No, he’s not a dictator…

…see, he’s legally elected!

Pakistan’s new Supreme Court has – as expected – dismissed the final legal challenge to the recent re-election of President Pervez Musharraf.

Gen Musharraf’s opponents had argued that his election was illegal because he was still head of the army.

The move clears the way for the general to resign as army chief, as promised, and be sworn in as a civilian leader.

Of course, legal and democratic are two different words. What is legal in Pakistan is often profoundly undemocratic. Remember, he was “legally elected” as a sole candidate. And he got to be that by seizing power in a coup in ’99–shortly after his being made a general, in ’98. (BTW, his official bio still lists him as “General”.)

And for anyone reaching for comparisons between him and Hugo Chavez–don’t bother. Chavez never rose above the rank of lieutenant colonel, his coup attempt failed (probably because of that relatively low rank–not enough troops to command!), he went to jail for it and was pardoned two years later, and he was democratically elected in ’98 as a come-from-behind civilian candidate. And this despite being cut out of debates and vilified by the major media in Venezuela. At his last election, he had two opponents–one serious, and the other a joke. But then, the supporters of the serious candidate tried to claim fraud…by abstaining from voting! In other words: they tried to claim Venezuela had lost its democracy by voluntarily failing to exercise their democratic rights. (At this rate, even the joke candidate looks more serious than the serious one’s supporters.) Chavez’s enemies like to call him “Lieutenant Colonel”, even though he no longer holds that rank, as if to underscore the bogus notion that he is some sort of military dictator and not a real president. Unfortunately, they’re all wet: he retired from the army upon his release from prison, which came a full four years before his legal, democratic election.

The differences could not be more obvious to anyone with eyes to see. Even if Chavez sometimes still voluntarily wears his old uniform and Musharraf is being ordered by his handlers in Washington to take his off.

And that’s an order, Pinocchio!

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