Since the early 1990s Ulrich Ladurner, a well-known German journalist, has been focussing on hotspots in Afghanistan, Irak, Iran and Pakistan. adurner sees the current situation in Pakistan as dangerous and critical, as he stressed at a launch for his latest book “Please Inform Allah” in Berlin on Wednesday.
Dr Ulrich Ladurner wants to remove misconceptions about Pakistan in Germany
Ulrich Ladurner says openly that although he has been influenced by the media, he wants to remove certain misconceptions about Pakistan.
On the one hand, there is little doubt that Pakistan is currently one of the most dangerous countries in the world because it has a network of terrorists: “Whether we look at the suspected terrorist attacks in Germany, or the 2005 terrorist attack in London, they can be traced back to Pakistan, they all have a connection with that country”.
On the other hand, however, Ladurner is quick to point out that Islamist fundamentalists and other radical elements in Pakistan are in the minority. He does not share the view that some have expressed that Pakistan could use the atomic bomb against the West.
“We think that Pakistan has atomic weapons, tomorrow the bearded Mullahs will come to Power, they will press the button and the atomic bomb will be dropped on the West. I think this is a wrong perception, the wrong picture and unrealistic.”
“It’s not fair to Pakistani society because the Islamists are really in a minority. The central government is facing real trouble because its power is fading fast“.
Too little knowledge
Ladurner believes that there is very little knowledge in the West about the internal and external challenges faced by Pakistan, which is under real threat.
He says that because the military is the only strong institution in Pakistan it should not be destabilised.
The answer is to democratise the country by strengthening civil society and the movement towards democracy. Pressure from outside would only complicate the situation further, he warns.
Warning signs from Afghanistan
He also points out that a stable Afghanistan is very much in the interests of Pakistan. Growing extremism in Pakistan also has a lot to do with the situation in Afghanistan, and it is facilitated by the poor controls at the border.
Should the western perception of democracy can be applied to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan? Ladurner has his doubts: “If we try to implant democracy from outside onto Pakistan, it will never work -- the same was the case in Afghanistan, where it didn’t work either”.
Ulrich Ladurner does not see any possibility of change coming to Pakistan quickly. The upcoming elections are not real elections. There is no real election campaign, he says, everything is under the control of the army.
So, whether people like it or not, Pakistan will have to live with a strong army for a while. Nevertheless, one must try to reduce the influence of the army to allow civil society to develop.