The brainwashed old Ostrich adds its own feather to the General’s cap
Becoming a certified democracy just got easier. Mount a coup, rewrite the constitution (if any), criminalise ordinary politicians, legitimise extremist ones, shamelessly rig the odd referendum and continue to nurture terrorists — all you need to do to get certified by the old Ostrich is to seek the support of your own handpicked parliament. Provided, that is, you are certified ally in the War against Terror.
This is the story of the Commonwealth’s stand on General Musharraf’s desire to publicly two-time Pakistan. Only a brainwashed old ostrich, perhaps a brain-dead one, could seriously describe Musharraf’s attempts to entrench the dictatorship as democracy as long as parliament approves it. As is its wont, the old Ostrich conveniently ignored its own observation that all candidates were required to accept Musharraf’s changes to the constitution before they were allowed to stand for election.
6. The Group noted the conclusions and recommendations of the COG Report, including its assessment that certain measures introduced in the period preceding the elections have had a limiting effect on the process of restoring democracy. CMAG called upon the Government of Pakistan to take necessary steps to implement the recommendations of the Report related to institutional and procedural issues. The Group expressed concern over the continued promulgation of new laws, even after the elections, which follow extra-constitutional measures introduced through the Legal Framework Order 2002.
8. CMAG agreed to maintain the status quo on Pakistanâ€™s suspension from the Councils of the Commonwealth pending greater clarity and an assessment of the role and functioning of democratic institutions. [Commonwealth in Nov 2002]
Ayaz Amir, who can tell the difference between democracy and dictatorship, mixes helplessness with optimism when he writes that Musharraf’s double role will unite political parties opposed to Musharraf.
Hence the supreme paradox: democracy’s cause will be served if Musharraf remains in uniform. For that, under the circumstances, is the only thing likely to galvanize the opposition parties and shake them out of their torpor. Conversely, if he redeems his uniform pledge, the neither-here-nor-there political system foisted upon the country gets another lease of life.
So the last favour that Pakistanis could ask of their president: please keep wearing your uniform. [Dawn/Archive]
But The Economist is perhaps closer to the mark when it writes that a confrontation between Musharraf and the Mullah MPs will just push Pakistan further towards the brink.
The â€œIslamic blowbackâ€ manifests itself daily in suicide bombings and sectarian warfare. Top army and civilian leaders, especially General Musharraf and the new prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, remain prime assassination targets. A nationalist insurgency is brewing in Baluchistan province, where gas pipelines are routinely attacked. The campaign to flush out foreign terrorists hiding in the tribal areas of Pakistan has taken a heavy toll of soldiers and alienated local tribesmen. Jobs are hard to find and inflation is rearing its head. If the general breaks his promise and picks a fight with the opposition, next year could bring Pakistan more, not less, instability. [The Economist]
Related Link: Pakistan’s Daily Times has two editorials on the parliament and the Commonwealth’s stand.