Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What, me worry?

Bush's speech before the UN today was all about human rights violations in Iran and Burma and Syria and Belarus, but unless my hearing is going, I didn't hear any concern for the crackdown on the opposition to Pervez Musharraf in recent days. Perhaps that was not a proper venue, but the concern remains over incidents like that in Islamabad yesterday where police broke up a protest outside the Supreme Court which is hearing a case challenging the constitutional validity of General Musharraf's dual role as president and chief Army officer. Leaders of two political parties have been jailed and are being held incommunicado.

It's disturbing enough that Condoleezza Rice expressed concern over the arrests in this nuclear armed country that contains both moderate and extreme elements including Taliban and perhaps Osama bin Laden. So unsettling indeed that our embassy has issued a statement calling the arrests "extremely disturbing and confusing for the friends of Pakistan," and calling on the government to free the detainees. Our moral superiority in such matters, of course is severely wounded by our denial of habeas corpus to perceived enemies at the whim of our own government and suspicion of election tampering in the last two presidential contests.

Accusations, explanations and justifications are flying around from various factions too numerous for me to comprehend and the concerns of the US have been rebuffed by Pakistan's Foreign Ministry:
"If the U.S. Embassy is confused, it would be well advised not to make such statements,"
said spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam. That doesn't do much to make me feel better and I'm sure it makes Dr. Rice feel as ineffectual as she is.

Dictator and treader upon human rights that Musharraf may be, and possibly worthy as some of his opposition may also be, there are worse who would like to depose him and al Qaeda in Pakistan is a far less dubious reality than al Qaeda in Iraq. Will his attempt to stifle opposition play into the hands of the worst of that opposition? Pakistan's Daily Times worries about it and who's to blame the rest of us that understand even less of this complex and fragile situation from worrying? The only thing that will help me sleep tonight is knowing that George Bush and his administration are on duty.

Cross posted at The Impolitic


Intellectual Insurgent said...

I don't know how prominent Al Qaeda is in Pakistan (or anywhere else other than in the fertile imaginations of our politicians and media). All I know is that Pakistan was a democracy before Musharraf orchestrated a coup. There is a strong movement to restore the democracy and I don't think it's out of the question that such forces could triumph if Musharraf finally gets put out to pasture.

Capt. Fogg said...

I'm no particular friend of Musharraf and I'm worried about his crackdown and that it might lead to chaos and fighting and the possibility of another military intervention.

By the fact that Osama is in Pakistan and nobody has turned him in, I have to assume that he has some support. The area of Waziristan he is said to inhabit is being called Talibanistan by some.

I don't know how to measure the amount of support he has there overall, but I can't discount all testimony just because I don't like it.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

If you've read Animal Farm by George Orwell, Osama Bin Laden is snowball. He's a convenient spook to put on parade when the ruling powers need him. Musharraf and his people overplay that card in order to tell the U.S. - "support me because he's the alternative", as if those are the only two choices the Pakistani people have.

Capt. Fogg said...

The Orwell character was Goldstein, I believe - the guy behind everything and who could never be caught.

That's why Bush hasn't gone after him, but still he's real and he's a real figurehead and inspiration for people who blow up trains and buses.

None the less, I'm concerned about a peaceful election and a moderate government for Pakistan, just as I am for us.