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* * * News for 26th August 2007 * * *

All of Medway (and beyond): 26th August 2007

Pakistan Flag Benazir Bhutto on Democracy

Former Pakistan Premier Reminds us of the Importance of Democracy

John with Benazir Bhutto For all the faults in our democracy in Britain (of which there are now many more than there were just ten years ago) we do at least have something of a government-by-and-for-the-people structure in this country.

Not so in a number of other countries, including Pakistan, where there is currently a military-led government machine. We do not have that in Britain!

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto held an evening at the Corn Exchange in Rochester this evening, arranged by her former adviser Cllr Rehman Chishti. The photograph at the right shows both of them with me and others (mostly cropped out of frame, to aid clarity) at this event.

The main theme of her speech to those attending was of the importance of democracy, not only in its own right but also as (and I quote) "the best way to undermine terrorism." In her own words, "Dictatorships fuel terrorism: a dictatorship needs an external threat to justify its existence in power, and so lacks the will to take on the terrorists."

Powerful words, from someone who has been so very much closer to this issue than most of us will ever be. What an insightful statement, though! It tells us never to trust any kind of dictatorship, whether military or otherwise, as they are bound to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution to any nation's governance.

The message has to be: don't fall into the trap of dumping an inherently good system, even when it not functioning properly, for a bad system, just because "it is different". Instead, stick with what is good, and fix any problems within it. The old saying about babies and bathwater comes to mind here: even Gordon Brown is better than a military (or other) dictator to run Britain, and he is far easier to get out of office!