IN OTHER WORDS
With five words in an interview with reporters for The Times, Gen Pervez Musharraf showed how far removed he is from understanding what democracy is, never mind fulfilling his oft-broken promise to lead Pakistan back toward a stable and prosperous future. Asked about Benazir Bhutto’s call for his resignation, Pakistan’s president, shot back that the opposition leader, who is under house arrest, “has no right to ask”.
Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte is scheduled to meet Musharraf in Islamabad later this week. We hope his message will be unambiguous. General Musharraf must lift martial law, reinstate constitutional processes, release political detainees, unfetter the
media, give up his army post and accept whatever ruling the Supreme Court makes on his eligibility to be president.
Otherwise, the United States should condition its assistance on Islamabad’s performance in fighting extremists and reconsider aid not directly linked to counterterrorism. It should also shift money toward political parties, schools and courts to help the Pakistani people build a democracy. The US has core interests in Pakistan that need to be defended. That means standing firm for a stable civil society and democratic processes, fighting terrorism and securing the nation’s nuclear arsenal.