US Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell, said the emergency declaration in Pakistan “does not impact our military support of Pakistan” or its efforts in the war on terror, according to a report from the Associated Press.
As reported earlier in this blog, the US for all its rhetoric about support for democracy worldwide, will have no choice but to go along with President Pervez Musharraf, hoping to get the Pakistan army to support a US bid to flush out Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists from the country’s North-West Frontier province.
That was Musharraf’s calculation when he went ahead and declared martial law in Pakistan despite earlier protests from the US. That will also perhaps ensure that Musharraf’s army will put hunting the terrorists as the last item on his army’s agenda.
The terrorists are a prize catch that Musharraf can cynically dangle before the US every time the Americans start interfering in his affairs at home.
It is a big mistake for the US to support Musharraf’s government. It will give a boost to anti-American sentiment in Pakistan. It will also make larger sections of Pakistan society potential recruits to Al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalism.
As for the Pakistanis, in the past Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister, thought the US would help her bring back democracy and her back to power in Pakistan. In the interests of the country, Bhutto has to for a while put on hold her personal ambitions, and work for a broad coalition with other democratic movements in Pakistan, including that of another former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Pakistani politicians have to put their heads together to save civil society and democracy in Pakistan. Don’t expect the US to do it for you. They have been very comfortable dealing with dictators in the past in Pakistan, Iran, and Cuba, if their own interests are seen as being served.