Molloy College's Joseph F. Maher Leadership Forum. She called the United States of America, "a beacon of democracy" in a world of darkness. She laments, however, the Bush administration's strong support -- up until now -- for General Pervez Musharraf, the dictator who took power in a coup d'etat in 1999.
The US has made mistakes before, as described here. We tend to prefer Capitalist dictatorships over democratic, Socialist governments. As long as we keep giving lip service to "democracy" while actually fighting only to make the world safe for un-regulated, laissez faire, "free-market" capitalism, we're going to keep making mistakes, we're going to keep alienating the rest of the world, we're going to keep making enemies, and we're going to remain a target for terrorism.
For too long, the international perception has been that Musharraf's regime is the only thing standing between the West and nuclear-armed fundamentalists.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Islamic parties have never garnered more than 13 percent in any free parliamentary elections in Pakistan. The notion of Musharraf's regime as the only non-Islamist option is disingenuous and the worst type of fear-mongering.
Musharraf should go. NOW.
The West has been shortsighted in dealing with Pakistan. When the United States aligns with dictatorships and totalitarian regimes, it compromises the basic democratic principles of its foundation -- namely, life, liberty and justice for all. Dictatorships such as Musharraf's suppress individual rights and freedoms and empower the most extreme elements of society. Oppressed citizens, unable to represent themselves through other means, often turn to extremism and religious fundamentalism.
Restoring democracy through free, fair, transparent and internationally supervised elections is the only way to return Pakistan to civilization and marginalize the extremists. A democratic Pakistan, free from the yoke of military dictatorship, would cease to be a breeding ground for international terrorism.