ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Pakistan and Nepal: Concerns of a South Asia

Pakistan and Nepal offer contrasting scenarios in a transition to democracy. Both countries are going through a period of painful transition with significant specificities. The complicated power-sharing arrangements in Pakistan and the Maoists' task in Nepal of integrating their own parallel institutions with the state apparatus and managing a transition in a "bourgeois democracy" are all difficult jobs to carry out. South Asians watch with both anxiety and hope at the two experiments, especially in Nepal.

LETTER FROM SOUTH ASIA

-

-

‘-

Pakistan and Nepal: Concerns of a South Asian

Jayadeva Uyangoda

-
- -
- - -
- -
- --
-
the political order they are now called upon to manage?
Change in Pakistan In Pakistan, the task is not dissimilar to Nepal. A peaceful protest movement initiated by middle class professionals deve-

Pakistan and Nepal offer contrasting scenarios in a transition to democracy. Both countries are going through a period of painful transition with significant specificities. The complicated power-sharing arrangements in Pakistan and the Maoists’ task in Nepal of integrating their own parallel institutions with the state apparatus and managing a transition in a “bourgeois democracy” are all difficult jobs to carry out. South Asians watch with both anxiety and hope at the two experiments, especially in Nepal.

Jayadeva Uyangoda (uyangoda@gmail.com) teaches political science at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

LETTER FROM SOUTH ASIA

I
t seems that both Nepal and Pakistan are at the crossroads of different kinds. The ways in which the political processes unfold in both countries in the coming weeks and months is no doubt crucial for their democratic stability.

Transition to democracy is at the centre of the historical agenda of both Nepal and Pakistan. Nepal abolished its monarchy and turned itself into a republic. It is now in the process of becoming a federal republic with arrangements for power-sharing among the ethnic and regional communities. More important, the democratic transition in Nepal involves the transition of a major underground and counter-state rebel movement into political managers, or the new ruling stratum, of a democratic republic. In a way, it is a revolution. But the real outcome of the revolution is yet to come. It will depend on the answer to the question: Can the Maoist leadership make and sustain a double transition – transformation of themselves and transformation of loped itself into a mass movement for democratisation. Now the authoritarian rule of general Musharraf has been evicted from Islamabad. Although civilian rule is more or less established, there is no guarantee for democratic governance to stabilise itself in Pakistan. How the leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) negotiate their power struggle is crucial for political stability in post-Musharraf Pakistan. But, political stability is not democratisation. Master Bilawal Bhutto’s evocative phrase –“democracy is the best revenge” – might have to wait cautiously for its materialisation.

Specificities

There are significant specificities in both cases. In Pakistan, no change has occurred in the composition of the ruling elites. The middle class mobilisation and the electoral process have only brought two factions of the old and corrupt ruling elites back to power. Neither Nawaz Sharif and his brother, nor Benazir Bhutto and her husband presented a promise of a major political change in the form of a democratic revolution. Transfer of power to

august 30, 2008

EPW
Economic & Political Weekly

LETTER FROM SOUTH ASIA

civilian political elites organised in established political parties is the only democratic promise inherent in that change. Even that is not a mean achievement.

Unique Features in Nepal

Nepal offers a contrasting picture. The Maoists have been outsiders to the Kathmandu-based political class. Their emergence as the newest component of Nepal’s political class has had the two unique dimensions in the backdrop. Until the other day, they have been a radical political movement engaged in an armed struggle. They continue to advance a political project representing the interests of the subordinate and oppressed social classes. This has all the ingredients of a political and social revolution. But, it seems that the revolution is likely to remain incomplete.

First Factor

Two factors seem to constrain the political change in Nepal. The Maoist project has to be implemented in a “bourgeois” d emocratic Nepal. There is no space for the Maoists to turn their vision and commitment into a socialist experiment of the old type. The political balance of power in Nepal does not seem to allow such a radical transition. Neither do the regional and global conditions seem to allow a shift to “socialism” as such.

Second Factor

The second constraint is about the c apacity of the Maoists to transform themselves into managers of a political order, against which they have fought for years, through a programme of p iecemeal reforms. A lot will depend on the kind of political coalition which the Maoists can sustain while integrating their own parallel institutions with the state apparatus of Nepal. In this backdrop, the most which the Maoists can achieve would be minor socio-economic reforms. Such a limited reform agenda might lead to serious political consequences. A worst outcome would be the gradual accumulation of systemic p ressure on the Maoists to delay their own transition to a democratic political movement. That has the potential of g enerating and sharpening new contradictions in Nepali politics. A new conflict between the old and new p olitical classes might run the risk of reversing the gains already made by the democratic mass movement.

The mass movements of protest against authoritarianism and monarchy and the people’s desire for democratic change, expressed on the streets amidst repression in Pakistan and Nepal, p rovided tremendous inspiration for the rest of us in south Asia, where democratic politics has become separated from popular protests and mass movements. We continue to watch with a nxiety how the people in these two countries utilise the newly won space for democratic change. We can only hopeand pray that their old and new political classes will not betray the great historical promise which has not yet disappeared.

Research Positions Available

The cultural and material life of media piracy is a three year project carried out by the Sarai programme of the CSDS in collaboration with the Alternative Law Forum Bangalore. The project seeks open a different debates on piracy other than simply that of enforcement and criminality. We hope to generate discussions of cultural needs, community practices of sharing and circulation in societies of high inequality. We will also look at media industry approaches to piracy and enforcement strategies. In addition, there will be ethnographic and quantitative work on media use in neighborhoods.

The main research node is in India with comparative work in China and Pakistan. The Sarai-ALF teams of researchers work in tandem with an international project on media piracy with fellow researchers in Brazil, South Africa and Russia. We are looking for bright, energetic and qualified researchers who can work in collaboration with a regional and international team. Applicants must demonstrate abilities to research and write on the subject. A familiarity with the debate on piracy, intellectual Property and the creative commons is preferable. Social science and humanities applicants should have completed postgraduate degrees, law students a four year programme.

Researcher One: Delhi

The researcher will be looking at fieldwork material on media piracy in the Sarai archive, as well as neighborhood surveys slate to begin in 2009. Work will include research papers presentations and collaborative work with the team.

Researcher Two: Mumbai

The researcher will be looking at the range of piracy strategies pursued by media industries in the film and music sectors. Research will span the larger media companies as well as the smaller companies. Work will include research papers presentations and collaborative work with the team. Applicants from outside Mumbai are also welcome to apply for this position, although Mumbai based work will be significant.

Remuneration will be Rs 28,000/ a month. Interested applicants may send their CV and a written research sample to researchjobs@sarai.net by September 20, 2008. Applications without a written research sample will not be entertained.

Links Sarai, CSDS : www.sarai.net Alternative Law Forum www.altlawforum.org

Economic & Political Weekly

EPW
august 30, 2008

Dear reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top