Ominous Portent for South Asia
DR MOHAMMAD MANZOOR ALAM on American support to Gen. Musharraf’s government in Pakistan
The declaration of Emergency in Pakistan could be an indicator of more difficult days to come. The extreme measure restored to by President Pervez Musharraf makes democracy – popular rule, functioning of independent legislature, judiciary and media – a distant prospect as all of them are in suspended animation now.
As usual the United States and its Western allies are firmly behind the person who has done this, that is, President Pervez Musharraf. The US loves to claim that it stands for democracy (that is how it justifies its occupation, and destruction, of Afghanistan and Iraq), but on the ground it does the exact opposite by backing dictators and justifying occupation.
Judging by the difficulties the US faces over its nuclear deal with a democratic India it is only natural that it should prefer autocratic rule in the neighbouring country, whose top military leaders are friendly to it. These people are staunch supporters of the so-called “War On Terror”. Pakistan army’s leaders have been America’s tested Allies in the Cold War against Russia and an army chief ruling that country has always been more convenient for the West than democratically elected president.
It is common knowledge that despite Mr Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s closeness to the West he was deposed and hanged with tacit Western consent. The problem started when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto refused to comply with Henry Kissenger’s orders to shut down the Pak nuclear programme. At that point America was made to believe that Pakistan’s Islamic bomb. At that Kissinger is reported to have sternly told him: “You will meet a horrible end.” Soon a coup followed, Bhutto was dismissed, and later he met his “horrible end” as promised by Kissinger.
Coming to the present scenario, the general Pakistani mood had become averse to fighting America’s proxy war against the Muslim world. Common Pakistanis did not seem to be interested in joining what President George W Bush and his neo-con coterie relish describing as World War III. According to some observers the World War III had actually begun with US-led invasion of Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 and its subsequent occupation. The war continues today, albeit on a different scale. The fight is continued by freedom fighters, which sometimes starts looking more like a civil war than a resistance struggle.
It has been old US practice to change rulers of other countries to suit its current foreign policy objectives. Keeping that in mind, one can hazard the guess that America wants military rule in Pakistan in the short term as it is proven to be more pliant than a democratic dispensation.
Now, the final question is: why, at this particular moment, General Musharraf’s government suits the US more than a popularly elected government? The answer is that if persuasion fails with Iranian leaders, America or Israel, or both, or the Western alliance as a whole, can attack Iran. With pro-US governments in neighbouring Pakistan and Afghanistan that would be less inconvenient for the aggressors.
French President Nicholas Sarkozy, a Jew who for some reasons has converted to Christianity and still regards Israel as his homeland, has clearly said that Iran faced bombing if it sought to make “the bomb”. Forget that Iran has repeatedly declared it does not intend to make nuclear weapons. Also forget that International Atomic Energy Agency Chief Mohammad El-Bardei has repeatedly said that Iran is not making the bomb. America, France, Britain and Israel insist that it is, or is going to, make the bomb. This allegation is a white lie, but so was the charge of Iraq stockpiling “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. Iraq was attacked and occupied nonetheless.
Intensive efforts are on to persuade Iran to dissociate itself from Syria and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. And, also to accept Western diktat on its nuclear programme. As per some media reports Israel has got the green signal from the US to bomb Iranian nuclear installations the way it did Iraq’s two decades ago, or Syria’s this year. America itself has not ruled out an all-out attack on Iran, with nuclear weapons, if need be.
This is the jigsaw puzzle where the Western backing of President Musharraf fits in nicely. This also shows how dear democracy really is to America and its allies.g