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Five years of the army dictatorship in Pakistan: one more black day added to the dirty rule Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Aftab Khan, United Arab Emirates Oct 19, 2004
Human Rights   Short Stories
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Five years after seizing power in a bloodless coup, Pakistan’s military Dictator, and self-appointed President Pervez Musharraf remains Pakistan's most powerful man.

Shortly after the 1999 coup, General Musharraf told the nation: "I shall not allow the people to be taken back to the era of sham democracy." Five years later, the people realized that Musharraf has truly kept his word. He did not allow anyone to take people back to the era of shame democracy. He did it himself.

The lesson General Musharraf and his Western backers are leaving behind for other coup leaders in this process is: If the constitution does not legitimize your actions, delegitimize the constitution. That you can do by virtue of holding it in abeyance. In the meanwhile, instead of mending your ways, amend the constitution to legitimize both your actions and the "sacred" document.

It might sound odd and impossible but not for someone backed up by absolute power.

The former shame Pakistani democracies now seem far better by comparison when looked at in the perspective of all the crusaders of democracy fully approving and supporting a people's living under a systematically legalized dictatorship.

The move by Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s military ruler, to legitimize and cement his grip on power through a passing awkward bill, ‘The Bill to Enable the President of Pakistan to Hold Another Office’ in the national assembly on October 14th, 2004 to extend his self-declared Presidency is as clear a manifestation of the absurdity of the exercise to legitimize General Pervez Musharraf and to remain in uniform as Chief of Army staff for unspecified period is likely to see him emerge far weaker politically and more vulnerable on the legitimacy question. In reneging on his pledge to return Pakistan to democracy, General Musharraf has attacked the main political parties and their leaders and he alienated the very constituency that supported his bloodless coup. The reality is that without the military’s grip on power being loosened and the rogue Inter-Services Intelligence agency being cut to size, there can be no real, sustained movement in Pakistan toward democracy.

The fact that in Pakistan holding public meetings and taking part in public demonstrations and processions are offenses under military decree is overshadowed by the General's rhetoric of "containing militancy".

Musharraf plans to continue his military dictatorship through a manufactured political party PML-Q (Pakistan Muslim League-Q), shutting out from the contest the legitimate political parties and leaders of Pakistan. Two of Pakistan's ex-prime ministers are living in exile, and plenty of political workers are disqualified from taking part in the Pakistani politics.

Political parties fear that the secrete dealing between General Musharraf and a coalition of Islamist political parties would play into the long-term goals of Pakistani Islamic fundamentalism (The dictator, and the coalition of Islamist hardliners, the MMA (MULLAH MILITARY ALLIANCE) has already a deal and MMA has supported a bill in parliament by which the president can dismiss the prime minister - the move would have to be ratified by the Supreme court). To them, failure to return to democracy means that extremist allies remaining within Pakistan's security services cannot be effectively rooted out.

"Civilian control of all aspects of national policy, including security matters, is the only way to ensure that Pakistan does not become a haven for extremists again," one political analyst remarked.

"Let us remember the lessons of Iran," writes Benazir Bhutto. "The Shah of Iran was the West's surrogate regional policeman for decades. His policies of choking and victimizing democratic forces led to the fundamentalist revolution from which the world has yet to recover."

She continues, "For the moment, some might find Musharraf's dictatorship useful. But the United States must proceed with great caution and wisdom. In the words of John F. Kennedy, 'Foreign policy requires the long view.' Ultimately, the West's blind eye to democracy and human rights can have unintended, unforeseen, and deadly consequences, not just in Pakistan, but for regional and world peace."

No two opinions are the same about the time-tested notion that what appears to be convenient in the short-term is likely to be catastrophic in the long term. Who knows this better than the US, which is being blamed for its past patronage of today's rascals and past "freedom fighters"--the Muslim fundamentalist? A key lesson of September 11 is that terrorism springs from religious and political extremism nurtured by autocracy and the suppression of democratic voices.

Before September 11, Pervez Musharraf was more shunned than sought after by world leaders. Today, the opposite is true. The General himself, when he was army chief, was seen as an instigator of dangerous Pakistani provocations in Indian-administered Kashmir in 1999, a period best remembered as the "Kargil crisis." Later that year, he seized power in a bloodless coup and named himself president in 2001, kicking out the civilian Prime Minister by accusing him of selling the national interest to US and India by agreeing to withdraw from the Kargil area in Indian Kashmir--an agreement Musharraf characterized as compromising national security.

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Writer Profile
Aftab Khan

25 years old Electronics & Computer System Engineer by Education and an activist of Human rights and Women Rights. Presently living in exile in Sweden since october 2003 due to the involvment in a campaign against the injustice in the society and undemocratic Military Government in Pakistan
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