Last month Pakistan’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued advertisements seeking a ‘Pakistan Image Project’ team and welcomed applications for the posts of Project Chief, Director Media Buying, a Creative Director and a Director Productions (source: The News)
Let me hazard a guess at Pakistan’s image these days:
It is a Military Dictatorship
Like all military rulers before him, Gen Musharraf has maintained his grip on power by forming a party that provides a facade of democracy. No amount of rigged referendums and elections can overcome his basic illegitimacy in power.
Our Mullahs are Powerful.
Historically it has always been the military which has repeatedly co-opted Islamist organizations for cover and support. It was only with the Army’s blessing and connivance that the Mullahs won political victories in NWFP and Balochistan in 2002.
In 2005 Musharraf's regime banned the protest rallies of journalists, feminists and members of the Pakistan People's Party, while it allowed the Mullahs to hold anti-American "million man marches" throughout the country. Bankrolling these groups serves the useful purpose of making the army internationally preferable by contrast.
Our laws are manifestly unjust
- Our Hudood laws ‘allow’ the family of the woman that kills her for the sake of their “family honour” escape justice by paying themselves blood money.
- Our Blasphemy law that allows scoundrels to send innocent people to their deaths so that they can occupy their property.
- Our military law which can condemn a civilian to death without allowing him recourse to the High or Supreme Courts.
Our Treatment of Women, especially the victims of rape
- In January this Dr Shazia Khalid was raped allegedly by an army officer who was publicly declared innocent by Musharraf without any due process of law. As the New York Times reported, she and her husband were then ordered to “leave the country, and warned that if they stayed, they would be killed - by government "agencies" and that no one would even find their bodies. (See my blog on Shazia Khalid).
- Then there poor Mukhtaran Mai who was detained in Pakistan and prevented from travelling abroad on the express and regal orders of General Musharraf, whose edicts were in complete contravention of the law of the land. (See my bog on this).
- And now we have Sonia Naz who was brutally raped on the orders of a police officer, who in all probability was handpicked for his post by Musharraf’s Punjab political mafia.
Our Protected Madrassahs
After several ostensible crackdowns of Islamic militants, madrassahs in Pakistan are still free to propagate hatred against Christians, Jews and Muslims of other sects quite openly. Not surprisingly one of the London underground suicide bombers was videoed in Pakistan making his ‘death speech before martyrdom’.
And the usual bag of other lovelies
- The inclusion in the religion column in the Pakistani passport – which other country is blessed which such an inanity?
- The police thrashing of women running in mixed marathons.
- Beating of journalists on international Press Freedom Day (of all days!).
- The regular incarceration of opposition party workers under anti-terrorism and other draconian laws.
By calling for Image consultants Musharraf appears to be living in a imaginary world created by his durbaris. As a former US Ambassador suggested in the Daily Times Musharraf’s only real option is to ‘clean up the reality’ and not indulge in fantasy.
While cynical commentators such the Financial Times maintain:
The nearer the 2007 elections become, the more likely Gen Musharraf will have to share some power either with Ms Bhutto, currently facing corruption charges in Switzerland, or Mr Sharif. It is a prospect he does not relish. For now, at least, Gen Musharraf prefers to concentrate power in Rawalpindi and call in the image consultants.
So it suits Musharraf to apply botox to the realities of Pakistan