The Usual Suspects
After serving forty-six years in the army, eight of which have been spent as a military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf has finally traded in his combat fatigues for what he hopes will be the fine-tailored suit of a legitimate Pakistani president.
After successfully sacking the Chief Justice, curtailing the independence of the judiciary, dissolving parliament and hand-picking the caretaker Prime Minister, and arresting opposition candidates and imposing a state of emergency, General Musharraf now declares the country ready for free and fair elections.
The cacophony of Pakistani voices hollering for free and fair elections and the resultant democracy have been buoyed by the whispers of condemnation from those Western powers whose sole preoccupation has been the illusionary “War on Terror.” But what real changes will “free and fair” elections bring to the Pakistani people? The current line-up of candidates includes a military dictator, two corrupt former prime ministers and a publicity-seeking former cricketer: a line-up which presents very limited options for the electorate.
It is my guess that the majority of Pakistani people would prefer none of these candidates, all of whom represent, in one form or another, the Pakistani ruling elite. As each candidate vies to outdo the other in their obsequious commitment to US foreign policy, they each appear more concerned with convincing the United States of their commitment and enthusiasm for the War on Terror than they are serving the needs of their own people. These publicity-savvy opportunists have milked the media at every turn, from Benazir Bhutto’s rent-a-mob to Imran Khan’s self-righteous, self-serving hunger strike, one which we all know will never reach the conclusion of the impassioned IRA stalwart Bobby Sands.
Sadly, the candidates for the Pakistani presidency are all-too-aware that courting the votes of the Pakistani people is not enough; more importantly, you must also be able to court the approval of the US government and the Western media, for it is they who wield the power to endorse the façade of democracy.