Gen. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan has put the President of the United States in a bind when he declared a state of emergency, suppressed the media, cancelled elections, beat, bloodied, and jailed protesting lawyers. Musharraf doused the flame of Democracy.
Pakistan is one of President Bush’s staunches supporters in the war on terrorist and the US has contributed some $10 billion dollars to Pakistan in this war. The Iraq war, the war on terrorists that the United States is fighting and for which our soldiers are dying is in the name of Democracy. The problem is that President Bush has not taken a strong stance on the issue of Democracy in Pakistan and is allowing the country to slip into the abyss of tyranny. Instead the President has given Musharraf advice! For all the rhetoric from the President as to our need to stay the course in Iraq, this lackadaisical attitude toward Musharraf just further deteriorates the moral justification for sacrificing American lives in Iraq.
Musharraf’s intital call for a state in emergency was in response to what he saw as a rise in extremism and what he called the paralysis of government by judicial interference. Opposition party leaders were arrested, Supreme Court justices were removed, placed under house arrest, and lawyers, at the vanguard of the protest, were beaten and arrested. Musharraf took a page out of President Bush’s playbook, when these actions were met with an international outcry of disgust and condemnation, he then switched tactics stating that the state of emergency was in order to combat the terrorists in Pakistan.
At the root of the matter was the Pakistan Supreme Court ruling that Musharraf could not be head of the military and Pakistan President. Ever since that ruling, Musharraf’s popularity has dwindlewith the ouster of the chief justice and opposition leadership has grown, in particular with the return of former primer minister, Benazir Bhutto. In response to this ruling, Musharraf has purged the Supreme Court, placed his people on the court, rounded up opposition leadership and delayed elections. In short, Musharraf has established Dictatorial Rule.
President Bush has established his administration as the heart and soul for drive toward Democracy in the Middle East. The war in Iraq today, before it was about weapons of mass destruction, is about establishing a Democratic foothold toward a Democratic region. To date President Bush has only offered advice and has said that their dealings with Pakistan and Musharraf will continue. To send our men to die in one region of the world for Democracy and then turn a blind eye to what is going on in Pakistan just demonstrates, once again, the failures of the Bush administration.