Farewell to Democracy in Pakistan

The dictatorship that governs Pakistan was held in contempt by the West prior to September 11, first for its repression of democracy at home and second for its ties with terrorists. Now that it has become our ally against Afghanistan, however, the song has changed. "It may be a good thing that Pakistan is ruled by a friendly military dictator," says Newsweek magazine, "rather than what could well be a hostile democracy." As Robert Fisk points out, "This, of course, is the very policy that dictates Washington's relations with the Arab world. Far better to have a Mubarak or a King Abdullah or a King Fahd running the show than to let the Arabs vote for a real government that might oppose US policies in the region. ... Future peace and stability requires sustained investment in solid secular democracies -- not in stable dictatorships. Yet the United States is now laying the foundations of a long-term autocracy in Pakistan, a dictatorship not unlike those that lie like a cancer across the Middle East."