The Toronto Star Editorial - Friday, 23 August 2002 - Canada - http://www.thestar.com
TYRANNY IN PAKISTAN
A nuclear-armed Commonwealth nation of 140 million people is rapidly
sinking into tyranny, and what has Jean Chretien's government to say?
Precious little. The silence that has greeted Gen. Pervez Musharraf's
hijacking of democracy in Pakistan is a mute indictment of Western
attitudes toward a major Muslim nation.
Would it be too much to expect Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham
to surface just long enough to denounce Musharraf's military
Musharraf may be a gutsy ally in the 'war on terror'. He may be a
bold reformer who has attacked corruption, anarchy and extremism. And
he may be making an honest attempt to suppress 'cross-border Kashmiri
But he is a despot for all that. He seized power from an elected
Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, in a 1999 coup. In April , he
staged a travesty of a referendum in which he was the only candidate,
awarding himself five more years in power. And though he promises
parliamentary elections on Oct. 10, he has in effect neutered them.
On Wednesday, in a move he frankly acknowledged was opposed by most
Pakistanis, he arbitrarily rewrote the [Pakistan] Constitution,
changing 29 sections to give himself dictatorial powers.
Musharraf calls this "guided democracy." And guided it certainly is.
He will remain 'President' and army chief. He'll chair a new National
Security Council to oversee Parliament. Stuffed with military
officers, it gives the army an unprecedented formal governing role.
He will have power to further amend the Constitution on a whim, to
dissolve Parliament and to appoint supreme court justices and
Canada must express moral outrage on behalf of Pakistanis who see
their freedoms being snatched away. We should ratchet up
sanctions. 'War on terror' notwithstanding, this is a regime going
nowhere good, in a hurry.