Thursday, June 16, 2005

MFAT's view: it's all about trade

Hope for trade boost from Musharraf visit

The story summarises statistics from MFAT's country paper on Pakistan, for those who didn't know that we export almost nothing over there and hardly ever talk to them. But somehow, it fails to mention even MFAT's marvellous understatement that "Pakistan’s human rights situation remains difficult". I wonder what they said about Saddam's Iraq? "Troublesome"?

MFAT's focus here is solely on trade - and they are willing to sell our souls in order to get it. Aren't they supposed to be sticking up for our other values as well?


Once more Idiot you take a complex situation and reduce it to a black and white. Pakistan is not exactly a nation state in the way NZ is. Many of that country's political and social institutions still remain based in a conservative tribal system. Many regions are not under the control of the central government. At present the central government under Musharraf is attempting to gradually draw the tribal areas into a functioning democtacy where liberal values can be promoted. That process is a delicate one since it is opposed by many powerful conservative religious and tribal groups. But the general thrust has been to engage these parts of Pakistan society and draw them into democtatic process.

The Pakistan government does not "tolerate" honour killings as you claim. The situation is one of the central government slowly exerting influence to promote liberal change.

The difficulty, that you fail to understand, is that the tribal areas are fiercly independent and resent this intrusion into their traditional way of life. Advancing liberal change means taking that into account. It's a slow process. If it is forced down peoples throats it will just make the situation worse.

Posted by Sock Thief : 6/16/2005 09:26:00 AM

Human Rights are universal - they apply to everybody, everywhere. MFAT is not being asked to bring nirvana to Pakistan - merely to brief our Prime Minister on the gross human rights abuses that take place in that country on a constant basis so she can raise the issue with the Pakistani dictator when he visits. I expect nothing less from the public servants I pay my taxes to support. If MFAT can't do any better than this, I say we scrap it completely and spend the money on raising pay rates for caregivers in rest homes.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/16/2005 11:05:00 AM

Our foreign relations, like every other activity of our government, must be subject to democratic oversight. Do you think its appropriate that MFAT just sweeps this stuff under the carpet, and hides it from the public? And do you think its appropriate that when we have a PM and a government which cares significantly about human and womens rights, they fail to brief her on the very real human and womens rights issues in Pakistan?

I don't expect miracles. I know that change takes time. But I do expect our government to raise these issues on our behalf, and to try and prod Pakistan in the right direction, rather than simply giving them a blank cheque.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/16/2005 11:41:00 AM

I think that you are right to prod but personally I have faith in Helen to bring these issues up in a constructive way.

What I think is not constructive is to see Pakistan society as monolithic. The areas where the most serious human rights abuses occur are the tribal areas over which the government has little control. It is a similar situation in Afganistan, and in many African countries - bringing conservative tribal societites into the social democratic process. It is not the government which is responsible - it is the still existing pockets of tradional and religiously conservative communties.

The challenge for us to to provide support for the Pakistani government to continue this process.

Posted by Sock Thief : 6/16/2005 12:22:00 PM