People power in Pakistan?

It’s just not sexy enough

One more post-Soviet strongman has fallen. Kyrgyztan’s Askar Akaev joins Georgia’s Eduard Shevardnadze and the Ukraine’s Leonid Kuchma as one more example of the forward march of democracy in the former Soviet Union. What is more, ‘coloured’ democratic revolutions have crossed the Caucasus and have established a foothold in Central Asia, and arguably a part of that abstract entity called the Muslim world.

The Velvet, Orange and the colour-yet-to-be-announced Kyrgyz revolutions have undoubtedly benefited from Western financial, moral and political support. There is nothing wrong with this. But the West is not quite getting its money’s worth because these revolutions are not causing fear in the places they should — in General Musharraf’s heart for example. Although the Islamist opposition parties there are indulging themselves when they call for million man marches, they have been able to muster up tens of thousands of protesters against Musharraf’s continuation as both state president and army chief. Secure in his status as a close friend and frontline ally of the most powerful man in the world, Musharraf is unlikely to be seriously bothered by the successful demonstrations of people-power almost next door.

Indeed, it remains to be seen how much support the West will lend to people desiring to demonstrate their power in other Central Asian republics — especially those who are America’s allies in its war on terror. If people power is allowed to shake up only those authoritarian regimes that are not close to the West, it would only reinforce the impression that regardless of what President Bush said in his second inauguration speech, America’s tightest Asian allied are those that deny liberty and freedom to their citizens.

Related Link: Nathan’s Registan.net is the blog on matters Central Asian

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