Thursday 8 November 2007


John Howard is an unconvincing flag bearer for democracy and the rule of law

So John Howard called President Pervez Musharraf on Sunday to condemn his declaration of emergency rule?

Presumably Howard believes that amidst the chaos, Pakistan’s best hope for turning the tide on its growing Islamic insurgency is through democracy and the rule of law.

Musharraf must be amused.

Here in Australia, a country facing none of the security threats faced in Pakistan, Howard has presided over an unprecedented attack on the pillars of democracy. He has supported the suspension of habeas corpus, he has attacked the independence of the judiciary and the public service, and he has presided over greater concentration of media ownership as well as restrictions on media - all in the name of national security. His tacit support for the US prison at Guantanamo Bay and the unlawful detention of David Hicks all belie any claim he could put to President Musharraf that democracy and the rule of law triumphs over all challenges.

Further, the war in Iraq that he still aggressively advocates has created a rallying point for Islamist radicals around the world that has directly contributed to destabilisation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

How might Howard respond if Australia faced the threats Musharraf faces in Pakistan? If there was an algorithm that measured actual threat against freedoms suspended in Australia and Pakistan, we might find that the two countries are closer than we think.

Howard will be a more convincing champion of democracy on the world stage when he champions liberal democracy in Australia.

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