Lots of new information coming out about the extent of President Musharraf’s declaration of martial law inside Pakistan. While the western world has to come out and condemn his actions it is looking more and more like his decision to take over the judiciary was done to purge its ranks of Islamic extremism:
Musharraf’s act comes at a time when Pakistan has almost 100,000 troops in the Waziristan region, battling the Taliban. Meanwhile, the country is being hit by almost daily suicide bombings (since July, more than 450 people have been killed by terrorists). Islamist militants recently ambushed and held 250 solders hostage, and another 48 soldiers were paraded as a trophy by a Taliban commander. Throughout this time, Musharraf has rejected US Centcom’s offer to send American troops, arguing that Pakistan’s army can handle its own internal situation
In the Punjab, far from the frontier there was a major suicide bomb
attack against the Pakistani Air Force, killing eight officers and
cadets (probably a reprisal for air strikes in Waziristan in October).
There was intense fighting in the Swat valley, a popular vacation area
on the edge of the tribal area, with Pakistani helicopter gunships
striking militants of the TNSM, a.k.a. the Pakistani Taliban. Another
suicide bomber exploded himself and seven other people in a high
security area of Rawalpindi near General Musharaf’s official residence
(on the anniversary of a Pakistani missile attack on an extremist TNSM
madrassa last year). Whatever Musharraf’s actual motives, I can think
of lots of countries where this level of violence might prompt a state
Lots of turmoil inside this nuclear power, and it appears it was in real danger of being taken over by fanatical Islam. His seizure of power was just before the sitting Supreme Court was about to rule on a series of petitions that would have questioned Musharraf’s standing to stay in uniform while running for President in the upcoming elections along with the exile of Nawaz Sharif.
Musharraf believes that the judiciary is overrun with militant Islamists who have gotten in the way of his war against them, and really, with all the fighting going on who can blame him? Now the question is was this threat by the judiciary real, or something made up so he could stay in power?
I believe the threat is real and he took the only action available to him. If his power was reduced by the Supreme Court ruling that he could not stay in uniform while serving as President then there was a very real danger of Pakistan being a nuclear power run by those as dangerous, or even more then Iran’s government. Powerline:
It is important to distinguish
between permanent and provisional enemies of democracy. The struggle against
Islamic extremism is analogous in some ways to the cold war. In a number of
countries in Latin America and elsewhere in the third world, authoritarian
governments limited their citizens’ rights to varying degrees and carried out
more or less ruthless campaigns against Communist insurgencies. In all cases,
they were bitterly attacked by the Left and by “world opinion” in general.
But Communism, like radical Islam, is a permanent enemy of democracy. The
handful of countries that remain Communist–Cuba and North Korea may be the last
survivors–are islands of primitive despotism. All around the world, on the
other hand, authoritarian anti-Communist governments have yielded to
democracies, in many cases highly prosperous ones.
I am inclined to believe that Musharraf does intend to bring modernity,
including a viable democracy, to Pakistan. If the current measures enable the
government to fight the extremists more effectively–a big “if”–the sacrifices
they entail will be worthwhile. We can be sure that if the Taliban and similar
groups succeed in seizing power in Pakistan, the consequences will be infinitely
worse and far more prolonged.
Think about it. al-Qaeda being in control of a stockpile of nuclear weapons. That is a very real danger if the fight inside Pakistan is not won. The issue is not as cut and dried as some observers inside the MSM allege, it is complex:
The State Department response — calling for immediate free elections —
is idiotic. Break down Pakistan’s instability into just some of its
component parts — Islamist militancy, tribal unrest, deep-seated ethnic
separatism, feudal oppression, sectarian hatred, an incompetent and
corrupt ruling elite, an ill-educated population, a paranoid and
conspiratorial culture — and it’s far from clear that dictatorship is
the disease or elections the cure.
It’s interesting that the
official Indian reaction has been so careful. Said a Foreign Ministry
spokesman: “We regret the difficult times that Pakistan is passing
through…We trust that conditions of normalcy will soon return,
permitting Pakistan’s transition to stability and democracy to
continue.” New Delhi clearly realizes that Musharraf for all his faults
may be preferable to any alternative. …
But, for now, I tend to believe Musharraf. Especially seeing as how he has either arrested or exiled true radical Islamists like Imran Khan, who was behind many of the riots over the bogus Koran dunking story:
WITH 17 PEOPLE DEAD and anti-American sentiment even higher than usual in the Muslim world, people are looking for someone to blame for the riots that flowed from Newsweek’s Koran story. So far, it has been pinned on everyone from Mark Whitaker to the U.S. military. But the real villain is Pakistani politician Imran Khan.~~~
After his playing career ended in 1992, Khan entered politics under the tutelage of Lt.-Gen. Hamid Gul, the former Pakistani intelligence chief famous for fueling the Taliban’s rise in Afghanistan. (Gul believes that September 11 was a U.S. conspiracy.)…
And the fact that for many years Musharraf has tried to bring democracy to his country.
Disengaged western audiences, pumped full of the current pro-democracy intoxicants, will almost universally decry Musharraf’s behaviour. I decry it too, precisely because I am a disengaged westerner and I have that luxury. However, the story in Pakistan is not so straightforward.
What I am being told by bazari merchants, some young professionals, and some industrialists in Karachi and Lahore is that they merely care for stability, whether it comes in the form of the military, or in the form of democracy. Incidentally, many of them believe that it is Musharraf who is more likely to assure that stability. A couple of people, with middle class businesses, suggested to me that Musharraf should behave more like a dictator; a secular version of the previous Islamist dictator, Zia ul Haq, in order to assure stability for business and economic growth. However, that is a minority view.
The democratic push in Pakistan is not some sort of romantic affair pitting slaves against a demonic genocidal Stalin. Musharraf made his errors (like the Red Mosque fiasco and the disappearances linked to the War on Terror) but he is not homicidal. Cinema, music, the arts and freedom of press are thriving in Pakistan. The popular satire programme – “We are Expecting” – has a regular character mocking Musharraf, which does nothing more than grunt and proclaim “Yes!” in a loud voice.
Musharraf has, in fact, helped the Pakistani economy and business, admitted even by democracy-promoting analysts. Until this year, when the democracy push struck, construction projects were booming and money from Dubai was pouring in. In fact, a study published by the anti-military newspaper, Dawn, showed that: “Nonetheless, in the eight year period since the latest take over by the military, the size of the economy increased by almost 50% and that of income per head of the population by nearly 25%.”
So lets hope that my gut feeling is correct. He is purging his judiciary of radical Islamists that would have turned the war against the fanatics on its head. Once that is done, hopefully, that Democratic track will be back on course.
Time will tell.
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