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Musharraf promises a free and fair election?

Pakistan’s president is touring around Europe in an effort to assure his commitment to human rights and democracy. Speaking to the EU in Brussels, Musharraf urges the West to carry patience when turning an eye to his country. He essentially said that we (the West – and I say “we” because being British, I know the UK has had great involvement with Pakistan) have taken centuries to reach our current standpoint, and that his nation’s values and surroundings are, for the moment, very different from ours. In the ladder of established democracy, Musharraf suggests that Pakistan is not resting on the bottom rungs (as many may like to think) but is making an effort to move upward.

When I first heard of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in December, I was dumbfounded. This is basically the first time – in quite a long period of time – which a person of such influential stature has been assassinated. With her, Pakistan may have actually had a string of hope to pick itself up and finally move away from all the blood and destruction that has hovered over it since the partition of the Indian sub-continent. However, her “timely” death just before the elections in February hands the country back in whole to Musharraf.

But perhaps I’ve doubted Pervez Musharraf. Is he, maybe a well-meaning dictator after all? Musharraf does raise a good point: The West, centuries ago, has brought about the same violations against human rights, the same destruction (albeit, perhaps through differing methods) upon one another and within their own nation before reaching this level of “established democracy”. This is not to justify any killings currently going on in Pakistan, but could Musharraf, in truth, actually be fighting for democracy and human rights? Does it just become a matter of having patience?

However, it is not like we can just sit back and watch Pakistan live in this turmoil, especially since it was the West (the British) in the first place that laid down the carpet for Pakistan (what with the independence of Pakistan and India, and broken promises by the British, etc, etc).
This seems to be the same old story, but does Musharraf truly have good intentions, or is he simply cleaning up his act due to the upcoming “free and fair” elections? And considering the West as a whole: is interference a good thing, or have we interfered enough?

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