General Musharraf Learned Much From George W. Bush

November 9, 2007 at 1:26 pm | Posted in Bush Administration, corruption, Foreign Policy, Pakistan | 3 Comments

In the interest of self-preservation, knowing that the Supreme Court was going to rule against him, General Musharraf ordered martial law last week in Pakistan, jailed the Supreme Court justices he knew would vote against him and installed his own loyal judges. Lawyers across the nation protested, were beaten and arrested by Musharraf’s men. Today was to be a day of protest led by Benazir Bhutto, in what just simply seems a weirdly scripted scenario. Maybe she’s just ineffectual as a true revolutionary leader, but she seems to be taking this all in strides. Maybe Pakistan is still in denial about what Musharraf is doing, consolidating his power like he is.

Take his actions today, putting Bhutto under de facto house arrest.

Benazir Bhutto, who had threatened to lead a major protest rally in the military garrison town of Rawalpindi to challenge President Pervez Musharraf’s emergency rule, never made it out of her quiet, tree-lined street in Islamabad. By dawn Friday scores of helmeted riot police, some armed with automatic weapons, had cordoned off the road at each end, blocking it with coils of barbed wired and armored cars. Police were also picketed just outside the gate and wall of her two-story house. Clearly, Musharraf had placed her under de facto house arrest.

Later in the morning the police rather politely rolled back the barbed wire to allow several senior Bhutto aides and members of parliament from her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to walk to her house and meet with her. But the same courtesy was not extended to perhaps three dozen party activists and supporters who came individually or in small groups. As they approached the barricade they were quickly arrested and thrown into police vans. Several women, both young and old, one carrying a bouquet of flowers for Bhutto, were among those arrested. Some of those arrested went quietly, others raised a V sign with their fingers, others wailed and shouted, and some unfurled red, black and green PPP flags and shouted, “Long live Benazir!” and “We will not obey the emergency!”

The New York Times puts it this way:

In a huge show of force, the Pakistani government stopped a protest rally by the opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, before it started today, blanketing the rally site with thousands of police today, blocking roads to stop demonstrators, and barricading Ms. Bhutto inside her residence in Islamabad.

In Rawalpindi, the nearby garrison town where the rally had been due to take place, double lines of police and police vans prevented most of the thousands of demonstrators from entering the city to protest emergency rule, which the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, declared six days ago. Thousands of party workers had already been arrested over the past few days, party officials said.

Now, the reason I said this was weirdly scripted is because of this:

On the surface, the crackdown on the rally and Ms. Bhutto’s detention appeared to be an obstacle to power sharing negotiations that had been taking place for several weeks between Ms. Bhutto and General Musharraf. But the events today do not exclude the possibility negotiations continue by back channels.

I wonder, just what does Ms. Bhutto think she will be negotiating with a general who is so blatantly disregarding the rule of law? That’s why I mean this is like following a script. Why does Ms. Bhutto trust the General? I mean, look at his justification for stomping on her protest:

In justifying Ms. Bhutto’s detention, the Pakistan government said that that there had been credible evidence she could have been the target of a terrorist attack during the rally.

Um, huh, how would he know something like that? She may indeed, but the terrorist might not have been an Islamic fundamentalist from the Pashtun region. He may have been in Islamabad, sitting in a pretty palace…

Seriously, what kind of threat is Ms. Bhutto to Islamic fundamentalists? After all, she is pushing for democracy in Pakistan. They WANT democracy in Pakistan, because it would mean more influence for them! The only person Ms. Bhutto is a real threat to is the General, Mr. Musharraf.

So why do I title my post “General Musharraf Learned Much from George W. Bush?” Because of that last quote there, where the reason Musharraf decided to squash Ms. Bhutto’s protest was because of some anonymous terror threat to her life. Does that sound familiar to anyone? Why does President Bush justify torture? Why does President Bush justify spying on Americans? Why does President Bush justify violating the Constitution? Because of some vague anonymous terror threat!

Pakistanis know that this clampdown by Musharraf has nothing to do with terrorism. From the elite to the lowest Pakistani:

In interviews on the streets of Islamabad, the capital, and in this nearby garrison city over the last three days — rich and poor, professionals and laborers, members of the security forces and civilians — they overwhelmingly opposed the president’s emergency decree, rejecting it as a naked attempt by General Musharraf to bolster his fading powers.

“People are not fools,” said Muhammad Saleem, 35, a phone shop clerk in a wealthy section of Islamabad, the capital. “They do understand it’s not to stop militancy.”

Uniformly, they said the decree had reduced General Musharraf’s already low popularity. “If I stood for election here,” said Jehangir Ahmed, a welder from Rawalpindi, “I would win more seats than Musharraf.”

And what the United States doesn’t seem to get a real good grasp of is that General Musharraf’s naked power grabs severely affect our “war on terror.”

It never had to be this way. Bush could actually have stuck to his principles and not backed a dictator, but instead tied funding of this dictator to verifiable promises that he would move away from totalitarianism. Problem is that Bush would never have done this, because he AGREED with Musharraf’s choice of governance over Pakistan.

So sad.

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3 Comments »

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  1. Dan, when has George Bush ever:

    -Imposed martial law
    -Jailed Supreme Court justices
    -Confined US citizens to “house arrest” for alleged terrorist threats

    What was that? Never? Oh, just curious.

  2. Brian,

    When has George W. Bush ever used terrorism as the excuse to execute highly questionable and illegal activities and programs?

  3. I even said why I compared the two in my post, if you read it:

    So why do I title my post “General Musharraf Learned Much from George W. Bush?” Because of that last quote there, where the reason Musharraf decided to squash Ms. Bhutto’s protest was because of some anonymous terror threat to her life. Does that sound familiar to anyone? Why does President Bush justify torture? Why does President Bush justify spying on Americans? Why does President Bush justify violating the Constitution? Because of some vague anonymous terror threat!


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