Plans by President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to attack Iran have been at least temporarily derailed by the mounting crisis in Pakistan. Not only is this important South Asia nation a key US ally in its conflict with anti-western Muslim groups (aka "the war of terror"), the US also planned to use three Pakistani air bases it now controls to launch air attacks against Iran.
Musharraf’s imposition of martial law, arrest of Supreme Court justices who were going to rule illegal his continued role as commander-in-chief and president, arrest of other opposition figures and muzzling the formerly feisty media have proven most embarrassing to the Bush Administration which claims to be an apostle of democracy. Bush, who claims to have invaded Afghanistan and Iraq in order to bring them the light of democracy, must continue supporting Pakistan’s military dictator or see his war in Afghanistan collapse.
Musharraf, who commands less than 8% popular support, and is widely hated as an American stooge, knows he would lose any honest election. What he plans are the same kind of farcical "democratic elections" held by the US-backed military dictatorships of Egypt and Algeria.
The loyalty of the army’s senior officers has been rented by billions of dollars of secret aid the CIA has funneled through Musharraf. Those who could not be bought were ousted, including Pakistan’s most capable military men.
So much for supporting democracy. In the name of fighting extremism, Musharraf has jailed or intimidated nearly all of Pakistan’s political moderates.
In Washington’s wrongheaded view, it’s either Mush or the mullahs. Or if Musharraf falters, then it’s Bhutto or Gen. Kiyani.
As of this writing, Bhutto still has not decided whether to collaborate with Musharraf or try to force a bloody confrontation with him, though she suggests talks are off. Many of her friends and supporters are appalled she would make a shady, backroom deal with the military dictator. Gen. Kiyani remains an unknown.
Anyone who still wonders why so many people in the Muslim World hate the west needs look no further than Pakistan, where, in the name of "democracy" and "counter-terrorism" Washington and London are stirring a witches" brew of dictatorship, intrigue and violence.
Liberally taken by Eric Margolis
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