Are We Doing The Terrorist's Job For Them?

I'll admit I've not read in too much detail the political upset that Pakistan seems to be going through at the moment. Maybe General Musharraf has very good resons to believe that ex-cricketers are indeed subversive and attempt to stimulate unrest.

As I say I don't know the full story.

What does strike me as uncomfortable though is the fact that General Musharraf is using anti terrorism laws to silence a number of opposition politicians.

The kinds of laws that seem very popular at the moment in Great Britain. Laws that many seem happy to allow. In the short term they seem fine. Let the Government look out for us, keeping all those nasty trouble makers from causing mischief.

With the current Government and indeed the opposition I can't see too much wrong with that myself. They all seem wet enough to not cause too much concern. I mean come on, we're not like those foriegners! We wont have some dictator use laws like that against the opposition....

Or are we sleepwalking into a situation that means that one day we will have someone take things too far, "In the Nation's best interests"...

The leaders of the alliance our country forms part of, in this War against terrorism remind us that they are defending our democratic rights from those that would destroy them.

I'm just not sure removing elements that define democracy (like truely free speech) is the best way of doing it....


We could well be.

When you add in the lack of written constitution, it doesn't take too much imagination to get to somewhere distinctly unpleasant...

byrn's picture

Isn't there a law somewhere that allows the PM to suspend all elections indefinately if they feel that there is some state of emergency.

God forbid we get someone that makes such a decision because they want to defend our rights.

Of course, such a thing would never happen in a democratic western nation. Unless they had a stupid little moustache...

baron's picture

In order to do what he is doing General Musharraf suspended the constitution and drafted in a rather mental state of emergency. He is helped in no small way by being head of the armed forces as well... It's a blatant attempt at retaining power given that he was likely to be sent packing at the next election, or at least forced to share power with Bhutto.

I think we are some considerable distance away from something similar happening in this country. Point taken about the anti-terrorism laws that are being brought in, the fact that it is now easier to protest in Albania than within a mile of parlement is disturbing to say the least. To be honest though I don't think that most people care enough and they would be happy to take even more curbs on their freedoms if this gave them some percived additional security against terrorism.

Nibbles's picture

I for one would quite happily see people pistol-whipped in the High Street for littering, or perhaps overly annoying children.

babychaos's picture

It is worrying but I think our government is far divorced from the control of the armed forces. If given the choise their loyalties would hold with the Crown, rather than the government. The royals are loyal to the people, so I think we'd be ok.

I am with EMW that we are a long way from where Pakistan is now. Fortunately, we're still cynical and questionning and the political process is a still a case of to-and-fro. One party might suggest something but it's doubtful the others would allow it to pass.

brainwipe's picture

I haven't said anything about Pakistan so you must mean someone else.

[ blows dust of politics as level ] From what I remember theoretically speaking the upper house can act to prevent the commons from extending their life. That is one of their (only ;) ) functions. In practice there are ways someone could force it through but it would be tricky and I suspect it could only happen by degrees. [/puts politics stuff back on the shelf with all the control theory books]

Evilmatt's picture

I guess my main point is not that we are about to enter into a state of military rule.

It's the fact that little by little rights are being eroded in the name of defending democracy. Some of these rights are those that IMO define democracy. Stopping someone speaking out against the government can in one instance stop someone insighting violence, but in another more sinister situation stop someone opposing the government.

The point about the Pakistan situation that struck me was that the General was holding opposition party memebers under house arrest under the pretext of defending democracy from terrorism.

I'm not thinking short term with my observations. At the moment, tkaing things too far would not happen. But lets consider how different the country could be in 50 years and worry that someone in charge might use laws initialy conceived to defend us to actually remove the freedoms we take for granted. 50 years isn't that short a time. How different is Europe now than just after WW2?

We can't predict what nutter might be in charge in 50, 100 years time that will twist the law to their own benefit.

That's why I felt like commenting on what's happening.


baron's picture

It is worrying, there are now laws that mean the police with cause (though it only has to be the flimsyest of cause) can access any and all data you possess and you are legally obligated to hand over all encryption keys or it's two to five years in the slammer.

They want to extend the right to hold people without trial which could potentially be the first step to being able to pluck someone off the street for no reason and disappear them without trial or sentencing.

I mean they have already used some of the anti-terror laws to throw a rather silly girl in prison for making up some inflammatory poetry and a few people for possessing publicly available books with a somewhat anarchist bent.

It's edging towards restriction of freedom of speech and attacking people for reading the wrong books. The sort of thing they would give you a slap on the wrist for previously they are putting people away for.

Is it an exaggeration to say that it could shift slowly so that suddenly anyone who criticises the government is a terrorist and disappears. It could happen, it wouldn't happen over night but then these things dont they are gradual shifts. People say the usual guff about "well if you have nothing to hide you are safe" which is never true every one has something to hide and as has been shown something that in the past would have been ignored can suddenly shift to something they lock you up for and throw away the key.

Evilmatt's picture

I think things are going to go the other way. As overcrowding continues to rise, keeping all these laws will become almost impossible. Urban environs are notoriously difficult to police, so having loads of laws that can't be maintained seems expensive.

If we do end up in a Police state of some kind in 50 years, it will be more through the power of mega corporation, a la Cyberpunk, rather than the govt. The govt. are already under the toe of the big corps because they can't make laws that would hurt the business, which in turn hurts the economy. It's indirect control at the moment, but who knows where it'll lead.

brainwipe's picture

Lets hope we don't end up with that... SLA is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there...

What worries me slightly is the thought that if you can get laws in and past the initial, mass, reaction stage, there's a good chance they'll stay in for a decade or two. By that time a new set of people will be at voting age and completely used to them... they've never known anything different.

byrn's picture

The thing to remember with Pakistan is that Musharraf came to power as the result of a successful coup. His rule has always been based on military power. The recent talk about "terrorism" is nothing more than a pretext to try and placate the international community. Domestically, he needs no such pretext, because he has the guns. Our situation is different, and quite a bit more complex. We have much less to worry about in the short term, but I think it's pretty naive to think we have nothing to worry about at all.

AggroBoy's picture