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Monday, May 27, 2024

At last, another one of the Bush administration's foreign policy blunders has been placed under scrutiny: the protection of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf at all costs. I'm willing to bet that most Americans hadn't even heard Benazir Bhutto's name until she was assassinated, let alone had known that she was Pakistan's prime minister under a power-sharing agreement with Musharraf that the Bush administration orchestrated.

At any rate, I thought it was America's mission to bring democracy to the Middle East, so why have we still allowed the farce of freedom in Pakistan to continue?

All of a sudden Pakistan has come under a microscope because our interests are threatened, but this outrage is about six years too late. It is another classic case of the United States claiming to support democracy while overtly propping up dictatorships. We fought off the Soviets in a proxy war and created the Taliban, and then claimed to be fighting terrorists while protecting a now-powerless autocrat. This undermines the premise - read "lie" - of invading Iraq to spread democracy to the Middle East.

While one weak ruler, Bush, protected another, Pakistan became a safe haven for al-Qaida and a terrorist breeding ground.

Of course, Americans didn't have a clue about this, being too busy following the death of Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears' antics on Fox News. We were, once again, enjoying a siesta while the world was imploding.

Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is now easily accessible to terrorists while Musharraf watches helplessly as Pakistan sinks into anarchy following Bhutto's assassination.

The Bush administration has funneled millions into Pakistan's military, thinking it would be used for counterterrorism efforts. At least this is the official story. It's highly probable that it's another opportunity for the defense industry to make millions under the pretense of fighting terrorists, and that most of that money has gone toward building weapons to intimidate India, an American ally. Once again, we have failed to learn the lesson that propping up dictators is a flawed strategy that will eventually cause the country in question to descend into chaos, usually sooner rather than later.

In true American fashion, the lack of democracy in Pakistan been noticed too late, and the presidential candidates are stumbling over themselves to exploit Bhutto's assassination for political gain.

All of the candidates suddenly stressed the need for democracy in Pakistan as if awoken from a stupor. Sen. Joseph Biden attempted to cover his previous gaffes by expressing concern over the easily accessible weapons in Pakistan, while Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain tried to seem like they were experts based on their interactions with Musharraf and Bhutto.

McCain went so far as to say that Musharraf, a leader who seized power through a coup, is a "personally scrupulously honest" man who deserved "the benefit of the doubt" on uniting Pakistan.

Amid the circus that is the presidential race, people have suddenly taken notice of South Asia. People in South Asia, on the other hand, probably know more about our domestic politics than most Americans. I, for one, have lost hope that Americans in general will ever care to know anything beyond their own noses.

Anuradha Pandey is a history junior.

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