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This is another fine mess you’ve got me into, ‘Stan


Re the Cliff-Stanley-Andy-Michael points on whether Pakistan today is different from Pakistan in the Eighties: Well, yes, and Pakistan in the Sixties is different from Pakistan in the Forties. When you invent an artificial country, you better be sure that your artificial identity will stick. Pakistan today is not what the British and Jinnah had in mind, nor Ayub Khan, nor Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, nor General Zia, nor Nawaz Sharif. Instead, across 60 years, their failures incubated an identity that would have seemed utterly deranged to even the more excitable Punjabi Muslims of the early 1940s. As Andy noted earlier, according to one recent poll, 46% of Pakistanis support Osama bin Laden.

What should be easy to agree is that Pakistan is getting worse. Even those who thought at the time that its creation was one of the most unnecessary mistakes in British imperial policy wouldn’t have predicted that a mere half-century later it would be a coup-prone nuclear basket-case exporting both its tribal marriage customs and irredentist jihadism to the heart of the western world. Fifty years ago, Pakistanis emigrating to England and Canada brought with them an essentially Britannic education and a moderate Sufi Islam that was not a barrier to integration. Today they bring a narrow madrassah education and Deobandi Islam, which is deeply hostile to assimilation. In other words, what a “Pakistani” is is profoundly different. I liked Benazir Bhutto very much, but she represented Pakistan’s past, and her murder is a horrible confirmation of that fact.


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