Destroying Democracy in Pakistan

By BRIAN CLOUGHLEY   

During the few years of its existence in which Pakistan has experienced elected governments there was little if any social improvement. The politicians were tossed out by the army in bloodless coups with the approval of the vast majority of the population. But then the military men tasted political power and relished it and wanted to remain top boys.  They were all supported by the United States,  but failed entirely to prepare the country for workable democracy, and when they left, either in disgrace (General Yahya Khan), through a mysterious air crash (General Zia, whose friend the US ambassador died with him; bad call by someone), or by losing a constitutional battle with the judiciary (General Musharraf), the ensuing civilian administrations were, naturally, unskilled in leading a nation and exercising authority.

The present government in Islamabad continues to flounder, but not all the lack of direction is its fault.  Beset by bigoted fanatics whose suicide bombings are indiscriminately savage, and besieged by international preachers, mainly from Washington, who lecture Pakistan about “not doing enough” to combat terrorism, the government has a hard row to hoe. The worldwide economic collapse caused by avaricious banksters in the US and Europe has not helped an economy that looked as if it was getting off its knees before it suffered the double whammy of internal insurrection and external battering by the casino crooks of Wall Street and the City of London.

Sure, it’s depressing to know that so many of Pakistan’s parliamentarians have become dollar millionaires since they were put in power by their impoverished electors, although they’re only following the habits of, for example, the squalid bunch of Members of Parliament in London who have been ripping off the taxpayer for years with fraudulent claims for non-existent ‘expenses’. But the other day the Members of Islamabad’s National Assembly and its Senators took up their patriotic cudgels and decided it was time that Pakistan should assert itself against foreign domination.

In an admirable and unprecedented display of solidarity a joint session of Pakistan’s politicians of all parties  “Strongly asserted that unilateral actions, such as those conducted by the U.S. forces in Abbottabad, as well as the continued drone attacks on the territory of Pakistan, are not only unacceptable but also constitute violation of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and humanitarian norms and such drone attacks must be stopped forthwith . . .”

Now this is the parliament and people of Pakistan speaking to the most powerful country in the world in blunt terms.  These democratically elected politicians were telling Imperial America that they objected to cowboy killings within their country.  Geronimo was germinal.

They declared that as from 14 May 2011 there must be no more illegal slaughter inside Pakistan by the US.  And the Constitution of the United States is precise about such action.  It is clear from the Articles of Confederation that there can be no attacks on foreign countries by US forces “except it be after a declaration of war by the United States in Congress assembled, and then only against the kingdom or state, and the subjects thereof against which war has been so declared.”

Whamming missiles into Pakistan and blowing people to smithereens, no matter who the target might be, is a criminal act.  And Pakistan’s legislators thought it time to tell the United States that enough is enough.  The weak were answering the strong,  and the weak thought that this time they might get a hearing.  The mighty empire to whom they were appealing just might permit a pause, discussions, negotiations, concerning the expression of disquiet by a democratically elected parliament. They thought that international democracy and diplomacy might be given a chance to work.

Not a hope.

Because then, predictably enough, came the smash in the face.  The US decided to deliver the ultimate insult to Pakistan’s Parliament and people.

Less than 48 hours after the statement by Pakistan’s National Assembly that there should  be consideration given to a sovereign country’s democratic pleas,  “Two US drone strikes targeting a militant compound and a vehicle in Pakistan’s lawless tribal district of North Waziristan killed at least nine people on Monday [16 May] . . . the drones fired two missiles into a militant compound, and minutes later another drone fired two missiles at a vehicle nearby.”

Get the message?

The message is clear, in that the elected representatives of  Pakistan can pass whatever resolutions they wish, but the United States of America will ignore them.  Not only was Pakistan humiliated over the Davis affair, when that CIA thug killed two citizens of Pakistan and got away with murder and was spirited out of the country instead of facing criminal charges, but the US is intent on grinding Pakistan’s dignity even further into the gutter. The 16 May drone strike was followed next day by yet another whoopee yippee missile-blasting attack on two Pakistan army checkpoints near the Afghan border by US helicopters. Two soldiers were injured.  No apologies, of course.

The United States cares not a fig for Pakistan’s democracy, or for any other democracy, come to that.  The Obama administration has shown that it is preposterously hypocritical by attacking Libya, which is ruled by a whacky dictator who persecutes some of his citizens, while maintaining the US Gulf Fleet Headquarters in Bahrain, which is ruled by a whacky dictator who persecutes most of his citizens. The only difference between these two places is that the western publicity machines concentrate on Libya and ignore anything adverse about Bahrain’s unelected monarch, whose rule enslaves 80 per cent of his subjects. If ever there was a candidate for democracy, it’s Bahrain. But forget it, because the King is a Washington Best Buddy.  Soldiers from other Arab states have marched into to Bahrain to help subjugate its citizens, with the approval of the US and the rest of the west, while in Libya the zooming jet jockeys of Nato have fun trying to assassinate Gaddafi.

Likewise, Pakistan’s Parliament is powerless against the arrogant might of the United States.  It can pass resolutions until the drones come home, and nobody in Washington will pay the slightest heed.  It seems that for Pakistan legislators to declare “such drone attacks must be stopped forthwith” is a direct invitation to increase the carnage.  Pakistan can’t do a damn thing about this blatant provocation.  The indignity inflicted on Pakistan  as a nation is not only insolent and illegal, it is lip-smackingly, sneeringly triumphal.

Pakistan’s democracy is shaky.  It needs all the help it can get both domestically and internationally if its government is to prove that Pakistan can look after itself properly and for the long term. But on the international scene Pakistan’s democracy is being torn to bits. It’s not being ignored – it’s being contemptuously ripped to shreds by drone-fired missiles and the rockets and bombs from foreign aircraft sweeping illegally over its borders.

Economically it would be disastrous for Pakistan to cut ties with its savage and arrogant paymaster. But these kill-crazy video-game cowboy desperadoes who merrily bombard the world without fear of retaliation just might take pause if Pakistan did one thing :  stop, instantly, the entire flow of war material passing through Pakistan to Afghanistan, and forbid all flights in Pakistan’s airspace by any US aircraft.

Another option could be to issue orders to the Pakistan Air Force to shoot down the drones, which it is quite entitled to do under international law. (Imagine what the US would do if a Mexican or Venezuelan drone were to zoom over Arizona, targeting drug smugglers who were US nationals  . . . )

These might seem extreme retaliatory measures. But a country can’t just sit back and be treated with the derision, disrespect, and insolent contempt that Pakistan is suffering at the moment at the hands of a supposed ally.  Enough is enough. If democracy is to survive in Pakistan – and heaven forbid there be a rerun of past years of military rule – then its government  must be seen to be supported by the world’s most expansive democratic state.

Confrontation looms.  And the US will be the eventual loser.

(Brian Clougley is a South Asia defence analyst).

NOTE:THIS IS A CROSS POST FROM COUNTER PUNCH.

                                                                  

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Comments

  • Inam Khan  On May 20, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Pakistan Government will not react to the excesses committed by US forces , it wd rather stoop further to get more US Aid to fill their personal coffers.Rulers have nothing to lose,they will simply fly out when they are removed from power.The nation has to wake up and guard against these selfish elements for self preservation or else be assigned to history………………………………………….Inam Khan

  • Nasim Hassan  On May 20, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Common people, writers and TV anchors always talk about Democracy being better than Dictatorship. This is like saying Richness is better than Poverty. Of course that is true however democracy without institutions is more like Anarchy.

    So dear friends if you like the democracy to succeed then rebuild the instituitions like Judiciary, Independent Election Commission, Strong Reveune collection system, and list goes on.

    With strong institutions even Monarchy will deliver better results than democracy. Just look at China that has a single party rule and compare their progress with great USA. Why democratic America is slowly lagging behind while China is progressing during past thirty
    years?

    Nasim Hassan

  • Salman Abbasy  On May 20, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Another US drone hit Pakistan on Friday. Wikileaks has revealed that President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani and also General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani speak with forked tongue, condemning the drone attacks in public and countenancing them in private. The current dispensation in Pakistan was scripted by Washington and London in the National Reconciliation Ordinance to mollify the anti-Musharraf public outrage while retaining the Pakistan Army as the lead institution for implementation of the US agenda in the region. Parliament’s unanimous resolution, like the one in October 2008, reflects the will of the Pakistani people and it, too, will be neglected by the civilian government and the military brass. Hence, the American arrogance. Contrast this with American procrastination in cases of Iran and North Korea.

  • Arif Khan  On May 21, 2011 at 2:54 am

    Naseem H I agree with you 100000000000% Rgds Arif

    • Amir Rana  On May 21, 2011 at 8:45 am

      While agreeing with Mr.Nasim, I would also want to reiterate on the following excerpt of the article:

      [{( Economically it would be disastrous for Pakistan to cut ties with its savage and arrogant paymaster. But these kill-crazy video-game cowboy desperadoes who merrily bombard the world without fear of retaliation just might take pause if Pakistan did one thing : stop, instantly, the entire flow of war material passing through Pakistan to Afghanistan, and forbid all flights in Pakistan’s airspace by any US aircraft.
      Another option could be to issue orders to the Pakistan Air Force to shoot down the drones, which it is quite entitled to do under international law. (Imagine what the US would do if a Mexican or Venezuelan drone were to zoom over Arizona, targeting drug smugglers who were US nationals . . . )
      These might seem extreme retaliatory measures. But a country can’t just sit back and be treated with the derision, disrespect, and insolent contempt that Pakistan is suffering at the moment at the hands of a supposed ally. Enough is enough. If democracy is to survive in Pakistan – and heaven forbid there be a rerun of past years of military rule – then its government must be seen to be supported by the world’s most expansive democratic state.)}]

      It is very important for us, the Pakistanis to realize these realities.

  • TMH  On May 21, 2011 at 8:36 am

    People playing musical chairs, are no democrats, they are feudals. They are
    criminals, they are sitting in the so called Parliament with bogus degree and
    fake credentials. What do you expect from such a lot?
    TMH

    • Rauf  On May 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm

      Tareq Bhai,
      Very true. Many of our politicians are not straight. Even their educational qualificiations
      are concerned, they cheat and deceive the nation. When one of the most important “ingridient”
      to pocess is to be a member of parliament is HONESTY. That itself is missing from many
      parliamentarians. You can not expect much from these “CHEATS” can we ?
      Rauf

  • Globe Trotter  On May 21, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Tariq Saab well summerised

  • Shahid  On May 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    IN A DEMOCRACY,YOU WILL HAVE THE “BOGUS” AND ALSO THE “BEST”.WHY COMPLAIN ? WE WANTED A GOVERNMENT,”BY THE PEOPLE,OF THE PEOPLE,FOR THE PEOPLE !” THE “NAME OF THE GAME” IS HOW TO ENSURE GOOD GOVERNANCE AND COME UP TO THE ASPIRATIONS OF THE ELECTORS WITH THE RAG-A-TAGS SITTING IN THE PARLIAMENT.
    SR.

  • ID  On May 21, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Pakistan must persevere with resolution and the USA needs to pay heed or perish………………the thought of war. We shall be peaceniks. We shall answer stone with flower. Anytime they carry out a raid or a drone attack, we shall send a bouquet to the White House, the UN and to the EU/NATO. We shall only surrender unto Him in Whose Hand is our life and our affair. Then only will be the end of the high & the mighty on land. We shall win because we are right not because we are mighty and have nukes. Might has never been right. It’s the principle that wins. The principle is justice… Justice within & justice without. We are not a cowardly people but we are a patient people. Our rulers need to be just with themselves to be just with the nation and with the world. What we, the ordinary citizens ask of our rulers, is to come out of the hubris of friendship with the USA by which, without realizing, we keep sinking ever deeper into subservience and servitude. We cannot afford maximal position of confrontational politics and therefore ought to devote our care to correct the suffering infrastructure.
    Let’s be brave to be different. Let our position be of those who expect that truth will triumph. And our truth is that we mean well by our people, by our neighbours and by all who concern themselves to lift humanity from poverty and ingnorance.
    id

  • Shahbaz  On May 22, 2011 at 6:24 am

    We are facing a very grave situation. Saleem Safi has written a very nice article on the present situation in daily JANG today.
    Pakistan has rethink their security policy.Road to peace in south asia goes through NEW DELHI; Regional solutions have to be found.

    Muhammad Shahbaz

    • Intellectus Motiva  On May 23, 2011 at 11:32 am

      regardless of all the opinions on here, i have to disagree with the statement, road to peace goes through NEW DELHI. Absolutely not, the road to war and destruction of Pakistan goes through NEW DELHI. I am sure you are aware that it is India’s policy to destroy Pakistan as a viable state.

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