Birds of a feather: unelected Brown lunches with military dictator Musharraf

Yes, today two illegitimate leaders met at Number 10…

Relying on a dictator
(Monday 28 January 2008)
NO-ONE can take seriously Gordon Brown’s po-faced assertion that he told Pakistani military dictator Pervez Musharraf that credible elections are “essential” in that country.

“Or what?” the self-styled president might well have responded if he wanted to test the Prime Minister’s resolve.

He must have known, as do the rest of us, that Mr Brown’s only riposte would have been “Oh, or nothing.”

The general, whether in uniform or mufti, has made himself indispensable to Washington in its efforts to impose its military superiority in central Asia.

Mr Brown himself refers to General Musharraf as a “key ally in combating terrorism and extremism,” which means that, free elections or not, his position in Pakistan will not be questioned by the imperialist allies.

The general appreciates this, which is why he plays along with the democracy chat, while knowing that he will do nothing to further weaken his already shaky position.

While he may tell Mr Brown that “all electoral processes are in place to ensure transparent, credible polling,” he will allow no such election to take place because, in any free expression of the Pakistani people’s will, this quisling mountebank would be sent packing.

His backing is concentrated at the highest level of the armed forces and he depends on aid from the US and Britain to keep the top brass on side.

There is opposition within the forces to his leadership, both from a democratic standpoint and also from a position sympathetic to the Islamist forces that have the run of the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

In fact, it was Gen Musharraf who encouraged the latter tendency, authorising the ISI military intelligence arm to organise, finance, arm and train the youth in certain madrassas, setting in train a process that culminated in the Taliban being formed and sent into Afghanistan to overthrow the government of warlords previously known as the mojahedin.

He was encouraged at the time to do so, since Western security agencies were open to encouraging Islamist forces against left and democratic currents.

But this position changed with the emergence of al-Qaida, which was seen by Washington, wrongly, as a worldwide organised conspiracy to destroy Western society.

Gen Musharraf was told to drop his alliance with the Islamists and sign up for the phoney US global war on terror. Failure to do so would result in a massive US military attack on Pakistan.

He changed sides and has, ever since, been portrayed as, objectively, democratic, even though his dictatorial grip on Pakistan and its people has tightened.

He has ordered political parties to close, banned normal democratic activity and even sacked the head of the judiciary to prevent him ruling that the general’s appointment as president was unconstitutional.

And there is still the unexplained murder of Benazir Bhutto in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, followed shortly by the hosing down of the streets to wash away evidence.

This scuppered the US plan to use Ms Bhutto as the respectable international face for Gen Musharraf’s regime, but her demands for a higher price almost certainly sealed her fate.

Doing deals with a ruthless, power-obsessed general is not the way forward for Pakistan. Indeed, the precursor to democracy has to be his removal.

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