Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What, me worry?

By Capt. Fogg

Bush's speech before the UN today was all about human rights violations in Iran and Burma and Syria and Belarus, but unless my hearing is going, I didn't hear any concern for the crackdown on the opposition to Pervez Musharraf in recent days. Perhaps that was not a proper venue, but the concern remains over incidents like that in Islamabad yesterday where police broke up a protest outside the Supreme Court which is hearing a case challenging the constitutional validity of General Musharraf's dual role as president and chief Army officer. Leaders of two political parties have been jailed and are being held incommunicado.

It's disturbing enough that Condoleezza Rice expressed concern over the arrests in this nuclear armed country that contains both moderate and extreme elements including Taliban and perhaps Osama bin Laden. So unsettling indeed that our embassy has issued a statement calling the arrests "extremely disturbing and confusing for the friends of Pakistan," and calling on the government to free the detainees. Our moral superiority in such matters, of course is severely wounded by our denial of habeas corpus to perceived enemies at the whim of our own government and suspicion of election tampering in the last two presidential contests.

Accusations, explanations and justifications are flying around from various factions too numerous for me to comprehend and the concerns of the US have been rebuffed by Pakistan's Foreign Ministry:

"If the U.S. Embassy is confused, it would be well advised not to make such statements,"

said spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam. That doesn't do much to make me feel better and I'm sure it makes Dr. Rice feel as ineffectual as she is.

Dictator and treader upon human rights that Musharraf may be, and possibly worthy as some of his opposition may also be, there are worse who would like to depose him and al Qaeda in Pakistan is a far less dubious reality than al Qaeda in Iraq. Will his attempt to stifle opposition play into the hands of the worst of that opposition? Pakistan's Daily Times worries about it and who's to blame the rest of us that understand even less of this complex and fragile situation from worrying? The only thing that will help me sleep tonight is knowing that George Bush and his administration are on duty.

(Cross-posted at Human Voices.)

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