Remind us why were Iraq and Afghanistan invaded? For the sake of democracy and freedom. Is it not a trick of light then that the world’s two most well known and powerful democracies are seen busy rigging the election outcome of Pakistan’s general elections. Not only the leaders of the two countries are repeatedly reminding the people of Pakistan and the winners not to try sacking Musharraf, their agents in Islamabad are untiringly meeting various party leaders and lobbying to broker a settlement between them and Musharraf. Apparently these folks are leaning heavily on the leadership of the People’s Party and other parties to stay away from the PML-Nawaz in government formation. Ironically there was no such move in 2002 when MMA (the Mullah Military Alliance) was included in the government.

In a distantly connected move pressure is mounting on the country’s independent media this time from the foreign quarters to tone down the criticism against Musharraf and accomodate crony journalism so that the incumbent President has some breathing space. In 1999 when Nawaz Sharif sought support from the US against the threat of a military takeover, the response of the administration was quite different. While press statements were issued to warn any potential coupmakers, nothing substantial was done. Could there be any bigger proof of these countries’ glaring double standards? Is it not plain that the invasion of the above two countries was then meant for geopolitical agenda not for democracy or emancipation.

However please don’t jump on quick conclusions. Two developments have actually put a limit to how much the west can influence the post poll situation. First the assassination of Benazir Bhutto has ensured that no one in the People’s Party trusts even Washington. Evidently some can claim that the US also had a role in her assassination for it was the US which lured her to an understanding with Musharraf regime which finally led to her demise. Secondly and importantly, Musharraf is no more in uniform and the army is under severe fatigue owing to Musharraf’s institutional abuse and hence may not want to take part in any dirty business. However if Musharraf does something stupid he might be triggering a bloody military coup the result of which may still be beyond our imagination. Maybe this is what Bush meant when he said Pakistan needs an authoritarian regime.

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