A few weeks ago, the Bush administration was dealt a serious blow to its foreign policy and its War on Terror. Pakistan finally held free parliamentary elections that were won by the parties opposing President Pervez Musharraf. Despite the president’s positive words about elections taking place, this is a severe setback for his administration, which had backed Musharraf’s party for years and promised billions in funding to Pakistan. Now it seems that Bush’s long forged friendship with Musharraf has backfired. As opposition party members take power, they are sure to force a standoff with Musharraf and may even try and impeach him. At the very least, they will create a power struggle between Musharraf and the Parliament. Parliament leaders also seem to indicate they will be less willing to cooperate with United States efforts to combat terrorism in Pakistan and its surrounding borders. The fall of Musharraf was predictable by many and similar in nature to Leaders of Developing Nations.
More than that, Musharraf was another failed example of hypocritical American Policy. While President Bush applauds elections taking place, the truth is the longest standing opposition to election in Pakistan was Musharraf himself. Besides the turmoil that came about late last year when he suspended the country’s constitution, Musharraf is the former general in charge of the country’s military and came to power because of his control over the armed forces. While many great leaders of many nations, including the U.S., have been former military leaders, Musharraf was still the general in charge of the nation’s army when he assumed power as the president.
Although a president is considered commander-in-chief, it is a long held belief that he should not “wear the uniform,” as the saying goes. Too often men who wield a general power while acting as leader of a nation feel compelled to use the military’s power to get their political points across to other political leaders. This is exactly what happened in Pakistan.
While still wearing the title of General, Musharraf suspended the country’s constitution, fired the entire supreme court and confined political rivals to house arrest. He also used the military and police forces to break up protests and round up and arrest judges, lawyers, journalists and political leaders who protested or opposed his assumption of power and suspension of the constitution. Despite President Musharraf suspending elections, squashing free speech, ignoring the country’s constitution and using force to wipe away all signs of democracy, the current administration stood by Musharraf and continued to support him as a powerful Arab ally in the War on Terror.
As has been the habit of the United States, we chose a less then desirable leader to support and fund in a foreign country as long as they promise to help us with our interests in the region. Just as we supported Saddam when he opposed Iran, armed the rebels in Afghanistan that would become the Taliban and continue our heavy support of the Saudi royal family, we continue to act in ways that are contradictory to our words. We wonder why we have terrorists and why Americans and our government are not trusted around the world.
The reason is shining brightly in Pakistan. The man the president made his deals with and shook hands with is the man the people are now running out of town because he suppressed their freedoms and liberties. This once again leaves a nation full of people with a less then wonderful view of Americans and what we stand for.
If we are to create real and positive change in these war torn regions of the world we need to be able to allow true democracy to take place. We must allow them to hold elections free of outside influence and to choose their own countries path. By trying to force a pro-U.S. stance on their government, we only succeed in creating an anti-U.S. movement amongst their population.
Ted Trevorrow is a third-year student majoring in English. He can be reached at ET666499@wcupa.edu.