Bill Moyers: When Are We Going to See Democracy In Pakistan? [VIDEO]
You've been seeing these pictures all week, But let's take a second look and consider what an extraordinary thing is happening in Pakistan.
Those are lawyers you see out there in the streets, confronting the army and the police, taking those blows, tear-gassed, shoved into vans like cattle and hauled off to who knows what fate.
Lawyers, some of them educated at places like Harvard and Cambridge, risking their liberty and lives to protest a dictator's suspension of the constitution. And not just lawyers, but judges, civil rights advocates, students, demanding free and fair electionS.
General Pervez Musharraf is the Muslim world's most powerful military dictator. He has nuclear weapons but can't use them against his own cities. So last Saturday he did the next best thing and shut down all the independent news channels. To keep word of the protests from spreading to the grass roots, only government TV was allowed to air, broadcasting soap operas and movies which tyrants like Musharraf use as the opiate of discontent.
But Musharraf didn't reckon on the Internet, cable broadcasters shut down on Saturday have gone online to spread news of the revolt.
It's now a contest between guns and power versus people and truth.
President Bush calls General Musharraff an ally in the war on terror and since 9/11 has sent him almost $10 billion dollars, mostly for the military now cracking down on its own citizens. But the fight against terrorism has gone badly in Pakistan. Osama bin laden is still at large - most likely in the vast region to the north which has become a safe haven for al Qaeda. If Musharraf did capture bin laden and turn him over to the U.S. he would likely ignite another insurrection...this time by Islamic militants who loathe America.
Musharref and Saddam Hussein, our friend only twenty years ago, were cut from the same cloth...so once again America's support of a dictator has backfired. Musharraff now says elections will be held by February and he'll quit the army...but he'll still be the man in power so we face a quandary: back a dictator against his own people in the name of a failed strategy to fight terrorists...or back the people and risk democracy. The U.S. invaded Iraq saying democracy was just around the corner. but more than four years of war produced chaos, not democracy.
Perhaps the real birth-pangs of democracy are here...among the lawyers, judges, and students...risking everything for their constitution.