Democrats & Liberals Archives

Pakistan Struggles Instructive and Frightening

Pakistan remains in a state of emergency. The emergency declared by Musharraf on November 3, 2007 in response to terrorism - purportedly. However it seems more like a full out effort to retain power.

The text of the emergency proclamation reads like a laundry list of enemies of the government. It includes: terrorists, extremists, the judiciary in general and the Supreme Judicial Council in particular. It cites, terrorist activity,undermining policy, and embarrassment of government officials as reasons to suspend the constitution of Pakistan.

It is interesting that the coverage of the events in Pakistan have cited the crackdown on terrorism as the motivating factor for the declared state of emergency, even while covering the protests and house arrests of those opposed to Musharraf. Are we to assume that somehow the "opposition" is connected to the terrorists?

The dissatisfaction with Musharraf has been going on for some time, and the judiciary has come out against him several times over the last year (ChannelNews Asia, The Australian, Uncommon Thought). Lawyers and judges have gone on strike and protested Musharraf's heavy handed treatment of the judiciary, and violations of Pakistan's Constitution.

In what appears to be a negotiated to stabilize dissatisfaction with the Musharraf government, a negotiation the U.S., Musharraf, and Bhutto, resulting in Bhutto's return to Pakistan. Either that negotiation took to long, or Bhutto had little interest in sharing Pakistan with Musharraf. From an outsider's perspective, I do not understand why there would be popular support for Bhutto, as massive corruption charges hang over her from her tenure as Prime Minister (Guardian).

Regardless of the status of Bhutto, Musharraf's targets during the current state of emergency has not been extremists or terrorists. The crackdown has focused on sweeping up the "opposition" forces and their supports (and shutting down the press). This is not dissimilar from the Bush administration's perception that those who protest the administration's policies are threats to the safety of the United States.

My guess is that the people of Pakistan are similar to the people of the United States in their concern for the merging of "security" and challenging questionable powers in the hands of the leadership. Total power and democracy do not go well together. There are concerns that any elections in Pakistan will be rigged - a fear shared by many in the U.S. regarding our own elections.

Violent suppression of dissent seems to be on the rise in a world that seems to be teetering on the edge of numerous abysses- Pakistan, Myanmar, Georgia, Iraq. Democracy is on the wane world wide - including in the United States. We appear to be entering an era of the rule of the fist rather than the rule of reason. If history holds true, then ultimately, the rule of the fist will lose. There are more people than there are rulers and people will only accept so much repression.

Recommended resources and analysis on these issues
GulfNews: Emergency in Pakistan

TruthSpring
- Turbulent Pakistan
- The Battle for Pakistan

By all reports, the U.S. is still backing the Musharraf government, and is maneuvering to maintain control while negotiating power sharing. If the United States is not concerned about the status and control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, the world certainly is. India, seems to be officially downplaying its concerns about the situation.

Posted by Rowan Wolf at November 18, 2007 2:03 PM
Comments
Comment #238660

Rowan, a well reasoned and factual article up until the claim: “Democracy is on the wane world wide - including in the United States.”

History does not bear this out as fact. Less than 300 years ago, there were no democracies amongst nations. On average, in the 20th century, 31% of the world’s population lived in a democracy. That is a tremendous surge in democracy in the world.

Democracy is by far, the most difficult and complex form of government ever invented by the human species. But, in modern times, it is proving to be the most enduring in France, UK, the U.S., and Canada. (Though France became fascist for several years under Mussolini). In the 20th century, many countries like India, Japan, and Germany have become democratic nations, including S. American, some African nations. Even Russia is making efforts toward true democracy.

Democracy is difficult, fraught with stumbles and inefficiencies, change and accommodation of those changes, but, these are NOT signs of the demise of democracy, but, testament to its growth and development, evolution and durability. Consider this, since 1900 the only governments which have NOT experienced an overthrow or unconstitutional change in leadership have been the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, and Canada, all democracies.

What the world is learning however, is that there are various forms of democracy, and one size does not fit all. Democracy can take different forms such as a republic (U.S.), parliamentarian (U.K.), or direct (Switzerland). And surely other forms are being developed and tested, such as emergent democracy as is developing in the U.S. and U.K., or inferior democracy as in China at local levels and Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai where limited democracy is being practiced locally but, subservient to the superior communist central authority.

The world overall is also trying out democracy too in global government, as evidenced by the United Nations (UN), World Trade Organization (WTO), and organizations like the Asian Pacific Economic Council (APEC) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

American democracy has survived by reflecting and accommodating its cultural and historical background, giving it a unique quality apart from any other democracy in the world. The same is true of Parliamentary democracies whose form reflects and accommodates monarchical history and tradition.

Democracy is still experimental. And will remain so. Democracy, of all the forms of government, has one potential advantage over all others, the ability to morph and evolve as changing conditions warrant while preserving the peaceful transition of power from one set of governors to another. This flexibility that allows the government to accommodate rather than frustrate the will of the people over time, is to date the best insurance against revolution and civil war, yet invented.

I believe the world is, on balance, still moving toward democracy as the universal paradigm for governance by humankind. But, there will be many setbacks, fits and starts, and evolutions along the way, IF, the earth can survive the weight of the species’ impact upon it. That is a very big IF.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 18, 2007 7:55 PM
Comment #238662

I wonder if Bush told him during one of their many sleepovers that it was easy to take dictatorial powers in the name of fighting terrorism.

Musharraf: “I hate the press - I wish I could destroy them!”

Bush: “Me too! I don’t understand why I can’t listen in on any conversation I want or arrest anyone I want, regardless of whether or not they’re suspected of anything, I mean, I’m fightin’ terrorism!”

Musharraf: “This is the start of a beautiful friendship. Can you do that thing again, where you rub my back with money and Iraqi oil. Btw, I’m tapped, I need another 150 billion.”

Posted by: Max at November 18, 2007 8:15 PM
Comment #238664

I heard liberals complain about Bush being elected by the Supreme Court. Musharraf suspended their Supreme Court for trying to subvert his election that came by a vast majority. It would seem this guy would be a hero to you. Democracy in action.
We had a Pakistani as a guest recently and he agreed.
Why is diplomacy only smart when applied to your own “approved” tyrants. Was Bush wrong for talking down Iran’s leader? Or are you contradicting yourselves here.

Posted by: Kruser at November 18, 2007 8:55 PM
Comment #238677

Kruser,

First, thank you for admitting that it was the SC that elected Dubya, not the people. :-)

Seriously, I don’t get your point. Neither Musharraf’s actions nor Dubya’s were good democracy, and implying that Democrats think otherwise is just being argumentative. Diplomacy should always be the first step, whether we are talking about Musharraf or Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong Il or (I think this is who you mean by “approved tyrants”) Chavez.

It is Dubya’s “plan on shooting first and fudge the questions later” version of international relations that got us into this mess in Iraq in the first place. Iran is far more powerful and far more influencial than Iraq ever was, and if we choose the “cowboy diplomacy” route with them, it will make Iraq look like a walk in the park.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, I see nothing in your post as to what you think we should do. Supporting Musharraf will, in the long run, make the “War on Terror” a lot harder. Unless Dubya’s plan is to make life as miserable as possible for whatever Democrat wins the White House next year, in which case he’s doing, to use his own words, a “heckuva job”.

L

Posted by: leatherankh at November 19, 2007 9:48 AM
Comment #238681


David R.: (Though France became fascist for several years under Musollini)?

Kruser: What Mushariff wanted was for the court to legitimize his unconstitutional rule. The court has complied with his wishes. Dictators are sometimes popular with the people, especially when he has the power to crush the opposition.

Posted by: jlw at November 19, 2007 11:13 AM
Comment #238686

Dr
Was not that Italy?

It is a complete myth that US forign policy has ever been pro-democracy except when it coincidentally served our purposes.

Posted by: BillS at November 19, 2007 2:05 PM
Comment #238693

Rowan:

It never ceases to amaze me how you on the left always want to be very selective about your outrages.

” The emergency declared by Musharraf on November 3, 2007 in response to terrorism - purportedly. However it seems more like a full out effort to retain power.”

No kidding? You do not seem to like this type of “dictator” taking control, and you even acuse our own president of being a dictator, but you are strangely silent on another true dictator just a few hundred miles south of us (Hugo Chaves) doing the same thing in his country. Oh, but that’s right, he gets a pass because he is anti-American, just like you.
You would probably counter that Pakistan has nuclear weapons. While that being true, the country that would be the most vulnerable to them would be India, and you admit in your last paragraph that they are downplaying their concerns. Maybe you have missed the recent information coming to light about Hugo’s own quest for nuclear tech through Iran and North Korea. And he will continue to be thae darling of the left as long as he expesses hatred toward the U.S. in general and Bush in particular. He will continue to host guests like those stallwarts of foreign policy like Danny Glover, Naomi watts and Sean Penn. Like anyone in the world should listen to anything they have to say outside of their waning careers.

I have looked at your last 55 posts, and not one word of outrage or concern about Hugo’s quest for power at the expence of his countrymen.

“I do not understand why there would be popular support for Bhutto, as massive corruption charges hang over her from her tenure as Prime Minister (Guardian).”

Maybe because many of her supporters believe that the charges are trumpted up, as is the case for many people ousted to leave room for a coup.

“The crackdown has focused on sweeping up the “opposition” forces and their supports (and shutting down the press). This is not dissimilar from the Bush administration’s perception that those who protest the administration’s policies are threats to the safety of the United States.”

Your paranoia is showing big time. Can you give me an example of him stating this? I thought not.

“My guess is that the people of Pakistan are similar to the people of the United States in their concern for the merging of “security” and challenging questionable powers in the hands of the leadership.”

You people love to site questionable powers and vanishing freedoms but have yet to offer evidence of even ONE freedom sacrificed on the alter of security.

“There are concerns that any elections in Pakistan will be rigged - a fear shared by many in the U.S. regarding our own elections.”

Give it up, will you. You lost in 2000 and every recount by every news outlet under any criteria thought of came to the same conclusion, Bush won Gore lost. Time to moveon.org.

“Democracy is on the wane world wide - including in the United States. “

Pay no attention to the black helicopters cicling your home. They are there for your protection to make sure you do not hurt yourself.

David:

I could forgive you your error about Musollini and France, and you made some sense, but when you got to “IF, the earth can survive the weight of the species’ impact upon it. That is a very big IF.”, your credibility went down the drain. But let’s save that topic for another post and stay on subject, shall we.

Max:

“I wonder if Bush told him during one of their many sleepovers that it was easy to take dictatorial powers in the name of fighting terrorism.”

Spare me your moveon.org pabulum. If you had an example of this dictatorial coup, you would be all over it citing chapter and verse. But you can’t give one example of this subversion of the constitution, but good try in keeping this demagogue alive.

Leatherankh:

I am curious about your handle, can you elaborate?
You said: “First, thank you for admitting that it was the SC that elected Dubya, not the people. :-)”

Kruser admitted nothing of the sort. He merely mentioned how you are always complaining about it. I notice, also, that the only time democrats complain about election fraud is when they loose. One need only look to Milwaukee to see how voter fraud favors the democrats 10 to 1. See my response to Rowan above, to learn how to “moveon” from your tragic defeats.

Posted by: Beirut Vet at November 19, 2007 3:40 PM
Comment #238717

My point was that he won the election by a vast majority, The anti democracy action would have been with their supreme court. He technically has to step down as military leader and has promised to do so. This cannot be done easily since order needs to be maintained and he is the cohesive authority for their military. Give the guy a break.

Posted by: Kruser at November 19, 2007 9:20 PM
Comment #238726

“I heard liberals complain about Bush being elected by the Supreme Court.” That was Kruser’s direct quote, Beirut Vet, and if you see it differently than Leatherankh did, it is only your interpretation.

Posted by: Jane Doe at November 19, 2007 11:38 PM
Comment #238732

Jane:

Nice try but READ THE STATEMENT! It says “I HEARD liberals complain…” It says nothing about admitting anything. Read into it what you want, but there is nothing there for you to defend….typical liberal position to be in, this should be nothing new to you.

Posted by: B at November 20, 2007 12:19 AM
Comment #238737

Okay folks, the entire point of a smiley face after a comment is to indicate that it was a JOKE! Yeesh, what war did y’all get your senses of humor shot off in?

BV, I get that question a lot from vets. Nothing to do with Semper Fi, I can assure you. My dad, brother, and uncle are all vets and I have a nephew in Iraq as we speak, so I do have ties, just not to the Corps. Leatherankh is actually just a reference to an old biker jacket I used to wear when I was in college. I use the handle for everything now, just tradition.

L

Posted by: leatherankh at November 20, 2007 1:19 AM
Comment #238742

BillS, thank you for correcting my brainfart. Hitler, not Mussolini, made France fascist for several years. Thank you.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 20, 2007 4:21 AM
Comment #238743

Bierut Vet, thanks for the comment. My apology for the Mussolini brainfart. Hitler, not Mussolini. Quite right.

Yes, I look forward to our debating the human impact upon the earth in an appropriate article of that topic. I appreciated your comment and correction. Thanks.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 20, 2007 4:29 AM
Comment #238788

David Remer,

I found your point about emergent democracy to be interesting. I would suggest that it has been around for some time in the form of wild west lynch mobs. I agree that the internet and sites like WatchBlog are an “end run,” “fall back” defense of democracy. I would “remind” however of the situation that occurred with the Schiavo family where a hand full of “right to life” activists created a stampede of protest that Bush, the Republicans, and the Democrats all responded to, while the vast majority of Americans thought that the government should stay out of the Schiavo family’s business.

Further, there are attempts to bring the internet under top down control under the guise of internet 2.0.

Finally, while the internet has allowed freedom a temporary “fall back” defense, the mass media has become more consolidated and controlled than ever. Most people still rely on the mass media for information. Moneyed interest have seized control of electoral politics.

Democracy in the U.S.A. and elsewhere is hanging by a thread.


Posted by: Ray Guest at November 20, 2007 2:39 PM
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