Inside call centers and in high school social studies classes, at vegetable markets and in book bazaars, Pakistanis from different walks of life here say that ever since President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule two weeks ago, he’s been the most unpopular figure in the country. But running a close second, many say, is his ally: President Bush.
“We used to love America. Give me Tom Cruise and a vacation in Florida any day,” said Parveen Aslam, 30, who like many Pakistanis has relatives in the United States. “But why isn’t the U.S. standing up for Pakistan when we need it most? Is America even listening to us? We are calling them Busharraf now. They are the same man.”
While many Pakistanis lament that the Bush administration is involved in their country’s politics, they also see the United States as the only force strong enough to do what they say is necessary to temper the crisis: pressure the military-led government to restore the constitution, release thousands of political prisoners and lift restrictions on the news media.
GW picked two horses in Pakistan… a kleptocratic dictator who previously mouthed some niceties about democracy, and a kleptocratic wanna-be dictator who is currently mouthing some niceties about democracy…
Bhutto, in a telephone interview with foreign reporters Thursday, said she would press the Bush administration to facilitate an “exit strategy” for Musharraf. “I don’t believe it’s in the United States of America’s interests to have Pakistan implode. I give my fair, honest advice that the longer that General Musharraf stays, the more dangerous Pakistan will grow.”
Musharraf, meanwhile, went on Pakistani television Thursday night to defend emergency rule as the best way to battle terrorism.
“Things would be much worse in Pakistan if we didn’t have emergency rule,” he said. “I’m not a selfish or greedy man. I am doing this for Pakistan.”
The detention of political opponents is among the many factors causing the Pakistani public to lose patience with Musharraf, whose approval ratings have dropped to dismal levels. But patience with Musharraf’s U.S. backers is also wearing thin. Even before the latest crisis, Pakistanis were highly suspicious of U.S. intentions. A poll released in September by the Washington-based nonpartisan group Terror Free Tomorrow found that only 19 percent of Pakistanis had a favorable view of the United States.
Obviously, Pakistanis are morons – don’t they know Charles Krauthammer told us ties with our allies are stronger than ever, and GW tells us Pakistan is an ally.
Pakistan receives much of its foreign aid from the United States — more than $10 billion since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when Musharraf pledged to help the Bush administration in counterterrorism efforts. With that money has come leverage to influence Pakistani affairs.
“We are a banana republic, and nothing here happens without orders from the Americans,” said Danish Yazdani, an artist who sends her children to the American School in Islamabad. “At the end of the day, we know the U.S. can make Musharraf change, not the people of Pakistan.”
Exporting democracy, one Muslim country at a time.