General Musharraf has called a state of emergency and Pakistan is under marital law. Thousands have been arrested, including lawyers protesting the declaration. Musharraf claims he is trying to fight terrorism.
Stephen Green asks the important question -- as both India and what is now Pakistan were long under the control of the British Raj, why is India a democracy and Pakistan on the verge of disintegration?
We have seen this all before. In 1999, Musharraf gained power in much the same way and for the same purpose. Back then, the choice was as follows:
Musharraf who was an authoritarian general
Sharif who was allied to Islamists
Bhutto who was a somewhat corrupt democrat
Which basically are the same choices today. So if we are supposed to be in the new world of "realistic" foreign policy (as opposed to idealistically pushing for democratization) is this a good thing or a bad thing?
I think the reliance on "stability" is partly how we got into this situation (and not just Pakistan and the North West Frontier Province, but the entire Middle East). We support the Taliban to bring "stability" and get 9/11. We supported Musharraf to get stability and we got nothing.
Given the choices, I say go with the somewhat corrupt democrat. Throw the dice. Every result is generally a bad one, so let's go for once with one that at least is the least cynical for a change. Bhutto is back in Pakistan. Throw the dice.