” “Urgent mediation by the leader of the African Union, John Kufuor, could help bring the two together before the violence gets worse.”  And finally, a hopeful conclusion: “Mr. Kibaki and...

Miscellaneous / 27.12.2007

By Samia Altaf In two recent articles, I was pleading for a deeper understanding of Pakistan, an understanding based on the emerging realities in the country, an understanding that would give us half a chance of avoiding the kind of immense tragedy we are confronted with today. Helping Pakistan began with the following paragraph: “Pakistan, labeled the most dangerous country in the world, with loose nukes and angry jihadis, is unraveling. It needs help. To be helped it needs to be understood. Urging a transition to “true democracy,” after the fourth military dictator has suspended the constitution for the second time and sacked a judiciary that dared to question his legitimacy, betrays either naiveté or disinterest. Both will hurt in the long run, if there is a long run.” And Cricket in the Jungle started with the following lines: “While everyone is focused on what will happen,...

Miscellaneous / 09.12.2007

By Samia Altaf While everyone is focused on what will happen, the much more profound impact will be of what is happening before it happens. Something will happen after all, it always does— when the dust settles there will be a deal: it will be Him, or him, or her in the driver’s seat; or Him and her, or Him and him; rather less likely it would be him and her. It will matter a lot to the bunch of ladies and gentlemen, honorable individuals all, who want an office, a chair, a flag at any price and who need to bet right on who will be left standing when the music stops. But what will it matter to us? We have seen them all, individually and in pairs, we have seen them all. And we know that nothing much will change when the dust settles...