21 November 2007

Democracy, Pakistani Style

As you sit around the table tomorrow with friends and
loved ones, be thankful that we (like our pals in Pakistan)
are blessed with a president who is so deeply committed
to the ideals of democracy.

President Bush yesterday offered his
strongest support of embattled Pakistani
President Pervez Musharraf, saying the
general "hasn't crossed the line" and "truly
is somebody who believes in democracy."

But as is often the case with Bush and his BFFs, actions
speak louder than words.

Bush spoke nearly three weeks after
Musharraf declared emergency rule, sacked
members of the Supreme Court and began a
roundup of journalists, lawyers and human
rights activists. Musharraf's government
yesterday released about 3,000 political
prisoners, although 2,000 remain in custody,
according to the Interior Ministry.

The comments, delivered in an interview
with ABC News anchor Charles Gibson,
contrasted with previous administration
statements -- including by Bush himself --
expressing grave concern over Musharraf's
actions. In his first public comments on
the crisis two weeks ago, Bush said his
aides bluntly warned Musharraf that his
emergency measures "would undermine

But hey, what's wrong with a little Constitution-breaking
among friends?

Bush was asked in the interview if there
is any line Musharraf should not cross.
"He hasn't crossed the line. As a matter
of fact, I don't think that he will cross
any lines," Bush replied, according to an
ABC transcript. "...We didn't necessarily
agree with his decision to impose emergency
rule, and... hopefully he'll get... rid of
the rule. Today, I thought, was a pretty
good signal, that he released thousands of
people from jail."

Tom Malinowski, Washington director of
Human Rights Watch, said that "it's hard to
imagine how the administration will be able
to achieve anything in Pakistan if the
president is so disconnected from reality."

"Almost everyone in Pakistan who believes
in George Bush's vision of democracy is in
prison today," Malinowski said. "Calling
the man who put them in prison a great
democrat will only discredit America among
moderate Pakistanis and give Musharraf
confidence that he can continue to defy
the United States because Bush will forgive
anything he does."

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!