05 November 2007

Democracy in Pakistan 1947 - 1953 - 1958 - 1971 - 1977 - 1985 - 1988 - 1999 - 2002 - 2007

Democracy in Pakistan has died yet another death following the introduction by squeaky-clean President/General (or General/President depending on which week it is) Musharraf of martial law on the basis that the country was "in the grip of militant violence and an unruly judiciary", which same unruly judiciary just happened to be about to rule on the legality of the good General's October election victory.

Democracy in Pakistan was born in 1947, the fragile child of the British Empire's favourite method of bringing peace and harmony to their former colonies, partition, as the newly-formed states of India and Pakistan happily went their separate ways with barely a care in the world, merrily agreeing that they should share Kashmir ... preferably as a potential nuclear battleground for decades to come.

Following religious riots, martial law was imposed in Pakistan for the first time in 1953 and proved so popular that it was quickly introduced as a major module at law schools across the country. Following a breather of a couple of years while the army recharged its batteries (particularly the ones they liked to attach to opposition politicians' testicles), Democracy in Pakistan was back in the dock again in 1958. By an astonishing coincidence, it was during this time that Pakistan's relations with the West were cemented as it entered into an anti-Soviet pact with those paragons of democracy: Iran, Iraq and Turkey.

In 1977, part-time Terry-Thomas impersonator and full-time General, Muhammad Zia-al-Haq, took up the reins of power in a "bloodless" coup (so-called because Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was hanged rather than shot for the audacious crime of having won a parliamentary election). But when, in 1988, that "magnificent" man in his flying machine tumbled out of the sky in circumstances more mysterious than Glenn Miller's disappearance over the English Channel or the popularity of Big Brother, Zia's dictatorship was over and Pakistan entered a golden 11-year period of civilian rule with Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif both leading the country twice and both removed from office on charges of corruption.

It was in 1999 that General Pervez Musharraf decided he was the people's champion - whether they wanted him to champion them or not - and stepped forward to take over the country ... completely coincidentally just as President Sharif was about to fire him from his job. For the next eight years his shiny military boots graced the Chief Executive's desk. Fortunately the General was keen to prove his democratic credentials and held an election in 2002. Not only did this election show all the probity of Western elections (provided the Western elections one is talking about happen to be the Presidential ones in Florida in 2000(1)), it also served to keep the Pakistani Supreme Court from getting too het up about trivial details like the rule of law and the constitution. With his credentials thus proven to all and sundry, particularly in the White House and Downing Street, General President Capo di Tutti Capi Musharraf was swiftly ushered into the noble company fighting for democracy, alongside Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other such fine nations.

Despite his penchant for riding roughshod over the rule of law (normally in a tank) and extending Mr Sharif's exile, General Musharraf remained eager to prove himself at least on nodding terms with the notions of democratic behaviour, and promised to step down as head of the army on the 15th of November 2005 and hold a general election(2) in January 2008. Democrats around the world took comfort in the fact both that the General had apparently shown himself to be on their side, or if not that at least that the fingers normally poised near the nuclear button would be crossed behind the General's back for a few months. Sadly, such comfort was but brief: for on 3 November 2007 the constitution and hundreds of opposition politicians, members of the Supreme Court and anyone who looked at the General "a bit funny" were arrested. Troops took up positions on the streets and television and radio stations were taken off the air including, to the relief of TV lovers, BBC World. So with Imran Khan and his collection of nuclear cricket bats under house arrest, General President Musharraf was safe once more from the condemnation of democratic governments the world over, and the "deep disappointment" of the Bush administration.

Democracy in Pakistan will be buried at the 24/7 Drive-Thru Chapel of Democratic Rest. The service will be conducted by the Right Reverend President General Musharraf and the congregation will sing whatever song he tells them to.

(1) in fact it is widely rumoured that more poor African-Americans got to vote in the Pakistani election than did in Florida.
(2) ie an election which would end up electing a general ... called Musharraf.


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Al-HAq as Terry-Thomas impersonator - now there's a thought!

fake consultant said...

i was actually impressed at mr. bush's willingness to quit giving chancellor merkel backrubs long enough to feign disappointment.

in fact, you might consider recommending mr. bush consider massage therapy when writing the eulogy for his administration...again.