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Asia

"Pakistan is not a failed state," says German MP

Pakistan still has a long way to go, but SPD MP Johannes Pflug is sure the country has a future. In a conversation with DW's Grahame Lucas he taks about how Germany can support its development.

Pakistani mourners during the funeral procession of Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer, in Lahore, Pakistan

Some Pakistanis mourned the death of the Punjab governor but others supported his murderer

Deutsche Welle: What expectations does Germany have of Pakistan in the wake of the recent crises?

Johannes Pflug: We expect the Pakistani government to implement good governance, to fight against corruption, to enforce an effective and efficient tax system and to set up a public education system. We also want Pakistan to try and live in peace with its neighbor India. This applies not only to the Pakistanis but also to India. And we particularly want civilian control over the military and intelligence services. I think these are the basic preconditions.

What can Germany do to foster these developments?

Germany can help set up an effective and efficient education system. Germany could also help to improve the power supply. I think Pakistan should use more renewable energy and not so much nuclear power. This is also a point I’d like to mention: Both India and Pakistan must disarm. They have to recognize the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) and engage in confidence-building measures. Then maybe Europe, not Germany, could start talking with China about the possibility of forming a strategic partnership to build up the infrastructure in Pakistan and Afghanistan. There are certainly opportunities for improvement.

Is the Pakistani government doing enough against religious extremism in the country?

Johannes Pflug from the German Social Democratic Party

Johannes Pflug says the government has to take control of the military

No, they’re not doing that. The murder of the governor (Punjab Governor Salman Taseer) and the minister (Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti) has shown that the people who welcomed these murders enjoy popular support. And that the people who should be doing something about it are staying away. Pakistan has quite a lot to do in this regard. I think they also have to establish better control over the madrasahs (religious schools). I don't know whether it is possible to integrate them into the school system. I don’t want to be a judge of that.

It is true that the extremists only get about 6 or 7 percent of the vote at elections but it is alarming that the radicals have managed to establish themselves and reduce the influence of other classes of society. They have even gained influence in the highest ranks of the military. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to occupy the barracks in Rawalpindi a year or so back. You can only do that with help.

That means that the Pakistani government has to take over control of the military?

Definitely. And it is possible. We’ve seen it in Turkey. (Turkish Prime Minister) Erdogan put in a lot of effort in this regard. That didn’t work right away and there were also some serious conflicts but it seems that he has managed to achieve this goal meanwhile.

Do you think Pakistan is a failed state?

No, Pakistan is not a failed state. You have to see Pakistan’s history with many changeovers from military dictatorships to civilian government. People claim again and again that Pakistan is a failed state. But it’s not. At the moment, we have a civilian government that is not doing a particularly good job but it is working. And we will undoubtedly witnesses a situation in which the present opposition takes over power from the present government or something like that. So I think Pakistan definitely has a future.

Johannes Pflug is an SPD member of parliament and has chaired the German-South Asian Parliamentary Friendship Group in the past.

Author: Grahame Lucas /ag
Editor: Anne Thomas

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