The fiasco in Pakistan continues. The strongman ‘El Presidente’ Musharraf continues to lock up anyone who dissents and the very basis of democracy is now gravely injured and lying on the side of the road somewhere between Lahore and Islamabad. The Analogy of Rome burning whilst we are all asleep is a very apt one. Who can forget history when today’s ‘friend’ becomes tomorrow’s rogue state and rogue administration. Yet, our own Foreign Office has not been robust in making it clear that dissidents like Imran Khan and the thousands of others detained need to be released and the General must never enforce martial law under the complete lie of an Islamist threat. It is clear that the Islamist threat was a smoke and mirrors routine where all opposition could be suppressed to keep Musharraf in power. What a manipulation of the powers of the State that was.
And for those who say that he is needed in the fight against terrorism, I say, what kind of an impression are we giving the world? One day we oust Saddam and then when democracy is trampled on in another country, we say that the leader is an ally and a ‘trusted friend’ in the fight against terrorism. The scourge of terrorism can be reduced (lets be real and stop lying to the public – terrorism can never be fully removed from the political landscape), though we should not do this at the price of our democratic principles. Yet, we are doing it again!
I therefore urge the Foreign Office to make representations to the Pakistani Government on those detained (for no other basis but on their political dissent). Today Mohammed Ali Jinnah (the Founder of Pakistan) must be turning in his grave at the militarism of the country and the way that State institutions have been turned against the people. Pakistan and it’s people deserve better. Free Imran Khan should be our chant today, tomorrow and for however long it takes.