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Pakistan's machismo politics, the rise of the Islamic State, how to stop terrorism, importance of democracy, South Africa's unequal society

This week's round-up of global commentary includes the characteristics of Pakistan's nationalism, how the US help fan the Islamic State, the careful response terrorism requires, how democracy can save Ethiopia, and how much farther equality in South Africa needs to go.

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    Children displaced from Pakistani tribal areas due to fighting between security forces and militants play under a tree during the last sunset of the year on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Dec. 31, 2014.
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Dawn / Karachi, Pakistan
Pakistan needs to shed its machismo politics
“Pakistan’s foreign policy doesn’t work because our national psyche is based on pure machismo...,” writes Bina Shah. This pride “characterises us as a nation, with heavy dependency on an almost all-male army, a male-dominated political scene, sophisticated weaponry, and a large national ego that overreacts to the slightest threat.... True feminism goes deeper than gender equality, and addresses issues of power structure, equal participation in nation-building, distribution of resources, and human rights. These are issues we must address in our national narrative, our social order, and our identity-formation as Pakistanis to progress.... If we can make the national discourse truly pluralistic, by being inclusive of all members of society – the goal of feminism –  we will ... change for the better the dynamic of our current, limited existence.”

Al Jazeera / Doha, Qatar
The US contributed to the rise of Islamic State
“ISIL, Arab, Islam, violence, cruelty, and disorder on the one side; the United States, the West, Christianity, power, benevolence, order, on the other side. That’s the inescapable impression one gets when watching the media coverage of the Middle East, or when listening to conservative pundits in the US,” writes Marwan Bishara. “For all practical purpose, western focus on ISIL’s barbarity, bigotry and bombast has helped justify the wholesale crimes of a tyrant like [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad], and obfuscated the role of the [George W.] Bush administration in the breakup of Iraq and the killings of hundreds of thousands, all of which ultimately led to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).”

The Globe and Mail / Toronto
Smarter ways to meet the threat of terrorism
“Terrorism is a weapon of the weak. It aims to maim and to kill, but above all it seeks to provoke a more powerful opponent...,” states an editorial. “Terrorism is designed to provoke an overreaction, which in turn causes collateral damage, leading to polarization, more reaction and overreaction, and more violence. Only in a polarized world do the radicals stand a chance of winning attention, sympathy and recruits. To avoid setting off that cycle, the stronger party has to use his strength carefully instead of recklessly. Never bring in a steamroller for a job that calls for the surgeon’s knife.”

The Reporter / Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Democracy is necessary for survival
“Though it has been half a century since the movement for democracy began in Ethiopia, the ride continues to be bumpy and fraught with all sorts of difficulties to this day. The reign of terror which came following the 1974 revolution did set back the country’s democracy-building process by decades...,” states an editorial. “Democracy is not a luxury for Ethiopia; it’s a matter of life and death. There exist diverse interests in a country of over 90 million people. The only way these interests can be accommodated peacefully is through ensuring the prevalence of democracy.... A community which is denied democracy is akin to one that is starved of air.”

Business Day / Johannesburg, South Africa
South Africa still lacks an equal society
“When [South Africa] participated in the first democratic elections of 1994, we ... embarked on a journey to transform our nation to achieve the kind of society envisioned in the constitution,” writes Thabang Motsohi. “We accepted the reality that we may have different views on how to eventually achieve our vision, but we also agreed that those views would be contested under democratic principles.... The legacy of [apartheid] is still with us today.... According to the Gini index, we are now the most unequal society in the world.... The economic elite, throughout the history of mankind, has never ... volunteered to give up some of their privileges for the benefit of the poor. Some degree of coercion has always driven change. [South Africa] cannot be an exception.”

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