Police State

U.S. PRESSURE ON GENERAL Pervez Musharraf has been gentle. Too gentle. Perhaps at this point it’s hardly a revelation that the White House has little outside of its own interests in mind, but their reaction to this situation provides further evidence to how blind our administration has become – they wouldn’t know a dictatorship if it jumped up and bit them.

The situation in Burma has yet to be resolved, and already international pressure and attention has waned. But in Pakistan we are presented with a striking parallel – a military government, media blackouts, rampant oppression and even the house arrest of a female opposition leader (which ended today). The U.S. talks tall when it comes to human rights violations in Iran and Myanmar, but talk is cheap when nobody is listening. Now our administration has a chance to get tough with an ally in restoring human rights, but the U.S.’s demands – while admirable – have a decidedly soft edge.

It’s been this way before. Following the Korean War, America was so eager to maintain sway in South Korea that it propped up Syngman Rhee, a pro-U.S. president with an authoritarian bent, arguably paving the way for future political hardships. When it served American interests, the U.S. has even supported the likes of Sadaam Hussein. More recently the White House has claimed to have the human rights of Iranians in its best interests, yet it continues to ignore repression in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

For Pakistan, now is when it counts, and the U.S. ought to take a firm stand for human rights and demand more from its ally.

(Edited: 11.17.2007)

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