The decision by General Musharraf to impose martial law has set back Pakistan in the eyes of other nations, especially when so many nations realise that military rule is not only socially counter-productive, it is also leads to economic disaster. Today, Pakistan is virtually overwhelmed by the economic powerhouse that India has become and frankly I cannot conceive that India would ever tear up their governance framework and turn to the imposition of martial law. In fact, India has moved on and does not spend the enormous sums of resources on being a counterweight to Pakistan and this position came about 5 / 6 years ago when India realised that constantly worrying about military conflict with Pakistan was actually damaging the nation. Since then, it has moved on, though Pakistan is still convulsing from one military dictatorship to another.
What is even more revolting about the imposition of martial law is that the Prime Minister has stated that it will be imposed indefinitely and where a ‘code of conduct’ for the State must be imposed. The Prime Minister also went onto say that Pakistan cannot have the media moving into ‘unchartered territories,’ a clear threat to the press suggesting that the State will censor and challenge press freedoms. Today, the very tiny shoots of democracy that were trying to grow within Pakistan have been trampled upon by the jackboot of militarism and dictatorship. In fact, General Musharraf in his public statement to the nation made it clear that Pakistan should not be judged by the yardsticks of democracy used by other nations. Such a nauseating statement should get only the contempt that it deserves and this medal clad dictator should be publicly berated for the illegitimate stance that he has taken.
Opposition leaders like Imran Khan and a whole swath of others have been put under house arrest and have been moved to detention camps whilst the Prime Minister and his henchmen spin the sorry tale that so many dictators have spun. “The nation is in danger from terrorism, it deserves the introduction of harsh measures for national security etc etc.” This rhetorical nonsense is a mere cover for the lack of governance and leadership that General Musharraf has shown and where he has resided on growing inequalities in Pakistan. Poverty levels and factionalism has grown exponentially under his administration as have sordid deals with the very extremists that he says he is fighting against. Today, Pakistan’s pride and standing globally has been severely injured and I am afraid that it will take at least a decade or two before it can be taken seriously by other nations.
General Musharraf certainly deserves an accolade as a leader who belongs in the 1970’s and 1980’s South American hall of fame for autocrats and dictators. Even South American leaders have moved on and are instigating social change for their people and trying to develop sustainable regeneration and national projects that drive economic development. Yet, Pakistan slips further into being a failed State and one which is far from the open and democratic society that its founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah wanted. This great man had a vision that must not die and which can and should be implemented. That vision can come to fruition if we now stand up and make our voices clear that we will not buy the spin of repression and political manipulation. I hope that we can all shout out loud at this time of change in Pakistan so that the nation does not have any more military leaders and clumsy wannabe politicians who make the lives of citizens unequal in a whole range of areas.