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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Pakistan Searches for 'Plan B'

The Question: After Benazir Bhutto's assassination on Thursday, what's next for Pakistan?

Welcome to Crossed Wires Central of opaque politics, in a Non-Proliferation Treaty non-signatory member called Pakistan, where the political process is plagued by exponential variants of extremism while players might wear uniforms, civilian western-style clothes or traditional robes as they co-exist and befriend drug lords, game the intelligence apparatus, blend in as university professors, or expediently co-exist with the newly regrouped Taliban, lawyers, facilitators for al-Qaeda, or the visiting president of Afghanistan.

A large corps of retired military chiefs can serve as the nexus or the guiding hands in the background where there are no dividing lines and where principles are rather fluid. Typical political players could be any combination of the above in a puzzling Byzantine and or Faustian combination, layered with tribal allegiances that often trump national cohesion. Thus, the vapid political process is subordinated to names, personalities and proven politics rather than a process of politics that is neither democratic nor totalitarian. Throughout its sixty-year history, all new political faces have either been the product of coups or the assassination of a tribal elder. None have climbed the ordinary process of political concurrence or the rise through the ranks of a multi-party system.

The murder of Benazir Bhutto will ignite several fires that are part of these tribal politics of Pakistan. She comes from a political family where her father and two brothers were also victims of violence. I believe that her home province, Sindh, where Pakistan’s business hub of Karachi often votes with its financial might, might implode into a mix of strong protests against the central government. There has been a farcical approach to restricted, cropped elections and “state of emergency” rule as well as the basic malfunction (or abstinence) of security for a broad political spectrum. After all, this was the second attempt against Mrs. Bhutto in less than three months and the national police refused to accept or investigate the criminal complaint of Mrs. Bhutto after the attack of a few months ago. The Punjab province, the home of Nawaz Sharif, will also start its own concurrent grievances, as their local politician was disqualified from contesting the upcoming elections in January 2008.

As I wrote last month, Pakistan is on the cusp of becoming a much larger problem for the world. It needs much more than mere talk therapy from world leaders, especially from its prime supporter America. The murder of Benazir Bhutto, when stacked with the recent coup (sold as “emergency rule”), the purge of Supreme Court judges and the exclusion of active politicians from elections, are all clear signals that a political implosion is in progress. It is time to consider all options; if that leads to a possible redefinition and restructuring of this young country, so be it. A referendum might be the right way to assess such potential, because Pakistan’s opaque and complex political layers, in their present form, are not capable of sustaining the sum and substance of a modern democratic and pluralist state.

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