Ali Ettefagh at PostGlobal

Ali Ettefagh

Tehran, Iran

Dr. Ali Ettefagh serves as a director of Highmore Global Corporation, an investment company in emerging markets of Eastern Europe, CIS, and the Middle East. He is the co-author of several books on trade conflict, resolution of international trade disputes, conflicts in letters of credit, trade-related banking transactions, sovereign debt, arbitration and dispute resolutions and publications specific to the oil and gas, communication, aviation and finance sectors. Dr. Ettefagh is a member of the executive committee and the board of directors of The Development Foundation, an advisor to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and an advisor to a number of European companies. Dr. Ettefagh speaks Persian (Farsi), English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Turkish. Close.

Ali Ettefagh

Tehran, Iran

Dr. Ali Ettefagh serves as a director of Highmore Global Corporation, an investment company in emerging markets of Eastern Europe, CIS, and the Middle East. more »

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The End of the Experimental Nation-State Era

The Current Discussion: With President Zardari forced to reverse his bans on political opponents, is Pakistan on the brink or is this a positive sign? What, if anything, can the West do to help maintain stability and democracy?

The true test of democracy is the action of a government responding positively to the will of the people. Alas, there are heavy and visible liens on Pakistan’s democratic credentials in a sub-prime political mess: rough tribal relations, the heavy fist of armed forces that moonlight as business enterprises, a shadow “deep state” of intelligence services that deem themselves above the law but tangle with inexplicable support for shadowy figures, drug lords, and extremism of the al-Qaeda and Taliban variety. This kind of nuclear sub-prime case is prime for a meltdown-- outside NPT and IAEA supervision. It can easily turn to a scary monster, as it has many embedded sympathizers. Planners and observers from 5 and 10 time zones away in London and Washington think they have implemented a de facto atomic disarmament in Pakistan by compelling the army to distribute various components of Pakistan’s atomic bomb amongst diverse tribal and regional command groups. But it is time to rethink this simplified summary. The seasonal itch in Pakistan has led to hosting al-Qaeda operatives, generating inexplicable elements to bomb Indian hotels and railway, or acting as a conduit for sale of illegal drugs valued higher than Iraq’s oil exports.

But what more can the “West” do, above and beyond precious little? Save for a complete rethink, the answer is nothing. Pakistan and Israel are both post-World War II experimental thinking in British political thought to structure and fabricate religious “nation” states. Some 60-65 years later, both concepts are brittle, out of step with the world, and on the brink of self-implosion derived from extremism. Both stand out as sore thumbs in a world tired of wars and a neighborhood that desires an equitable solution. Most alarming is that both of these new states have wagered their existence on short-term tactics, lobbies and ill-informed politicians where reality is hijacked, especially in Washington.

What can the “West” do? First of all, who or what is the so-called “West”? If that is a catchy jiggle to summarily describe NATO, a politico-military creature born around the same time as Pakistan to stand up against USSR, then no wonder it has visible divisions in its political and military approach to Afghanistan and its source of instability in Pakistan. If the term “West” is a catch-all term to an economic club, say the OECD or the original G-7 (minus Japan perhaps), then the House of Chaos might better describe it. In its currently sorry state of economic affairs, Pakistan’s national debt-to-GDP is lower than that of its founder, Great Britain—now how is that for a sub-prime case of crisis? If the word “West” is diluted to a mere definition of a common denominator, say, methods and means to manage a society as democrats, then the idea of a unified and common approach to democracy escapes the logical mind all together. Renditions, torture, extraordinary detention or military force to enforce political values might be found acceptable in some parts of the “West” (America, for example), but is absolutely out of the question in most of established democracies in Europe (save for Britain, potentially) or in nations aspirant of the western methods (Turkey, Brazil, South Africa) or relatively younger democracies such as Iraq, Iran, India or Japan.

A realistic and long-lasting support of stable democracy, in an unstable stitched-up country such as Pakistan from the outside, must begin with a concurrence of what is good for Pakistani people, be they in a single country or a structure akin to the former Yugoslavia. Such thinking must not be thru an old lens of stale “geostrategic” visions of failed concepts by a few planners addicted to 60+ year old opiates and mind games of divide-and-dominate. That era has ended: Pakistan can no longer serve as a counter-weight to India and the “West” does not have the treasure to fund an arms race. To kick this habit, the first step of self-appointed leaders of the ever so elusive “West” must be a factual realization. To borrow Churchill’s words about the USSR, the isolating concept about Muslims in a Pakistan carved out by hallucinations is merely another foolish riddle, wrapped in a mystery about Muslims and concealed in an enigma about more than 1.2 billion Muslims in the world. To frame it in a historical replica, such thinking is bound to meet the USSR in the dustbin of bad ideas. Western deciders ought to realise that they are gamed by a few self-interested, shadowy groups in Pakistan that are least interested in change, principles of transparency, power sharing and a responsive government. It is bad for their true business

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