Sunday, March 27, 2005

Mr Bush in Support of Democracy

The US government has decided to sell F-16 fighters to Pakistan. Details are available from the Times, the Guardian, the Independent, the BBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Aljazeera.

All of these stories make it clear that the government of India, the most populous democratic nation in the world, is not pleased with this decision. Tensions between India and Pakistan have been well documented. These include 3 wars since WW2, and the aquisition of nuclear weapons by both countries. In 2002, tensions were particularly high but another war was narrowly avoided. It could be argued that providing military equipment to either side is unlikely to be helpful in defusing the tension between the neighbouring nations, although this is open to debate.

What is not open to debate are the democratic credentials of the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf. Wikipedia has a useful article on the subject. Here are some salient, and undisputed, facts about the President of Pakistan. General Musharraf became President in 1999 after the army had removed the democratically elected government in a bloodless coup. The BBC has full coverage of this story. In late 2003, he promised opposition parties that he would resign his position as head of the army at the end of 2004. In September 2004, he stated that he would not fulfil this commitment, citing reasons of national security. He has committed to full democratic elections in 2007, some 8 years after the coup which brought him to power.

Although Musharraf's democratic credentials are flimsy at best, he is an ally of the United States in the "war on terror". The government of the US has been accused of double standards in it's foreign policy. It has been said that the Bush regime is more concerned with other nations conforming to the wishes of the US government, and less concerned with issues of democracy and basic human rights. Mr Bush would deny this catagorically. In this case, I believe, the facts provide their own conclusions.

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