Around a month after President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in one of the military coups, Egypt has been familiar with through its history, the Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) has finally spoken out in the matter, condemning the assault on democracy and the ouster of an elected leader. The remarks come as Egypt tumbles into chaos with violent protests, amidst talk of arresting Morsi for alleged links with Palestinian militant groups. The many supporters of Morsi, elected as Egypt’s fifth president last year, have — naturally — not taken kindly to this at all.
What happens in Egypt is still to be seen. Things remain volatile and very far from settled. But the stance taken by Islamabad is welcome. The right thing has been done by strongly supporting democracy and the processes that stand behind it. Democracy is, of course, a long-standing issue in Pakistan as well, and backing for it in Egypt also acts to strengthen it at home — soon after our first democratic transition in over six decades. We must now hope that Pakistan will continue to stand by principle and back democracy, as it has done in the case of Egypt. This would also help bolster its image in the international community.
Of course, Pakistan can have no direct say and have only a limited impact on what happens in Egypt. The story of Mohamed Morsi is far from over. But the comments from the FO at least make Islamabad’s position perfectly clear. This will go down well at home and also amongst the people of Egypt. Pakistan has shown it stands with democracy everywhere in the world and this is an important message to send out at this time for a variety of reasons, linked both to foreign policy issues and our own domestic affairs. The FO statement, even if it, perhaps, came after some delay, is then to be warmly welcomed as one which sends out the right waves around the world. We hope similar backing for democracy around the world will continue into the future, even as it grows stronger in our own homeland, on a soil long hostile to it.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2013.
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