Sunday, November 4, 2007

Don't Blame Musharraf, Blame Democracy

Pakistani President/Commander in Chief Pervez Musharraf is the latest to pull off the classic trick of the modern age: invoking democracy to justify the termination of democracy.

Musharraf has announced to his people, in a fog of legal euphemism, that he will run the nation how he pleases and subjugate any critics, in order to quell any further humiliation of he and his supporters and to present a "unified" front against the bands of Islamic fanatics encroaching upon Pakistan's major cities.

"WHEREAS the Government is committed to the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law and holds the superior judiciary in high esteem, it is nonetheless of paramount importance that the Honourable Judges confine the scope of their activity to the judicial function and not assume charge of administration."

"I General Pervez Musharraf, Chief of the Army Staff, proclaim Emergency throughout Pakistan...I hereby order and proclaim that the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan shall remain in abeyance...This Proclamation shall come into force at once."

Check out Musharraf's "Proclamation of Emergency" here. You will find fine examples of totalitarian double-speak.

The reality of the situation - police storming the streets and the Supreme Court, phone lines being jammed and independent television stations being shut down - is of course dire. I tend to think that such acts are as much control as marketing: to grab for power and simultaneously present a new, alternate reality.

What will the terrorists, the enemy here, think? That Musharraf is a brave and fearsome leader who is so bold as to buck the will of the Bush Administration, and who will certainly reunify the military? Has he breathed fear into their hearts?

Or will they see Musharraf as he is seen by the majority of Pakistan's democracy advocates, and now the international community - an out of control flip-flopper, so weak and starved of support that he must declare "emergency" in the country he leads?

Musharraf presumably intends to crush the violent Al-Qaeda and Taliban sympathizers with impunity, no longer hindered by the rule of law. He intends to crush the opposition movement, largely moderate critics who are pushing for the return to democratic law. But surely this newfound "emergency," this pronouncement of chaos, will embolden all of their causes. Surely, in his attempt to enforce a false sense of unity, Musharraf will only birth more and more enemies.

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