Thursday, February 21, 2008

the Eteraz Mutiny

Ali Eteraz picks a fight with Sepia Mutiny, arguing that while they are not biased against Pakistan, their perception (and blog coverage) is stale and rooted in outdated political theory:

I think SM suffers from two major problems when it comes to Pakistan.

a) SM does absolutely no outreach to the Pakistani or Pakistan-American blogger groups.... even when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated the main SM thread about it didn’t manage to include a single Pakistani blog? Oh: but Belmont Club, the ultra-right wing American blog made it! It is, in fact, not until comment #57 that a Pakistani voice is linked to.
b) SM’s analysis about Pakistan runs somewhere between George Bush and John McCain, not just problematic (we can disagree politically), but out of touch.

Take, for example, SM’s post about the Pakistani elections. It is entitled: “Victory for the Pakistani People?” It goes onto make the generous prediction: “Eventually the new general in charge of the army will be forced to take over, just like Musharraf did eight years ago. But hey, I don’t mean to be a party pooper.”

Nevermind that the current General — Kiyani — has refused to permit the military to partake in civil society, but what the hell is up with the question mark? Landmark elections, praised by three US senators, which rolled back tyranny, crushed music-banning Islamists, brought a secular resurgence, and in terms of voter turn out were equal to or exceeding previous elections, where even the tyrant’s party was gracious in defeat, get a question mark?
the SM posts, with their unhealthy obsession with the Zakarian idea of “Illiberal Democracy” are tired and stale, reflective of an analysis that no longer applies. Not only that, the application of the principle of Illiberal Democracy is not even Zakarian, since Brother Fareed himself says mostly good things about where Pakistan is headed.

I think this is a fair critique overall, but as I pointed out in comments, Zakaria’s analysis of Pakistan has evolved over time; SM might be lagging him a bit but then again, while process is progress, I note that herr general Mush still wont step down from power even after the election. Zakaria is right to point out how far pakistan has come - it certainly is no Zimbabwe! - but there are miles yet to go before Pakistan is, ahem, on par with India. (and lets be fair, India still is a poster child for Zakaria’s thesis of illiberal democracies as well).

I am also not clear about the “outreach” issue. More links to the pakistani blogsphere? A better route would be for Pakistani bloggers to make use of the News tab and submit stories to sepia directly - that way you are participating in sepia on its own terms. SM is not just a blog but a behemoth, it’s the Desi Daily Kos. They are not under obligation to outreach to you, you need to do the legwork to reach in. As you said, they aren't inherently biased, just less aware of the nuance - so join the mutiny and lend your macacas.

At anyrate, it would be cool if sepia had a pakistani voice on board. I nominate Zack Ajmal.

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