Showing posts with label Pakistan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pakistan. Show all posts

Monday, December 03, 2007

Dictator week!

Voters in Venezuela say no to Hugo Chávez's bid to become president for life, fueling speculation if the one time military coupster will bypass the ballot box next time and simply go the more traditional route to seizing unlimited power.

On the other end of the spectrum, Pakistan's military strongman Pervez Musharraf has stepped down from his military position, hoping to hang on in what's sure to be an insanely rigged election in January. Trading on the political unpopularity of his opponents won't hurt, either.

And lest he think we've forgotten about him, Vladimir Putin has secured his efforts to keep running Russia behind the scenes after his term as president ends. Czarism, anyone?

And yes, I'm back! It's been a busy couple of weeks for me, but everything has settled down. 2008 promises to be every bit the golden age for dictators that 2007 has been, and DotW will be here to enjoy every second of it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Who's hot? Who's not?

HOT: Pervez Musharraf (Pakistan)

The general has been down so long, that anything looks like up to him. So when Musharraf declared martial law this week, even his innumerable enemies had to concede that Musharraf still has enough political juice to be reckoned with. Is the state of emergency a desperate move to retain power? Will his bizarre assault on Pakistan's judges and lawyers capture the imagination of the public? Will the scolding by the United States help, or harm his reputation with Pakistan's intransigent intelligence services?

He's got nowhere to go but down from here, but for today? The man is red hot.

NOT HOT: Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe)

At long last, the world is getting ready for a Zimbabwe without Robert Mugabe. At 83 years old, he no longer has the energy or political will to keep control of the ruling ZANU-PF party. Could anyone have imagined five years ago that the ZANU-PF leadership would be talking about ousting Mugabe in a coup d'etat? Of course not. Mugabe's pitiful plans to run for re-election one more time are looking more and more like the pleas of a tired old man to go out on top. We're betting he'll be out long before the 2008 elections.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

We will, in fact, have Pervez Musharraf to kick around

So the world's most beleaguered dictator finally gets one in the win column. Amid opposition boycotts, parliamentary walkouts, and a series of looming Supreme Court challenges to the entire process, Pakistan's military strongman, General Pervez Musharraf, has won another five year term as president on Saturday.

That the seemingly terminally compromised Musharraf could cruise to re-election highlights just how bad Pakistani politics are. With the lack of fresh political energy in Pakistan, it's little wonder that voters opted for more of the same. Whether or not they would have done so without the self-defeating boycotts and walkouts by what passes for Musharraf's political opposition is another matter entirely. There doesn't appear to be as much enthusiasm for the return of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan as there does among pundits on the BBC and in the Washington Post, but Musharraf managed to strike a power sharing deal with her anyway. Perhaps the good general summed it up best with this pithy comment on the state of politics in Pakistan: "democracy means majority, whether there is opposition or no opposition".

Will the high court invalidate Musharraf's reelection? Will he declare martial law if they do? Will Pakistan finally give up the pretense of being a functioning nation state and just return a Mogul emperor to the throne? Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Will Musharraf step down as army chief?

Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf still can't seem to catch a break. Indeed, since the creation of Dictators of the World, I haven't found a single thing that's managed to go his way. The trend doesn't change this week, because once again, Musharraf's grasp on power has managed to slip even further through his fingers.

After he seized power in a military coup d'etat in 1999, Musharraf has managed to hold onto power by his constitutionally disallowed, but strategically important, position as both president and leader of Pakistan's armed forces. Now it appears that Musharraf has promised that he will be stepping down as army chief before national elections in 2008 as part of a byzantine power sharing arrangement with former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Now, I wouldn't bet the farm that Musharraf will actually step down as army chief, but the fact that he's been put into a political position where he's had to promise to do so speaks volumes about the precipitous political implosion of the man once popularly hailed as Pakistan's political savior.

If he were to remove himself as leader of the armed forces, Musharraf is doubtlessly aware that his dual career as president would be finished. His popularity with the public is at an all time low, and as a mere civilian leader, he'd be a juicy target for removal by yet another military coup. If Musharraf is serious about stepping down as leader of the army, it's a mere prelude for leaving office - and likely Pakistan itself - altogether.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Stick a fork in Pervez Musharraf

Pakistani strongman General Pervez Musharraf, has reportedly backed away from his threat to declare a state of emergency after a 17 minute telephone conversation with US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. Musharraf was mulling the emergency declaration as a response to an increase in domestic terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists, but conveniently, the state of emergency would also have the (purely coincidental, I'm sure!) side effect of postponing elections.

Of all the world's dictators, only Pervez Musharraf and Kim Jong-Il have a nuclear arsenal. Unlike his North Korean counterpart, however, Musharraf's country is politically devolving into anarchy, and his own political position is now almost totally untenable. Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup, has long found himself at odds with Pakistan's politically powerful state security services, but for a while, he enjoyed some measure of popular support from a populace that had lost confidence in his predecessor, Nawaz Sharif. Musharraf repeatedly cited a plan to remove himself from power, as dictators are wont to do, after single handedly fixing Pakistan's innumerable political and social problems. Well, obviously, Musharraf couldn't fix Pakistan, but now, his popular support has nearly vanished, and he's lost the confidence of nearly every politically important sector outside the high command of Pakistan's armed forces, which he still (unconstitutionally) leads.

Where his alliance with the United States once provided critical aid in his struggle with domestic Islamic militancy, Pakistan's population now views him as nothing more than Washington's puppet. Recent comments by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama about the possibility of America violating Pakistani sovereignty to attack Al Qaeda targets in Waziristan. This blunder, however naive or foolish on Obama's part, hit Musharraf like a ton of bricks. His innumerable critics immediately jumped on the gaffe, saying that no matter who the next president in, Pakistan is at risk because Musharraf is an American puppet.

And so it goes. Musharraf has been down for so long that it's starting to look like up to him. With the state of emergency canceled, the path is clear to free (if not necessarily fair) elections that could pave the way for his removal from office. Musharraf, at this point, would probably like nothing more to get the hell out of Pakistan before he's knocked off in yet another coup. If Musharraf survives through 2008, he'll be lucky. If he survives in office? That would be nothing short of a miracle.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Indymedia are idiots

Regarding Pakistani strongman General Pervez Musharraf, a recent story in the left-of-Trotskyist Indymedia inquires, "the US media 'discovers' Musharraf is a dictator" before conspiratorially inquiring, "why now?"

Before we begin, I realize that despite assertions to the contrary, Indymedia is more of an echo chamber for disaffected left wing activists than it is an actual news organization, much less one that provides any sort of insight or analysis. And yes, I'm aware of the collaborative nature of the Indymedia project, and I'm aware that's why it often reads like the rantings of deranged lunatics who sense a Jewish conspiracy behind every action of the American government.

That said, the American press has never made any secret about the nature of Musharraf's rule in Pakistan. They did not hide the fact that he seized power in a blatantly illegal coup d'etat, nor pretended that he's somehow been good for the promotion of democracy in Pakistan. What's more, the American press has always portrayed America's co-operation in the war on terror with Pakistan as a marriage of convenience, as it was during the Cold War. It didn't take Musharraf's sacking of chief judge Iftikhar Chaudhry for the American press to snap out of some sort of self imposed torpor to realize that Musharraf is a dictator - in fact, that merely reinforced a storyline the mainstream media has been advancing all along about Pakistan; "Musharraf is a dictator, and shame on that hypocrite George Bush for talking about freedom while doing business with Musharraf".

It's not exactly news that world history is full of deals with the devil, and America's unsavory relationship with Pakistan is just one of thousands of relationships between repressive governments and ostensibly progressive nations that should know better around the world, such as those between Spain and Cuba, Zimbabwe and South Africa, or China and, well, everybody. We shouldn't overlook the fact that these relationships suck, but we also occasionally have to remind ourselves why they exist to begin with.

UPDATE: Victor Navasky, former editor of The Nation, seems to have a problem with the dictator word himself. We trust Indymedia will fill him in.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Who's hot? Who's not?

HOT: Hugo Chávez (Venezuela)

Caracas caudillo Hugo Chávez is licking his lips at his impending victory over his hated enemy, Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) on May 27th. Yeah, the proles are protesting because they love their telenovelas, and they certainly aren't particularly fond of watching pro-Chávez propaganda on every television channel. So what? Are any of them ruling Venezuela? No? I thought not. Let them eat cadenas!

The tighter Hugo squeezes his subjects, the more the foreign left swoons in approval. He's on a winning streak with no end in sight.

Not Hot: Pervez Musharraf (Pakistan)

It's hard not to feel bad for the poor general, because I never seem to have any good news about him. Which is fair, because frankly, nothing has gone right for Pervez Musharraf for the past few years now. In fact, this entire Hot or Not? segment leads us all to experience some serious deja vu.

What's the latest in bad news for Pakistan's brasshat dictator? How about a wildly successful public speaking tour by his one of his most devoted political enemies, a Supreme Court judge he himself removed from the bench, and a Taliban presence in his own country that he cannot control, no matter how hard he tries? Why even today, even his allies in Britain are getting snarky with him.

How bad is it, really? Even Indian newspaper columnists are starting to feel sorry for him, and everyone agrees he's a goner. The biggest question remaining is: how long can he hold on? He's never been the type to rule with an iron fist, and when push comes to shove, he'll go careening into the dustbin of deposed Pakistani dictators.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Is Musharraf a goner?

When I last wrote about Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf back in January, the verdict was "not hot". Amazingly, it seems the General's fortunes have slipped even further since then.

Musharraf has faced intense criticism (and violent social unrest) over his recent attempts to remove a Supreme Court justice from the bench, citing vague "abuses of judicial authority". What on earth would prompt a man who fashions himself as a benevolent political reformer to tamper with Pakistan's judiciary?

From all appearances, Musharraf either believes he's in imminent danger of being ousted in a coup, or failing that, he's simply gone crazy. I'm tempted to believe both, as the general lashed out in the press against political figures he believes are conspiring against him. I'm tempted to dismiss Musharraf's rants about conspiracies as the demented ravings of a desperate dictator, but he may, in fact, be on to something.

Since achieving independence in 1947, the Pakistani government has been ruled, more often than not, by people who have seized power in military coup d'etats, including Pervez Musharraf himself. Amid mounting rumors of an impending coup, the leaders of Pakistan's military will be meeting this week, and Musharraf would be crazy not to suspect that a coup is in the works. Musharraf has to be especially wary of the state's feared secret services, the ISI, whose hostility to Pakistan's alliance with Washington (and whose support of Muslim terrorist organizations) is an open secret.

Musharraf has long had to walk a tightrope of appeasing the west as an ally on the war against terrorism, while taking care not to provoke the aforementioned elements of the Pakistani military and intelligence services that support terrorist organizations. And while it he could, perhaps, lose the support of either Washington or his security services, he cannot afford to lose both. With rumors that Washington has had enough of Musharraf's "double game", the domestic flank will almost certainly close in on him and knock him out.

There's blood in the water, and the sharks are closing in. I don't like dabbling in predictions, but it will take nothing short of a minor miracle for Musharraf to remain in power throughout the entire year. The real question is: what sort of man will replace him?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Who's hot? Who's not?

HOT: Hugo Chávez (Venezuela)

He's shut down a television station for opposing him, and Western leftists love it. Ruling by decree? No problemo with the Western left, either. Te amamos, Hugo!

Chávez is so hot right now, he's leaving scorch marks on the Chomsky worshiping, white, middle class, American ZNet fanboys that insist on riding his jock raw. Will 2007 be the year he slips and falls? Will the death of Fidel Castro slow him down? Will he finally stop putting berets on helpless parrots? Hard to say, but for now, the man is on a definite roll.

NOT HOT: General Pervez Musharraf (Pakistan)

Remember when Pakistan was the darling of the West in the heady
days of the start on the war on terror?

It's OK, because Pervez Musharraf is having a hard time remembering, too.

Increasingly embattled at home and distrusted abroad, 2002 must feel like a million years ago to Washington's favorite dictator. Though he has earned praise for making headway in the enervating Kashmir conflict, he appears to be on the losing end of a dangerous domestic power struggle with his own state security services. Derided as "Bush's poodle", he continues to live with the threat of assassination attempts, a persistent problem with poverty, and even natural disasters.

Will he be able to hold on in 2007, or will the ISI depose him? It's probably too soon to tell for sure, but right now, his stock has definitely taken a nosedive.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

"No - fuck YOU, Jon Stewart."

In a match up nobody demanded, the unshakable Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf appears opposite the unwatchable Jon Stewart on the insufferable Daily Show.

The YouTube video of these titanic mediocrities is here, while bitching and moaning on the equally insufferable Huffington Post appears here.

Wallechinsky's bellyaching aside, I am all for having dictators as guests on American television, but is it too much to ask for more entertaining dictators?

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Yes, but he's our bastard

Today is the fourth anniversary of a referendum approving another five year term for Pakistani dictator Lt. General Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf is the latest in a long line of Pakistani dictators, having seized power in a classic bloodless military coup d'etat in 1999. Since then, Musharraf has run roughshod over Pakistan's constitution by retaining his military and political titles and has made some very determined enemies in the process.

Unlike some of his of predecessors, Musharraf has paid some lip service to stepping down and restoring democracy ... eventually, but he's in no hurry. And why should he be? Washington is firmly on his side, and astoundingly enough, he may have actually made some progress in dealing with Pakistan's biggest problem during his tenure.

Musharraf has repeatedly promised to step down when he's finished "stabilizing" Pakistan, but we will do it? History says "probably not", but we shall certainly see.

At any rate, I certainly have to love a dictator who not only keeps a web page, but offers such a frank assesment of his life and career as seen here.