He wanted to dream a man; he wanted to dream him in minute entirety and impose him on reality – The Circular Ruins, Jorge Luis Borges.
Rawalpindi, Pakistan – September 08, 1970
1. During Ambassador’s conversation with President Yahya here September 8, Yahya said he had been greatly upset by need for his decision to postpone general elections from October 5 until December 7. He said a number of factors had led to his decision. He mentioned specifically the inability of existing bureaucratic machinery to cope simultaneously with flood relief requirements and election preprations in East Pakistan. Yayha noted that Paks were completely out of practice on election procedures.
2. Yahya said he hoped no one would get idea he was waivering in any way in his determination to restore civilian government and get back to barracks.
3. Yayha went on to voice disappointment over course of political campaign to date. He said he was appalled at lack of leadership and programs offered by the politicians, many of whom were acting like spoiled kids. He had failed to see emergence of any statesmen-like leadership. When he became discouraged, Yahya said, he had to remind himself here had been no democracy in Pakistan and the politicians had little conception of rules and requirements. – Telegram, President Yahya on Pakistan’s Political Situation, Department of State.
We are very concerned that Pakistan has taken a turn away from, rather than toward, democracy. And I think General Musharraf’s actions to dissolve the elected assemblies and appoint himself president severely undermine Pakistan’s constitutional order and clearly cast Pakistan as a country ruled by decree rather than by a democratic process. – Phillip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
QUESTION: If President Musharraf does not change his mind about these measures and Pakistan becomes just another dictatorship, what effect would that have on its relations with the US and your cooperation in the so-called war on terrorism?
MR. REEKER: I think, again, the hypotheticals there, Jonathan, are something I’m just not going to pursue. We’ve made clear what our goals are, what we think is important, what we believe President Musharraf wants in terms of developing strong democratic institutions. – Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
QUESTION: You mentioned that you would like to see a movement toward democracy in Pakistan. What would you like to see happen? There’s a report that he might dissolve the parliament there.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, the President and I talked about the reforms that he’s putting in place, and the democracy to which he is committed. One of the things that he has done that is most impressive for the long-term stability of Pakistan is to address education reform. A good education system is one that is going to mean more likely for any country, including ourselves, to be a freer country, and a more democratic country.
And he is — he’s taking on the issue in a way that is a visionary and strong. He’s dealing with the Madrassahs in a way that is productive and constructive. He is working on a national curriculum that will focus on basic education. I’ll let him describe his vision. But this country is committed to democracy, and we’re committed to freedom. We’re also committed to working with our partner to fight off the influences of terrorism. And we’ve had no better partner in our fight on terror than President Musharraf.
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to say a word on the previous question, also, and before I address your — answer your question…
Coming to your question, sir, about democracy, let me assure you it may sound rather odd that I, being a military man, am talking of democracy. But let me assure you that I am extremely concerned about introducing sustainable democracy in Pakistan.
Over the last 50 years, five decades, we have had dysfunctional democracy in Pakistan. And what I am doing, really, is to introduce sustainable democracy. Let me assure you, all the constitution changes, all the political restructuring that we have done is in line with ensuring sustainable democracy in Pakistan. We will continue with this process, to ensure that democracy is never derailed in Pakistan. This is my assurance. – President George W. Bush; President Musharraf of Pakistan
Islamabad, Pakistan – March 4, 2006
Q Some critics say that Pakistan is not moving quickly enough on democratic reforms. And moves towards democracy has been one of the hallmarks of your administration. How do you respond to critics who say you are holding back on pressing President Musharraf on moves toward democracy because of its help in the war on terrorism? And I would also ask —
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, we discussed — we spent a lot of time talking about democracy in Pakistan, and I believe democracy is Pakistan’s future. And we share a strong commitment to democracy. I just mentioned in my opening address the idea of making sure the elections go forward in 2007, and I discussed that with the President. President Musharraf has made clear that he intends to hold elections — I’ll let him speak for himself on this issue, but democracy has been definitely a part of our agenda here, as it should be.
Secondly, one of the things that the President is constantly talking about is the ways to defeat extremism. We’re talking about making sure that we work closely to bring the terrorists to justice, but in the long run he understands that extremism can be defeated by freedom and democracy and prosperity and better education. And we spent a lot of time strategizing on that subject today.
I’ll let you speak for yourself on the subject, though, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: Unfortunately, we are accused a lot on not moving forward on democracy. But as I understand democracy, we are a — may I venture to tell you what we’ve done in line with democracy to introduce sustainable democracy in Pakistan. The first ingredient of democracy, I believe, is the empowerment of the people. We have empowered the people of Pakistan now — they were never empowered before — by introducing a local government system where we have given the destiny of their areas for development, for welfare, for progress in their own hands through financial, political and administrative involvement.
Also democracy also means empowerment of women. It is the first time that we have empowered the women of Pakistan, by giving them a say in the political milieu of Pakistan. Today there are over 30,000 women in the political hierarchy of Pakistan. We have empowered the minorities of Pakistan for the first time. They have got a joint election system, where previously they had a separate election system. Therefore, they have been mainstreamed in that every person standing for elections has to go to the minorities to ask for their votes now. Therefore, they feel more a part of the Pakistani culture and Pakistan society.
Then we have empowered also — we have liberated the media and the press. If you see this press today sitting around here, and the media, previously there was only one Pakistan television. Today there are dozens of channels. All these people sitting around are the result of my democratization of Pakistan, opening the Pakistan society of the media — the print media and the electronic media, both. And they’re totally liberated.
And then, finally — obviously, this is to do with freedom of speech and freedom of expression. And then finally is the issue of their having the right to work and elect their own people. And that is what we do. Today the senate, the national assembly, the provincial assemblies and the — of the local government is there. And they’ve been voted through absolute — franchise in a free and fair manner.
So, therefore, may I say that we have introduced the essence of democracy now in Pakistan. It has been done now. It never — all these things never existed before. What maybe you are talking of is merely the label which probably you are inferring on to my uniform. Indeed, and without saying that you are inferring to it, yes, indeed, that is an issue which needs to be addressed. And I will follow constitutional norms. Even now I am following constitutional norms where I have been allowed to wear this uniform until 2007 — being in uniform as the President of Pakistan. Beyond 2007, yes, indeed, this is an issue which has to be addressed and it has to be addressed according to the constitution of Pakistan. And I will never violate the constitution of Pakistan.
So let me assure you that democracy will prevail. Sustainable democracy has been introduced in Pakistan and will prevail in Pakistan, especially beyond 2007.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes — important answer.
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: Thank you very much.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Very good job. Thank you again, sir. – Remarks by President Bush and President Musharraf of Pakistan
QUESTION: You say that having a free press is important in developing a democracy and that Musharraf is serving in the interest of the Pakistani people. How do those things go together when you’ve got evidence of them moving against the media to keep them from reporting on this?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it’s interesting you brought that up and I looked into this. And this is with respect to police action against Geo TV, an independent — as I understand it, an independent TV station in Pakistan. And President Musharraf himself has spoken to the issue and he has said that those actions should not have taken place and that the journalists and TV media should be able to be free to report on events that are transpiring in their country. – Sean McCormack, Spokesman
QUESTION: Yes. And it seems that the response so far to the apparent crackdown on the media has been somewhat circumspect in comparison to other countries like say, Venezuela. How would you respond to that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we’re watching very closely the events in Pakistan. I know this is a very sensitive issue for Pakistanis; how to resolve this judicial case within the bounds of Pakistani law. I know that President Musharraf’s decision within Pakistan, if you read the media accounts, has been quite controversial. Obviously, you’ve seen that with a number of demonstrations.
So the Pakistani people are going to have to resolve this issue for themselves. They are going to have to decide for themselves whether or not rule of law has been followed, whether or not proper procedures have been followed. It’s not something that we can dictate nor want to dictate to the Pakistani people.
There have been advances in bringing greater freedoms, including greater freedom of the press in Pakistan over the years under President Musharraf’s government. There has been — there have been some openings in that regard. Certainly, nobody would want to see those openings reversed. And I know that the decree was issued, and I’m not sure — at least to my knowledge — that there had been any media outlets that have been closed down as a result of the decree, certainly that would be a step that we would watch very closely.
And, we would just encourage our friends in Pakistan to look at the role of a free media in a society as one that ultimately strengthens a society. It’s a critically important function that the media serve all around the globe. And they have certain responsibilities, obviously, that come along with a free media: to report accurately and objectively.
So as of right now, it’s a situation, I think, that we’re watching closely. But we are right there with Pakistan as they make these political and economic reforms that are ultimately going to result in a different kind of Pakistan. That’s what everybody wants to see: a more politically stable, more open, a more economically prosperous Pakistan. And that’s — that is the program that President Musharraf’s government has laid out. And we support that, we encourage that. There’s a lot at stake, certainly. Pakistan is an important country in a very important region that has not known a lot of stability, if you look back over the past 40 or 50 years. If you look back, you know, over the recent history, that area has been — constituted what some have referred to as a crescent of crisis.
So the steps that the Pakistani Government are — have taken over the past several years, we believe are generally in the right direction and we want to encourage them. But it’s also important to remember that even though a situation may be somewhat difficult and that there is some turmoil in the system, over the long term, it is important not to roll back any of the advances that have been made over recent years. -Sean McCormack.