Were Mubarak to fall the result could well be a Muslim Brotherhood run Egypt. This would be as good for Egypt as Hamas was for Gaza. Bet Gaza cast it’s last vote when it voted for terrorists. The problem as Nathan Sharanski illustrates in his new book The Case For Democracy "The election has to be at the end of the process of building free society. If there is no free and democratic society, elections can never be free and democratic." Pakistan is not Egypt. It has a Democratic history and institutions. It had a Judiciary. They are now in jail or on the run. Lawyers demonstrating in support of the Judiciary are being gassed. We prop up an ineffective ally that can’t even control the southern regions of his country at the expense of a newly reawakened Democracy that will be an ally against the extremists as if its life depended on it, which it would. We may be seeing a new revolution as more protestors take to the streets today. We can support this by supporting Pakistan’s Judiciary in this critical time.
A revolution similar to the Orange and Cedar Revolutions would not necessarily mean the end of Musharrif; he still controls the military. But his life also depends on our support so we do have a great bit of leverage. That is if our elected leaders see our support for reforms. The Islamists are not about to take over; this whole power grab is because the Supreme Court was going to rule against Musharrif’s holding both top spots in the Military and the Government. Popular pressure here as well as the pressure of hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis could bring about significant reforms.
Umar Farooq at the Mideast Youth forum has a petition asking support for Musharrif’s martial law to be withheld. He explains why this is so important here. The petition:
We the undersigned, demand the the West, East and our Middle Eastern neighbors stop all material and moral support to General Musharraf and his regime towards its policy of imposing Martial Law on Pakistan.
Under Martial Law, basic civil rights, of Right to Information Access and right of Justice has been suspended. As a result, Judiciary and Media have been the worst hit of the sectors. Judiciary forms the basis of any civilized society and Media represents the freedom given to speech and citizens in that society. When both of these pillars are hit, it greatly damages the institutions of the society.
Musharraf and his regime must be given a strong message from the Middle East that such action will not get international support and he is isolated in his efforts to subjugate the judiciary and media. In recent, judiciary in Pakistan has shown heartening activism and media has become an instrument of public debate and criticism towards the government. Step of imposing Martial Law in Pakistan has incited great resistance from within the country. If his regime is sandwiched between internal resistance and international isolation, it would give a strong signal to Musharraf and will in turn pressurize him to undo this step and get the national elections done at the right time and handover rule to civilian members of the parliament, chosen by the people.
Once this petition has enough signatories, we will send this to the foreign ministries of the countries of the Middle East and request them to put up official statements against the imposition of Martial Law in Pakistan.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said we will review aid to Pakistan. Realists in the administration may push continued support for Musharrif so as to continue the war on the Taliban. Sign the petition, support reforms, because with all this military deployed against the Pakistani people there probably ain’t much minding the store to the South.
Updates: The Dutch are first to cut the purse strings. Will the street rise? This guy says no.