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Bush's Sham of Democracy in Pakistan (and Iraq)

By       Message Ron Fullwood     Permalink
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"Democracy don't rule the world, You'd better get that in your head; This world is ruled by violence. But I guess that's better left unsaid."--Dylan

Democracy in Pakistan doesn't exist, any more than it does in Iraq. It hasn't existed in Pakistan since the 1999 coup by Musharraf. Yet, the Bush administration is calling for the 'democratic process' to be 'restored' in Pakistan after the killing of the leader of the most popular opposition to the U.S. supported dictator there -- much like their insistence that an end to their occupation of Iraq and restrictions on U.S. assistance to the installed and propped-up Maliki regime would threaten 'democracy' in the sovereign nation Bush invaded and overthrew.

For the Bush regime, democratic government is defined, more by an ability to seize and hold onto power, than by any recognized and accepted instigations of actual democracy. For Bush in Iraq, the 'elections' which brought the Maliki regime to power -- and, were held under an increased military occupation and widely boycotted by many of Iraq's population which wasn't aligned with the Shiite majority who voted in overwhelming numbers -- were enough to justify any and all actions by the U.S. enabled regime; including military assaults on rival communities before, during, and after the voting took place.

In Pakistan, the Bush administration sees the unelected dominance of Musharraf -- who came to power in a 'bloodless' coup, but maintained that assumed authority through the brutal, heavy-hand of the military he heads and controls -- as the ultimate representation of a working government, despite the widespread opposition to his rule from those who would cast a vote if a free and fair election were to occur.

It was the Bush administration who urged Benizar Bhutto to return to Pakistan in a 'power-sharing' deal with Musharraf which would allow the dictator to retain the office and position which he had stolen. Musharraf, however, chose, instead, to demonstrate his autocratic intentions for Bush with his anti-democratic crackdown -- canceling the scheduled election, arresting and jailing all of his political opposition, and dissolving and replacing the Pakistani Supreme Court to avoid a ruling against his presidential appointment -- including the arrest and detention of Bhutto and her supporters.

Those blatantly, anti-democratic actions by Musharraf, essentially disqualified him as a legitimate representative of any instigation of democracy; much less, a legitimate representative of the will of Pakistanis. Yet, the Bush administration's response to his tyranny was as tepid and enabling of Musharraf's autocratic rule as was the billions they had gifted the Pakistani dictator for his dubious promise to be a responsible steward of Pakistan's nukes and his promises to pursue and prosecute the original suspects in the 9-11 killings.

Where was the fight against 'extremism' and 'turmoil' in Pakistan, which Gen. Musharraf used to justify his 'emergency' decree, actually being waged? Other than a handful of assaults and mass killings by his military forces against communities he claimed were 'insurgent' and 'terrorist', the bulk of Musharraf's actions were clearly aimed at suppressing and intimidating his political opposition, even as he pressed forward with his own campaign for the presidency.

It's perfectly legitimate for Americans (and Pakistanis) to expect that the military dictator the administration has tolerated for so long -- with Musharraf's repeated promises to 'take off his uniform' and allow democratic elections -- would be required to, at least, adhere to basic democratic principles which would foster the 'free and fair' elections they say they want for Pakistan. But, the administration's tepid response to Musharraf's tyranny was a clear signal to the rogue dictator that they would regard the mere posturing and pretense of democracy that he was offering as a true representation of a legitimate democratic process -- as long as their dictator prevailed.
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There has been no suggestion from the administration that they intend to tie the billions in taxpayer dollars that flow to Musharraf to his adherence to basic human rights for his own countrymen. Even Japan announced that they needed to "stop and think" about the large increase of aid they had planned to provide Musharraf after they received the news of Ms. Bhutto's initial detention.

Now, in the wake of the Bhutto assassination, the Bush administration seems more than satisfied with their anti-democratic autocrat to approve of and urge an immediate resumption of the Potemkin election he had planned. Bush disregarded Ms. Bhutto's very activism against Musharraf's pretense of democracy as he called for 'continuing' that corrupt process she sacrificed her life to oppose.

"We stand with the people of Pakistan in their struggle against the forces of terror and extremism," Bush said in a statement after her killing. "We urge them to honor Benazir Bhutto's memory by continuing with the democratic process for which she so bravely gave her life," he said.

If that 'democratic process' includes Musharraf as a candidate, it will be nothing more than a sham of democracy; a prop, like in Iraq. As in Iraq, the 'people of Pakistan' are mere footstools to elevate and give an air of legitimacy to those who have already been enabled into their assumed authority behind the intimidation of military forces.

"There are not a lot of alternatives out there," an administration official was quoted in the AP. "We have an interest in seeing Pakistan be stable and seeing that the government there has a reasonable level of legitimacy and popular support," he said. According to the AP report, the officials quoted "did not see new restrictions on $300 million in assistance for Musharraf's government in 2008 beyond those Congress just imposed in an aid budget."
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In other words, the administration will be satisfied when Pakistan's government settles back into a political posture which they can claim has the legitimacy of an election -- no matter how compromised or corrupted that election may be. As in his own Supreme Court-enabled ascent to office, Bush is ready to crown Musharraf a 'democratically' elected leader of Pakistan.

The Bush administration recognizes the opportunity they now have -- in the wake of the assassination of Musharraf's main political rival -- to muscle their dictator into 'elected' office; albeit, behind a contrived electoral process which would benefit from the anti-democratic actions by the dictatorial regime and by those outside of the process who would disrupt and manipulate it through violence and intimidation.

"We believe it's important that the political process, the process of developing Pakistan's democracy, continue," deputy administration spokesman Tom Casey was quoted.

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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price

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