A Little Perspective: Defending Musharraf

Jonathan Power wrote a really good article in the Toronto Star yesterday in which he rightly defended President Musharraf:
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf gets a bad press; Benazir Bhutto a too kind one. Which of them is the real rogue?

When Musharraf, as Pakistan's top army commander, tried to engineer war with India over Kashmir in 1999, he demonstrated his roguish side. Yet even many of his opponents in Pakistan will concede that since he deposed Nawaz Sharif and assumed power he has been largely a benevolent dictator.

Read the whole article; Power makes a good point. Though, really, most of us Pakistanis didn't expect much "democracy" from Bhutto anyway. Her post-herself PPP succession plan being the ultimate case in point.

And we have no problems in conceding that Musharraf has been good for the country. I mean, can you imagine what life would have been like under anyone else? Present circumstances excepted, of course. Though, if you think about it, it's all those good years that make the present situation seem that much worse don't they? For example, had we not had a totally free press for the last five years, would we have missed not having one now? And had things not been so good in the last five years, would college students from across the nation have known enough or cared enough to actually protest the Emergency? Heck, had things not been better for the country, at least half of those students would have been in the US anyway!

My point is: all this is worth thinking about before we completely dismiss Musharraf and, in a catastrophic error of judgement, let the crooks back into the country and into a position of power. I hate to say it but, for now at least, the only way that I see us getting out of this mess is to keep Musharraf on as President. Without him -- and, really, without the military providing a constant threat and counterbalance -- our mostly corrupt and mostly useless politicians will, yet again, screw the country over and we'll be back to square one. Again.

And if not that, the only other way out is via a provisional government and the restoration of the judiciary. The real, honest, and just judiciary; not the sham one they've got in there right now. That's the key, though, isn't it? The Rule of Law. We've never really had it -- not in the last 4,000 years at least -- and until we get it and keep it for at least three generations, we'll never actually break away from our feudal, kingly, and dictatorial past.