...a blog by Richard Flowers

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Day 2505: S.O.B. Story


General Must-be-having-a-laugh of Pakistan continues to STRETCH, SQUEEZE and otherwise REDEFINE what it means to be a Democracy, by expelling three British journalists for their use of FOUL LANGUAGE.

Here is the Friday leader from the Daily Torygraph that got them condemned.

The offensive term is, apparently, describing General Must-be-having-a-laugh as "OUR son-of-a-Mrs-Lady-Dog". And goodness me, yes, that IS rude.

To give you the PROPER language, it should have read: "I want these Mr Samuel L Jackson-ing SNAKES off of this Mr Samuel L Jackson-ing DICTATORSHIP!!!".

Of course it is WORSE for people IN Pakistan, where local television stations and newspapers have been closed down pending a promise that they will not say anything nasty about General Must-be-having-a-laugh.

Information, freely available to everyone, is key to a modern county's wellbeing. Access to information is essential to the proper working of a liberal FREE MARKET, in order to make sure that everyone knows about the best and worst prices, otherwise the market won't work. And free speech is the lifeblood of democratic politics: if you cannot hear both sides of any argument (or however many sides there are), then how can you freely decide between them?

General Must-be-having-a-laugh has promised that the elections will be held in January, but so long as that means that the emergency laws to stop anyone from campaigning will still be firmly in place, then how can that be a REAL democracy?

But the people of Pakistan are not so easily kept in the dark, and there has been a RUSH to obtain satellite dishes and internet access in order to get around the news blackout.

Meanwhile, many of the now switched-off independent cable television channels remain available in next-door-neighbouring INDIA. This means that – IRONICALLY – ordinary people in India may know MORE about what is going on than the ordinary people in Pakistan.

This is IMPORTANT. For all of the hustle and bustle on our news about Mr Millipede saying THIS, or Ms Condescending Rice saying THAT, it is the people of India who – after the Pakistanis themselves – have most at risk in this situation.

Initial reaction from the Indian Government was said to be cautious and muted with careful talk of "regret" for their neighbour's "difficult times"

But the world's largest democracy grows increasingly worried by the situation.

It would appear that it is not the General's actions PER SE – in fact, as a figure of stability with whom they have developed a workable relationship, India might prefer it if he stays – but that the INSTABILITY of the situation is likely to set off the militants and separatists on either side of the highly disputed boarder.

After the last few years – with the General cracking down on the hotheads - having seen a general improvement, the tensions are now on the rise again across the "Line of Control" that divides Indian from Pakistani Kashmir.

For us in the West, it's a pretty SCARY idea of Pakistan (with her atomic weapons) slipping into the hands of Islamic lunatics like the Taliban who infest their border with Afghanistan – and whose training schools and Madrassas General Must-be-having-a-laugh has conspicuously failed to close down. But for India it must be a LIVING NIGHTMARE!

(Nor should we forget that China – a THIRD nuclear power – also shares a border with Pakistan and has significant interests there, being Pakistan's biggest trading partner.)

Free access to information is a NECESSARY antidote to the fringes of religious extremism too. Yes, I know that you can find all sorts of TERRIBLE websites out there promoting all sorts of dogmas and doctrines. But for every end-of-days nutter website or evangelising television channel, you can find a dozen with free clear news, and open argument, and opinions of every stripe to widen and broaden your understanding.

The more people know the more they will THINK, and the more they THINK the more they are able and likely to take decisions for themselves, and not leave the power in the hands of a medieval theocrat or a man who cannot take off his uniform.

In the end it does not matter if anyone is "our" son-of-a-Mrs-Lady-Dog or not. Because it really isn't OUR call. We can offer to help, and ask for help in return, but the decision has to remain with the people.

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