Thursday, November 22, 2007

Pakistan's problems start at the top

Musharraf's military rule has damaged his country's ability to fight Islamist insurgents.

By Pervez Hoodbhoy | Los Angeles Times, November 18, 2007
Gen. Pervez Musharraf seized power in Pakistan eight years ago, claiming that the army had to step in to save the country from corrupt and incompetent politicians. Since then, he has run both the army and the government himself, with the connivance of a rubber-stamp Parliament put in place through rigged elections. His rule has proved to be a dismal failure, creating more problems than those it set out to solve.

Earlier this month, with opposition to his regime growing and the courts about to rule that he could not legally be president, Musharraf chose to suspend the constitution and impose emergency rule. He dismissed the Supreme Court and arrested the judges, replacing them with judges who will bend to his will. He blocked all independent television channels and threatened to punish the news media if it disparaged him or the army. His police arrested thousands of lawyers and pro-democracy activists. He ordered that civilians be tried in closed military courts. This is what is necessary, he said, to save Pakistan from a rapidly growing Islamist insurgency.

But no one should believe him.

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