Not surprisingly, when lawyers and ordinary citizens took to the streets in 2007, there was mostly collective silence from Pakistan's key Western allies. Former President George W. Bush went so far as to describe Musharraf as "a solid friend" who deserved the United States' continued support. Although the U.S. spoke of spreading democracy to the Muslim world, it did nothing publicly to help this most democratic of peoples' movements.
A state of emergency has been declared in Pakistan, with General Musharraf finally wearing his true hat, that of a Martial Law Administrator. This declaration puts the democracy movement back a long way.
But what kind of democracy movement is it anyway? The national opposition to Musharraf and military control is in fact opposition to the Pakistani Army’s actions against militants in the Northern Areas, which has led to the destruction of villages and thousands of civilian casualties, retaliation against government and military installations: a civil war by any other name. The opposition to these actions comes in two forms: political and civil society calls for the restoration of democracy and attacks on government installations.
It goes almost without saying that the conflict spreading through the Northern Areas is pushed ahead by the United States’ expectations of Pakistan’s role in the War on Terror. These expectations are not shared by most Pakistanis. Therein lies the problem.