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Another dark day for Pakistan
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-11-04 09:59:41
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A few months ago I was criticized because in one of my articles I was referring to General Musharraf as one of the worst dictators and I was sure that he has no intention to let Pakistan know democracy; after all, he was the last in a long chain of military dictators in this poor country.

The commentator who, as he said at least, came from Pakistan was suggesting that perhaps democracy had a chance with General Musharraf and his slow and peaceful transaction from a militaristic dictatorship or regime, as the commentator argued, to a parliamentary democracy with control over corruption and violence. My argument to that was that if we only look at the 20th century, from Salazar, Franco, Hitler, Mussolini to Idi Amin, Marcos, Saddam Hussein and Musharraf’s predecessor Muhammad Zia we will see that the corruption of the politicians has been always their excuse to lead their countries to the edge of total catastrophe.

I’m not saying that there is no corruption in democracy, there is, but at the same time there is transparency, there is a parliament and law that can control, punish and stop corruption; if transparency misses then what is left is just corruption without control and at any possible level. In Pakistan General Musharraf orchestrated a military coup because of corruption in the political parties and then he became the law, judge and jury and all that at the expense of the Pakistani people ruling from luxury palaces and fattening his personal bank accounts. Just like all the other dictators.

How can this man, who has learned to put not only his hand in the honey but also all his body, be the peaceful transaction from a dictator to a citizen of a democratic country where he is equal to anybody in front of the eyes of the law? How can he obey the law that not necessarily agrees with his wishes?

He cannot, and just weeks after his electoral ‘victory’ he proved that his name will remain in Pakistani history as a very dark era. On Saturday evening General Pervez Musharraf the self-proclaimed ‘President of Pakistan’ declared emergency rule and suspended the country’s constitution. The Chief Justice and ten other judges have been replaced and this moment tanks and soldiers patrol the streets of Islamabad.

Why? Because the Pakistani Supreme Court was due to decide if the general was legal to run for election last month while remaining army chief. And naturally the dictator didn’t like the thought. So what does a dictator do under the circumstances? A small coup, after all, practice makes perfect and somehow after all this time playing the game of the democratic leader he has somehow forgotten his ways!

Of course, joining the long queue of contemporary democratic leaders, terrorism became his excuse. Putin is using it in Chechnya and Erdogan with the Kurds, so why should Musharraf be any different? A grave threat posed by visible ascendancy in the activities of extremists and incidents of terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, ending the declaration saying that the constitution is in abeyance. That’s how much President George W. Bush's ally in the war against terror understands democracy!

The only hope remaining is that Musharraf will follow the way of the majority of dictators, which is to be caught and sentenced for his crimes.

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Emanuel Paparella2007-11-04 10:35:26
Some musings on the subject. Quite right. In a genuine democracy the people deserve the constition they select for themselves. In a less than perfect and ambiguous democracy the politicians and the elites select it for them and deny them a referendum. Idem with dictatorships. How did Churchill put it: democracy is the worst of all possible political systems, except for all the others. One wonders if he had read De Toqueville who distinguishes true democracy from pseudo-democracy, that is, mob rule and the tyrrany of the majority. Were our founding fathers wise in instituting the electoral college? Those chicken came to roost in the year 2000 when the US ended up not with an elected but with a selected president. Selected by the Supreme Court that is. Ah the wonders of conspiracy theories!

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