Pakistan Crackdown "Making a Mockery" of Bush's Democracy Promotion?
Sunday's lead story dealt with the crackdown by Pakistan military leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who declared a state of emergency over the weekend and is moving to detain leaders of the opposition and rights advocates - "Pakistani Sets Emergency Rule, Defying The U.S."
The Times peered through Bush-centric optics to conclude:
"Ms. Bhutto returned to Pakistan on Oct. 18 for the first time in eight years under a plan that the Bush administration had hoped would bring a democratic sheen to the country even as it continued under the rule of General Musharraf. That plan now lies in tatters."
A "news analysis" on Sunday by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Helene Cooper made that Bush-centric theme even more explicit ("Musharraf Leaves White House in Lurch"). Stolberg and Cooper left no turn of phrase behind in their Bush-centric (phobic?) view of events in Pakistan.
"For more than five months the United States has been trying to orchestrate a political transition in Pakistan that would manage to somehow keep Gen. Pervez Musharraf in power without making a mockery of President Bush's promotion of democracy in the Muslim world.
"On Saturday, those carefully laid plans fell apart spectacularly. Now the White House is stuck in wait-and-see mode, with limited options and a lack of clarity about the way forward.
"General Musharraf's move to seize emergency powers and abandon the Constitution left Bush administration officials close to their nightmare: an American-backed military dictator who is risking civil instability in a country with nuclear weapons and an increasingly alienated public.
"Mr. Bush entered a delicate dance with Pakistan immediately after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, when General Musharraf pledged his cooperation in the fight against Al Qaeda, whose top leaders, including Osama bin Laden, are believed to be hiding out in the mountainous border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
"The United States has given Pakistan more than $10 billion in aid, mostly to the military, since 2001. Now, if the state of emergency drags on, the administration will be faced with the difficult decision of whether to cut off that aid and risk undermining Pakistan's efforts to pursue terrorists - a move the White House believes could endanger the security of the United States."
"Whatever happens, experts say that General Musharraf's decision was not good news for the Bush administration. Even if Pakistan does get back on the path to democracy, Saturday's action will likely tarnish the Pakistani leader, as well as the legitimacy of any election organized by his government."