Bush Greeted in Pakistan by Demonstrations, Nation-wide Strike
Bush arrived in Islamabad to find it eerily quiet. The Islamic Action Council, which includes a group that helped train the Taliban, had called for a nation-wide strike to protest the visit. Streets of many cities were said to be strangely quiet, while in the northern Pushtun city of Peshawar, thousands marched in protest.
Bush has all along made the mistake of playing to Muslim leaders rather than to Muslim publics. Yet he has at the same time undermined authoritarian leaders with his talk of spreading democracy. So a military dictator like Pervez Musharraf, who intervened to corrupt the 2002 Pakistani parliamentary elections, lacks legitimacy according to Bush’s rhetoric even as Bush pals around with him and makes him as an individual the cornerstone of US policy in that part of the world.
Meantime, Bush has had a predator missile fired on a Pakistani village, and has been complaisant toward US torture of Muslim prisoners at Bagram and in Iraq.
The PR disaster of the Pakistan trip is a decisive and sad reflection on the complete failure of Bush at public diplomacy in the Muslim world, at a time when nothing is more important to US security and goals abroad.