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Pakistan - Martial Law
Will Lead To False
'Democratic' Solution

World Affairs Brief
By Joel Skousen

The Neocons are up to their old tricks again--creating conflict to fool people into accepting a false solution to a chronic national crisis. US puppet president Pervez Musharraf has lost his usefulness to them-at least as dictatorial head of state. The world will only look the other way so long at US hypocrisy in sustaining one dictator while ousting another. Musharraf can't win an election honestly and has alienated the Islamic majority and all of the opposition in Pakistan, except one: Benazir Bhutto, who only feigns opposition. The Bush administration globalists have cut a deal with Bhutto to put her in power after Musharraf, but plan A (the power sharing agreement) failed because her US brokered deal did not fool the educated class in Pakistan and would not have led to an election victory. In fact, it tainted her so badly she could not escape the charge that she had sold out to either or both Musharraf and the US. She even narrowly escaped assassination upon her return to the country. So, an elaborate scheme was hatched to create a state of emergency both to give her an excuse to separate herself from Musharraf and to ride the wave of political opposition to an election victory that she otherwise could never win. Here is the story.
The first anomaly to catch my attention was the seeming stupidity in which Musharraf was handling this whole political situation. One can't start beating up, arresting and holding in detention all of the opposition lawyers, judges and human rights advocates in a country and pretend to represent democratic aspirations. Even after announcing elections, Musharraf refused to cancel the state of emergency and, in fact, increased the violence. The US, naturally, had to decry this state of emergency, but there is much evidence our leaders are not serious in their opposition.
Bloomberg News summarized the false steps and the reaction: "Musharraf, who took power in a military coup in 1999, suspended the constitution on Nov. 3 and declared a state of emergency, saying the judiciary was undermining his government's fight against terrorism [The whole world is learning to use "terror" to justify tyranny, following the US example]. He fired the country's top judge as the Supreme Court neared a ruling on the legality of his re-election, took private television networks off the air and amended the 1952 Army Act to enable authorities to try civilians in military courts.
"Opposition parties say the ban on public gatherings, the arrests of Benazir Bhutto, Imran Khan and 15,000 supporters... undermine the credibility of the elections due by Jan. 9. There is 'only one message Musharraf is sending to the whole world by these arrests,'' said Sharif's spokesman Ahsan Iqbal. 'That he cannot hold free and fair elections with the entire opposition behind bars.'"
Notice how the mainstream media depicts Benazir Bhutto as part of the unified opposition to Musharraf. Last Thursday Bhutto, feigning her best opposition pose, called on Musharraf to resign and vowed never to serve in any government under his leadership. Clean break....or was it? It wasn't. The rest of the opposition distrusts Bhutto as much as Musharraf, but the US media insists on promoting Bhutto as representing democracy in Pakistan.
As for the US, the Bush administration is decrying the continued state of emergency but otherwise doing nothing to stop it or gain the release of prisoners. Negative rhetoric is a hollow gesture compared to billions in positive aid that keeps flowing. Human rights groups in the US and around the world demanded President Bush cut off military aid to Pakistan, but Bush shrugged them off with the old excuse that Pakistan is "too valuable an ally" in the (phony) war on terror. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte is in Pakistan today for talks with Musharraf, undoubtedly to make sure Musharraf doesn't mess up the managed outcome the US seeks.
It is widely suspected that Bhutto was the secret favorite of the US to replace Musharraf, and only feigning her opposition. She has plenty of skeletons in her closet that can bed used as blackmail against her. Even this past week's house arrest of Bhutto was a carefully crafted ruse by the Musharraf government to enhance her martyr status in the press. She was allowed to hold press conferences, talk to reporters and have daily visits from her party leaders so that her activities remained almost normal. Contrast this with the harsh treatment of the real opposition who have been beaten and who sit in real jails and are isolated from all external contact. The true opposition will react predictably to all this and boycott the elections. That is a mistake, but it is what the neocons want. It will leave the existing main parties in Parliament to continue their collusion with the military and the US.
Bhutto's party will stay in the race, hoping to garner the largest minority, with the subsequent right to form a new government. The only catch is that the constitutional does not allow her to serve as PM for a third term. She will have to pick someone else in her party or change the constitution. As for Musharraf, he may well be delaying his resignation as Army chief so that he can go back to that position after he resigns as president. Thus, he will be able to continue to do the US bidding on the dark side of Pakistani intelligence and military operations while Bhutto or a similar puppet provides democratic cover. If Musharraf is forced out both politically and militarily by the US, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, a Musharraf clone, is slated to take his place. Slick!
Syed Saleem Shahzad of Asia Times adds more detail about today's formation by Musharraf of an interim government, which has caused even more dissension. "A few days after President General Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency on November 10, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the secret service agency, met with leaders of the opposition parties to decide on a roadmap for a caretaker administration leading to general parliamentary elections in January and then to a post-election government.
"The opposition parties, including the six-party religious alliance, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, and the ruling Pakistan Muslim League, finalized a seat adjustment mechanism through which these leading parties would receive significant representation in the next government. At the same time, the ISI had a separate meeting with the Pakistan People's Party and assured its leader, Benazir Bhutto, that she would head a caretaker administration as prime minister.
"As a result of these meetings, the opposition response to the declaration of the state of emergency was relatively muted [except for Bhutto, who was shut out of the new government]... Mohammedmian Soomro, chairman of Pakistan's Senate since 2003, was appointed interim prime minister. The message from the government to Bhutto was that it wanted a 'non-controversial' premier." It is no wonder that Bhutto denounced the new interim government. All this may be indicative, however, that the opposition to Musharraf has rejected Bhutto and demanded that Musharraf appoint someone else. If true, Bhutto will probably not regain power, at least via the electoral process.
DemocracyNow interviewed Asthma Jahangir, Pakistani Human Rights leader (also under house arrest, but more restricted than Bhutto. Anyone allowed to speak to American reporters is NOT, in my opinion, a hard core threat to Musharraf); "His popularity is extremely low. He has been extremely ruthless with people here. And there is a kind of a resentment here with the perception that the USA is micro-managing things simply to keep him -- give him the lifelines." All true so far.
As to fighting terrorism, Jahangir says that Musharrafs policy in combating terrorism has been a failure, with no substance to it. He says that "people resent the fact that in his last period, Talibanization in Pakistan has crept into our society and in many cities." In other words, rather than fight Islamization of Pakistani society (which is fairly secular like Iran) he has fomented it. This is in line with my general theory that Pakistan has been secretly supporting the Taliban and al Qaeda on behalf of the US as instruments of terror and Islamic change. This pro-Taliban policy, by the way, started under former PM Benazir Bhutto. She was ousted due to corruption, also involving her husband.
On the subject of the recent assassination attempt on Bhutto, Jahangir has his doubts: "She obviously has had personal threats. We don't know whether they are genuinely by religious extremists or all being played out by the government itself."
As for US support for Pakistan and Musharraf, Jahangir says, "people here actually believe that whatever goes over, when it will take place, it will be decided in Washington, which is rather unfortunate and sad, because it makes people very complacent. [Jahangir is a bit naive and fails in his next statement to perceive how the US plans to establish a phony democratic solution] In the last two weeks, there has been more openness towards looking at US as a partner of people, rather than a partner of dictatorship. So I think that if the US really now -- really is a player here, which is quite obvious, takes a more balanced approach, rather than go all out for Musharraf, regardless of his massive unpopularity, finds a solution to future democracy in Pakistan, because democracy simply doesn't mean hollow voting and rigged voting. That is not acceptable anymore. People are rather awakened. People know their rights. And so, they are not going to accept a sham election anymore [but, they'll get one anyway].
The media keeps pushing cricket sports star Imran Khan for some reason. Often popular sports personalities make willing puppets and ignorant opposition leaders. The real opposition in Pakistan is leery of Khan's sudden rise in notoriety by the international media. This is telling. The media doesn't promote people unless they have a purpose in some larger hidden agenda. Jahangir notes that Khan "is a critic of General Musharraf, [but] he has very little following in his own party, and sometimes he appears to, you know, not understand that religious extremism can be very destructive for this country. So he is a bit confused there. He is also a bit confused whether extremism and democracy can go together or not."
Once again, the trumped up threat of religious extremism is essential in order to create fear which drives this agenda. While such extremism is on the rise, being fomented by US intervention, the larger threat of the supposed inevitable "Clash of Civilizations" between Islamo-Fascism and Christianity is not a reality, but something to provide intellectual fodder for the cause.
Jim Lobe gives a particularly cogent answer to David Horowitz's Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, as well as the aggressive rhetoric of other neo-conservatives, such as Frank Gaffney and Norman Podhoretz. He starts by quoting Harlan Ullman, one of the few "realists" who writes for the pro-Bush Washington Times who takes exception to the title and the concept of "Islamo-Fascism."
"The article points out the many tactical and strategic downsides to the use of the expression in connection to the 'global war on terror'. 'It is clear that the neo-conservative advocates of Islamo-fascism wanted to link radical Islam with the Nazis and Hitlerian (though not Italian or Japanese) fascism and of course the image of a latter-day nuclear or biological holocaust,' writes Ullman... not only is the analogy false, but, 'any smart strategy [to deal with the threat posed by radical Islam] must be based ?on dividing and conquering rather than lumping all the villains as Islamo-fascists.'" Good point. The neocons focus on painting all Muslims with a broad brush is evidence they intend to inflame tensions rather than lessen them.
Let me end with a critical and devastating commentary on Benazir Bhutto by her own niece, Fatima Bhutto. She claims PM Bhutto eliminated her father (Benazir's younger brother) during her last reign in power because of his knowledge about her corruption and collusion with the US. Here are some excerpts from her story published in the Los Angeles Times this week.
"Perhaps the most bizarre part of this circus has been the hijacking of the democratic cause by my aunt, the twice-disgraced former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto. While she was hashing out a deal to share power with Gen. Pervez Musharraf last month, she repeatedly insisted that without her, democracy in Pakistan would be a lost cause. Now that the situation has changed, she's saying that she wants Musharraf to step down and that she'd like to make a deal with his opponents -- but still, she says, she's the savior of democracy.
"The reality, however, is that there is no one better placed to benefit from emergency rule than she is. Along with the leaders of prominent Islamic parties, she has been spared the violent retribution of emergency law... Ms. Bhutto's political posturing is sheer pantomime. Her negotiations with the military and her unseemly willingness until just a few days ago to take part in Musharraf's regime have signaled once and for all to the growing legions of fundamentalists across South Asia that democracy is just a guise for dictatorship. It is widely believed that Ms. Bhutto lost both her governments on grounds of massive corruption. She and her husband, a man who came to be known in Pakistan as 'Mr. 10%,' have been accused of stealing more than $1 billion from Pakistan's treasury...
"It was particularly unappealing of Ms. Bhutto to ask Musharraf to bypass the courts and drop the many corruption cases that still face her in Pakistan. He agreed, creating the odiously titled National Reconciliation Ordinance in order to do so. Her collaboration with him was so unsubtle that people on the streets are now calling her party, the Pakistan People's Party, the Pervez People's Party. Now she might like to distance herself, but it's too late. Why did Ms. Bhutto and her party cronies demand that her corruption cases be dropped, but not demand that the cases of activists jailed during the brutal regime of dictator Zia ul-Haq (from 1977 to 1988) be quashed?
"What about the sanctity of the law? When her brother Mir Murtaza Bhutto -- my father -- returned to Pakistan in 1993, he faced 99 cases against him that had been brought by Zia's military government. The cases all carried the death penalty... [Rather than] ask her to drop the cases, he returned, was arrested at the airport and spent the remaining years of his life clearing his name, legally in the courts of Pakistan. Ms. Bhutto's repeated promises to end fundamentalism and terrorism in Pakistan strain credulity because, after all, the Taliban government that ran Afghanistan was recognized by Pakistan under her last government -- making Pakistan one of only three governments in the world to do so.
I will end this section with her summary statement: "I have personal reasons to fear the danger that Ms. Bhutto's presence in Pakistan brings, but I am not alone. The Islamists are waiting at the gate. They have been waiting for confirmation that the reforms for which the Pakistani people have been struggling have been a farce, propped up by the White House. Since Musharraf seized power in 1999, there has been an earnest grass-roots movement for democratic reform. The last thing we need is to be tied to a neocon agenda through a puppet 'democrat' like Ms. Bhutto. By supporting Ms. Bhutto, who talks of democracy while asking to be brought to power by a military dictator, the only thing that will be accomplished is the death of the nascent secular democratic movement in my country. Democratization will forever be de-legitimized, and our progress in enacting true reforms will be quashed."
November 16, 2007 World Affairs Brief
Commentary and Insights on a Troubled World
Copyright Joel Skousen. Partial quotations with attribution permitted.
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