The United States needs to unambiguously weigh in on the side of constitutional democratic governance and the people of Pakistan. It is the right position on moral and pragmatic grounds. Only consistent and clear support by the US government for civil society forces that advocate and struggle for a rule of law, democratic governance, free media and human rights will eventually create Muslim societies that are not a threat to themselves and the rest of the world. American governments often speak of these principles but rarely stand behind them when it matters most. Pakistan's courageous civil society (which sadly does not even look to the US for inspiration any more) is leading an inspiring struggle of the kind that American officials pray for in Iran, but in Pakistan it only results in banal State Department statements of support for our erstwhile uniformed ally. Pakistanis and the Muslim world will believe in America's rhetoric only if it consistently backs its own principles and does not sacrifice them at the altar of short term expediency. Only America has the clout to make a real difference in promoting freedom and stability in Pakistan and America needs to answer the call. We need not fear a democratic Pakistan. Only a country on a more solid democratic footing with a representative government can be a stable and reliable ally.
Here are the powerful words that end the NY Times editorial:
"A succession of uniformed dictators has misruled Pakistan for more than half of its 60-year history. All have advertised themselves as great friends of Washington, but all have fanned extremism while discrediting America’s reputation among ordinary Pakistanis. There is no security with General Musharraf. The United States belongs on the side of Pakistani democracy".