Musharaff Out – Pakistan Gets Yet Another Historic Opportunity

Like the Democratic party in America, which is capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of certain victory, I have seen fewer countries in the world that have the ability to waste historic opportunities like Pakistan has.

Much that I have been a critic of President Dictator Musharraf in Pakistan, I do have to give him credit for not having been the evil dictator that General Zia had been about 20 years ago. On top of that, I must laud retired General Musharraf for having the decency to step down, and resign instead of facing impeachment.

In that, he has shown greater courage and decency than either president Bill Clinton did or that I wish President George Bush would show.

Some of the statements in his farewell speech were laughable. But, one also has to understand how difficult it must be for any president, much less a dictator, especially one who suffers from a savior complex that Musharaff did, to step down.

But all is well that ends well. And one has to say that the Musharraf presidency and role in Pakistani politics has run its course. For better or worse he is now a part of history. Now it is up to the Pakistani coalition government as well as the Pakistani population to decide where they want to go from here.

Will Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif, the two men in power for now, do the right things for Pakistan? Will they have the good sense, decency and moral courage to put their own political ambitions aside and focus on putting Pakistan on the right track?

In this case, the right track that Pakistan needs to be on is, in reality, a long and winding road – of several interconnected and sometimes opposing paths!

On the one hand Pakistan has to do everything in its power to curtail the evil of fundamentalism and lawless terrorism that has become the norm. On the other hand it also has to stand up for its national self-interest, even if that means standing up to United States pressure.

Pakistan has to ensure that education of the masses, especially in the rural areas is a high priority. But, it cannot be done at the expense of economic development in the major cities. It needs to ensure the provinces get their fair share of revenues and development funds, but not at the expense of idiots holding up building of dams and power plants needed to survive, much less thrive, in coming years.

I am personally a big proponent of considering dictators and their supporters punishable by death when they overthrow an elected government. However, we also have to remember that the so-called elected rulers of Pakistan generally have themselves been guilty of becoming “elected dictators”.

So, yes, there is some value to charging Mr. Musharraf with treason, which he did commit, in overthrowing the government of Mr. Sharif. This is especially true if the Pakistani people seriously want future generals and dictator wannabes to have the deterrent of death staring them in the face, should they decide to overthrow an elected government. But, at the same time, I realize that the Pakistani army is not going to stand by and watch one of its own actually be hanged.

I am also quite certain that Mr. Musharraf and his partners in crime, including bureaucrats, and people like Mr. Shaukat Aziz, have played a major role in plundering the economy of Pakistan, playing the stock market, and manipulating commodity prices to their own benefit. However, these are crimes that have been committed by every single government, and every single ruler, in Pakistan.

So, if we want to jail or imprison Mr. Musharraf, we should be ready, willing, and able to do the same for Mr. Sharif as well as Mr. Zardari. After all, neither Mr. Musharraf, nor Mr. Sharif, were ever given the name Mr. 10% that Mr. Zardari is commonly known as.

In the immediate future the biggest threat to Pakistani democracy and being on the right track does not come from the Army or from any external threat. The biggest internal risk to Pakistani democracy would come from the politicians starting infighting for greed and personal ambition.

Let us all hope for the best and make sure we keep the pressure on these new rulers to follow the rules. Let us pray that this historic opportunity is also not squandered by politicians, bureaucrats and illiterate followers of fundamentalist murderers.

What do you think?

Economy, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan – Bad News All Around

Everywhere, on every news site, it seems there is nothing but conflict and bad news. The good news is… hold on, I am looking. Nope, I did not find any.

Just the top stories in “MyYahoo” is a litany of bad news, followed by worse.

It appears that the economic crisis we are facing today, with bank stocks melting (don’t even ask how much I lost on Citibank alone), hundreds of thousands facing foreclosure, credit cards and others squeezing customers, oil trying to hit $200, is not going to get better any time soon.

Item one, at least on my view of “Top News from Reuters”, is a report saying the government is mulling taking over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. What that means is that despite recent claims by their management, and top Bush economic officials, that the organizations have enough money, they in fact are preparing for a bailout. What that means for the rest of the economy, and for the American tax-payer, remains to be seen.

The second item shows that the Russians, still following the policies of Mr. Putin (whose eyes and soul apparently Mr. Bush seems to know intimately well), are actually using the recent Iranian missile tests as a reason for the USA NOT to deploy a missile shield. I am not quite sure I understand the “logic” of the Russians. I can understand them not wanting the US to deploy weapons systems that negate Russian military power, but using the (fairly) successful Iranian missile tests as a reason against that defies logic.

Wait, there is good news. The new iPhone is being snapped up by customers around the world. Great news. But, much that I love Apple and the iPhone, in the grand scheme of things, and in the serious issues we face, it is kind of silly for that news item to be displayed at par with the economic meltdown in America, the Russian military grumbling and the roar of Iranian rockets and potentially soon, Israeli jets.

The next item has me scratching my head. The Mexican government, which does not want to take back its 12 million illegal immigrants (including the many criminals and gang members they sent over), nor wants us to build a fence to keep these illegal hoards out of America, is taking us to court! And, not even our courts, but the ‘World Court’, where they are fighting to save five Mexican criminals from execution for deadly crimes committed in the USA! So, not only are we supposed to welcome their illegal riff-raff with open arms (doing which both Obama and McCain are falling over each other to show love for illegals), we are also supposed to welcome, and allow to roam free, those among them who commit murder or heinous crimes. Amazing.

For a second, my attention was caught by the next item – which could qualify as good news. Lebanon may be able to form a unity government. Whether that is good news or bad depends on which side of their internal strife you are on.

But, before I could dwell on that item, the last news item in that list of six top stories was just more bad news on several fronts.

Things in Afghanistan, the place where Bin Laden and his henchmen hid and planned their attacks on America, are getting worse. The Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan, and we are losing soldiers in Iraq. The Afghan government is getting weaker and Bin Laden is nowhere to be found, and we are preparing for an attack on Iran.

And, what did we just manage to do? Our mistaken bombing just killed 47 civilians there, including women and children. Surely not a sign of success in winning hearts and minds. Bad, very bad, news.

With Bin Laden still out there, the Taliban attacking us and our allies more and more, Iraq still a morass, our economy in meltdown, and oil aiming for $200, what is a President to do… why, start a new war of course! Hello, Iran. Hello, $300 oil. Hello, total economic meltdown.

What do you think?