Mike Ghouse, December 27, 2007
Much has been written about Benazir Bhutto, it is a severe blow to democracy in Pakistan.
She threatened the extremists, a dare move perhaps calculated to win the support of majority of moderates in Pakistan who want to live a normal life. They got to her before she could get them.
It was the battle of wills. She played the game boldly but undiplomatically. She had every thing to lose, whereas the extremists did not. Life did not mean much to them, it was not a good equation.
Now, is the time and the moral responsibility of the moderate majority to stand up, whether Ms. Bhutto would have made it or not is not the question, but she sacrificed her life to bring democracy back to her people. If they do not, those few extremists will bulldoze them, one leader at a time. Then it would be too late to wish otherwise.
The ‘Bush-man” Musharraf fell prey to the greed of power. His dreams of making Pakistan a moderate democratic republic simply vanished before the hunger for power.
Bhutto’s death gives ample reason to Musharraf to stay put. I will not be surprised to hear “I told you so”, “You did not understand my people” kind of rhetoric and assert “Pakistani people prefer to have the military rule” and “I am the one.” Pakistani people deserve their own government, and they are inherently democratic in their disposition.
At this time, the best course for the United States to take is not to rock the boat. Let the general have some breathing room, and listen to him and to the public without making aggressive self serving suggestions. Any criticism of his government may build public resentment and amounts to meddling in their affairs.
Stability of Pakistan is important to her people and people in the Subcontinent. Let Pakistan recover from this severe blow to their democratic process, and make sure there is a genuine welcome of our help, and offer it unconditionally.
Democracy is not a ‘ready made’ suit to fit in the moment you wear it. It is a process like planting the seeds, watching them germinate, checking for moisture, soil, sun and air, and caring it from bugs, fungal diseases and then protecting it from the birds. Then comes fertilizing, watering, pruning and chasing the birds or the monkeys part, it is a full blown process. You have nourish it and over a period of twenty years, it will be tree enough to serve the purpose for which it was gown; Shade.
One has to start breathing, drinking, sleeping and living democracy to fully realize its values. It took us two centuries to be one of the most mature democracies and we need to give others at least a generation and not order it to happen on our President’s watch.
Fundos (Fundamentalists) are a threat to the peaceful working of their society. They want others to believe and listen to them, without giving the other party the very same right. As citizens of the world, we need to put politics aside and at least try roping them into a dialogue. Looking back, had our administration not emboldened her with the confrontational path, she probably would have trekked the diplomatic path.
To understand the vibrancy of Pakistani populace, one must watch the Pakistan forums and talk shows- such as the much talked about “who wants to be the Prime Minister”. It is weeks of debate, give and take punches, and absorbing and living the values of inclusiveness in that society. The extremists also listen and watch the slow seeping in of democratic norms. It is an anecdote to terrorism.
Steven Bochco’s “LA Law” truly represented American mind, the audience was made to take different sides as the show moved forward and enabled the public to see how to deal with different social and cultural issues of the society. If the American entrepreneurs can fund such shows around the globe where people can think and ponder on both sides of the issue, we can see seeds of democracy germinating on the planet earth.
Pakistan is ripe for democracy; a majority of her people believes in it. We cannot “Bush out terrorism” with bombs, we can certainly erase it through dialogue, education and patience. We need a 20 year plan to change a whole new generation into thinking, believing, seeing, breathing and living democracy in their day to day life. It will take a generation to bring it about a sustainable democracy.
Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, politics, Islam, Religion and civic issues. He is the founding president of World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: Good for Muslims and good for the world. His comments, news analysis, opinions and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com or (214) 325-1916