PRESIDENT Musharraf of Pakistan ended his tour of European centres with a visit to London on Monday. The purpose of his tour was presumably to tell his Western supporters that Pakistan is now calm and ordered and that the elections due to take place on February 18 will be free and fair. There has been little reporting of his reception in Brussels, Paris and Davos (for the World Economic Forum) but his press conference in London was far from reassuring. In what can only be described as a Jekyll and Hyde appearance, Pervez Musharraf insisted over and over again on his democratic credentials but then qualified his assurances by reference to particular Pakistani circumstances. Asked why senior members of the judiciary are still under house arrest he said, “They are all free, no problem, but if someone wants to use his freedom for anarchy and agitation, no, that person will not be free.” Asked how he justified displacing the Supreme Court judges, he said, “The judges that are there are the same there were, except that there are a few individuals who are not.” His most telling reply came when, under pressure from questioning, he said, “We are not living in London, we are living in Pakistan in a very turbulent area.” He is right, of course, and has reason to complain about his Western backers who want him to be the perfect democrat but at the same time control distinctly undemocratic turbulence.


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