Benazir slams double standards on dictatorship
LAHORE: The Pakistan People’s Party Chairperson Benazir Bhutto has deplored the double standards of decrying dictatorship in Iraq but supporting dictatorship in Pakistan.
“Democracy for Iraq, but dictatorship just miles away. Iraqi violations of UN resolutions bring a strong response. Violations of UN resolutions in the Middle East or in South Asia draw a less vocal reaction. “The world political standards being varied according to political expediency as those decrying dictatorship in Iraq are staying close to dictators in Pakistan,” she told the founding conference today of the World Political Forum convened by the former Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev, in the Italian city of Turin.
According to a communication received here by the party media cell, the topic of her discourse was “Democracy and Internationalism: Post Iraq”. She said President George W Bush claimed that the war on Iraq was the war for liberty and against tyranny. “In the post Iraq, tyrants should fear but it is troubling that some of those tyrants still feel little fear and some of them are still close allies of Washington,” she said. “In the case of Pakistan, a repressive regime exiles the popular opposition, imprisons dissidents and rigs elections. When the moving finger of history writes of the end of the 20th century, it will write off the international community’s failure to reinforce the democratic breakthrough that the end of communism brought as the era’s greatest missed opportunities.”
She said: “I recall speaking to the European Parliaments, to the Congress of the United States proclaiming that the era of the dictator is over, that militaries all over the world have finally returned to their barracks, that democracy is blooming on every continent. In retrospect, I fear it is merely a mirage as the forces of real politic are waiting to collide with the ideology of democracy.”
She said the community of the disaffected and the disenfranchised played a pivotal role both in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Kabul and Baghdad, popular voices of the people were denied of political space, forming the political front for a war to reclaim their own land. She went on to say that many in the international community felt uncomfortable with a war without the United Nations sanction.
Demonstrations for peace broke out in the heart of Europe, at times larger than demonstrations within the Muslim world. It was wrong to evaluate national security by hardened borders and tanks and missiles. “True security is linked to the fight for economic justice, against famine and AIDs and protecting the environment from pollution and desecration,” she told the conference.
“The post-Iraq world situation allows us to focus once again on the principle of freedom. This time it must be more than rhetoric that is exploited in pursuit of limited, foreign policy objectives. When the world walked away from Afghanistan after the defeat of the Soviets in 1989 the fundamental mistake was that we were not consistently committed to the values of freedom, democracy and self-determination that ultimately undermine terrorism. The result was the Taliban dictatorship, the Al Qaeda and terrorism.
“Dictatorship doesn’t constrain fundamentalism or terrorism. It provokes it. The goal of rational foreign policy must always be to simultaneously promote stability and to strengthen democratic values. Every war in the South Asian subcontinent started when Pakistan was under a military dictator or one of its civilian surrogates.” “Democracies are different. Democratic leaders are accountable before the Parliament, the Press and the People. Dictators rely on unaccountable secret services and are free to divert resources to schemes that parliamentary scrutiny simply would not permit.”
She said that the international press “has speculated about Islamabad’s support to North Korea’s nuclear programme”. Islamabad denies the charges. “Even though Islamabad is a key ally of the US in the war on terror, Pakistani citizens are finger printed and photographed when they visit America,” she added.
-- asks CJ to act against Okara tenants’ harassment
LAHORE: Former prime minister and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairperson Benazir Bhutto on Monday urged the Supreme Court chief justice (CJ) to take suo motu notice of the continued harassment of the tenants of Okara Military Farms.
In a letter addressed to the CJ, she drew attention to the May 12, 2003 press reports stating that Rangers and the local administration had attacked poor tenants in a bid to force them out of their lands. “The conditions are deplorable as many tenants have gun shot marks on their bodies and this speaks volumes of the atrocities the tenants are facing at the hands of the authorities,” the letter stated. “I hope you will take suo motu notice of this matter and put an end to Okara Military Farms tenants’ persecution,” the letter added. —Staff Report