I felt a sense of pride in the strong response today from Pakistan's civil society to Musharraf's outrageous sacking of the Supreme Court Chief Justice. Led by the country's lawyers, there was a heartening willingness to stand up for the rule of law and against dictatorial fiat. This attack on judicial independence is a naked move to neutralize any smidgen of opposition to one man rule in the country. Musharraf wants the entire nation to acquiesce to his being a uniformed President for life and the final arbiter of the "national interest" even as state institutions (other than the military) wither away.
The establishment of democratic, constitutional governance in Pakistan will happen only when people stand up and fight for their own rights. No individual, no foreign power will give people their rights on a platter. It was deeply disappointing to me, though not surprising, that there has been virtually no coverage in the US media of this constitutional crisis in a country which is supposedly the "closest ally" in the war on terrorism. There have been countless articles written in the US on the "democratic deficit" in the Muslim world but when mainstream, moderate elements in these countries protest the dictatorships imposed on them by tacit or explicit American support, not a peep is heard amongst the Western crusaders of Muslim reform. One can imagine the coverage today's protests would have received if they had happened in Tehran against the Iranian theocracy. Criticism of "our sons of bitches" (Musharraf, Hosni Mubarak, the Saudis) is somehow always more muted than the legitimate scorn poured on the likes of Chavez, Mugabe and Ahmedinejad. On international affairs, the American "free media" seems mostly to take its cue from the government.
BBC, at least, has to be commended for giving the story its due. It has an interesting analysis of the entire episode. There are also photographs of the protests here.