There are three must-read posts I want to flag today for those following the Pakistani emergency.
The first is by Ali Eteraz who seems to have rethought his original position somewhat in his latest Guardian comment. He writes that Mushraraff is only the latest in a series of dictators who were all backed by the West and who have created the current Islamist current in Pakistan.
[Musharraf] is not only less popular than Bin Laden, but he is completely inept in counteracting terrorism. He has: failed to reform the madrassas; cultivated a Kangaroo Sharia court in his backyard for six months which he could use for political benefit; killed those that kept the Taliban at bay; considered appeasing the militants by letting them implement Sharia; turned Pakistan into a state sponsor of terrorism; made alliances with pro-Taliban parties; and even engaged in what are being called crimes against humanity. My editor at Jewcy reminded me that Musharraf is so frightening to terrorists that al-Qaida mastermind Khaled Sheikh Mohammad literally lived within 10 miles of him. This is the man that John Negroponte at the State Department considers "indispensable."Then there's Barnett Rubin, who ably points out that supporting Musharraf is not realism, despite the attempted nuclear blackmail implied by his supporters and generals:
Dictators are incapable of eliminating extremism. A dictatorship is afflicted with the original sin of having seized power with violence, and therefore has no moral authority to speak against those who employ violence. A dictatorship is bereft of the psychological calm that comes from being popularly elected and lives life like an anxious little demon, spraying bullets wildly, without aim or purpose.
Furthermore, a dictator that must pander to western democracies is caught in an Orwellian double-think because he has no way of reconciling why he denies to his own people the freedom that his allies and masters deem to be self-evident for their own populace...
General Musharraf has not suspended the constitution to fight terrorism. He has not even continued to fight terrorism while suspending the constitution for other reasons. Of course the Pakistan Army is happy to pocket the $100 million a year it receives for giving the U.S. basing rights and otherwise supporting the effort in Afghanistan (while undermining it in other -- and cheaper -- ways). The Pakistan Army is not about to commit suicide by openly defying the whole international community and cutting off support for NATO operations in Afghanistan.And finally, James Joyner who puts together the honor system method - i.e. no paper trail or accountability - the U.S. uses for its aid to Pakistan that even saying nothing and continuing those payments will be construed as tacit support by the dictator and his cronies and concludes that the U.S. has no choice but to meddle.
Meanwhile Musharraf sent his police to arrest lawyers, liberal politicians, and human rights activists, while doing virtually nothing against those Taliban in their scary turbans...Only a transition toward more democratic civilian rule would create a constituency that would enable the Pakistani state not just to suppress militants by force but to offer a legitimate alternative to militancy. This the military regime will not and cannot do.