Musharraf Declares State of Emergency – New York Times
Act II – Pakistan
Pakistan appears to have all the necessary ingredients brewing for a poisoned democracy. Musharraf has declared a State of Emergency to reassert his loosened grip on power in a volatile mix of Islamic extremism, military dictatorship, democratic politics and terrorism. Add to this American support for the military regime – a buffer against the potential for Taleban or al Qaeda gaining strength on one hand, or perpetual military rule on the other.
A loss of democracy may prove hard to recover from, as was made obvious by the predictable slaughter of 143 persons during Benazir Bhutto’s less than triumphant return. It is hard to see why a procession seeming to celebrate a ‘return to democracy’ – actually to celebrate her own return from being booted out – is more important to Bhutto than 143 lives – but that is the very nature of democracy. It ain’t all logos and tax cuts in this country that has so many forces at work that it is unclear what its future may hold. It may not be determined by the powers that exist at this time – a new leadership for Pakistan is predicted here – to arise out of the ashes of Musharraf’s authority. Although Bhutto may be the popular choice and logical leader to change Pakistan into a more unified Western nation, it is the perverse support of the USA for the military regime that may provide enough conflict ahead of democratic choices that the darker forces at work may make a grab for power.
I hope I am wrong. I believe that Pakistan has taken another step toward the brink and that it would be a far more valuable prize for Talebanisation than Afghanistan. Hence we have Condolezza Rice phoning Mushsharrif at 2am saying emergency rules would endanger the extensive financial support the USA gives the Pakistani military. And there you have it. The USA supports a military dictatorship and clearly attempts to define the terms of history. That is the mistake.