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Naomi Wolf/Shahid Buttar: Musharrafs Playbook is the Same as the Bush Administrations

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-17-08 02:54 PM
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Musharrafs Playbook is the Same as the Bush Administrations
Submitted by davidswanson on Sun, 2008-02-17 18:42. Media

By Naomi Wolf and Shahid Buttar, Huffington Post

This post was informed by Shahids participation in a National Lawyers Guild-led delegation to Pakistan last December. The delegation, which consisted of four lawyers and four law students from around the U.S., visited several areas across Pakistan in early January and interviewed over 50 engaged participants in Pakistani government and civil society throughout the country, including jurists, elected officials, lawyers, journalists, civil servants, political party representatives, candidates for public office, international diplomats, students and activists. The delegations preliminary report, Defending Democracy: U.S. Foreign Policy and Pakistans Struggle for Democracy, is posted here. Most of the Bush/Musharraf parallels in this post were drawn by Shahid; I (Naomi) have contributed some additional thoughts about the situation in the U.S. and Bushs negative influence on the world.

As we know well in this country, elections are a time for reflection. They are a time to consider who we are as a nation and what we want to become. Sometimes it is appropriate to stop and think about how lucky we are to have the freedom to make these kinds of choices. We should also think about the fact that there is no guarantee these freedoms will remain forever.

Take Pakistan, for example. Having endured a U.S.-backed military coup, martial law, and the assassination of their most visible opposition leader, Pakistanis will head to the polls on Monday to select members of their National Assembly in elections already plagued by widespread allegations of illegitimacy. Observers across the political spectrum have noted persisting restrictions on the press, politicized election administration at both the local and federal level, and the conspicuous lack of an independent judiciary to resolve electoral disputes.

Sadly, the United States is doing very little to help the situation in Pakistan and may well be making it worse. The Bush administration has consistently pressed for these elections to proceed despite security concerns and various allegations of unfairness. Not surprisingly, from an administration installed by a controversial Supreme Court ruling, its view appears to be that elections confer legitimacy on whichever regime emerges victorious, regardless of complaints about how the votes were tallied.

Even worse, these electoral similarities are only the tip of an iceberg reflecting deep connections between the agenda of the Bush administration and the Musharraf regime. While criticism has abounded of Musharrafs various abuses of the rule of law, observers have generally overlooked the means Musharraf has taken to squelch dissent of his administration, and how they resemble some of the tactics Americans have seen domestically. As one prominent anchor of a major Pakistani television news program suggested when discussing the threats to democracy in his country, Musharrafs playbook is the same as the Bush administrations.

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