the liklihood of democracy in pakistan

I’ve been wanting to write about Pakistan for over a week now, but I haven’t known what to say. Fortunately, I just stumbled across this clip of Bill Moyers reflecting on whether or not we’re likely to see Democracy there. As he said everything better than I ever could, I thought that I’d pass along a clip:

…Those are lawyers you see out there in the streets, confronting the army and the police, taking those blows, tear-gassed, shoved into vans like cattle and hauled off to who knows what fate. Lawyers, some of them educated at places like Harvard and Cambridge, risking their liberty and lives to protest a dictator’s suspension of the constitution. And not just lawyers, but judges, civil rights advocates, students, demanding free and fair elections…

General Pervez Musharraf is the Muslim world’s most powerful military dictator. He has nuclear weapons, but can’t use them against his own cities. So last Saturday he did the next best thing and shut down all the independent news channels, to keep word of the protests from spreading to the grass roots. Only government TV was allowed to air. But Musharraf didn’t reckon on the Internet. Cable broadcasters shut down on Saturday have gone online to spread news of the revolt. It’s now a contest between guns and power versus people and truth.

President Bush calls General Musharraff an ally in the war on terror and since 9/11 has sent him almost 10 billion dollars, mostly for the military now cracking down on its own citizens. But the fight against terrorism has gone badly in Pakistan. Osama bin Laden is still at large – most likely in the vast region to the north which has become a safe haven for al Qaeda. If Musharraf did capture bin Laden and turn him over to the U.S. he would likely ignite another insurrection, this time by Islamic militants who loathe America.

Musharref and Saddam Hussein, our friend only twenty years ago, were cut from the same cloth, so once again America’s support of a dictator has backfired. Musharraff says elections will be held by February and he’ll quit the army. But on Friday he stopped the rally of thousands of Pakistanis by putting opposition leader Benazir Bhutto under temporary house arrest…

So we face a quandary: back a dictator against his own people in the name of a failed strategy to fight terrorists, or back the people and risk Democracy…

According to recent reports, Bhutto, now out from under house arrest, is planning to lead a procession of vehicles into Islamabad on Tuesday, demanding that Musharraf quit the army, end emergency rule, free the lawyers recently swept up and imprisoned for protesting, and reinstitute the constitution. Musharraf meanwhile has given no signs of ending emergency rule, but has indicated that elections would happen by January 9. He has also said that he would step down from the army, becoming the civilian President of Pakistan, once his country’s Supreme Court struck down challenges to his recent re-election… One wonders what will happen come Tuesday.

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2 Comments

  1. cra
    Posted November 12, 2007 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    what ever happened to the quote “of your either for us or vs us” from the US in its war on terror ?

  2. Robert
    Posted November 16, 2007 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    George Orwell was a Pollyanna.

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