Is Egypt becoming another Pakistan?

The past experience of three major players on the Egyptian political scene ― the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the US Embassy and Islamists ― suggests that Egypt may soon come to resemble Pakistan.

But why Pakistan and not Turkey? Though many have long hoped to implement the Turkish model in Egypt, Pakistan ― not Turkey ― seems to be the most plausible outcome. In fact, Egypt may turn out a worse version of Pakistan.

Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, the head of the ruling SCAF, worked as a military attache in Pakistan and has made no secret of his admiration for civil-military relationship there. In Pakistan, he believes, politics is the job of politicians but the military maintains the right to change the power equation whenever it wants, because state affairs are too important to be left completely in the hands of civilians.

Over the last 40 or so years, Pakistan has seen military coups led by generals Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf. In the Pakistani power equation, the army is the compass.

US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson is also experienced in Pakistani affairs, following years of work there at a time when political tensions between the two countries ― in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of Islamists in Afghanistan and Pakistan ― were at their peak.

Patterson is prepared to implement a similar plan in Egypt ― a currently unstable country that has important military and religious waves that need to be tamed to incorporate US interests into their agendas. Having successfully led a similar process in Pakistan, Patterson is the right woman for an Egypt that is transforming into another Pakistan, with the rise of the Salafi-led Nour and Brotherhood-led Freedom and Justice parties to power.

Signs have emerged that the US is changing its stance toward rising Islamists. First, the US moved Patterson from Pakistan to Egypt. Then, US officials, including Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, expressed trust in the Brotherhood before the conduct of elections.

Next, US Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, visited the FJP’s headquarters during his recent visit to Egypt, a gesture suggesting that the US is ready to deal with a Muslim Brotherhood-led Egypt.

Another reason why Egypt may evolve into another Pakistan is the fact that most religious waves in Egypt have, since the 1970s, been drawing on the writings of Pakistani thinker Abul Aala Maududi, who is closer in thought to Sayyed Qutb than he is to Hassan al-Banna.

The normal process would be for Islamic ideas to spread from Arab countries ― the owners of the Arabic language and jurisprudence ― to non-Arabic-speaking countries, and not the opposite. Oddly enough, though, political Islamism originated in the Indian subcontinent and spread to Arab countries, such that the younger generations of Arabs currently do not realize that Maududi is not an Arab.

We should therefore brace ourselves for the pakistanization of Egypt. Thinkers should get busy studying the Pakistani model instead of wasting their time examining a Turkish model that will never happen.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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