ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 8 — Gen. Pervez Musharraf told his national security council today that parliamentary elections would be held before Feb. 15 and that he would give up his military uniform before taking the oath of office for his new term as president of Pakistan.
As he made the statement, his security forces clamped down hard on the main opposition party of Benazir Bhutto, arresting as many as 500 party members last night and today, party workers and diplomats said. The arrests appeared to be an attempt to thwart a protest rally planned by Ms. Bhutto for Friday, the party workers and diplomats said.
There’s such a lovely logic here, a textbook case of faux democracy: Neutralize the opposition through arrests and intimidation, and then stage your elections before they have time to recover. Now you can proclaim to the world that you have proof that your dictatorship is democratically elected, which of course we all knew it must be since it’s a friend of the United States, right?
Even more lovely: if the opposition you’ve just suppressed complains, let’s say, that the mass arrests leave them unable to properly prepare for elections on your timetable, you can accuse them of wanting to delay elections and thus being anti-democratic. Double win!