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Jon Stewart Praises a Dictator

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It is bad enough that the Bush administration is buddy-buddy with Pakistan's dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, but now we have to deal someone respectable, Jon Stewart, acting the same way. On The Daily Show on September 26, Stewart told Musharraf, "You're doing a wonderful job." Really?

In my book, Tyrants: The World's 20 Worst Living Dictators, I include a chapter on Gen. Musharraf. Among the facts about him worth keeping in mind:

• Musharraf seized power in a military coup that overthrew an elected government, albeit a corrupt one.
• Before 9/11, Musharraf was the leading foreign supporter of the Taliban.
• He gave a full pardon to Abdul Qadeer Khan after it was revealed that Khan had shared nuclear technology with the dictatorships of North Korea, Iran and Libya.
• According to the U.S. State Department's most recent report on human rights practices in Pakistan, "The government's human rights record was poor, and serious problems remained. The following human rights problems were reported:
• restrictions on citizens' right to change their government
• extrajudicial killings, torture, and rape
• poor prison conditions, arbitrary arrest, and lengthy pretrial detention
• violations of due process and privacy rights
• lack of judicial independence
• harassment, intimidation, and arrest of journalists
• limits on freedom of association, religion, and movement
• imprisonment of political leaders
• corruption
• legal and societal discrimination against women
• child abuse
• trafficking in women and children, and child prostitution
• discrimination against persons with disabilities
• indentured, bonded, and child labor
• restriction of worker rights"

The U.S. State Department goes on to add, "Security force personnel continued to torture persons in custody throughout the country. Human rights organizations reported that methods included beating, burning with cigarettes, whipping the soles of the feet, prolonged isolation, electric shock, denial of food or sleep, hanging upside down, and forced spreading of the legs with bar fetters. Security force personnel reportedly raped women and children during interrogations. The nongovernmental organization (NGO) Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid recorded 1,356 cases of torture during the year."

With all due respect to Jon Stewart, I hope that he will reconsider his claim that Musharraf is "doing a wonderful job."