Every day the news is filled with reports on international concern about Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's purported departure from democracy, about his declaration of emergency powers, about ignoring court orders and proceedings, arrests of dissidents, about the need for free and fair elections. The tenor of the relentless reporting is about how awful it is for Pakistan to be subjected to autocratic rule and how absolutely necessary it is for Pakistan to allow democratic mechanisms.
But I don't want to focus on Pakistan. It is not the dabbling in democracy there I am curious about, but more about the endless weeping and wailing in the press about the apparent loss of democracy, so many calls for the reversal of emergency powers and a return to elections and the restoration of democracy in Pakistan, and also Myanmar. But to me, it sounds like so much hypocrisy. Why hypocritical?
It is hypocritical simply because these same news organizations and Western governments do not have the same urgency about democracy in China, the worst dictatorship in the world.
Why are there no fervent calls for imposition of democratic elections in China? Why are there no urgent demands for establishment of an independent judiciary in China? Why are there no protests around the world calling for the president in China to be freely and fairly elected? Some human rights organizations talk about it, but not with the same fervor.
Why is it easy to vehemently complain about Pakistan and Myanmar in loud and determined voices, but not about China, when the situation in China is far worse than in Pakistan and for more than 10 times as many people?
That is the definition of hypocrisy. It is easy -- and apparently attractive -- to throw stones at Pakistan, especially since it is friendly to the US. China, on the other hand, wields enormous economic power, its ability to blackmail anyone, anywhere, at any time, is legend, and it is willing to defy the West on all accounts and particularly on those -- like preventing genocide in Sudan or restraining a nuclear Iran -- which involve having a conscience. The disparity in treatment is both astonishing and abhorrent.
Hypocrisy at its worst.