He may not be much, but Musharraf is the best we’ve got.
That’s the message that must come from today’s saddening events in Pakistan, where Benazir Bhutto was assassinated by an Al-Qaeda fanatic who shot her several times and then blew himself up. Her supporters, Pakistan’s theoretical democrats, are reportedly following the typically Liberal line of perversely blaming Musharraf for not providing her with proper security rather than, say, blaming the Islamic extremists who have been threatening her and have claimed responsibility for actually murdering her. I guess the more ‘moderate’ and Liberal you get, the less inclined you get to directly blame Islamists for anything – no matter where you come from.
People are already concocting elaborate JFK-style conspiracy theories that because she was shot as well as blown up, there must have been a grassy knoll involved somewhere. And, with weary predictability and wonderful political acumen, the opposition are already talking about ‘Civil War’.
“Riaz Malik, of the opposition Pakistan Movement for Justice party (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf), warned: "The impact will be that Pakistan is in more turmoil – it will be the start of civil war in Pakistan.
"There is a very real danger of civil war in Pakistan. "
Charming. There’s no one quite like a politician for trying to get a short-term bit of power at the expense of long-term benefit to their country. If the ‘Civil War’ being talked about were to actually erupt, who would win if both anti-Islamist groups were fighting each other? Anyone?
This is precisely the reaction that Al-Qaeda is banking on – the reaction it calculates it will always get every single time it manages to succeed in yet another atrocity, commit another murder. Their opposition always manages to be so weak, so determined not to blame those who have committed the atrocities and the ideology of conquest and chaos which drives them, that they can always gain from their actions. Always.
In a sane world, this murder (and that of a score of innocent civilians doing nothing more than attending a political rally) would have united Pakistan against the evil which has infested it, from the ‘fighters’ in the border zones to the Islamist-controlled judiciary which has spent the past few years doing everything it can to undermine the daily workings of the Musharraf regime in what has turned out to be a very successful attempt to destabilise it (just as it continues to do in Afghanistan). But wherever the great democrats of the West stick our noses in to try and arrogantly turn wholly different cultures into carbon copies of our own regardless of the consequences, the weakness of excuses, of trying to blame murder and mayhem on everyone and everything but those responsible for it, creeps in and takes hold. Those who once would have simply campaigned for freedom now perversely try to abuse a democratic system they see only as something to be used as a path to their own personal power.
Musharraf is a dictator. There’s no denying it. But I’d rather have an honest dictatorship, led by a man who holds his people together by the skin of his teeth against an implacable foe like Al-Qaeda, than a bunch of ‘democrats’ so obsessed with winning the illusion of short-term power that they are prepared to see their country perish to do it.